By Edwin Crayton/Opinion
“The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” So, goes an ancient saying. But in a lifetime of making mistakes that have put me on that road more than a few times, I have found that the road to Hell is paved with much more than merely good intentions. Here is a list of other things I believe it is paved with:
The road to Hell is paved with ignorance. God himself said, “My people perish for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6)”. Polls show the Bible is usually the best-selling book out there. But other polls indicate that few people read their Bibles. This fact is why they can be deceived into accepting moral concepts the Bible warns against. It’s been said that prayer is us talking to God and the Bible is God talking to us. So, when we don’t read our Bibles, we can’t understand God’s point of view because we are not listening to him.
The road to Hell is paved with procrastination: In Mark 1:16-19 Jesus asked his first disciples to follow him and it says, “They immediately left their nets and followed him.” Impressive. Are we like that when God calls us to serve him and other people? Or, are we more like the banquet guests in Luke 14:16-24 who when invited to a great supper came up with a variety of excuses? Putting things off can cause real problems. I know, because several times I have delayed or forgotten to see someone and a day or two before I finally decided to do it, I was told they had passed away. Our family is in a period of grieving right now as one of our young relatives was killed in a car crash. I had reached out to her a few times, but lost touch. She had struggled with addiction. Even though I did encourage her, I wish I had been more persistent in finding her. I have prayed to God for forgiveness for this failing, but I still have the nagging question hovering over my spirit, “What if?” Many times, I hear people say, “Let me pray about that” when they are asked to serve in church or just to share their faith or serve God in another way. I realize prayer is good. But do we sometimes use that phrase like the guests at that great supper? Faith is an urgent matter. The Bible makes it clear that dying without accepting Jesus as savior and lord will cause a person to be damned to an eternity in hell (John 3:18). That’s waiting too late indeed.
The road to Hell is paved with unbelief: Many people forget that the Bible says that it is only through faith that people are allowed to enter Heaven (John 3:16, John 14:6). Therefore, without faith in Jesus, a person goes to Hell. Often, faith is treated like it is just an emotion. But the Book of James makes it clear that our actions show whether we have faith or not (Chapter 2). In other words, our actions reveal our faith. Someone told a parable that I believe perfectly illustrates what true faith looks like. The parable goes like this: A town in Mexico was experiencing a drought and people were asked to bring objects of faith to a prayer meeting in the town square. Some brought Bibles. Others brought impressive religious objects. But a small boy brought the greatest object of faith. He brought an umbrella. Read Matthew chapter 9 and you may observe that often when Jesus healed people, he said their faith made them whole—or well. The good news is that when our faith is weak, we can pray for stronger faith (Mark 11:22-24.)
The road to Hell is paved with disobedience: The first sin was disobedience to the directions of God. Jesus said, “Why do you call me Lord, lord and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)”. It was Adam and Eve’s act of disobeying God that brought sin into the world and eternal damnation to mankind. Human beings tend to rebel and Satan knows this. It is why he appeals to our desire to go our own way and leave God behind. But existence without God is what Hell really is. There is no light or peace without him. And in order to be with him, we must obey him.
The road to Hell is paved with pride: Pride is not good. The Bible warns that “pride comes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18)” Yet, many people today don’t seem to believe that. But it’s still true. Unfortunately, racial pride is accepted today. But the Bible does not approve of pride and urges us to be humble (James 4:6). Not only are people proud, but they are even proud of sins. We celebrate couples who live together without being married, although the Bible condemns fornication (1 Corinthians chapter 6). Now there is Pride Month, celebrating gay lifestyles even though the Bible clearly says homosexuality is a sin (Leviticus 18:22, Romans chapter 1). The danger of all this is that when people are proud of what God calls sin or evil, they are unlikely to turn away from the sin because they don’t see it as wrong.
The road to Hell is paved with prejudice and indifference: Perhaps you have heard that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was once quoted as having said, “The most segregated hour in America is 11 am on Sunday morning. The Bible teaches that Heaven is integrated. So why are so many churches segregated along racial lines? When a congregation knows in advance what color the new minister they will hire will be, that’s not due to psychic powers. That’s prejudice. All races are guilty. Prejudice prevents us from loving others and creates in us an unforgiving heart which in turn will keep us out of heaven. When we refuse to forgive, we will not be forgiven (Mark 11:25-26). 1 John 4:20 says, “If someone says, “I love God”, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” If black churches, white churches and others would at least have events or revivals together it would be a good start. Indifference towards the suffering of others is as bad as prejudice. Jesus taught that we should care about the pains of other people, particularly the poor and needy. In fact, he said that neglecting them can keep us out of Heaven (Matthew 25:31-46).
The road to Hell is paved with permissiveness: Today’s society places too high a value on being open-minded. We say yes to many things people once said no to and many of us look down on our ancestors for saying no to many things we embrace proudly. Saying yes makes some of us feel loving and nonjudgmental. But sometimes the most positive word you can use is “No.” What if Adam and Eve had said no to the serpent? If they had, no one would go to Hell. Permissiveness is attractive because it promises us freedom and control. In a classic animated film, an evil man lures children into an amusement park where they have a great time. But it’s a trick and the children are turned into donkeys and enslaved. Well, that’s what the devil does. He lets you have a good time sinning, but in the end, it all leads to Hell. Some people incorrectly believe that if they don’t accept the sinful lifestyles of their loved ones, they are judging them or don’t love them. They are wrong. You can love a friend who steals and not endorse stealing.
The road to Hell is paved with fear: The Bible says, “Perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18)”. The flip side of that is true too: fear drives out perfect love. When we are afraid or stressed out we are not trusting in God. This verse means as well that when we surrender to Jesus sincerely, God’s love erases our fear. In this thorny, evil world, many things can make us afraid. We fear Satan when the reality is instead of him, we should fear disappointing God because he has ultimate power. We Christians realize many Christian martyrs have suffered cruel deaths and still do and that may scare us. Martyrs then and now were more concerned about what would happen to the lost than they were about what would happen to themselves. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, the Good Samaritan helped because he was more worried about the man who had been beaten up than he was about himself (Luke 10). But can I be honest? Most of us will not die on crosses or be sent to prison for our faith. What if the cross you have to bear is something simple? What if Jesus just wants you to say no to your boyfriend and tell him that because you are a Christian you will not have sex until you are married? Or when family visits your home for Christmas, what if God wants you to put an unmarried couple in separate rooms? What if God just wants you to forget what others will think of you and sing praises in church to him for all he does for you?
Experience has taught me, that the road to Hell is also paved with a lukewarm attitude toward God, and too much pleasure seeking. You can probably think of more. As you travel through life if you find yourself on a road that is leading you to reject Jesus or the Bible, or resist the will of God, be warned that continuing down this road will lead you to Hell. Pray. Then put your blinker on and take the nearest exit.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”—Matthew 7:13-14
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