by Roland W. Keith
There is more than one way to get from New Orleans to Dallas. There is more than one way to solve many math problems. And, as my granddad use to say, “there is more than one way to skin a cat” (although I am pretty sure he never actually skinned one). The point is there are often legitimate options to choose from in life that allow us to achieve the same goal. On the other hand, we often find that methods are standardized because someone has found the single best way of doing something. Moreover, there are times when there is, in fact, only one way to do something correctly. In Isaiah 1:18-20 we read, “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
God was not seeking a compromise with the Israelites, nor was He seeking to enter a dialogue or debate with them when He spoke these words. Instead He was rendering a legal decision and calling on Israel to listen to reason and choose wisely. They stood convicted of their sins and a verdict was being rendered. However, the Great Judge was allowing them to choose their fate. Based on their own free will He was giving them two options to choose from. The way of the world or His way. But it was not a blind decision they were being forced to make. He told them up front what the two choses would lead to. Read the verses again. Clearly there is only one way to get what they want— a long and prosperous life living off the “good of the land.” That way was God’s way. The alternative would lead to their destruction. Easy chose right?
Today we also stand convicted of our sins. Although the day of judgment still awaits there is no escaping the fate of our actions. At least there wouldn’t be if we were made to pay the due penalty for our offenses. However, as with the Israelites of old, God is giving us a chose. To stand convicted of our sins and be condemned to eternity in hell, or to repent of our sins and to find redemption in the blood of Jesus Christ and be granted a place in His eternal kingdom. Our options are before us. The way of the world as laid out by the great deceiver, Satan. Or, God’s way as laid out in His inspired scriptures. The chose is between obedience and disobedience to God, between heaven or hell. If our goal is eternal joy and happiness, freedom from pain, love, and fellowship with our Creator the chose should be easy.
Why then is it so difficult for most people? If we listed all the ways we can go astray it would be a separate study in itself. Suffice it to say, for this study, the answer is the entanglements of self-will and sin. As Paul quoted, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12; Psalm 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Ecclesiastes 7:20). Most of the world has turned aside to do their own thing, their own way; including how they choose to worship God, if they worship Him at all. However, as Isaiah noted, even as our lives fade, we are carried away by our sins, to such an extent that even our good deeds are polluted (Isaiah 64:5-6).
All it took was for Satan to infect one man, and sin became the most infectious disease in existence. Through man, in turn, the whole of creation has fallen under its curse and deviated from the pure course of its intended by its Creator (Romans 5:12; 8: 9-22). From the day of our birth we are exposed to the disease (Psalm 51:5; 58:3), with no hope of living into the age of accountability without contracting it. Spiritually speaking, once we have sinned, we are nothing more than the walking dead, children of wrath under the power of the prince of darkness (Ephesians 2:1-3). The malady we contract alters the very essence of what we were created to be, as Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Once sin has penetrated our hearts, we become an altered being, the disease feeding on the basest parts of the host and being spread to others by his own deeds, as Jesus said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:20-23). The pure being that is born into the world becomes defiled in mind and conscience, becoming enslaved to the ravages of the disease to the point of physical and spiritual death (Titus 1:15; Romans 6:20-23).
So pernicious is the plague of sin that even those who receive the anecdote remain subject to its recurrence and all its ill effects. Paul the apostle described the condition with these words: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members” (Romans 7:18-23).
The only hope of surviving the spiritual death that sin brings, the only anecdote is the blood of Christ. Salvation through Jesus Christ is God’s way. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). The one who thinks he can forge his own way to heaven is mistaken (Jeremiah 10:23). And so is the one who exalts himself with his own righteousness. In the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector Jesus said, “The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:11-14). It is the one who humbles himself before the Lord in submission who is justified not the one who touts his own deeds as justification. Even those who have a zeal for God will be rejected if they continue to seek their own way and refuse to learn and live according to His righteousness (Romans 10:1-3).
To be saved we must hear the word of God (Romans 10:13-17; I Corinthians 1:21). We must believe (Romans 10:9-10; Mark 16:16; John 3:18; Acts 16:31; I Corinthians 1:21). We must confess our faith in Christ (Romans 10:9-10; I John 4:3; Matthew 10:33; I John 2:23). We must repent (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30). That means turning away from the world (and our own ways) and turning to God in submission to His will. If we choose to walk in God’s light the blood of His Son cleanses us of our sins and we are in fellowship with God and His church (I John 1:7-9). It was God’s plan to redeem us through the death of His Son on the cross; the perfect sacrifice given as a ransom for those held hostage by the great deceiver through sin (I Peter 12:18). Our reconciliation, our righteousness, the forgiveness of our sins, and our salvation were all accomplished on our behalf by Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 5:18-21). In addition to hearing, believing repenting, and confessing Jesus as the Son of God we must also be baptized (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; John 3:5-7; Acts 2:38; Acts 8:12; 18:8; 19:3-5; 22:16; I Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27). Then, after we have been added to the Lord’s church we must continue or abide in Him (John 8:31; 15:10; Acts 14:22; Romans 11:22; Colossians 1:21-23; I John 2:24; II John 1:9).
As Christians following in God’s way, we will count all things in the world as loss for the sake of Christ (Philippians 3:7). This means that we will put God first in all that we do, giving Him preeminence in our lives (Matthew 6:33; 10:37-39; Luke 14:33; Colossians 1:18). That is a tough assignment. The way we are being raised in the world today, the way we are motivated, the enticements put before us are all in contrast to the way God wants us to live our lives. That doesn’t mean we should give everything we have away and live a life of asceticism and poverty. It does mean putting everything in its place, with God above all things, in all things. There is only one path to heaven. Through the blood of Christ (Acts 4:12). As John wrote, “But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). There is also only one way to maintain what God has given us. By remaining faithful to all He has given us, as John wrote, “Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He made to us—eternal life. I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in Him” (I John 2:24-27).
Do not let the world deceive you. There is only one correct path in life. There is only one way to heaven. God’s way.
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.