A Pastor’s Ponderings: When the Ends Justify the Means (Part 2)

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By Pastor Doug Stauffer

I cannot count the number of times I have cautioned people to check their motives. Why do you do what you do? The “ends justifying the means” usually involves doing something questionable to achieve a positive outcome. Those who justify wrongdoing by pointing to the positive good believe in situational ethics. Societal norms continue shifting further away from holiness and godliness; thus, societies are drifting far from the Creator and his intended purposes and will.

People often say you don’t question results, but God always questions them. Human beings may not be bothered by how results are achieved, but God cares. He objects to the methods when the processes fail to uphold biblical principles.

God’s attributes are many but summarized as holy, just, and good. In turn, his followers are called to be holy in our conduct, thus reflecting his true character. Peter offers the world God’s true standard. “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). The Bible commands Christians to be holy because our Maker and Redeemer is holy.

We can rationalize any action with a strong enough motivation. God doesn’t just want us to make “good” decisions in a vacuum. He wants us to be led by him as we make those decisions. When we are not actively seeking his counsel, terrible choices will follow.
Society’s greatest “genius” sometimes revolves around justifying bad behavior.

The ends don’t justify the means when we rely on anything other than God for our victories. A case in point: King Asa. This king displayed fantastic leadership skills by saving his people from the enemy. By anyone’s standard other than God’s, Asa did an excellent thing, but the ends do not justify the means. Here is a synopsis of the story:

When King Baasha of Israel, a neighbor, came against Judah, Asa entered into a military alliance with Syria. Syria was a military power, so a military alliance seemed wise and prudent, but not to God (2 Chronicles 16:2-6). God disapproved of his method. Although the treaty worked and Syria successfully helped Judah against Israel, God pointed out that Asa had done foolishly. The rest of his reign would find no time of peace because he had acted foolishly.

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

Asa used Benhadad, king of Syria, in place of God’s protection. Early in his reign, he had trusted God against the army of Zerah, the Ethiopian. Statistically, Judah was no match for the Ethiopians. The Ethiopians came against Judah with an army of 1 million men and 300 chariots (2 Chronicles 14:8-15). Yet, Asa’s army of 580,000 men routed an army almost twice its size. Why? Because that time, Asa trusted God and cried to him, knowing that it is within God’s power to help those with no power.

The Ethiopians were superior. King Asa of Judah admitted as much. He trusted God and went in his name against the Ethiopians, a superior army. God won the battle against the Ethiopians; the powerful fled before the weak, and the weak pursued the powerful. God gave the victory to Judah.

In Asa’s thirty-sixth year on the throne, he was now much more proficient in the art of governing. His experience produced in him the confidence to trust in man and self. He decided to replace his trust in God with trust in a powerful man. Asa should have known better, and God judged him for allowing the ends to justify the means. Leaders today need to be like Jeremiah, who said that the Lord was his strength, fortress, and refuge (Jeremiah 16:19a). Motives are important so always ask yourself, “Why am I doing what I am doing?”

Dr. Doug Stauffer is pastor of Faith Independent Baptist Church. He was saved July 6, 1980, in Niceville, while stationed at the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base and has now been in the ministry for over 35 years. He has written 20 books including the best selling “One Book” trilogy (“One Book Rightly Divided, One Book Stands Alone, One Book One Authority”); along with several devotionals (“Daily Strength” series); and prophecy books (“Reviving the Blessed Hope, When the End Begins”).