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The Evil in Good Intentions

Your good intentions can be quite evil.  Too often, they motivate poor choices. Most people grasp that truth well, but they still use their good intentions to rationalize their poor choices. What I hear most often is the statement, “God knows my heart.” The rationalization is that God knows you’re trying to do something good, so he’ll overlook it even though you’re doing something he has declared wrong. There may be some comfort in that rationalization.  And there might even be a smidgen of truth somewhere in it given some limited, specific circumstances. But Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart is wicked and deceitful – which should give one pause regarding what God knows about one’s heart. It has been said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  Some have said that hell itself is roofed, walled and furnished with them, too. Because we are woefully flawed, some paths seem right to us, but in the end they lead to death (Proverbs 14:12).

Paul, before he knew Jesus, was a fine example of this. He tormented Christians and pursued them ruthlessly, thinking he was doing a Godly thing (Acts 26:9-11). But his behavior was sin. Some of the worst evils are done with fully good intentions (John 16:2).

Those are drastic examples, of course, but the truths they illustrate are not limited to extremes. If you are living outside of God’s will, and God’s way, regardless of your intentions, then you are in disobedience, and disobedience has consequences.

I won’t burden you with a long list of what God thinks is wrong. If you truly belong to God’s family, then you probably already have an idea as to whether or not you’re doing something that displeases God. And you probably already have a good idea as to whether or not you’ve employed the “good intentions” excuse.  That’s the way his Holy Spirit works. The bible speaks to every domain of human life. If you study it, you will find that God speaks to you through his living word, and that he can help you to figure it out much better than I can with my 400 words or less. Couple that with a committed life in a loving Christian community, and the wisdom of your leaders, and you’ll likely find the right path to follow.

Even more amazing, God’s word can set you free from disobedience, flaws, and failures, and give you strength to win the battles that the world, Satan, and your own flesh will send your way. That way, instead of just having good intentions, you can do actual good.

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