“The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” No one is quite sure where the saying came from, but it first appeared in this form in a London newspaper in 1828. It probably came from an 18th century German proverb. And it carries with it two ideas: First, what has come to be known as the “Law of Unintended Consequences.” We can make decisions which seem really good at the time, but have not been thought out well enough to guard against results we never considered. Years ago there was a big push to tax the very wealthy by placing an onerous levy on yachts. The idea was to raise revenue. In response many of the rich said, “oh wow – too expensive for me now.” And the result was the decimation of the yacht industry. The super rich didn’t really care. But the majority of those buying previously, disappeared. Instead of raising revenue, it put multitudes out of work and lowered revenue. Oops. But many of us can attest to making similar foolish moves in our own lives. I know I can.
The second idea in the proverb is that which is more closely related to what Jesus said in Matt. 7:13 – “The gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction.” Taking no pains to know the truth of God’s Word and to live in the light of it is much easier than serving Christ. Jesus went on to say that “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life.” Walking contrary to the World and our own flesh is hard. It is fraught with difficulties. Jesus would again tell His disciples: “In the world you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33) And Paul would preach in Lystra, Iconium and Antioch: “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)
What makes this so? Nothing to me, makes it more difficult than fighting the battle of the remnants of indwelling sin. If we are really engaged in it – we have both the promise of eventual victory and total deliverance, as well as the piercing reality of failure at times. To the true Believer, nothing so pierces the heart as those times when we have fallen into an old sin, and grieved the Holy Spirit within. It is hard in those moments to guard against the grace of conviction being deformed into condemnation. How glorious that the new nature within, and the indwelling presence of God will no longer let us sin comfortably. But it doesn’t feel glorious when our heart is smarting from the sting of knowing how we have offended our precious Savior, grieved His indwelling Spirit, perhaps hurt other brothers or sisters in Christ, or misrepresented our Lord to the World. It is grace that makes those things grievous to us. AND, it is grace that bids us consider over and over and over – that “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it. White as snow.”
To this end then, is why we are admonished to be sure we take advantage of what might just be the most neglected part of the “armor of God” as given to us in Ephesians 6: The provided shoes for our feet, in the readiness given by the Gospel of peace. To preach the reality of the Gospel to ourselves over and over and over. To remember that we stand before our God NOT in our own righteousness, but in the righteousness of Christ. There is nothing else which keeps us so ready to continue our trek toward the Celestial City with a calm heart and assured mind as when we stand firmly on the Rock of our Salvation alone. When we protect ourselves from being debilitated by the thorns, pits, sharp stones and debris which litters our path – by resting only in the finished work of Christ – and not in our performance. Nothing gives a more “ready” mind to face the challenges of the day, then when our feet are firm in the Gospel.
Maybe you are smarting today from a fresh wound of your own sinfulness. Then hear me Christian – Christ has died. His blood has atoned. He has made you His own, and taken full responsibility for you. He cannot fail. His cross is all sufficient. He who began this good work in you WILL complete it until that great day of His return. Stand steadfast and sure on the Gospel. For in Christ, you have peace with God. And in that peace, is the means to fight still, and press forward.