The End Does Not Justify the Means

Charles Pogue

The human claim that the consequences of an act (consequentialism) determines whether the act is right or wrong is a false human philosophy. This moral relativistic term is often expressed in the statement, “the end justifies the means.”

Some claim specific sins such as lying are not sin if the outcome of the lie produces the good (with the good also defined by the individual) for which the individual seeks. Others will perform/engage in an activity in which a sinful attribute is present as a characteristic but declare they can ignore the evil trait found within the overall activity because the activity will produce the benefit which they seek. This is still the faulty process of declaring the end justifies the means—moral relativism, or consequentialism.

Does the New Testament speak of this humanly devised philosophy and condemn it? It does indeed! Paul wrote in Romans 3:7, 8:

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 just.

The primary point for our discussion is Paul considered it slander to be described as one who taught one should do evil that good would be the consequence.

Paul would further expound upon this when he wrote at the end of chapter 5, “that as sin reigned unto death grace reigned through righteousness unto eternal life.” The Holy Spirit knew, and Paul doubtless understood it as well, some might conclude if grace overcomes sin it stands to reason the more one sins the more grace is bestowed upon the individual, or the end justifies the means.

Paul denies such thinking when he begins chapter six by writing in the first two verses, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”

When one is baptized the old man which could very well have held to the doctrine of the more he sins the more grace he would receive, dies to sin along with his faulty reasoning. He is baptized into death and then he rises to walk in newness of life. Such a person dies to sin—he is freed from it (v. 7) and it no longer has dominion, rule or power over him (v. 9).

As the people of God we live in a world wherein we are surrounded by human philosophies, including the one which declares it is okay to do something bad, so good will come from it. We must be very careful in all we do, for such human philosophies have a way of disguising themselves, and unless we are exceedingly careful we may, and in fact probably will, be deceived by such thinking.

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