'There Is a Way That Seems Right to Man' - Why ‘You Do You’ Culture Leads to Destruction

Tessa Emily Hall

Contributing Writer
Updated Jun 30, 2022
'There Is a Way That Seems Right to Man' - Why ‘You Do You’ Culture Leads to Destruction

Everyone likes the idea of doing our own thing. However, we are given this warning in Proverbs 16:25: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”

“You’re in control of your own life.” 

“Self comes first.”

“Do your thing, whatever you think is best, whatever is right for you.”

These are the messages being preached by the “you do you” culture today—and it’s reflected in the lives of those who follow this principle. Too anxious to go to work today? No worries! Take a mental health day off. You do you. Didn’t mean to get pregnant? No need to stress—that’s what abortion is for. You do you. If you can’t already tell, in this type of society, self becomes our god and calls the shots.

Yet we were given this warning in Proverbs 16:25: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” So why does this path lead to destruction, and what does this look like in our society? How can we avoid living a life that could lead to destruction?

What Does 'There Is a Way That Seems Right to Man' Mean?

The apple appeared right to Adam and Eve—and yet we all know the destruction that followed. But at the moment, the apple seemed good. Refreshing. Tasty. In fact, they were brainwashed by the serpent into believing that, by eating the fruit, they would become like God (Genesis 3:5).

At that moment, self became their god.

Adam and Eve allowed their fleshly desire, impulse, and momentary feelings to keep them from following God’s command. Thus, they were withheld from the pleasures they had once enjoyed while living in God’s perfect will.

The enemy deceived Adam and Eve then, and he continues to deceive the world with the same basic philosophy: “Self comes first. There is no right or wrong, black or white.” Scripture warns us that this obsession with self would occur in the last days. 2 Timothy 3:2 says, “For people will love only themselves and their money.”

But to non-believers, it seems right to serve self and money. That’s because Satan is the “father of deception” (John 8:44), and his goal is to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10)—which is in complete opposition of God’s will for our lives. He knows that, if we live according to God’s Word, even if it involves a sacrifice of our flesh, then we will inherit eternal life (Romans 6:23).

But those who are influenced by the god of this world do not realize that they are on the path to destruction. 2 Corinthians 4:4 makes that clear: “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe.”

This is why putting self first seems right to our culture. The idea of not needing to give an account to anyone else for our decisions sounds like freedom, doesn’t it? No rules, no judgment, no morality…

But that illusion of freedom is false. It’s the bait the enemy uses to capture souls and keep them from living for Christ and inheriting true life.

The Bible warns us that sorrow awaits for those who call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). It’s impossible to know the difference between the two if we are allowing ourselves to become too influenced by the world rather than God’s Word.

Romans 12:2 tells us that we must refuse to allow the world to mold us into their ways, but instead, we must “let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”

If we fail to renew our minds with His Truth, then we fall prey to believing the world’s twisted version of the truth. We may begin to believe these self-focused, feel-good philosophies that teach us there is no absolute. And if we refuse to allow God’s Word to pierce our hearts (Hebrews 4:12), then we, too, may begin to follow the path that seems right to men and enter the wide gate that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13).

Why Does Man's Way Lead to Destruction?

The fall in the Garden of Eden brought a curse upon all humanity. It was our sin that created a division between us and God, and it was impossible for us to cleanse ourselves of this sin through our own power.

Jesus came to set us free from the curse—but if we refuse to accept the invitation of a new life in Christ and neglect to devote our hearts and lives to Him, then we will always be dictated by our flesh rather than the Holy Spirit. Anyone who isn’t for God is ultimately against Him (Matthew 12:30). Romans 8:7 tells us that “the sinful nature is always hostile to God.” There is no “good” apart from Christ because living by our flesh will always lead to destruction.

Why is that men’s ways always lead to death?

Let’s take a look at 1 John 2:16: For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.”

However, there is good news! According to Romans 8:2, those of us who are in Christ have been given “the life-giving Spirit” that has “freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Take a look at what Paul goes on to say in that chapter:

“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God” (Romans 8:12-14).

How Do We Avoid Leaning on Our Own Understanding?

If we lean on our own understanding, that means we are being dictated by our flesh rather than the Spirit within us—but according to 1 Corinthians 1:20, “God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish.” So how can we become dictated by God instead? 

It begins by renewing our minds in His Word. We are called to “think and act like Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5) and are warned against depending on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

The Bible wasn’t given to us for the sole purpose of feeding our minds. Let’s not merely trust in our own understanding as we read the Bible, and in doing so “extinguish the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). We need the guidance and understanding of the Holy Spirit, because “he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). Refusing to be guided by, and refusing to listen to, the Holy Spirit will only harm ourselves in the end.

You see, God has given us the Holy Spirit so that we can have understanding as we read Scripture—so let’s be careful not to open our Bibles with the intention of plucking out verses that could support worldly ideas when twisted and used out of context. Instead, let’s create our morals and standards for living based upon what we find in God’s Word, including what the Holy Spirit reveals to us while we read. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

God gifted us the Bible to save us from destruction. So why wouldn’t we want to receive His understanding and abide by the truth found in there?

How Can We Get Off the Path of Destruction?

A perfect church attendance isn’t going to grant us eternal life.

Saying a prayer before eating a meal isn’t going to grant us eternal life.

Merely reading our Bibles isn’t going to grant us eternal life.

Jesus is our only hope for attaining eternal life and receiving freedom from our path of death and destruction. Romans 5:21 says, So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

It is only through Christ that we gain access to God because Jesus is the “way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

True followers of Christ, however, will not be “Christian” in name alone; rather, we are called to live in obedience to His Word and His ways. True followers of God do not “make a practice of sinning” (1 John 5:18), because the sacrifice that Jesus paid on our behalf is not our ticket for us to continue living in sin (Romans 6:15). Our lifestyles must become the proof of our love toward Him. This is made evident in John 14:23-24:

Jesus replied, ‘All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me.” 

Yes, to the world, this kind of godly lifestyle may appear crazy. After all, sacrificing our flesh and living by the Spirit goes against the cultural norm. It involves that we love our enemies and care more for the needs of others than our own. It means that we do not make choices based on what seems most comfortable and gratifying to our flesh, but that we take up our cross and deny ourselves (Matthew 16:24), just like Jesus did … a tiny sacrifice on our behalf compared to the one He paid for us.

But the choice is ours. We can continue to “be a slave to sin, which leads to death”—or we can “choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living” (Romans 6:16).

Now, back to the original question…How can we walk away from the path of destruction? How can we attain true, eternal life and the pleasures that come from living in God’s perfect will?

The answer is simpler than you might think:

If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it” (Matthew 16:25).

“Give up your life” for the sake of Christ. Sounds like the total opposite of the “you do you” philosophy, don’t you think?

Further Reading

What Does "There is a Way that Seems Right to Man" Mean in Proverbs 14:12?

Why the Way That Seems Right to Men Leads to Death and Destruction

Why Does the Way that Seems Right to Man Always Lead to Destruction?

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/lili_popper

Tessa Emily HallTessa Emily Hall is an award-winning author who wrote her debut novel when she was sixteen. She is now a multi-published author of fiction and non-fiction inspirational yet authentic books for teens, including her latest release, LOVE YOUR SELFIE (October 2020, Ellie Claire). Tessa's passion for shedding light on clean entertainment and media for teens led her to a career as a Literary Agent at Cyle Young Literary Elite, YA Acquisitions Editor for Illuminate YA (LPC Imprint), and Founder/Editor of PursueMagazine.net. She is guilty of making way too many lattes and never finishing her to-read list. When her fingers aren’t flying 128 WPM across the keyboard, she can speak to teens, teach at writing conferences, and act in Christian films. Her favorite way to procrastinate is to connect with readers on her mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website: www.tessaemilyhall.com.