Solomon said, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Prov 14:12). Then he repeated the exact same sentence in Proverbs 16:25. We have little reason to doubt that the reason for this repeat is the insidious nature of mans innate tendency to value his own ideas as being the stuff of truth, even though it brings him to destruction. The natural man cannot receive the notion that it is his own reliance upon those things which he believes to be true that will lead him to ruin. Solomon, more succinctly, expressed the same thought in Proverbs 12:15; “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes.” and in Proverbs 16:2; “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes”. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.”(Prov 21:2)
Nothing is more common among the inhabitants of this world (especially the religious of whatever type) than the idea that GOD weighs the relative “goodness” of men and upon that basis metes out blessings or curses, as the case may be. Most entertain the notion that the “good deeds” and “devotion” of men have some place of high regard in the eyes of the LORD.
When a self-righteous man reads that “the LORD looketh on the heart.” (1Sam 16:7), he takes great comfort as he imagines the LORD’s approving look smiling upon him. That man however, who has been made aware of his own innate wickedness is terrified at the same prospect. For if the LORD looks upon the heart, then it is certain that nothing is hidden from HIS gaze which a man would harbor there. The secret place where he often fears to tread, is quite open to HIM who alone holds the key to it. Where can a man go to escape the watchful eye of HIM who will by no means clear the guilty nor acquit the wicked? (see Exod.34:7; Nah.1:3)
Isaiah describes the unsuitableness of anything which springs from the creature. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.” (Isa 64:6-7) If our righteousnesses (i.e.; acts of devotion, obedience, and kindness) is as a menstruous cloth in the sight of a HOLY GOD, then where shall we go when covered with the sin which has caused HIM to hide HIS face from us. “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Mat 3:12) Can there possibly be a greater dilemma which faces the natural man? “For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” (Luke 23:31) “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1Pet 4:17-18)
When we read in the scriptures, “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble” (Prov 4:18-19); we are caused to desire to know what this path is and who among men can be called “just”. We are already well acquainted with the way of the wicked, having been born under the curse of the law and delighting to rebel against the Righteous KING since the first day we drew breath.
The Psalmist asked this very question and answered it quite plainly. “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” (Psa 24:3-4) The man of religion looks at this verse and sets about to cleanse himself and develop the necessary attributes which will give him an entrance there. Yet the scriptures are quite clear that there is only ONE MAN, who has ever fulfilled these requirements. It is HE who “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb 4:15); or as Peter described HIM, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” (1Pet 2:22)
The only “righteousness” which is acceptable in the courts of heaven, is a perfect and unadulterated “righteousness”, in which there is no mixture of error or even the slightest hint of self-promotion and glory. We would be drowned in self-loathing and despair, except that we have been given ears to hear a most joyful sound, which rings throughout the earth and ministers light to those who sit in darkness. This sound is the “gospel of the glory of the blessed GOD”. This clarion call rings across hill and dale and the sheep of the LORD’s pasture are enabled to hear it when HE is pleased to call each one by name.
This gospel declares both the ORIGIN and the EXTENT, of that righteousness and redemption which is secured for the sons of GOD by and in JESUS CHRIST. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” (1Cor 1:30) This is the “PATH of the JUST” which Paul testifies of, “And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”(1Tim 1:14-15)
JESUS CHRIST, alone, is the JUST ONE. No other man, born of a woman can claim this standing. HE has fulfilled every jot and tittle of the Law. HE alone has “clean hands”. HE went about doing good each day of HIS life. “The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.” (Job 17:9)
JESUS CHRIST, alone, has a “pure heart”. As Peter said, “neither was guile found in his mouth”. We are exhorted to “love one another with a pure heart fervently.” (1Pet 1:22) HE is the only man who has ever done that perfectly. “having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” (John 13:1)
JESUS CHRIST, alone, has not “lifted up HIS soul unto vanity.” HE came into the world with one purpose in mind which was to do HIS FATHER’s will. “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:30) HE sought no approval from men.
JESUS CHRIST, alone, has not “sworn deceitfully”. What HE has said, HE will do. “The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.” (1Sam 15:29) “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” (Titus 1:2) “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3)
The LORD weighs the “path of the JUST’. No other path is worthy of HIS consideration nor shall any be received who are not found “in” that PATH. How foolish is that man who shall seek to come into the presence of GOD through any other WAY. Even as our LORD testified, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John14:6) “Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters.” (Isa 43:16) Are you “in” this PATH?