In churches today when I question some practice going on which I believe is not something which is godly or acceptable to God, I am constantly being reassured that these practices are leading people to the Lord, so that validates whatever it is with which I have a problem. So in essence they are telling me that the end justifies the means. Is that really true? Does God not care what we use or what tactic we take as long as the result is that someone comes to the Lord?
The end justifies the means is a typical ethics dilemma. One popular scenario is if killing one person would save a world, would you do it? If you say "yes," then you are saying that using immoral means is justified if there is a moral end. But there are three considerations in this decision. First is the morality of the outcome, which is the thing most people use as the deciding factor, second is the morality of the act, which people might say is justified by the outcome, and third is the morality of the person performing the act. If one uses the above scenario, the act of murder is immoral, so therefore the person committing it is immoral, but the outcome is moral. But is it really? Does this not create an immoral world where immoral people committing immoral acts of their own accord go unpunished, because they justify their immorality through the outcome? The end of this scenario is a completely immoral world which is not the end you want.
What is not considered in the above scenario is God. He is missing from the equation. His laws, and His sovereignty have not been a part of the decision. As Christians we have to make decisions based on three things, our personal morality of obedience to God's laws, the morality of the actions being acceptable to God and His laws, and the outcome being a morally acceptable outcome to God (which it will not be if we have used immorality to get there). For a Christian there is no justification for any immoral behavior or acts that are contrary to the holiness of God and His laws. No amount of rationalization justifies disobedience and immorality. So from God's perspective, there are no ends that will justify a means that is breaking His laws.
The problem for most people is that
while they know what end they want to get, which is in their minds a moral one, the means is not always
so clear cut. God may or may not specify the means by which one gets to the end,
and when it is not specifically laid out in Scripture, and even when it
is, people tend to choose their own way and convince themselves that
God finds it acceptable, because their intentions are good, and the only
thing that matters is achieving the goal. When God specifies a way to do
something, and we don't do it that way, then it is obvious that we sin. If God gives no
guidelines, then we have the freedom to use any morally correct method,
but the tricky part of that is to make sure it is a morally correct
method. What has become the problem is that people have different
definitions of what is morally correct.
If I carried the idea that the end justifies the means to its logical conclusion, then any sin that would bring someone to the Lord would be a viable practice. So if murdering some people would scare people to the Lord, then I should chop off some heads? I believe Islam has the patent on that form of evangelism. How about becoming a prostitute to win over prostitutes and their clients? Would that be okay in God's eyes? Some pagan religions have used prostitution as a means of bringing in converts. I can see people shaking their heads upon reading the previous suggestions and muttering to themselves that I don't understand. It is not the same thing as some of the things the church uses. Those examples are ones that people find to be clear cut, in that murder and prostitution are well accepted as sins. People would argue that it is not the same as replacing teaching the Word of God with a play,
or having a nice Christian rock concert instead of a Bible study. God does not forbid plays or music. I would argue that 1) you would have to examine the plays and music very carefully to see if they are acceptable to God in content and motive, and 2) just because God does not forbid something specifically, it does not mean that it is glorifying to Him in the way we are using it. Should entertainment replace Bible study? One is meant to give carnal pleasure, while possibly using God and morality as the subject matter, the other is reading the written words of God Himself, which helps you grow in knowledge of and closer to Him. Which is the preferred method in God's eyes?
What of areas that are a little more gray? Is it acceptable to continue to live the life, dress the dress, and act the part of, let us say for example, a motorcycle "biker" once one has become saved? Many saved bikers would say "yes," that if they continue to stay as they were, looking the part and living the part, that they can reach bikers for Christ. But biker groups tend to have a certain association with them. What about the Scriptures that say that we are to abstain from all appearance of evil - 1 Thessalonians 5:22 "Abstain from all appearance of evil" or to not keep company that can corrupt our behavior - 1 Corinthians 15:33 "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners"? What about the new man? Does this advertise a new man if the old man is still the outer cover of the book? What about "Christian" rock musicians who look like and live similarly to worldly rock musicians? Does not the same idea apply here? (Read my article on Christian music to see how the music of the church today is mainly carnal in conception.) Should the saved former drug/alcohol abuser or addict continue to hang out in the bars (or similar places) and continue socializing and have close friendships with the people who once shared and still participate in these vices? Should not a person remove themselves from the places and people who would entice them back into the sins in which they were participating and have just escaped? Does saying that Christ hung out with sinners justify hanging out in these places and continuing to socialize with these people, because you can "witness" to them? How much witnessing actually goes on, and how much continuing to live in carnality is happening? I think the latter is probably more the truth. Christ never participated in the sins. He was not there hanging out with old buddies. He was there to bring new life to sinners. He was above temptation to indulge in the sins.
Do we imitate the world as a means to bring the gospel to the world? Did God not tell us to not use worldly means? Romans 12:1-2 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies
of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable
unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be ye not conformed to
this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye
may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
1 John 2:15-16
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any
man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that
is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and
the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."
Romans 13:14 "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts."
Romans 6:12-13 "Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey
it in its lusts. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of
unrighteousness unto sin, but yield yourselves unto God, as those that
are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of
righteousness unto God."
James 1:27 "Pure
religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit the
fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted
from the world."
These verses tell us that we are not to love the world, to lust after the things of the flesh, to yield ourselves to unrighteousness and sin, or things of the flesh, and we are to remain unspotted from the things of the world. Now it would seem that this is telling us that those things which appeal to the flesh, and come from the world in some way are things which we should abstain from or keep out of our lives. We are a new creature with a renewed mind, and the old things must pass away. We are to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God, walking in His ways. That does not leave room for bringing the world into our presentation of the gospel.
Romans 3:5-8 "But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall
we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world? For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm
that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is
These verses are a little hard to understand in the KJV version, but what Paul is doing is posing a question from the point of view of human reasoning, that if our unrighteousness or sinfulness makes God's righteousness even more apparent, then isn't God unrighteous to punish us for it, because we are doing Him a favor? In other words, the end justifies the means. Paul's reply to that horribly wrong thinking is "God forbid." God isn't unrighteous, for how could He judge the world if He is unrighteous and unfair? He then continues the human argument that if man's lie enhances God's truth, to increase His glory, then why is man judged as a sinner? Again, people were thinking that the end justifies the means. Paul asks, why not say (as some were slandering him by claiming that Paul had actually said, which he had not), that the more we sin, the better it is for God? Once more, the idea of the end justifies the means is brought up. Paul then condemns those who would say this by saying that their damnation is well and justly deserved. He is saying that promoting the idea that the end justifies the means is deserving or worthy of damnation. That is a harsh judgment.
Clearly Paul does not teach that the end justifies the means. He rails against it. We do not sin to enhance God's truth. We do not use means that are sinful to try to bring people to the Lord. Our ways are not God's ways. They are only His ways when we follow His rules and do things under His direction. We do not decide what is right and wrong, He does.
Jeremiah 10:23 "O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps"
Proverbs 14:12 " There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
Colossians 3:17 "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."
Doing anything differently from how God commands it is disobedience or sin. To do it differently is to follow human doctrine rather than God's doctrine. Christians are following men rather than God, just as Israel did.
Matthew 15:8-9 " This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
John 5:43 "I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive."
To do anything that has the appearance of evil or is taken from the world, is not something that is done in God's way. It is the way of man. We need to always double check the history, background, source, and associations of the things we are using to enhance God's truth to make sure they are not a lie or associated with ungodly things.
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil."
The story of Naaman is an example of when we try to achieve the goal and do not use the method which was specifically laid out for us. We will fail, because we are in disobedience.
2 Kings 5:1-14 " Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man
with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given
deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a
leper. And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had
brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she
waited on Naaman's wife. And she said unto her mistress,
Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would
recover him of his leprosy. And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel. And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto
the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of
silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this
letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my
servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy. And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that
he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that
this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore
consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me. And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of
Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore
hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know
that there is a prophet in Israel. So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in the Jordan
seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be
clean. But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said,
Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on
the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and
recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of
Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them,
and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage. And
his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the
prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done
it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according
to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the
flesh of a little child, and he was clean."
Naaman could not achieve the goal of being cleansed of his leprosy until he followed the prescribed method. When he did, then he was cleansed.
In 1 Samuel 13:7-14 we find another example of having good intentions to get an end, but the means has been against God's commands, and so the end is not what was hoped for. We can think we are going to get a godly end, because that is our intentions, but our means might do just the opposite, if the means are not in accordance with God's ways.
"And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead.
As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him
trembling. And he tarried seven days, according to the set
time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the
people were scattered from him. And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering.
And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the
burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him,
that he might salute him. And Samuel said, What hast thou
done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from
me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the
Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;
Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal,
and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself
therefore, and offered a burnt offering. And Samuel said
to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of
the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have
established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy
kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his
own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his
people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee."
Saul was worried about the Philistines and Samuel was delayed in coming, so he took it upon himself to offer burnt sacrifices to God to get God's good will to protect them from the Philistines. Instead Samuel shows up and tells him that he has disobeyed God in so doing this, and now his throne for himself and his descendants would be taken away from him forever and given to another. Harsh end. The means did justify the end in this case, for the end was punishment for the means of sin.
It is not only the Old Testament that teaches the principle that we need to be careful of the means. The New Testament has a lot to say on the subject also. The following story is of a man named Simon, whose goal was to do
something good, but he didn't understand that there was a right way and a
wrong way to do it, because he was still working under the mentality of
the world, in which his mind was still operating. When one does not
come out of the world and their mindset, one continues to use the means
of the world to accomplish God's work, and that does not work.
Acts 8:9-24 "But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same
city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that
himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.
But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the
kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both
men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when
he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the
miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles
which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of
God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast
thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me."
Simon had accepted the gospel and been baptized, and was working with Philip. When he saw that through the laying on of hands people received the Holy Spirit, he wanted to be able to give people that gift as well. He had been used to using sorcery or witchcraft and had people believing he had God's powers before he accepted the gospel, and now he wanted to get the ability to do the miraculous from God's power as opposed to the power he had had before. His way of thinking, which was still stuck in the world he had come from, was that he could get it by buying it. Everybody has a price, right? Even God? His wanting to try to buy God's gift showed that his heart was not pure and right with God, because his method was not godly. He was still caught in the bonds of sin and trying to use sinful worldly methods to carry out the work of God. Peter chastised and warned him that he should repent, for his heart was not right with God. Simon then asked Peter to pray for him so that he wouldn't have God's disapproval or worse, God's wrath upon himself.
This tells us that even in the New Testament (which some people think gives us far more license and leniency than God allowed in the Old Testament) using ungodly methods, no matter how noble your goal, is not acceptable to God. Using any method of the world, or anything that belongs to the carnal world as a means to the end is not acceptable to God. We are to worship God in truth, and that means that our motives and our means must be truthful and righteous in order to attain the godly result that we desire. If we yield to the temptation to obey the lusts of the flesh in our pursuit of spreading the gospel, we will put ourselves under the tutelage of Satan, not God, and we will lead those whom we seek to see saved into a false sense of what God requires of them in the way of righteousness, which could cost them greatly.
John 4:23 "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall
worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such
to worship him. God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
Romans 6:16 "Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his
servants ye are whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience
Romans 8:13 "For if ye live after the flesh ye shall die; but if ye, through the
Spirit, do mortify (to kill, or to control one's passions through
self-denial) the deeds of the body, ye shall live."
The next thing which must be discussed in relation to this, is what the purpose of the church is, for the main problem of the adage that the end justifies the means is found in the churches concerning their purpose.
In talking with many people over the years, it has come to my attention that Christians are under the erroneous assumption that the church (meaning the local body of believers) is there to serve them and their needs and to be the corporate evangelist tool of the congregation. Say what? Starting with the first premise that the church is there to serve their needs, over the years as I have moved a number of times and looked for a church, people would ask me what I was looking for in a church and then share with me how they chose the particular church they did. The reasons ran from needing a good children's program for their children, to the kind of music they like, to the number of "ministries" the church had that serviced needs they might have had, to simply liking the preacher. Then I was asked what I looked for. I would always take a minute to pause before I answered them, because I knew they would have a negative reaction to my answer, then I would say, "I go where the Lord calls me, to serve Him in whatever way He is calling me to serve Him there." They usually look at me as if I have two heads. They do not know how to answer a statement like that, and it puts them in the uncomfortable position of looking at their own motives, which are self-serving, not God-serving. I was not looking for what the church could do for me. I was looking for where God was calling me to serve Him. And by serve Him, I mean where I could use the gifts that God gave me for the edification of the body. This is how we should be choosing our churches. Ephesians 4:11-13 "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the
Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the
fulness of Christ:"
The church was formed when the local body of believers banned together to 1) worship the Lord, 2) to study the Word of God and 3) to help those in the body such as widows and orphans who needed material goods for survival. It was not a social club, it was not an entertainment venue, it was not the local networking community for businesses, it was not a self-help organization. The church service itself was the opportunity for believers to get together to worship God and have a chance to commune and fellowship with other believers for their encouragement and edification. The needs of the the less fortunate in the body were met by deacons and elders who would collect funds or material goods, through the benevolence of others, and make them available to those in need. It was not a place to bring people to evangelize them. It was a believer's gathering, not a seeker's gathering. The people evangelized independently and personally outside of the worship service, for the worship service was for the believers. The church organization is not to be an evangelistic tool, it is a place for believers to gather and edify each other so that they might prepare to go out and witness to the world. They were not to bring the world and its ways in to disrupt their worship, because that is what happens when you allow the unregenerate world in. We do not bring it up to our level, it brings us down to its level.
Nowadays the church service is more a place where people go to get entertained, have their social club meetings, or meet with addiction support groups. The services are filled not with people singing songs in which you can actually hear the lyrics that are praising God, but a group of wannabe musicians who are up there performing and entertaining, often at a decibel level that prevents anyone from hearing anything being sung. That the congregation might sing along is almost irrelevant, because I doubt God can hear the singing over the loudness of the guitars and drums and such. Amos 5:23 "Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols." Interestingly enough, this verse follows God speaking about the Day of the Lord, which is in the last days. So this verse has to do with the last days. Isn't it interesting that God calls the songs "noise", and mentions the viols (stringed instruments or in this day and age, we know the stringed instruments as guitars). He doesn't even want to hear the so-called music, for it isn't even music to Him.
As for studying the Word of God, while Sunday school or Bible study used to be found in most churches years ago, it seems that the coffee hour has replaced it. And as for the sermons, it seems that many have opted to have plays or movies instead of sermons much of the time, and I don't even want to say how many ministers of whom I have heard, who just go to an online sermon site and download a sermon for the Sunday message rather than let the Holy Spirit lead them to a passage for exhortation or do a continuing Bible study. And the sermons themselves are often not Scripturally sound. People don't even bring their Bibles to church in many churches, much less crack them open to read. And if they do open them, they don't pay much attention to what they are reading. In many churches, the readings are merely ritualistic, not a source of topic for further study. I have even heard of churches using TV shows as the subjects for study in a Bible study. While I wish I could say that this is the exception more than the rule, it is actually the rule more than the exception.
An then there are the ministries. The small churches generally cannot offer much in that way, which is why everyone is using the Purpose Drive Church model to create their mega churches where they can offer things like counseling on grief, codependency, chemical, food, and sexual addictions, or dealing with family members who have those addictions, abuse, financial problems and a myriad of other things. One of the problems is that the counseling is not always done from God's point of view, but from a psychological or man's point of view. These things are better addressed by discipling people on a one on one basis and then having these disciples then do the same to others. Discipleship is taught in Scripture as being a personal relationship between two or three people. It is the way to teach and to counsel. Discipleship is the Scriptural approach to the problems believers have, not impersonal classes with teachers who may or may not know their students, and who may or may not be using Scriptural solutions. Discipleship is what is missing from the churches. The church organization has replaced personal evangelism and the responsibility of discipling others.
Then there is the social aspect of things such as Ladies night out, the kids' clubs, and secret retreats such as Tres Dias, to name a few. The churches spend their money not on missions, but on better media equipment or to build gyms so that there are recreational facilities for the congregation.
This might not immediately appear to be a means to an end, but it is in a way, as comfort, casualness, and approachability seem to be something that is touted as a method of making the unsaved feel more welcome and comfortable in the church. Should they feel comfortable? Is that what we want, or if we are going to use the church as an evangelistic tool, would it not work better if they felt uncomfortable and convicted of their sin? What this actually is, is a sign of the lack of respect for God. People would not consider showing up to meet the President dressed as they dress for church, in many cases. They do not dress to show respect to their Lord, the King of Kings (whom they are supposedly coming to worship), but show up dressed for the next thing on their agenda for the day, as soon as church is over, which generally has nothing spiritual in nature to recommend it. And I have seen some women clothed in clothes that would make Jesus blush.
Nowadays media is a big means to an end. "Christian" radio, internet, and TV broadcasts are prevalent and very entertaining (although not always edifying), but the begging for money on these shows is pathetic. Even the churches themselves are physically being changed to reflect entertainment venues rather than worship venues. They resemble nightclubs far more than a place of worship of God. They do not inspire a sense of godly awe, but a sense of ungodly carnality.
Then there are miscellaneous things such as creating daycare centers and schools, fundraisers, and some churches even have what amounts to gambling. Some of these things are not bad in and of themselves, for having a Christian school to send your children to in this day and age when the public schools teach all kinds of sin, is almost necessary, if you want to keep your child from straying from the Lord (and if you cannot homeschool). The problem is that many parents think that it is an alternative to actually spending time teaching their children spiritual truths themselves. They abdicate their responsibility for their children's spiritual lives and growth up to the church and the Christian school. And these institutions cannot do the job. It is not their responsibility to do that job, and that becomes readily apparent when you see how the young people are leaving the churches in droves. And there are things which are totally inexplicable. I know of churches who will periodically take the congregation out to do "clean up the community" work days on Sunday instead of the worship service. As if cleaning up garbage in the community replaces worshiping God.
There are pastors of large churches who write book after book to make money for themselves, even though God's word should not be sold for money. There are times when publishing a book is really the only reasonable way to get information (not God's Word, but pertinent information such as end times political information, etc.) out to people due to the extensive material involved. And when it is not the gospel, there is nothing wrong in that. In this type of case, publishing is justified, but I am not speaking of this. I am speaking of those people who churn out book after book of religious ideas or new interpretations of Scripture (more often than not erroneous interpretations) purely for the monetary benefit. It is our obligation to spread the Word of God freely, not charge people to get it. While the excuse is given that books cost money to print, therefore they have to charge for them, the fact is much more money is charged in most cases than it costs to print them, and in this day and age with online ebooks, one can put their book online for free, if getting the message out is the main purpose. I have written much on my blogs, but I do not even monetize them, as while people reading them would not have to pay, I would not have control over the advertising. I have seen many Christian sites, who have monetized, advertising things which they should not be promoting. God did not charge us for our salvation, in fact it cost Him everything, so how dare we charge to pass that truth on.
Another thing that is very disturbing is the ecumenical outlook that so many are adopting. If the coming together in unity was because people were drawing nearer to the truth, that would be one thing, but what is happening is the New World religion of tolerance causing the elimination of major core doctrines for the sake of getting along. People are using the means of dropping the truth of God to find unity, which is the end goal. The problem is, the common beliefs they can agree on tend to be the doctrines of men, not the truth of God's Word. Here is another case of the end does not justify the means when unity comes from forsaking the truth to find agreement rather than embracing it.
The one thing that the church is supposed to do, provide food for the hungry and help for the needy in the way of material goods is not being done by many churches. Often it is the smaller churches who have the pantries and shops with clothing and such for practically no cost. We do the things we should not, and do not do the things we should.
The Scriptures tell the local churches what means they should be using, and that means is mainly spiritual (and godly). They are to spread the gospel (not by letting the organization do it, but by personally going out and witnessing), and to worship God (the primary purpose for a church service). It is in doing these things that the lost can be saved, and then brought into the church where they can grow in Christ through discipleship, studying, worship, and receiving edification through the gifts of the body. We are to teach using the Word of God, not carnal appeals to people's fleshly lusts. People often refer back to the first-century churches as an example, but their means of enlarging the church was not to have entertainment and multitudes of programs, but to get out there and tell people about Christ, one on one. We have to evangelize in obedience to God's ways, not our own thoughts on the matter, for our ways are not God's ways. And the amazing thing is, when we use God's Word and His ways, it actually accomplishes what He intends.
1 Thessalonians 1:8 "For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and
Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad;
so that we need not to speak any thing."
Acts 11:26 "And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to
pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and
taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself
against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought
to the obedience of Christ;"
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:11 “ So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not
return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it
shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
Now there is a passage whereby a person who is looking to justify the idea that the end justifies the means might point to and say that Paul was saying (in complete opposition to what he said above) that the end does justify the means. Let us look at that passage and see what it does say.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 " For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to
them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them
that are under the law; To them that are without law, as
without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to
Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To
the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all
things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you."
Is Paul really saying that the ends justify the means? No. Paul is saying that though he is free to live according to the Spirit's leading, yet he will bow himself to the restrictions of others, so that he might not offend them and thereby prevent them from coming to the Lord. So when He is witnessing to the Jews, he will live according to the Laws of Moses (which are not carnal, and so there is no reason why he cannot morally keep the laws), so that he might not be a hindrance to sharing the gospel with the Jews. To the Gentiles, he will not make the law a yoke around his own neck or theirs, as much of the law did not apply to the Gentiles, since most of the Laws of Moses (not the Ten Commandments which we should keep, but the other laws) had to do with the nation of Israel and its governance. Many of the laws imposed upon the Jews of those days were also merely the laws that the Pharisees had made up and had no validity Scripturally anyhow. This did not mean that Paul would embrace sin to win the Gentiles, but that he wouldn't make the Laws of Moses an issue for them to observe, or put on a show of observing them himself to alienate them. It was not required of them, so he was not going to put this stumbling block in front of them by being unnecessarily observant of them himself. (Again, this did not include the Ten Commandments, which we are still to morally observe.) To those who were weak and struggled, he acknowledged his own weaknesses. Again, this did not mean he sinned or used carnal methods, he was merely sharing with those who felt they could not come to Christ because of their sinfulness and struggles that he was also a sinner who struggled. He didn't deliberately go out and sin. He probably shared his past (as a murderer of Christians) and his struggles. He made himself one of them to win them. This is what this passage is saying. He is not advocating using any means to get to an end. All of his methods were entirely within the moral latitude of the Scriptures. In many cases these things were not moral issues, but ceremonial issues such as when he had Timothy circumcised, so that he would not be a barrier to evangelizing the Jews. There is nothing evil or carnal in getting circumcised. It was a ceremonial thing that God commanded in the Old Testament, but was not required of Timothy, a Greek. However, Paul had it done so that Timothy would not present a stumbling block.
There is another passage that causes misunderstanding in this issue. Philippians 1:15-18 "Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in
truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will
Paul is not saying here that the false motives are permissible (therefore the end justifies the means). He is simply saying that Christ is being preached even by those
who have evil means. The truth of the gospel is not tarnished when evil people preach it; it is still truth, even if the person preaching it is evil. The means (truth) is not evil here. The person may be, but as the verse quoted above says, when God's Word goes forth, it accomplishes His will and will not return void. 2
Timothy 2:13 " If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself." The truth of the gospel and God's Word is still true no matter what the condition of the person preaching it, or what evil they are trying to accomplish by exploiting it. That does not mean that we have a license to do the same. Remember Paul said these people were not sincere. They were evil. He is merely pointing out that the truth, no matter who preaches it for what reason, is still an eternal truth and God's Word does not come back void. That is greatly different from saying that we might use evil means ourselves.
The church today is guilty of the end justifies the means evangelism. They say that even one person gets saved because of that means, it is worth it. What they do not realize is that God can save people in spite of what we do, not because of what we do. And it is not hard to see that the apostasy is growing in Christendom, not people living godly lives. What does that tell you?