God And Our Intentions

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. Gazing intently at the high council, Paul began: “Brothers, I have always lived before God with a clear conscience!” – Acts 23: 1 (NLT)

    In the course of my daily writing there come moments where I realize that I may not have been clear enough regarding a particular topic or comment. It is often through someone questioning something that I have that “aha!” moment and realize that it would probably be beneficial to expound on a topic to clarify the matter. The matter at hand deals with our intentions. The statement I had previously made on the matter is, “God doesn’t care about our intentions.” This was written is response to the propensity among Christians to use the “God knows my heart” theology to excuse when they have said or done something they probably now know they should not have. Someone for example gossips about someone under the guise of prayer and is called out for it and their response is, “well God knows my heart.” Yes God does know our hearts but that should not be a source of comfort:

    “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? – Jeremiah 17: 9 (NLT)

    So don’t worry about it, God knows our hearts. In Scripture there are many examples but the obvious one for me is regarding King Saul. King Saul started out a very humble king but somewhere along the way, pride infiltrated his life and he started to simply think ahead of God. He always was able to convince himself, like we do, that it was always about God but in reality it was not. One day God gives him explicit instructions to attack and completely wipe out the Amalekites – to leave nothing alive and take no plunder. God even gives Saul the reason why – because this nation had opposed Israel when they first came out of Egypt. You do not ever want to find yourself on the wrong side of Israel. Here was what Saul did:

    Then Saul slaughtered the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, east of Egypt. He captured Agag, the Amalekite king, but completely destroyed everyone else. Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs—everything, in fact, that appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality. – 1Samuel 15: 7-9 (NLT)

    Yet somehow to Saul, he had done the bidding of the Lord:

    When Samuel finally found him, Saul greeted him cheerfully. “May the Lord bless you,” he said. “I have carried out the Lord’s command!” “Then what is all the bleating of sheep and goats and the lowing of cattle I hear?” Samuel demanded. “It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep, goats, and cattle,” Saul admitted. “But they are going to sacrifice them to the Lord your God. We have destroyed everything else.” – 1Samuel 15: 13-15 (NLT)

    You can almost hear the reality sinking into Saul as he tries to defend what he has done even before the Prophet has said anything! How often do we find ourselves in the same boat? We know something we have done or said is not of God yet there we too can be trying to explain our intentions before God. I will give Saul the benefit of the doubt here that he genuinely felt like he was still doing the Lord’s bidding by convincing himself that keeping the choicest of the plunder was for “sacrifice.” I think you can make a coherent argument that he knew exactly what he was doing but for the purposes of this devotional, let’s say that his intentions were good. He intended to sacrifice the plunder he had kept to God. We might have gossiped a little last night but it was only to make sure that so and so got the prayer they so desperately needed, right? On a macro level you see the best of intentions lead to the widespread secularization of the church every single day. You hear the intentions as the defense – “well, we just want to reach as many for Jesus as possible!” On this level; this is what I was speaking to when I said that God does not care about our intentions:

    But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.” – 1Samuel 15: 22-23 (NLT)

    God doesn’t need us to try and figure out anything. He has given us His Word and He expects us to obey it and repent when we do not. Our intentions do not matter. Remember the people who will stand before Jesus on the last day and be absolutely DUMBFOUNDED that they are not getting into heaven! They will say – “didn’t we cast out demons in Your name? Didn’t you see our intentions???” Jesus will plainly say that He never knew them – away with you those who what – Those who break God’s laws! Disobedience here is compared to witchcraft! Being stubborn in our disobedience is compared to idolatry! These are serious matters for God. He will always forgive but we must not go to Him as Saul did and insist that we are right, when we know full well that we are wrong. God will always forgive but we first must realize that we did something wrong. Repentance is impossible without recognizing the need to repent.

    The key verse is the Apostle Paul speaking before the teacher of law, before eventually heading to Rome. I found it compelling here that he admits that he always stood before God with a clean conscience. Always. Even before he was Paul. Even when he persecuted the church. When standing before Agrippa, here was how Paul summarized this time in his life:

    “I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the very name of Jesus the Nazarene. Indeed, I did just that in Jerusalem. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many believers there to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. Many times I had them punished in the synagogues to get them to curse Jesus.I was so violently opposed to them that I even chased them down in foreign cities. – Acts 26: 9-11 (NLT)

    Yet he always was able to stand before God with a clear conscience! He was able to convince himself that what he was doing was on God’s behalf. The Bible says that it is a very dangerous place to be when you have convinced yourself that your darkness is actually light. Think about that for a minute. We need to be honest with ourselves. We need to be honest with Scripture. We need to be honest before God. Church is not a country club for saints – it is supposed to be a triage unit for the lost and dying. Not in lip service beloved. Not according to our intentions. Only in the cold stark reality. Because down here we can convince ourselves anything is of God. Paul convinced himself that murdering, lying and forcing blasphemy was of God!

    That may seem extreme but we do similar things today as well. We water down the Gospel pretending it is to reach “the next generation.” We compromise the church to the point where you can no longer tell the difference between the world and the body of Christ. I’ve said it before – a little leaven makes its way through the entire batch – either in our walk or in our church. Compromise begets compromise. Sin begets sin. God doesn’t want our excuses. God doesn’t care about our intentions. All He wants is our obedience.

    Rev. Anthony

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