Why is it that we cannot just trust our natural instincts concerning God and issues of morality and truth? If this proverb is true (and it is), then we face a very real danger when we trust what we think is right in our lives. When we live a self-directed life and a life that is self-oriented - we are going to have very serious problems. Why is this the case?
First of all, we need to see that for a time in this life - this proverb may seem like it is wrong. There are those who do what they think is right - and it seems to go well for them. I would agree with this assessment for the here and now - for life on this earth. But that is not what this proverb is saying to us. It is saying that the end of a self-directed life is death. The word end here is our old friend, "acharith," the Hebrew word meaning the latter end of things.
Things seemed to be going marvelous for the rich farmer who did not use his riches for the glory of God. Things seemed to be going well for the rich man who lavished abundance on himself, but did not even notice the starving Lazarus at his gate. Things seemed to be going well for Belshazzar the king as he feasted with his nobles and friends and drank wine out of the temple goblets and toasted the gods of silver and gold. Things seemed to be going well for many people who lived a life of luxury and self-indulgence here on earth. The problem is going to come at the latter end of their lives.
The rich farmer, after building bigger barns and saying he was set for life - experienced the end of his life - and had done nothing to prepare for eternity. The rich man realized as James said, the humiliation of his exalted position on earth, as he envied the destitute Lazarus' one in the afterlife. He begged for Lazarus to only dip the tip of his finger in water and touch the end of his tongue - for he was in agony in the fires of hell. Belshazzar soon grasped the infinite foolishness of serving the false gods of silver and gold - when the true and living God sent a hand to write on his wall. He learned that his self-directed life had been weighed in the balances - and he was found wanting. One can only hope he enjoyed that banquet that evening - for by the next evening he was dead and in hell - forever wanting in the sight of God.
These three are examples for us of the stupidity of the self-directed life. There are many others in Scripture and in life who follow their footsteps into hell. There is Dathan and Abiram who opposed God and received a non-stop trip to hell via the ground opening up and swallowing them and their families whole. There were the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah who undoubtedly held the same concept of God keeping His morality off of their bodies. They wound up fried along with their cities as God's judgment revealed their latter end. And, lest we think that this ignoble end is only for those guilty of heinous sin - there are those who die every day as good ole boys - as "good" "moral" people. Their ultimate end was sealed when they decided that they were decent enough and did not need Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross to pay for their sins.
When you listen to the news, the entertainment industry, the religious elite, and the gurus of public opinion - you would think that the cross of Christ is foolishness (Gee that sounds like Paul in 1 Corinthians doesn't it). You would think that mankind does not need a religious crutch to lean on - mankind can solve their own problems without religion or some savior. But reality is this - mankind does not need a crutch. We would only need a crutch if we were injured. The fact is that we are dead! We need a whole new life. We might need a religious system if we only needed modification. The fact is that we are ruined. We need to be completely regenerated and made new. But the world for the most part rejects these truths revealed to us in Scripture. They have a way that seems right to them - that makes more sense. That is because "the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." It is because, "the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks (read thinkers here) search for wisdom; but we preach Christ curcified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."
There is that way that seems to right to men - but in the end "THAT WAY" is actually the foolish and the stupid one. If they continue following it and reject the gospel . . . it will end in death - eternal death in hell. I know that is not popular in today's culture - either religious or secular - but nevertheless - it is the truth. If we are wise we will reject what the world calls wisdom - and embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ - for that is truly wisdom that will last through all the ages and until the end of time.