The Devil is quite the salesman. Seriously. How else could it be possible that millions upon millions are landing in Hell, a place known for its promise of eternal agony? Take the next second or two to really think about how amazing that is. Only a super salesman can sell you a bag of mud at the price of its weight in gold. And the Devil is such a salesman.
It seems reasonable to think that, when given the option of having good things or bad things happen to us, we'd side with the good things. Or when given the option of God or the Devil, that we'd side with God. And thus, when given the option of Heaven or Hell, that we'd side with Heaven.
But if that's so, why are so many people parading into Hell everyday? Why is it that "wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction"?
Dirty Water, Clean Water
I remember a scene in Malcolm X, where Malcolm was being shown an illustration involving dirty water and clean water. Malcolm was being told that if people are only offered foul, dirty water, they'd drink it. But if they were offered a choice between dirty water and clean water, then they'd choose to drink the clean water. (you can see the illustration here at the 7:40 mark)
If only it were that easy.
It seems Satan does a pretty good job of convincing people to drink dirty water instead of clean water all the time. Has been for a while. On second thought, the illustration posed to Malcolm lacks a bit. The truth is, the foul water isn't so easy to pick out. In fact, it might be better to say that sometimes the foul water looks more clean than the clean water does, which is why so many people are drinking it.
Not What It Seems
A better illustration might require a switch in the appearances of the drinks entirely.
From the earthly viewpoint, the water that God offered through his son Jesus comes with sacrifice, selflessness, trust, and surrender. It comes with a cross -- the symbol of pain and persecution. Conversely, Satan presents a clear glass that appears cool and refreshing. He offers ease and social advancement: power, wealth, status. He offers survival, and a "good life." On the surface, when you put these two next to each other, the Gospel's water of truth is appears more black and dangerous than Satan's water of lies, which appears clear and safe. But the opposite is true. It takes faith and trust in God to drink God's truth. It takes going beyond appearances, logic, and self-preservation. It takes a sort of reverse-thinking, a counter-intuitive mindset to believe that, despite the uneasy look and feel that the Gospel sometimes has, what God is ultimately offering is good for us. I think it's safe to say that Jesus' mission to die on the cross looked like dirty water.
I'm sure God's call for Moses to go into Egypt looked like dirty water. That Job, Gideon, David, Paul, and the apostles were all presented with, what to them looked like, dirty water. You, Me, we're presented with dirty water options all the time. Meanwhile, the fruit of the tree of good and evil: clear water. The thirty pieces of silver: clear water. King Saul over King David: clear water. Stones into bread: clear water.
The Bible says, "there is a way that seems right to Man, but the end thereof are the ways of death"If for some reason God is moving you toward something you don't understand, or something that doesn't make sense, that might be all the more reason to pay it attention. In the meanwhile, be careful about Satan's clear water temptations. He offered the same things to Jesus, and he's been offering it to people for as long as people have been around. And Hell is a full place because of it. Pray. Seek God. And follow him, despite how black the drink may look.