Proverbs 14.12



1.   In both Proverbs 14.12 and 16.25 we find the same words:  “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

2.   May I make three comments about this verse, about these two identical verses, that has great applicability to you who are not converted?

3.   After this exposition and my three comments, brother Isenberger will lead us in a song and then I will set before you four cures for the hindrances that beset you that I think will help you come to Christ.



1B.    A way is a road, a path, a trail that leads to a destination.  In Scripture there seem to be two ways men can travel through life.  Considered on the one hand, you have here contrasted in this verse by implication a way versus the way.  When considered thusly, the contrast to a way in our text is “the way” that Jesus referred to in John 14.6, where we read, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

2B.    Considered on the other hand, you have contrasted a way that is broad and a way that is narrow.  In Matthew 7.13, Jesus said, “broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.”  But in the very next verse He said, “narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

3B.    So, there are really two kinds of ways, two kinds of paths, two kinds of roads through life.  One kind of road or path or way is Jesus, Who leads to life, to forgiveness of sins, while the other kind of road or path or way leads away from Jesus to destruction and death and damnation.

4B.    In these two identical verses in Proverbs, it is obvious that Solomon is talking about the wrong way, the way that results in catastrophe, even though it is the way most people choose and the way that is most popular.



“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man. . . .”

1B.    Which seemeth right unto who?  Which seemeth right unto a man.  What does this phrase suggest?  What do these words reveal?  They show that man is self-authenticating.  They illustrate that man is concerned with what he thinks is right and wrong, with what he thinks is the right thing to do, with what he thinks is the proper direction and course to pursue.

2B.    But what gives any man the moral right to judge the rightness or wrongness of a course or direction in life?  Do we not know that man is sinful?  Are we not taught in God’s Word that man is wayward?  Are not all of our inclinations wrong?

3B.    Yes!  Every natural inclination that you have is wrong.  Every conclusion that you draw on your own, unaffected and uninfluenced by God’s truth, will be wayward.  Therefore, when you subject anything to the litmus test of what seems right to you, it is guaranteed that you will be wrong in your evaluation.

4B.    Oh, you may be clever in real estate, expert on the bond market, sure footed in business affairs, astute in matters pertaining to academics and education.  But when the issues before you are spiritual, especially when they are issues having to do with your eternal destiny, with the well-being of your eternal and undying soul, you are quite predictable.  What I mean by that is, apart from divine intervention, you will always choose wrongly, you will always veer off the right path onto the wrong path, you will always, as Isaiah 53.3 predicts, despise Jesus and hide your face from Him . . . because your judgment is flawed by your sinfulness.



“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

1B.    What kind of death is Solomon referring to here?  Spiritual death.  How do we know he is referring to spiritual death here?  Because the end of every man is physical death.  It is appointed unto man once to die, Hebrews 9.27.  So, Solomon cannot here be referring to physical death.  He refers to that fate which awaits only those who travel the broad road that leads to destruction, that fate which awaits only those who refuse to acknowledge that Jesus is “the way,” and that no man cometh unto the Father, but by Him.

2B.    So you see, though everyone will experience physical death, not everyone will experience the spiritual death and damnation that lies at the end of this way Solomon refers to.  This tragic end is reserved for those who are confident, for those who are self-assured, for those who count themselves wise enough to do what they think is best.

3B.    On the other hand, if you see yourself as dead in trespasses and sins,[1] as one who is by nature unwise, as one who is without strength, as one who is incapable of saving yourself, and who is utterly dependent upon Another to save you, then perhaps you will not insist on doing what you think is right, then perhaps you will not fool yourself into traveling down that way which seems right to you.  Perhaps you will finally cast yourself upon the wisdom of Another, the mercy of Another, and the strength to save of Another.



1.   If you step back and look at the essence of our two verses, both Proverbs 14.12 and Proverbs 16.25 speak of pride.  Proverbs 16.18 reads, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

2.   Do you have your own ideas about how to get saved?  Do you have your own opinion about what is needed, how many church services to attend, the degree to which you should humble yourself and feel sorry for your sins?

3.   My recommendation is that you consider Solomon’s inspired judgment of such thinking.  He declared that such thinking puts you on a path that can only lead to destruction.

4.   Perhaps, after brother Isenberger comes to lead us in a song, you will realize that you are lost, that you are helpless, that you do not know the way, and that it is about time you began to carefully listen to the means of grace that God has provided to bring you to the Savior.

5.   Let us stand, as brother Isenberger comes to lead us at this time.



1.   Why are you not yet converted?  Getting saved is not a matter of great complexity, since little children can come to Christ with childlike faith.

2.   It is not the grace of God that is complex and convoluted, but your sin.  The usual reason sinners are a long time in coming to Christ, if you come to Christ at all, is pride.

3.   Pride, you see, insists, in the deepest recesses of the mind and heart, that you are not really lost, that you are not really dead in trespasses and sins, that your situation is not really helpless or hopeless apart from Christ.  Bad?  Yes.  Desperate?  Not really.

4.   Moreover, pride prevents you from humbling yourself in the way that is really needed to make use of the means God has established to bring you to Christ.

5.   I suggest that you listen very carefully to four cures for those hindrances to your conversion that I dealt with briefly last Sunday morning:



1B.    We have four weekly services here at Calvary Road Baptist Church.  My suggestion is that you attend each and every one of them faithfully.  I urge you to attend Sunday morning at 10:45, Sunday night at 6:00 PM, Wednesday night at 7:00 PM, and Saturday evening at 6:00 PM.

2B.    Perhaps you are thinking, “Why should I attend so frequently?”  Remember, your problem is associated with your insistence on only doing what you think is right, is it not?  “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man . . . ”?

3B.    Hebrews 10.25 reads, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”  We gather four times a week.  Three times a week we gather to receive preaching and instruction from God’s Word. Once a week we gather to receive encouragement and also to exercise.  And if you honestly think all four times we gather are not vital to your spiritual health and welfare, then you are not wise.

4B.    I will be very straight with you.  If I can lead you to Christ in short order, though you only attend a few services each week I will make the attempt.  But I am persuaded that most people who do not get converted are guilty of grieving the Spirit of God, Who would gently nudge them deeper and deeper into involvement in the local congregation.  You see, the local church is where it’s at.

5B.    Turn to Acts 2.40, where we see Luke’s concluding remarks at the end of Peter’s Pentecostal sermon:  “And with many other words did he testify and exhort.”  We do not know exactly what Peter said at this point, but we have some powerful clues.  Look at verses 41 and 47:  “41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. . . 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people.  And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”  He must have spoken to them about the church.

6B.    These two verses suggest that Peter dealt with the importance of the congregation and their involvement in it.  So, I make no apologies for suggesting, for insisting, that you faithfully attend each of our church’s four services if you want God’s very best for your life.  But, of course, if you insist on traveling down that way which seemeth right to you, my direction will not be heeded, you will of course justify your failure to attend . . . and you will almost certainly remain lost.

7B.    Another reason to never miss a church service?  How do you know when the Spirit of God will sovereignly apply the truth of the Gospel to your wicked heart?  Theresa Guerrero was converted on a Wednesday night, shortly after a Bible study.  If I were you, I would be afraid to miss any of our services.  I mean that.  I would be afraid to miss a service, any of them, if I was lost.



1B.    Sinners usually convince themselves that feeling bad for their sins means they are ripe for conversion.  But nothing could be further from the truth, if the Bible is to be believed.  Turn to Second Corinthians 7.10:  “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”  It is clear from what Paul writes here that there are two kinds of sorrows, one kind that worketh death and the other kind that leads to salvation.

2B.    When a sinner begins to feel bad for his sins he will initially experience the kind of sorrow that is common, that does not necessarily lead to getting saved, but is just the common sorrow that the world knows and experiences all the time.  This was the kind of sorrow Ahab experienced, but did not lead to his conversion.[2]  This is also the kind of sorrow that Judas Iscariot experienced, which only led to his suicide.[3]  It is this kind of sorrow that the Devil takes delight in, since it allows the self-deceived sinner to feel good about feeling bad about his sins, but will not lead to his conversion.

3B.    Are you content to satisfy yourself that you feel bad about your sins, or are you interested in being converted to Jesus Christ?  Then do what Abraham did.  Abraham had the promise of God that he would have a son in his old age.  Notice Paul’s comment on Abraham, in Romans 4.19:  “He being not weak in faith, regarded not his old age or deadness, nor the barrenness of Sarah’s womb, but believed in Him who had promised it.”  Abraham saw that his body was dead (this parallels godly sorrow), yet he clung to a living promise.  And what if Sarah’s womb was barren?  He knew his own deadness and her barrenness, but he did not stall there.  Like Abraham, really see your sins and consider your many weaknesses, but do not settle on them or consider them so as to be hindered by them from coming to Christ.

4B.    Another example is the Syro-Phenician woman.  We see both the humility and the wisdom of this woman of Canaan in Matthew 15.27.  She followed Christ, but He did not listen to her.  Instead, to paraphrase, He called her a dog, and said, “You Gentiles are dogs, and the gospel of grace and salvation is the children’s bread.”  Now, if she had considered only the words of Christ, and looked only into herself and her own sinfulness, she would never have come to receive either mercy or comfort from Him.  But she in effect said, “Yes, Lord, I am a dog.  But even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

5B.    This woman’s humility was exhibited in her recognition of her own sinfulness and in facing the reality of her low station in life.  This is what happens when there is godly sorrow, whereas worldly sorrow is simply displeasure that things are not going the way you want them to go.  It is as if she had said, “You say that I am a Gentile and a dog.  Okay, I confess that I am” (there’s her humility), “yet, though I am a dog, I will not go out doors, but will lie under the table and wait for mercy” (there is her wisdom).

6B.    You see, you need to do what this Gentile woman did.  She had such a good sight of her sins through her godly sorrow, that she was humble enough to deny nothing Jesus said about her, which things were true.  Such sorrow, with its accompanying humility, kept her in the proper place.  She did not erupt in a fit of emotion (“How dare He talk to me like that?”) and stomp away.

7B.    You need the godly sorrow that works real repentance.  You need the sorrow that lies farther down the road than that initial sorrow that only brings tears to your eyes when you conclude that you are lost but which does not much affect your heart.  There are many bad examples of that kind of sorrow in the Bible.  What is needed is for you to seek the sorrow that will enable you to truly see the sinfulness of your sins, so you might then flee to Christ.



As a lost person, you are so profoundly wrong-headed in your thinking that divine intervention is required for your conversion.  Listen to what God says about your thinking, if you want to get converted.  I read Isaiah 55.7-8:  “7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.”

Three spiritual dead ends, cul-de-sacs if you will, that wrong thinking allows Satan to use to side track lost people into:

1B.    First, do not make the mistake of denigrating God’s power.

1C.   To Abraham, He said, “I am the Almighty God.”[4]  To Abraham and Sarah, He said, “Is any thing too hard for the LORD?”[5]  In Jeremiah 32.27, we read, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?”

2C.   It is not an uncommon thing for the Devil to tempt people by bringing into question God’s power.  So, to counter this blasphemous attitude, ask yourself a couple of questions:  “Who created the universe and all that herein is?”  “Who stopped the sun for Joshua?”  “Who parted the waters of the Red Sea so the children of Israel could march across dry shod?”

3C.   In Mark 10.27, we find the Lord Jesus Christ stating, “. . . with God all things are possible.”  Thus, God can do anything.  It is not true that all things are possible with men, for “without faith it is impossible to please God,” Hebrews 11.6.  And to limit God’s power through unbelief makes it impossible to please Him.  God is almighty, strong enough to save you.

2B.    Second, do not question God’s love.

1C.   Satan is the master of challenging other people’s motives.  And he loves to tempt the unconverted to question God’s love of them.  No doubt, this happens with you, as well.

2C.   But does not John 3.16 inform us that God loves the world?  Does not God’s sun shine on the just and the unjust?[6]  Has He not providentially placed you in the midst of the wealthiest society the world has ever known?

3C.   It is wicked, stupid, blasphemous, idiotic, moronic, unintelligent, foolish and just plain wrong to succumb to the devilish delusion of questioning God’s love.  Stop it.  God loves you.

3B.    Third, do not worry about or presume to be able to guess God’s secret business.

1C.   Turn to Deuteronomy 29.29 and read with me:  “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

2C.   The Devil is a master of intrigue, and he likes nothing so much as worrying people about things they cannot do anything about, causing concern about things we know nothing about, and generally distracting people away from what they ought to be paying attention to.

3C.   One temptation the Devil uses quite frequently is this question:  “Am I of the elect?”  Another temptation the Devil uses quite frequently is this feeling:  “I think it may be too late for me to get saved.”

4C.   May I say that there is no possible way for any lost person to know if he is elect of God until he gets converted or dies in an unsaved state.  As well, no one other than God knows whether or not it is too late for any individual sinner to be saved.

5C.   So, rather than do what you think is right, which is to succumb to the wiles of the Devil, why don’t you tend to what business Jesus has told you to tend to?  “Strive to enter in at the strait gate.”[7]  Anything else is the Devil’s trap.



1B.    One of the great tragedies of decisionism, which reflects its very low view of the importance of real conversion, is the hastiness involved in judging someone to be saved just because he has prayed a prayer and now feels better about himself.  What in the world does feeling better about yourself have to do with being justified by faith, in light of the fact that being justified by faith is not something you can perceive or otherwise feel?

2B.    I have a sermon, titled “Spurious Conversions,” wherein I expose the possibility that someone we all think is a real Christian turns out to be lost after all.  My examples in that sermon are Judas Iscariot,[8] Simon the magician,[9] the Corinthian fornicator,[10] and Paul’s co-laborer, Demas.[11]  Those four examples should serve as warnings to any right thinking person about drawing hasty conclusions about whether or not someone is genuinely saved.

3B.    It is true that there can be a measure of confidence about someone’s spiritual standing when certain steps are taken.  At such time a hopeful convert can be baptized.  But even then, our own experiences have shown us too many examples of those we thought to be saved to have not really known Jesus in a saving way.  And this is Scriptural, since Proverbs 18.13 tells us, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.”

4B.    You do make a terrible mistake when you bend your knee and bow your head and confess that Jesus is Lord, and then stand up with the assurance that you are most certainly a child of God.  How can you be sure?  Does God reveal to newborn children, by divine revelation, by some type of inspiration, that they are truly converted?  We find no evidence of such a thing in the Bible.  But we see presumptuous people wrong about such important things all the time.

5B.    It is oftentimes the case that Satan tempts someone who is under conviction, who the Spirit of God is really and truly dealing with, to seduce that striving person into thinking that he has truly trusted Christ when he has not.  Therefore, I urge you to be cautious, to be careful, to step toward conclusions you might draw slowly.

6B.    Assurance of one’s salvation is a wonderful thing, but not so glorious as a real salvation, and not the same as a real salvation.  Therefore, instead of grasping for an assurance that may or may not be yours to possess, let me urge you to prayerfully, to thoughtfully, wait upon the Lord to give you those gifts He wants you to possess, to cherish, to value highly.  Don’t snatch it off the counter as you walk by.

7B.    If you are truly converted it will show, and you will derive comforting assurance of your salvation from the indwelling Spirit of God.  But if you are not converted, and you grasp, you may end up with the type of false assurance that is so very common among lost people days.  Such assurance is not pleasing to God, does not come from God, is presumptuous in the extreme, and only makes it that much more difficult to guide a sinner to Christ.



1.   Four cures for what ails you, if what ails you is a disposition that hinders you from coming to Christ.  And how do we know that we are dealing with what ails you?

2.   Little children can get saved.  Ignorant savages can get saved.  Brutal men and wicked women can get saved. So, the problem is not with God, or with Jesus, or with the Holy Spirit, or with the Gospel.

3.   I suggest, therefore, that you look inward to see the problem and outward to find the Savior.  Cure #1, attend every service.  Cure #2, get the right kind of sorrow for your sins.  Cure #3, stay out of the Devil’s traps.  Cure #4, draw no hasty conclusions.

4.   I have not been exhaustive in my treatment of the hindrances or the cures for those hindrances which are common, but perhaps these messages will prove helpful to you.

5.   On the other hand, you may be a person who is so deeply and utterly convinced of your rightness, that you will not this side of eternity abandon what seemeth to you to be the right way.

[1] Ephesians 2.1

[2] First Kings 21.27-29

[3] Matthew 27.3-5

[4] Genesis 17.1

[5] Genesis 18.14

[6] Matthew 5.45

[7] Luke 13.24

[8] Acts 1.25

[9] Acts 8.18-23

[10] 1 Corinthians 5.5, see also footnote for 1 Corinthians 5.5 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 1735.

[11] 2 Timothy 4.10, see also footnote for 2 Timothy 4.10 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 1881.

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