PART 14 CHURCH TEACHINGS

Wed, 09/30/2020 - 7:15pm

PART 14 CHURCH TEACHINGS

CHAPTER 8B

To Learn about Teachings That Will Inhibit a Believer from Growing Spiritually

Doctrines of Destruction

 B. The End Justifies the Means.

  • The end justifies the means.

This is a very interesting doctrine that I became aware of in my younger years in ministry but I was not fully informed as to its actual meaning and destructiveness in the lives of believers. What does it mean when it is said that the end justifies the means? From what I have learned, what this essentially means is that at times certain decisions can be emphasized by leadership that the assembly of believers should support unequivocally even if the avenue for implementing such is sinful as long as the end result promotes the advance of the kingdom of God.

By what is meant concerning promoting the kingdom of God could mean many different things depending on the faith at hand. It could refer to increasing the capacity to reach more souls for Christ. It could mean to enhance the financial status of those in leadership. It could mean for the allowance to have many wives. However, what we could infer as to what it is all about is to have the ability to exert control over the assembly by means of Scripture, money, and sex.    

When certain Scriptures are used in this manner, they appear to support God’s kingdom. If you are going to follow God, you need to follow Him with no reservations. This is reflective in how we follow those in leadership. Probably the main Scriptural section that is used to support this perspective is found in the book of Joshua. Let’s go there and see what this is all about.

Whither the men went I wot not

Suggested Reading: Joshua 2:1-24 

The Lord has chosen Joshua to lead the Jews out from the wilderness by crossing over the Jordan River into the land of Canaan, the land which God promised them for an inheritance. This land would be theirs by means of conquest. The first place that Joshua sets out to conquer is Jericho.   

He sent out two spies, who eventually lodged at the dwelling place of a prostitute named Rahab. While there, it was their mission to obtain information about this fortress - its gates, fortified towers, military force, and the morale of its people.184 In the meantime, somehow the king of Jericho was made aware that these two spies from the children of Israel were in the city residing at Rahab’s house. So, he sent messengers there in order to apprehend them. She finding out about this and becoming aware that they are in danger for their lives asked them to hide on the roof under the flax fibers that are attached to the stalks of a plant which are located there. In those days, flax fibers were laid out in heaps where the sun would dry them, so that they could be used for weaving them into linen cloth.

5 And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them.

When the messengers arrived at her house, they asked her where the spies were. And here is where the end justifies the means. She told them that they had already left. In other words, she lied. Some would say that the situation was such that lying or committing sin was the appropriate response. And because the result was beneficial, that being of the saving of the spies’ lives, therefore, sin could be accepted by those in leadership as warranted by the situation at hand as long as it promotes the kingdom of God.   

Here is another Scripture that could be used to convince God’s people that the end justifies the means.

Let him deny himself

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

This is a powerful Scripture, especially when presented over and over again. All of us want to do God’s will. For many believers, they don’t know what God’s will is, so this verse sounds right. If we deny ourselves for God and take up our cross, then we are told that He will be pleased with us. Deny in what way? There could be many ways that believers could be told to do such and such for the benefit of the kingdom. One of them which we will take a look at next is in the area of financial giving.

Every one that hath forsaken

Matthew 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

It’s true that churches need money to pay staff, building expenses, outreaches, etc. They should let the assembly know when they need money and what it is for. What this verse seems to be saying is that if we forsake or give up real estate property or family who are not serving God for Christ’s sake, then we will receive a hundred-fold. This could be interpreted as saying that God will give us more real estate holdings and a new godly family.

The story of Rahab and the spies along with the two verses mentioned about forsaking are quite compelling. They appear to convey to us that God will excuse sin as long as it promotes the kingdom of God. Furthermore, they seem to stress that in this life we should deny our self of whatever it is for Christ sake or for those who operate in His stead, i.e., leadership. And if what we own or if our own family is inhibiting us in our walk with God, then we should sell what we have and give it to the church and divorce our wife and find a new one who will support us in our walk with God.

Does any of what I have said sound right with you? You might say no. But believe me, there are many believers who are under church leaders that espouse one or more of these perspectives. Are they correct in their perception of the Word of God? Well, there is another way to look at this view of the end justifying the means which is what we will undertake next.

  • The end result of furthering the kingdom does not justify the means of promoting sinful actions and manipulating the assembly.

In this regard, we will begin by taking a look at an Old testament saint that most of us are familiar with in respect to an animal called a lion. Does this recall to you the name of this person? There is a book of the Bible named after him. I think you know now who I am talking about. Please go to the book of Daniel.

Consulted together to establish a royal statute

Suggested Reading: Daniel 6:1-28

3 Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.

In 538 BC, Cyrus, the subordinate prince under King Darius, conquers Babylon. He decided to appoint 120 governors over the kingdom, along with three administrators, one of whom was Daniel. Over time, Daniel outshined (showed himself prominent) over the two other administrators. With this in mind, Darius is now considering to consolidate the number of administrators and making Daniel the sole one.

Somehow, word of this gets back to the other two presidents along with the 120 princes. So, they convene to band together in order to prevent this from happening. They tried to find out something about his behavior that they could present before the king that would disqualify him but they found nothing. What they did come up with, however, was a clever plan to not only have him removed from his position altogether but also to have him killed.

Daniel 6:7 All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.

They came before the king and asked him to approve of and establish a royal statute for thirty days that in effect said if anyone who prays a prayer to anyone for thirty days other than to the king, then they will be cast into a den of lions. So, the king signed the decree being unaware of the deception involved.

Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

When David found out about this decree and that it was signed by the king, we could assume he was aware of what was going on behind the scenes. He could have simply stopped praying for 30 days and waited until the time was up and then resumed his daily routine. To the natural mind, this sounds like the right thing to do, doesn’t it?

As a man of God, he continued on in his daily routine, praying three times a day. We could look at this and say he was reckless. I would respond by saying that he probably brought this situation up to the Lord and asked for guidance. If God wanted him to stop praying or even leave the geographical location for safety, He would have communicated so.

Another thing to consider was his testimony before God and the people, many of whom were unbelievers. What would have been the message to those that knew he was someone that followed Jehovah. Would his decision to stop praying send a clear signal to them that His God couldn’t protect him from not obeying the king’s decree?       

The princes and administrators could now carry out their nefarious plan to the fullest. They arrived at Daniel’s house at one of the times of prayer and found him praying as they knew he would. This was reported back to the king who begrudgingly cast him into a den of lions overnight. All appeared lost. Daniel would be torn apart by these hungry lions.

19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.

20 And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?

In the morning, the king quickly arrived at the den and cried out to Daniel asking him if his God was able to deliver him? And David replied back, responding that an angel of the Lord had shut the mouths of the lions, thus preserving his life. What happened next is quite astonishing.

24 And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den. 

Not only was the king glad for Daniels’ sake but was he well aware of this insidious plot. He commanded that all those men who were complicit in this scheme along with everyone in their family be cast into the den of lions. And so, they were.

What this story tells me is that Daniel didn’t use any sinful means to try to get out of this situation. As one of the administrators of the kingdom, he probably could have tried to hire some hitmen to get back at those whose intent was to kill him. As I have already stated, he could have stopped praying for 30 days. The final thought is that a man or woman of God should not use sinful actions to promote the kingdom of God. With that said, let’s take another look and draw a different conclusion as to Rahab’s response to the messengers of the king.

Bring forth the men that are come to thee

Suggested Reading: Joshua 2:1-24

3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country.

4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were:

5 And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them.

When the kings’ messengers asked her to bring the spies before them, she responded by saying that they had already left her dwelling at night. And that if they were to go after them immediately, they could catch up to them. It’s true that their lives were saved in this regard but its also true that she probably was not a believer in Jehovah. She did what her natural mind told her to do.

However, but for the sake of argument what if she was a believer, would she have acted any differently? I don’t know. It depends on her walk with God. She might have still lied. On the other hand, she might have gone to prayer and asked for guidance. It’s possible that she might not have hid them at all. But to use what happened here to condone sin is in itself sinful.   

Don’t allow someone in leadership to convince you that committing sin of any kind will promote God’s kingdom. This should show you right away where their faith is centered. It’s certainly not on the Word of God and reliance on the Holy Spirit. Now, let’s go back and take another look at the verse that talked about denying self and realize that there is another way to translate it.

If any man will come after me

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

It’s true that Jesus said that if anyone would come after Him, let him deny himself, and take up His cross. But what does this mean? We know from Scripture that Jesus isn’t saying that if you deny yourself of this or that means you are taking up His cross. In this sense, if this verse was interpreted in that way, then what we would be talking about is religion, i.e., doing this or that to please God.    

What this is actually talking about is a person’s eternal standing. It’s about no longer relying upon our self, our good works but repenting to God the Father and believing in His Son as to who He is and what He has accomplished for salvation (the bundle of benefits received, one of which is the indwelling Spirit). Following Christ is learning how to walk in the Spirit which is another way of saying learning how to rely on or be in subjection to Him which is not accomplished by sinful means or coercion.    

This brings us to one of the most egregious abuses of power in the church today. And that is using Scripture to take advantage of believers financially in order to benefit the kingdom of God.

As I have previously mentioned, believers should give to support missions, leaders’ salary, church building obligations but not in an unscriptural manner and oppressive approach. Let’s take another look at the verse from the book of Matthew.

Every one that hath forsaken…shall receive an hundredfold.

Matthew 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

One thing that resonated with me after I read this verse is the idea that if someone forsakes thus and such, they will inherit everlasting life. What this conveys to me is that this is talking about salvation. Before any of us were saved, we had areas of our life that we considered prominent, i.e., riches, family, sinful desires, addictions, etc. As for myself, I had many things that I thought were of paramount importance. I took drugs, I drank too much, I had affairs with different women, I spent my money on foolish things, I hung out with the wrong crowd, and I had very little respect for others.   

Then, there came a time, when I didn’t like myself anymore. I no longer praised whom I had become. I needed a complete overhaul. At this time in my life, I had just finished taking an elective course in college, which was on the life of King Saul. What resonated with me was all the different ways in which God (Jehovah) interacted with him. I wondered if this kind of relationship with God could occur in my own life. I was not unfamiliar with religion as I had been an altar boy in one faith in my younger years, but for some reason I had never had a personal relationship with the God whom I thought was serving.  

However, what I did determine was that if God truly existed, then I would hopefully find Him in church, in at least one of them. Where that was located, I had no idea. So, I began to attend many different faiths. They all seemed to have the same things in common. Do this or that as spoken in the writings of the church, obey leadership, God will be pleased, and you will probably go to a better place at death. This didn’t appease my longings for God at all. I had been involved in this type of religion before. Then one day something occurred which set me on the right road to finding this one true God who would change my life.

I was working for my dad at a Spa and Grille that he owned. It was a holiday Sunday and I was getting out of work at noon. As I was about to leave, a local parade was passing by. I decided to follow it to the center of town, where at which location it would disperse. When I arrived there, I heard a loud voice in the distance. When I turned around three hundred sixty degrees, I saw a large gathering of people standing before a staging platform, where it appeared that someone was speaking. So, I decided to walk over and find out what was going on.   

As I approached, I heard a young man talking about God. He said that God wanted to become personal with us. He wanted to give us a new nature. This got my attention. He presented the gospel of repentance and faith to which I didn’t respond at this time. However, I did get the address and time of the next meeting.

This was to be held at one of the church member’s house. When the day and time arrived, I showed up. There was a barbecue taking place and I was offered free food and drink to which I would never say no. After everyone was finished, one of the pastors was introduced. He proceeded to give a message which was followed up with an invitation to respond to the gospel. He asked if anyone was interested to walk up to where he was standing. So, I did.

He said that if I confessed the words that he proclaimed, God would come into my life and fill me with His presence. I repeated the words he said, but nothing happened. He in turn paused and then said something remarkable to me. He said that God showed him that I was dating a married woman and that I needed to confess this as sin and break off the relationship. I did confess this sin before all who were present and acknowledged that I would no longer date her. Right after this pronouncement, I was saturated with God’s presence. I found God or rather He found me. To me this was an example of forsaking something, in this case someone, that was hindering me from being saved.

And as far as the Scriptural declaration that if we forsake all, we will receive back one-hundred-fold. If you want to say this means material possessions that is your prerogative. If this were the case, we would be playing the game, Let’s Make a Deal. To me, what this refers to are incomparable spiritual riches.

I have one more thought for you to consider in respect to forsaking real estate or family as some leaders might suggest. While it’s true when Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all that he had and give it to the poor, he would receive eternal life. But I believe that this stumbling block was that which was the predominant issue that was preventing him from becoming saved. This obstruction of sinful desire is different for each unbeliever.

There are some churches who espouse that what is being talked about in the following Scriptural verses pertains to Christians. As such, they would be adamant in their teaching that a believer should give all of their riches (anything of financial value) to the church. And if their spouse is not supportive of their desire to follow God and be obedient to His directives which are those espoused by leadership, then simply divorce her and find a new Christian wife. There are some verses that I would like you to look at in this regard. Please go to the book of 1 Corinthians.

As though

1 Corinthians 7:26, 29-30

26 I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.

A lot of what Paul was talking about in respect to marriage and owning property seemingly has to do with what the words he mentions in this verse, i.e., present distress. Some commentators believe that this was a time under the reign of Nero, who had begun to persecute Christians.

29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; 

He goes on to declare that the time is short or was made short, by their impending persecutions and trials.185 And when he said, they that have wives be as though they had none, he wasn’t instructing them to get divorced so that they could serve the Lord more faithfully. He was saying that trials or the situation might become so difficult that even those already married will have to live as though they were not married …. Perhaps Paul was referring to husbands and wives being separated from each other because of economic distress or persecution.186

30 And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; 

Due to trials and persecutions, grief will come, but don’t let it gain uncontrolled mastery over you. Stand ready prepared to escape for his life, or meet death, as the providence of God may permit.187 And if you own property consider it as though it doesn’t belong to you in the sense that it can be taken away from you at any time.

These verses appear to have nothing to do with giving our earthly possessions to the church or divorcing our wives for the furtherance of the kingdom. Be careful when there is a continual mention of giving all that you own to the church for the furtherance of the kingdom. Be careful when you are told that sexual sins are considered acceptable if they further the kingdom. Be careful if you are instructed that all types of sin are approved by God as long as they promote His kingdom.  

I would like to leave you with this verse which I believe exemplifies the perspective that the end does not justify the means.

James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

Do what we know is right according to God’s Word, and if we don’t do it, then it is sin.

There is something else that will inhibit us in our spiritual growth. It’s not mentioned much but it is as important as to what we have already looked at. This topic begins with the letter r. We have mentioned it already. Any idea what topic this refers to? Proceed ahead and let’s find out.

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Endnotes

184Bible Knowledge Commentary/Old Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries; Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries. All rights reserved.

185Barnes' Notes.

186The Bible Exposition Commentary.

187Adam Clarke's Commentary.