“At the Last…”
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“At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.”—Prov. 23:32.
The harlot woman:
“But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.”—Prov. 5:4,5.
The man of ill-gotten riches:
“…at his end shall be a fool.”—Jer. 17:11.
“…the end of that mirth is heaviness.”—Prov. 14:13.
Morality and religion without the new birth:
“…but the end thereof are the ways of death.”—Prov. 14:12.
The final end of sin:
“Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”—Jas. 1:15.
Satan is a murderer and a liar, said Jesus in John 8:44. To the Pharisees He said:
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
Satan’s object for the human race is death—death to the body and death to the soul. He means to bring death to beauty, to youth, to love, to happiness, to purity, to every immortal soul. His object is murder. The Bible warns again and again that: “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23); “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:4,20); and, “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
God said to Adam and Eve, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” When Satan tempted them he meant to bring death to them and to the race, and damnation to their souls and all the souls who should follow them. Satan’s object is murder!
And Satan’s method is to lie. “There is no truth in him,” Jesus said. “When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
Satan is a liar because he can accomplish his purpose in no other way. If Satan told the truth about sin when he tempts people, no one would ever sin. Every person who ever sins is deceived into it.
Depraved men now love sin, have a longing for sin; but if men realized how sin would end, they would hate it and flee from it.
If Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden had believed God when He said, “Thou shalt surely die,” and had not believed Satan when he said, “Ye shall NOT surely die,” they would never have eaten of the forbidden fruit.
Suppose Satan had said to Adam and Eve, “I want to damn your souls. I want to bring hate, a curse on every child who will ever be born. If you eat of this fruit, if you turn away from God and disobey Him, defy Him, disbelieve Him, it will mean eternal death for all. It will mean the curse of physical death, the taint of disease, the sorrows of crime, divisions, strife, murder, adultery, lying, stealing, deceiving; if you take this step in sin, you are stepping toward eternal Hell and torment.” If Satan had said that, he would never have gotten Adam and Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit.
It is only by lying that Satan gets people to go his way toward death. Murder is his object, to lie is his method. He is a murderer and a liar, Jesus said.
Sinner, look before you leap! Before you go into sin, learn how it will end! Satan’s ways start sweet but end bitter. Satan’s promises sound good but are a lie. Satan’s pleasures end in sorrow. Satan’s riches end in poverty. Sin’s ways end in death!
On a narrow road approaching a hill a reckless motorist dashed out to go around the car in front of him. Just as he came to the crest of the hill and parallel to the other car, he saw too late a car approaching from the opposite side. In the two-lane highway there was no room for three cars parallel. The man who tried to pass another car on the hill careened head on into the approaching car and was killed. He was a fool because he raced on when he was not able to see what was in front of him.
But anyone is a fool who takes a course of action without considering how it will end. Anyone is a fool who starts headlong down a long hill before considering whether he has any brakes.
Ten miles from Elmira, New York, a man got in his car and started down an icy hill toward the highway. At the foot of the hill ran the Erie Railroad. He did not see the approaching train until he was already headed down the hill. He tried desperately to stop but couldn’t. The car slid onto the railroad track, and the man was instantly killed. How foolish not to have looked for the train before he started down the hill!
In that tragedy there is a double lesson. The man lost his life because he did not look ahead to see how his trip down the hill would end. But the same man the preceding Sunday heard me preach. I pleaded with him to take the Saviour, but he wouldn’t. Although he was a middle-aged man, he decided to risk it longer on Satan’s side.
He lost his life by starting in his car down the hill without looking ahead, but he lost his soul forever because he turned down Jesus and neglected his opportunity without looking ahead to see where it would end!
Dear sinner, look before you leap! Find out how sin ends before you indulge in it.
I will show you from the Word of God how certain sins end. Before you go into these sins, consider whether or not you want to land where they will eventually take you.
I. The End of the Sin of Drink
There is a fascination about alcoholic drink! The sense of the luxury of expensive, bubbling champagne! The hilarity of the cocktail party! The pleasant warmth of the toddy, the stimulation of brandy, the convivial sociability of beer!
Fortified by liquor, the timid man becomes bold. The wallflower becomes, she thinks, the wittiest conversationalist! After a few drinks, every joke is funny, every remark is brilliant. The casual stranger becomes a bosom friend. Sorrows are forgotten for the moment.
Conscience troubles no more. Marriage ties, holy vows, honest responsibilities lose their hold under the influence of drink. So one seems to be more carefree. People seem friendlier. Life seems gayer. Satan offers many attractions in alcoholic drink.
But wait! How will it end? Think it through. No sensible person should embark on a course of action that may have disastrous results. See what the Word of God says about alcoholic drink:
“Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.”—Prov. 23:31,32.
True enough, the red wine is beautiful in the tall-stemmed glass. True enough, there is a thrill, a “kick” in the first stages of intoxication.
But wait! The wine is the color of blood, and that ought to warn you that it ends in death. “At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.”
Alcohol is a poison, so the human body naturally rebels against it. The stomach, not accustomed to drink, vomits out the poison which has no place nor use in the body.
Just as the body has a natural tendency to vomit out poisonous food, so it has a natural tendency to reject alcoholic drinks. Many a man does not have as much sense in his head as he has in his stomach!
Alcohol is soon absorbed into the blood and is slowly oxidized, the odor coming out through the breath. Alcohol first stupefies the higher brain centers. The brain relaxes control in the area of moral inhibitions. What was profane a few minutes ago now sounds funny. The indecent suggestion a while ago now seems, to the brain which is beginning to be stupefied by a very small amount of alcohol, to be very reasonable.
The man who drinks would commit adultery under the influence of liquor when he would not commit the same sin sober. The girl who drinks will permit familiarities that would make her shudder if she were sober.
The higher brain centers that control moral sense and responsibility are deadened first by alcohol.
Then muscular control begins to slacken. A man cannot see accurately. Tests show that one with two glasses of beer is not nearly as good a marksman with a rifle as he was before he drank.
The man with two or three glasses of beer in his stomach becomes a very unsafe driver. He may feel that he drives better, but actually, he drives much worse. He has no sense of danger, no sense of moral responsibility. His foot is slower on the pedal, and his hand is slower on the steering wheel.
Next, alcohol may deaden the brain enough to bring unconsciousness, and the man is dead drunk. Or if he has a little more alcohol, he has enough to deaden the involuntary muscular reactions of the body. A certain percentage of alcohol in the blood stupefies the nerve centers that control breathing; the drunk stops breathing and dies.
But many a man or woman may drink only moderately for years. Many drink who have never been drunk. Are such people to deny themselves what pleasure they get out of drinking, when they do not lose control of themselves as some others do and become drunkards?
The answer is not as simple as that. If it takes eight glasses of beer to make a man drunk (less for some people), then the man who has one glass is one-eighth drunk.
The man who has two glasses is one-fourth drunk. And no man one-fourth drunk is safe as an engineer of a passenger train, as a pilot on a plane, nor is he safe to drive an automobile down the road or safe to handle a steam shovel or a drill press or a welding torch.
No girl one-fourth drunk is safe in the presence of sex temptation.
He who would not gamble without drinking will gamble when he is one-fourth drunk. He who never intended to take more than two glasses of beer can be tempted to take more when he is already one-fourth drunk!
One lie is not as bad as eight lies, but it is still a lie! And a man with one glass of beer in his system may not be in as great a danger as the man with eight glasses; but he is still drunk enough to kill somebody with his car, to say things he would not say if he were sober, to make the wrong decisions, and to take another drink if the temptation comes strongly.
Wine is still “a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Prov. 20:1).
No doubt Lot was a moderate drinker while in Sodom. Only when calamity came—when his wife turned to a pillar of salt, when his married daughters burned to death in Sodom, when his property was all destroyed—did Lot succumb to temptation. His worldly daughters then could get him drunk.
But the only people who ever become drunkards are the moderate drinkers. So, as chapter 19 of Genesis tells us, Lot the moderate drinker became Lot the drunkard. Guilty of incest with his own daughters, he brought upon himself unspeakable shame.
Besides the danger to the one who drinks, there is the danger to his loved ones. Many a man has kept whiskey in his home and has drunk a moderate toddy daily without many immediate bad effects. But such men often find later that their sons turn out to be drunkards. They do not have the protection of strong convictions against drink, and the example of their fathers leads them into the clutches of this terrible temptation.
You don’t think you are likely to become a drunkard? Let me ask you, Do you suppose anyone ever expected to become a drunkard? No! “Wine is a mocker.” It is deceiving.
If Satan told you, “I am going to make you into a drunkard, with the loss of all that life holds dear; I will take away your power to hold a job, the love of your wife, the respect of your children, your means of support, your health; I will cause you to be buried in a pauper’s grave and wake up in a drunkard’s Hell”—I say, if Satan told anyone that, he could never get him to drink.
So I beg you in Jesus’ name, stop and think! Consider how drink ends before you begin it! Remember, “At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.”
II. The End of Sex Sin
Proverbs 5:3–5 well portrays the deceitfulness of sin and the bitter end of it!
“For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.”
The Bible recognizes the fascination of a fallen woman. Her lips “drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil.” The woman who goes into sin may be young and beautiful. Her smile is friendly, her lips are soft, her body stirs the blood. Is not sex desire a natural desire, after all?
But before you go into sin, remember—it has to end somewhere! And here is the way a fallen woman ends: “Her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.”
The same warning is repeated in Proverbs 7:25–27:
“Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.”
How fair is God’s warning! The fallen woman has cast down many wounded. Many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to Hell! And the bitter experience of millions proves that the Word of God is true.
There is always an attraction about forbidden fruit. That is part of the sinful, perverted, fallen nature of wicked mankind. Proverbs 9:17 says about the fallen woman and about the forbidden pleasures: “Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” That is a quote from the mouth of the fallen woman; but God answers back in verse 18, “But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.”
Sinner, before you try the lips of the harlot, before you enjoy her embrace, remember that “her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword.” Remember that “her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.” Remember that “her guests are in the depths of hell.”
In Fort Worth, Texas a man called me to come see him in his hotel room. “I am about to go to Hell!” he said. It was eleven o’clock at night, but I went.
I found him half-dressed with a pint of liquor beside him and a gun under his pillow. Lust had brought the ruin of everything dear. He had wasted on evil women the inheritance left him by his father.
He had broken the heart of the beautiful girl who married him; now she had left him. He had lost his job over drink and wicked women. Now his body was possessed by a horrible disease so that the family physician refused him the privilege of a good-bye kiss for his own six-year-old boy whom he could see no more! So he made one last date with a harlot to meet him at midnight, planned to drink the booze, then blow out his brains!
Does any sensible man want to come to such an end? What a fool a man is to trifle with sin before checking on how it will end! Sex sin ends in broken hearts, ruined homes, defiled bodies, a curse on children yet unborn, in premature death, then in Hell!
Years ago my wife and I went to a hospital to visit a girl only fifteen years old. She came from a good family. In the hospital we talked with her. She had an attractive face and form and beautiful red hair. She was bitter, disillusioned, hopeless.
As we waited in the hospital room, the nurse brought the fifteen-year-old her little illegitimate baby to nurse. At once she put a towel over her face. She had sworn she would never see it. She hated the baby, the brand, mark, proof and outcome of her sin.
Does any girl want to turn out like this? Dear girl, if you knew that that was at the end of the road, would you go into sin? Would you dally with temptation in necking and petting, the lewd movie, the indecencies permitted on the dance floor? Would you?
If you knew it would end with an illegitimate baby, a broken heart, a ruined name and the wreck of your hopes for a happy marriage and a happy home, would you go on and trifle with sex sin?
In Jesus’ name, consider how it will end before you go on in such sin. Remember that the Bible says, “Her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword.”
III. The End of Ill-Gotten Money
Everyone needs money. Money buys food, necessary clothing, shelter. With money people educate their children, support the work of God, care for the poor. Everybody needs money.
Yet, strangely enough, money is the greatest temptation, the source of the most prevalent sin. First Timothy 6:8–10 says:
“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
We should be content with food and raiment. Covetousness is a great sin. People who want to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and lead people to Hell.
The love of money is the root of all evil. Those who are covetous err from the faith, find themselves backslidden and pierce themselves through with many sorrows.
Every kind of sin may be committed by one who is covetous. For love of money, a man will steal. For love of money, a man will sell liquor that damns people, body and soul. For love of money, a girl will sell her body and virtue. For love of money, Lot moved down into Sodom, leading to his own moral breakdown and to the eternal damnation of his children. Covetousness is a terrible sin.
Reader, you had better see where covetousness ends before you let this sin enslave your soul, before you make moneymaking first in your life.
Jeremiah 17:11 says, “As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.”
The man who gets riches, and not by right, will die and leave them, “and at his end shall be a fool.”
“Easy come, easy go” is a proverb about making money. So is, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” The man who makes money wrongfully cannot keep it. It proves a curse while he has it. And after all, he dies and leaves it. “And at his end shall be a fool.”
Covetousness is wrong, even if one makes money honestly. The gambler, the confidence man, the cheat, may get money wrongfully and lose it more quickly. But even the man who earns money honestly, if he hoards it, multiplies it, depends upon it, if he loves it, finds that he becomes the slave of money. Moneymaking itself is a very poor aim in life. “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition,” says I Timothy 6:9. Some who coveted after money “have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows,” says the next verse.
Before you set about to make much money or to put moneymaking as a ranking motive in life, very carefully consider the terrible disappointments, the enslavement and the price one must pay.
I saw a great mansion standing on a half city block in one of the principal cities of America. It was built of the most expensive brick. The floors were the finest hardwood. The doors were solid mahogany, three inches thick! The walls were covered with beautiful tapestry.
There was an elaborate and expensive bath for every bedroom. Even the servants’ quarters were a seven-room mansion.
The building, I understand, cost some $250,000 (1950 price). The lot itself was worth many thousands of dollars. Yet I was surprised to find that the man who dreamed it, built it and lived in it, sold it for $30,000. His wife died. His daughter married a drunken profligate. Then the poor man with a broken heart wanted to get out of the place that reminded him of the happiness which had fled.
The one who puts money first in his life, “at his end shall be a fool.”
In Luke 12:16–34, Jesus tells of a man who was a fine farmer, thrifty, intelligent, progressive. His crops turned out so well that he had to tear down his old barns and build greater. He stored up enough goods to last him many years, and said, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”
But God said to him, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” Jesus added, “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
Before you set your heart on money, remember that it cannot buy happiness nor health nor love nor Heaven. How poor is the man who has money but doesn’t have peace. How poor is the man who is rich in this world’s goods, then goes to Hell!
Before you set out to enjoy prosperity and have your heart upon things of this world, remember that at the end you are likely to be a fool in God’s sight.
O reader, look where the road ends before you start to travel it!
IV. The End of Worldly
“But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth,” says
I Timothy 5:6. Those who live for pleasure will find that life is not worth living. Proverbs 14:13 says, “Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.”
Any good time the Devil gives ends in sorrow. Any fair promise the Devil makes is a lie. And Satan never was more deceitful than when he promised pleasure in sin. At the very time a sinner is trying to enjoy life the most, his heart is sorrowful, “and the end of that mirth is heaviness.”
The Prodigal Son who gathered all together and went into a far country and wasted his substance with riotous living thought he would have a wonderful time. He had what he thought would help him enjoy life—money and no restrictions on his conduct. He could drink if he wanted to, with no father at hand to rebuke him. He could waste his living with harlots, since the elder brother was not there to criticize. It appeared that he had lots of friends.
But the road of pleasure, the primrose path, the way of wine, women and song, led to a hogpen, poverty and a disillusioned heart.
You don’t always come, physically, to the hogpen before you know that the pleasure of the world doesn’t end happily. It is a surprising fact that nearly all the suicides are people who have drunk from the cup of pleasure down to the very dregs. People who drink, who dance, who enjoy worldly pleasures, soon find that there is no real peace of heart in it all. “The end of that mirth is heaviness.”
I drove into a filling station in Dallas, Texas and casually said to a man, “How are you today?”
He answered, “If you honestly want to know, I feel like a nut and a fool. If there ever was a man who has made a fool out of himself, I am that man.”
When I inquired the trouble, he said, “Last night when I got my pay for the week I went out and got drunk. When I woke up this morning, I didn’t have a penny left. I have no money for meals; I cannot pay my room rent; my head is nearly bursting with pain; my conscience torments me. I wasted a week’s wages, lost the respect of good people and my own self-respect; and now I have a splitting headache and a guilty conscience. I am the prize fool of the whole town!”
His “good time” didn’t end up happily. “The end of that mirth is heaviness.”
When I was a pastor in Shamrock, Texas, a young woman was brought to see me who had threatened suicide. When I talked to her, she said, “Brother Rice, life is not fit to live! I wish I were dead! I still have half a mind to kill myself. There is nothing that can really make one happy.
“My father gave me a good education. I have had the pleasure of travel. I have had good musical training. I belong to the country club crowd. I have danced; I have drunk cocktails; I have done everything else that a decent, nice girl would do. But I’m miserable. Nothing in the world can make one happy. And life is not fit to live. I wish I were dead!”
“I know how you can be happy,” I said. “I know where you can find peace and joy and satisfaction.”
“If you know, I wish you would tell me. I have never found anything that ended happily. You may think you are having a good time for a little while, but at last you have only an aching heart and no peace. If you know a way to be happy, I wish you would show me.”
“Let us kneel right here in this living room; and you tell the Lord what you have told me, that sinful pleasure has not brought you happiness, that sin deceives and leaves one embittered and empty. Tell Him that all Satan’s promises are clouds without rain, cisterns that can hold no water, that all his promises are lying deceits that cannot satisfy the heart. And ask Jesus Christ to come in and forgive you and save you and make you happy. Put your trust in Him.”
We knelt together. She sobbed while I prayed. Then in her own quiet way she put her trust in Jesus, and quietly peaceful she took my hand and claimed Christ as her Saviour.
She left with a peace, a joy that the world cannot give.
Oh, don’t think I am against a good time. Don’t think I am trying to take away happiness from young people. I want you to be happy. But I want you to have the happiness that will still be good tomorrow! I want you to have a good time, but fifty years from now I want you still to be having a good time. I want the kind of happiness that lasts from now into eternity.
Anybody is foolish who will start to have a good time without seeing how it will end. If your good time ends in a drunk, with a besmirched name, a soiled character and an aching heart, then it is not much of a good time. If your good time ends with a hardened heart and a calloused, embittered attitude toward life, it is not a good time. If your good time ends like that of the Prodigal Son—in a hogpen in famine time—then surely you do not want it.
Dr. Bob Jones, in a chapel talk at Bob Jones University, said, “Happiness is not something that you find by seeking for it. Happiness is something that you stumble over on the road of duty.”
Oh, the way to happiness is to come to Jesus and yield your heart to Him. Trust Him to forgive your sins. Trust Him to make you happy. Trust Him to help you live right. And, thank God, in Him you will find the joys that this world cannot give. He will give the peace that passeth understanding. And instead of disillusionment, every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before!
One day I walked between two long rows of women in the Ohio Women’s Reformatory. Most were young women who had landed in this penitentiary after a life of pleasure.
I warn you from God’s Word that “the end of that mirth is heaviness.” Set out to serve God and trust Him to furnish happiness. “She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.” The end of such worldly pleasure is a broken heart! Alas, the end of such pleasure may be Hell itself. Do not go that road! It ends at the wrong place.
V. The Fearful End of Human Morality and Human Religion Without the New Birth
Many would frankly agree with me that “wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” You would join in the scriptural position, “At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.”
Many do not commit the scarlet sin; you would never think of going that way. You know that “her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword….her steps take hold on hell.” Perhaps you know that worldly pleasure does not satisfy and that “the end of that mirth is heaviness.” Perhaps you would even agree that covetousness is an unsatisfying, cankerous sore that may ruin the life.
But wait! Are you sure that you are not on a road whose end is death?
Many people tell me that they live moral lives. One is a Mason who tries to subdue his passions and lives on the square and compass, he says. Another is an Odd Fellow who lives by the three links, or professes to, and tries to be a Good Samaritan.
Another tells me that he seeks to live by the Golden Rule and tries to do unto others as he wishes them to do unto him. Still others would say that they have been baptized or they have been confirmed, that they are members of churches, that they attend regularly.
To all of these I must say that if you have not personally come to know Jesus Christ as your own Saviour, if you have not depended upon Him in a definite transaction and been born again, then you are still on the road to Hell. You are still on the way of death. Oh, check up on the end of that road before you travel it further!
Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Again in Proverbs 16:25 the verse is repeated, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
Here the Bible says there is a certain way that people follow, a way that seems right but really ends in death! People are on this way of death and perfectly sincere. People are on this way of death yet trying to be moral, trying to be religious. People are on this way of death, yet they go to church and pray and give their money.
Remember this: human ways of morality and religion lead to death!
Nicodemus—the moral man; the Pharisee; the religious, praying, tithing man—was in the way that seems right to a man, but Jesus told him, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” He said, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”
If ever there were good, clean, moral men, they were the Pharisees like Nicodemus and like Saul of Tarsus before he was converted. But they were on the way of death.
In Matthew 7:21–23 Jesus Christ says:
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Not all those who say, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do God’s will about salvation.
You cannot select the way to Heaven yourself. However sincere you are, if you have not definitely come to Christ and depended on Him for salvation, the way you are on is the way of death.
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Jesus says that many will come and call Him Lord, people who have preached and prophesied and cast out devils and done many wonderful works; but to these people who have been in a way that seems right to men—a religious way, a moral way—He will say, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
It is shocking but true that millions who are in the churches, who pray, who claim to live by the Ten Commandments or by the Golden Rule, who have been baptized or sprinkled or confirmed, are really on the way of death. They have good religion, humanly speaking; good moral standards, humanly speaking; but they have not been born of God. Their hearts have never been changed by the power of the Holy Spirit. They have never honestly trusted in the blood of Jesus Christ which was shed to save sinners. So, though they are in a way that seems right to a man, the end of it will be death, everlasting death!
Oh, how sad to have Jesus turn you away from Heaven because you were on such a good, moral way you did not think you needed Jesus Himself! You did not think that you needed to be born again!
In Matthew, chapter 22, Jesus tells of a great king who made a marriage for his son and invited many people. When they came, the king came in to see the guests, and Jesus said:
“And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Here is a sad truth. Many people want to come to the great wedding feast when the Lord Jesus introduces His bride to the Father, want to be at the wedding supper with all the redeemed, but they don’t have on the wedding garment which God Himself must furnish!
Some reader may say, “I think my lodge garments of morality are clean enough, better than most men wear.” But only the garment of the imputed righteousness of Jesus covering your vile sins will be suitable for that occasion!
The God who furnishes the supper is the same God who must furnish the wedding garment.
If you have not been to Jesus and allowed Him to give you the garment of His own righteousness, if you have not allowed Him to cover your sins with His own merit, His own goodness, then you cannot go to Heaven.
Sinner, have you been washed in the blood? Have you really come to God through Jesus Christ? Remember that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Any other way may seem to you to be safe, but it does not lead to Heaven. Any other way that avoids the new birth by personal faith in Jesus Christ and receiving Him as Saviour is a false way, and “the end thereof are the ways of death.”
Wait! See where the road ends before you take it! Human goodness is not enough! After all, you are a sinner, and “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6).
You think that you are good, but God says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). Again, Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.”
You cannot make yourself good. You cannot make yourself clean. As the leopard cannot change his spots, as the Ethiopian cannot change his skin, neither can you make yourself good. Only a miracle of God can do that, a miracle of regeneration that fixes the heart itself.
So, then, human ways of morality lead but to death and Hell. And any kind of religion that does not involve a new heart, a new birth, a personal acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Saviour, cannot lead to Heaven.
Oh, beware of the road you travel! “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death”!
Is it not strange that religion may lead to Hell the same as drunkenness? Is it not strange that self-righteous morality may lead to Hell as well as adultery? But it is true. The human heart is wicked, and your own ways are wrong ways. Your own goodness is wickedness in God’s sight.
Only as a man turns to trust Jesus Christ alone for salvation can he be received in Heaven. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). There is no other way to settle this matter. John 3:36 says, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
No kind of religion, no kind of morality, no course of good deeds or religious rites can save a soul. Only coming to Jesus Christ in simple faith can cleanse your heart and make you clean, put you on the road to Heaven and make you acceptable to God!
Oh, get off the road that leads to Hell! Get off the road of human morality, the road of human religion that you have been depending on to take you to Heaven. Instead, take the road of simple faith in Christ, depending on Christ to do for you what you cannot do for yourself, and that is, save your soul.
VI. The End of All Sin Is Death
James 1:15 says:
“Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
Sin leads to death.
If it is the sin of alcohol—it leads to death. If it is the sin of adultery and fornication and lust—it leads to death. If it is the sin of ill-gotten riches—it leads to death. If it is the sin of worldly pleasure—it leads to death. If it is the sin of self-righteous morality while rejecting Christ—it leads to death. “SIN, WHEN IT IS FINISHED, BRINGETH FORTH DEATH”!
Oh, then, before you go further on the road of sin, look at the end of it! The crossbone and skull marks the way of sin. The tombstone, the wail, the dirge, the blackness of night, eternal despair, the torment of a damned soul, the lake of fire and brimstone—these mark the end of sin.
In Romans 6:23 that is clearly expressed: “The wages of sin is death.” But that same Scripture has another statement! “But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
You see that all are sinners, and if a man takes his proper wages, gets his honest deserts, he will go to Hell. But one can take the free gift of God and have everlasting life!
Everyone who goes to Hell pays his own way. Everyone who goes to Heaven rides on a pass! “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”!
You see the end of the road of sin. But you can turn your heart from sin and seek the Lord. And the moment you honestly turn from sin and put your trust in Jesus Christ, that moment He will save your soul and take you off the road of death.
What a difference there is between the end of the road for the sinner and the end of the road for one who has trusted in Christ! Daniel 12:2 says, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
All who go on the road of sin, whether it be drunkenness, adultery or self-righteous morality, must awake to “shame and everlasting contempt.” But those who put their trust in Jesus Christ, depending on His mercy and forgiveness and salvation, will awake to everlasting life!