October 25, 2018 | Articles by Rev. David Bodanza
America's beloved poet Robert Frost spoke of meeting two divergent paths in the woods in his memorable poem "The Road Not Taken." Frost writes, “Two roads diverged in a wood and I --- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
Our lives are like a journey that begins at birth and leads to one of two destinations. There are only two divergent paths which end at one of the two destinations. There is the path which follows Christ and leads to heaven, and the path that follows everything else and leads to hell.
There are only two ways in life, which may be referred to as the way of blessedness and the way of wickedness, the way of righteousness and the way of evil, the way of blessing and the way of curse, or the way of life and the way of death. There are many side streets on the Christless path, yet they all culminate upon the dead-end of destruction. They lead away from the one and true living God.
Jesus tells us there is a wide road and a narrow road. “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) 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 psalmist distinguishes between the blessed and the wicked in Psalm 1. He writes, "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." (Psalm 1:1-3)
It’s not only what you do, but what you do not do. The Christian intentionally separates himself from the worldly system of godless thinking. He knows that friendship with godless thinking is hatred toward God.(James 4:4) The world is full of erroneous philosophies which corrupt people. These philosophies sink to the depths of where evil is called good and good is called evil. The person that follows Christ must be wise in the company he keeps. Some folks live as if God does not exist. There is no fear of God before their eyes. Godless philosophy is a contagious disease and will infect us if we are not careful. An old Welsh minister coined this adage in 1662, "Bad company is a disease, He who lies with dogs shall rise with fleas." We are so easily influenced to follow the crowd and put ourselves in compromising positions.
The way of blessedness realizes the worth of a soul and the folly of sin for a season. Jesus says, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul. (Matthew 16:24-26)
Tragically, people can turn from the path of blessedness by degrees. Charles Spurgeon remarked, “When men are living in sin they go from bad to worse.”
The way of the wicked is a downgrade slide, and it often goes undetected until it is too late. Consider the old illustration of the frog in boiling water. If you drop a frog in a pot
of boiling water, it will strenuously attempt to jump out to safety. But if you place it gently in a pot of lukewarm water and turn the heat on low, it will float there without alarm. As the water gradually heats up, the frog will sink into a stupor and will not notice that it is being boiled to death.
The blessed do not walk in the counsel of the wicked. Instead, they take their advice and derive their values and priorities from the Bible. They have God as their goal and God's word as their standard. The blessed do not stand in the way of sinners, for sinful thoughts soon translate into sinful actions. Ideas have consequences. We do not need to look past September 11, 2001 for proof of that. The blessed do not sit in the seat of mockers. Mockers have denigrated into God haters, atheists who ridicule God's people as simple fools who believe in a myth. The mocker's mouth will soon be shut and his seat will be empty. "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." (Galatians 6:7-8)
The blessed one's "delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night." (Psalm 1:2) God's word is his daily bread, it is his staple for the nourishment of the spiritual life. He desires that biblical truth be integrated into his life. Biblical truth will provide proper perspective, re-arrange priorities, warn of danger and fill the heart with hope. Were it not for the grace of God, the blessed could never have such a healthy desire. They have come to realize that humanity abhors a vacuum. Charles Spurgeon observed, “Man must have some delight, some supreme pleasure. His heart was never meant to be a vacuum. If not filled with the best things, it will be filled with the unworthy and disappointing."
The blessed one "is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." (Psalm 1:3) God has planted the blessed one in such a place spiritually. It is no accident. He is not uprooted by the difficult circumstances of life. He is not like your brown lawn in hot July during a drought. His roots go down deep for nourishment and strength. The blessed one is evergreen. The blessed are a blessing to others. Their security in God is an inspiration and proof that a godly life has benefits in this life as well as the next.
The psalmist writes, "Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish." (Psalm 1:4-6) The wicked have no stability or security. They are like tumbleweeds which are blown around at the whim of the wind. They have no root and bear no fruit. They will not survive the coming judgment and so will not be with the blessed. In short, they are doomed.
The day of judgment is coming. Christ will separate the blessed from the wicked. "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left." (Matthew 25:31-33)
The two different roads lead to two different destinations. The wicked will experience endless torment and misery. Today they may be fatally unconcerned.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12) Those who have walked Christ's path will live forever. They will experience
endless joy and gladness, for "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1) “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:3-4)
As you begin 2014, forget those resolutions that no one keeps. Instead, carefully consider what road you are on. Are you on the path which follows Christ and leads to heaven, or the path that follows all else and leads to hell? Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) The invitation of God still stands for now, "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. ... Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon." (Isaiah 55:1-3a,6-7)