When Does the Result Justify the Means?
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Some Bible stories seem to indicate that God’s will was done by ignoring one or more of His commandments. What does this say to us? I would like our readers to suggest some answers.

In response to the lesson plan for “Two Classes of Worshipers,” one of our readers concluded (in an unpublished comment)  that “God is not such a rigid leader as we make Him out to be.” Perhaps he’s right. Perhaps God isn’t nearly as “rigid” as we make him out to be?

And this reader went on to suggest that “He [God] looks at our motives, at our heart.” And that is, of course, totally biblical. (See 1 Samuel 16:7)

This reader suggested that Rebekah did nothing wrong by helping Jacob deceive Isaac, because she knew that Jacob should get the birthright, because the Lord seemed to have promised that to Jacob:

“Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:23)

Now let’s take a look at what Rebekah’s motives probably were:

1) She wanted Jacob to have the birthright. That seems to be in harmony with the words of the Lord.

Anything wrong with that motive?

2) She apparently felt that she needed to help God to fulfill His prophecy.

Anything wrong with that last (likely) motive?

What about Abraham and Sarah seeking to help God fulfill his promise by Abraham having a child with Sarah’s Egyptian slave? (Genesis 16:1-3) After all, God had promised that his descendants should be as numerous as the stars of the sky. (Genesis 15:1-4) Was that right for Sarah and Abraham to help God fulfill His promise?  Why or why not? Is there any similarity at all to Rebekah’s situation?

Our reader also suggested that God blessed the midwives because they lied to Pharaoh in Exodus 1:19-20: “And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. Therefore God dealt well with the midwives:” Does this indicate that it is sometimes God’s will that we lie? What was the heart motivation of the midwives? How is their situation different from or similar to Rebekah’s?

An undeniable instance of lying is Rahab’s lying to the King of Jericho in Joshua 2. And the Bible record indicates that “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” (Hebrews 11:31) Does this constitute approval of misrepresenting the truth for the sake of God? Or?

The promised Messiah is descended from David and Bathsheba. (Matthew 1:8)  Does that mean that David was right to have Uriah killed in order to marry Bathsheba?

Since it was necessary for Christ to die so that we might be saved (See Isaiah 53), some argue that Judas did a necessary work. After all, he helped fulfill prophecy. Are these Christians right in judging the actions of Judas necessary for salvation? And if they were necessary for our salvation, should he not be honored, rather than despised? What similar principles do you see in this argument to the previous arguments?

Lastly, can we see any similarity in the religious experience of the individuals in these examples and the experience of Cain and Abel? They both worshiped God. How did Cain’s worship differ from that of Abel?

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When Does the Result Justify the Means? — 45 Comments

  1. I believe your reader was correct in saying that God is not rigid, but carried the idea way too far. God is willing to overlook people's ignorance, but it should never be stated or implied that He is not particular about His law. Look at Uzzah. Of course Rebekah was wrong. Look at how much Jacob had to suffer for his sin in deceiving his father, and how thoroughly he was required to repent of it.

    One problem I see is the evidently intentional vagueness in the way the question was framed. God's will is sometimes accomplished by WHOSE ignoring one of His commandments? Anyway, this very question is directly addressed by the inspired Paul in Romans 3:4-8. Paul justifies the condemnation of those who SLANDEROUSLY reported that he had been saying that we should do evil that good may come.

    God is sovereign. Judas fulfilled prophecy by betraying Jesus, but we can rest assured that he will pay for his sin. God expects us to live up to the light that we have. The Egyptian midwives, as well as Rahab, were acting on genuine faith in God, and He chose to overlook their ignorance of His law. (See Acts 17:30) However, it is absolutely NEVER necessary for us to ignore one of the commandments in order to achieve a good result. If we know better, we need to do better. God has a better way to work things out than for us to sin. He's an awful lot smarter that we even THINK we are.

    When does the result justify the means? On the authority of Scripture, I can say, "Never!"

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    • P.S. By "never," I mean those cases where God's law of Ten Commandments is being violated or ignored. When David ate the showbread, this was clearly not the case. Whenever David engaged in deception, it certainly was such a case. Usually, these arguments are used in an attempt to justify the telling of "white lies." Have we forgotten who is called the "father of lies?" If we wish to play the devil's advocate, I wish that we could be a little less literal about it.

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      • What about people who have hidden others who are being persecuted and lied about it. They know lyin is wrong but they have to choose between lying and having the people killed.

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        • Sandra, the "choices" you talk about sound rather hypothetical to me. Have you considered the implications of your position? Are you not implying that God's law is faulty and cannot very well be kept? I believe that God has a way for us to handle every actual situation, and that lying is not His way.

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          • RG, an example of what Sandra was talking about is the underground railroad in which people hid slaves to enable them become free. Another example is when people hid the Jews to spare them from concentration camps.

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    • When Does the Result Justify the Means?
      The result does not justify the means; but all those experiences means that all of us do sinners we may be if we ask Jesus to forgive us, God is always willing to accept us. God did not justfy our means but He forgive our sins.

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  2. God does not need the help or the strategies of men to accomplish His plans, He will usually make a way for His will to be done on earth in the wake of the Great Controversy. That He allows men to assume their own folly will somehow aid the work of salvation is not a compromise on His part, but His will will be accomplished regardless.

    I like to think that God would prefer if we did things His way, after a good reasoning between Him and I as to why it's probably the better choice. If we don't want to do that, or can't wait on His timetable long enough, we end up in folly. And hopefully we can learn the lesson of trust and obedience there. If not, we, as did the nobles of old, are doomed to repeat the folly until we learn its lesson. There may be a lot of heartache - yes; God's agenda may even be pushed forward a crack, but that doesn't justify our methods. Ultimately it is we who lose out, not God.

    God does want us to play an active part in the working out of our own salvation, but as we have no idea what that really means (i.e. faith vs. works - how far left is right?), I think we can actively choose to trust and obey His directives as laid out in His commandments, and leave the strategy of our salvation to Him.

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  3. It is quite obvious that whenever we as human beings try to do things in a manner that seems right we are always wrong. God is able to fulfill his promises without our input. Abraham & Sarah sinned because she thought it impossible for God to do what he promised at her age and Abraham hearkened to her voice and sinned by committing adultery. Jacob would have received the birthright because God said it would be his (how that would happen only God knows).

    Not because God says i will do something for you and you go ahead and do it another way which causes you to sin God approves. There is no justification for the end justifying the mean. The salvation of the soul is for every soul and prophecies will be fulfilled but if we look in ourselves we can change our attitudes which will change the course of our lives.

    From personal experience i know that nothing you do is good or could put you in a right standing with God. God never needs our assistance or permission to do what he promised he would.

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    • Just curious. Didn't Hagar become Abraham's wife? If so is it adultry? I beleive that God's plan is for marriage between 1 man and 1 woman but then He tells David thru the prophet Nathan , I gave you all these things including several wives...... Does God accepts a man having more than one wife?

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      • Good point, Alicia. At that time, and in that culture, it seems that God did accept a man having more than one wife. No, it would not have been considered adultery. Abraham did not leave a perfect record of faith, prior to offering Isaac on the altar, but neither does it appear that he ever engaged in real wickedness. In marrying Hagar, Abraham compromised God's ideal, in order to try to accomplish that for which he should have been trusting in God. God's refusal to accept Ishmael as the son of promise tells me the same thing that Paul said: "Whatever is not from faith is sin." (Romans 14:23)

        I believe, Alicia, that truth is progressive. Therefore, if a man in modern, western society were to have more than one wife, I personally would be strongly inclined to call it adultery.

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  4. there may be in many peoples minds a thought similar to the one we saw in that readers response thinking that its okay to break the comandments in certain ocaisions if you you have the "right" reasons, and not just in those examples but in other situations many people wont know what to think or exactly what to do, it is so when we examine the ten comandments and see the law: "do not kill" and we may think then "what about all the times God told people to kill in the old testament? or what about when ancient israel killed people in wars?" some will say that in theese conditions God had allowed people to break his commandments. that is, however, incorrect in my view. God meant the world to be perfect and the people to be happy but with sin man can destroy the world and end others happiness. when people are living in a sinfull world they may may have the responsability of zealing for others welfare put on them by the circumstances, and may have to act in order to correct evil, in theese cases, like when a murderer would be put to death in ancient israel as predicted by the law, the executors were not sining but removing evil. however people also need to rely on the Lord to avenge them and bring evil to an end. so a person must know if their acts of removing evil are legitimate before God or not, and wether they are truly necessary in this circumstance (usualy requiring such a responsability to have been bestowed upon the executor in the first place). in our place as humans we must always remember God's love first and use that as our mesure on what should we do about unjustice.

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    • If one says that God Himself used other people to remove sin,Why can't God just Kill the people Himself because the one doing the act might feel so righteous that even God uses them to remove sin!

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      • Masha, the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk struggled with this very issue. You might want to read his book and see what you think about his answer.

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  5. You have raised a point I have often wondered about - how God used Israel to execute judgment on evil (killing the malefactors, wiping out whole nations) seemingly contrary to His command Do Not Kill. Non-Christian friends often throw it in my face as evidence of a god of duplicity. Can you help me get a handle on that, without diverting too far from our topic?

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    • Sure, Cecile, I'll give it a try. The King James translation of the 6th commandment is somewhat unfortunate. The entire Bible should make it abundantly clear that God never intended a blanket prohibition against the taking of human life under any circumstances. The commandment prohibits murder, which is essentially unlawful or unwarranted killing. Ultimately, it is God who personally decides what is right and what is wrong. No one else has the wisdom to do so, including you and me. If God commanded that an entire people be wiped out, then He doubtless had sufficient reason for that. We are not left entirely in the dark as to what some of those reasons may have been, provided that we approach the written Word humbly and with a desire to be taught by God. Your friends needn't worry. Before this is all over, there will be a final judgement, at which time God will share sufficient information to fully convince everyone (even the finally impenitent) that everything He ever said or did was right, and best calculated for the eternal good of all His creatures. Now is the time to have faith in Him. Who has really considered the implications of our hopelessly twisted and depraved human condition? If God wants to be our Saviour, I rather think we ought to let Him. Does this help?

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      • Please check out Numbers 35:11-12. The same Hebrew word is used in these verses that is used in Exodus 20:13.

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        • That may be, Tyler, but the Bible was not dictated by God, word by word. The selection of words is a human element in the Bible, and as such is imperfect. Therefore, I prefer to go with the preponderance of the evidence, regarding any question. The Scriptures are full of instances where God (or His prophet) have not only approved of the taking of human life, but in many cases have positively commanded it. Take, for instance, God's requirement that murderers be executed, or the killing of Agag by Samuel. There is a deep, underlying consistency in the Bible and what it tells us about the character of God. But pride of opinion, or reliance on our own intellect, will never enable us to see it. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

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  6. God's timetable is different from ours; He knows exactly when death is the ultimate. God says to us "do not kill", because He knows that if we were allowed to decide when to kill another human being, we will be denying the other human being the chance that he/she might have had to live better. But, God knows when the human being's chances are up and so He knows when death should be final.
    Secondly, 'life' is not ours to give and therefore 'death' should not be ours to give. It is God who gives life and He should be the One to take it or command it to be taken.

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  7. A look at this question reminds me of what Genesis 3v1 says of the serpent. I looked up the definition of the word 'subtle' which the KJV uses, and I was suprised to discover that one of the definitions for it was 'hard to describe or pin down'.

    There are certain questions, me thinks, that are vague, not only in their origination, but their purpose as well. But the question does highlight just how far sin has taken the human race, when it seems right, in the eyes of anyone, to propose such a course of action. The bible says that God does not tempt anyone to do evil, and He himself is not tempted with evil. In Him there is no darkness, but all is light. Sin has no part in Him, and the devil is the Father of sin. Christ came to destroy the works of the devil, and sin (regardless of how white it may be), is the work of the devil.

    I could go on and on, but I agree with the majority of commenters in this case, and I believe God's position is clear.

    It is a fact, however, that somethings hard to explain are to be found in scripture. I would be a fool to deny otherwise. It is also clear, for anyone who wishes to see, that 'subtlety' always steps in where 'sin' has marred the relationship between God and man. Difficulties are bound to arise whenever A Holy God interacts with An Unholy Man. Sin cannot exist in the presence of the Lord God, and to the sinner God is a consuming fire, but wonder of wonders, God in Christ left the courts of glory and set foot on rebel planet.

    God meets us where we are, but He does not desire for us to remain there, but to grow into the fulness of the stature of Christ. As Hannah Whitall Smith says:

    'The lump of clay, from the moment it comes under the transforming hand of the potter, is, during each day and each hour of the process, just what the potter wants it to be at that hour or on that day, and therefore pleases him. But it is very far from being matured into the vessel he intends in the future to make it.'

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  8. I fear we sometimes read too much into Bible passages. Genesis 25:23 does not say who should be the descendant of record, merely who would be stronger. Here's a possible interpretation that turns all this on its head. I do not say this is true, only that it's possible:

    God intended his people to have a deliverance experience. His original plan was to have the Edomites serve the Jacobites. The Jacobites would probably not have been as idolatrous as were the Egyptians. When Rebecca and Jacob deceived Isaac they changed the course of history for the worse. The Israelites learned idolatry in Egypt, and until the Babylonian captivity never fully quit it. We like to think that Esau's marrying Caananite women was the reason he was unfit to take the birthright blessing (the part he didn't sell to Jacob). But foreign women are mentioned in the lineage of Jesus. It was Rebecca who couldn't stand Esau's wives, Isaac clearly preferred Esau, and Jacob's character was certainly lacking.

    In this case, Jacob and Rebecca's deception thwarted rather than fulfilled God's will.

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    • but what do you mean exactly? i know that what you said was only a suposition but did u mean that Gods people wold be the edomites?

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    • I totally agree with that comment. Rebecca and Jacob would have been better off leaving it alone. The said part is Rebecca knew what God said that Jacob would have ruled his brother and if God said it He, God, does not need any help from any human being to fulfill that as a result of that Jacob suffered greatly. But God is such as merciful God He is able to make our worse situation into something great if we just let him. That what He eventual did for Jacob because Jacob chose to trust him.

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  9. God does not need any HELP. He is God all by himself.
    There is no way around obedience or keeping His law.
    As some would say today "It is what it is"
    Lest we forget, we have freedom of choice ...to obey or not to obey.
    There is always consequences for our actions.
    I think as a society we have become so complacent and thinking God will accept anything...it just doesn't work that way. Nevertheless, it amazes me how we always expect the very best from Him when we are sending up or our requests. That totally blows my mind.

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  10. Thanks R.G. and others for those insights. I have no problem with God's dealing with sin. He's the only One who can. Actually I'm rather of the opinion that we were never supposed to deal with sin at all!

    I posit further that rather than raining fire from heaven as He would normally do, God allowed Israel to experience vicariously His wrath against something so wrong and ugly it would destroy little babies and animals, and His deep anguish and sorrow at having to destroy them as a consequence ("strange work"). Unfortunately, Israel got stuck on the act of destroying at one end, and the sorrow of loss by sparing what God said destroy on the other. I can see where it would cause some persons to believe that either destroying is alien to God's nature, or a divine solution to a divine problem.

    Anything that is the diametrical opposite of God, the total essence of what God is NOT, has to be something we will never be able to deal with by ourselves, no matter how bright we are. Covering cherubs could not do it; sinless angels cannot do it; certainly not a creation now "born in sin, and shaped in iniquity"!

    But this was satan's point from the beginning: he posited that God's creation could be those gods that could make their own decisions about their eternal destiny. We just needed to know the facts (knowledge of good and evil). We are intelligent enough to "create" our own way. We are not little children who must be told what to do, eat or know. At least he wasn't. Wasn't he in the very "lap" of God all day - without being consumed, uncovered? (Gen. 3; Matt. 18:3)

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  11. I agree with Cris, God is God and He doesn't need our help. Who knows how things would have turned out if Rebecca and Sarah had let God carry out His plan and everyone involved would not have had the hardship that ensued. Doesn't the Bible tell us that God's plans are not our plans? Who are we to think that we can do things better than Him?

    And were all those mentioned in responses like: Rehab, etc. all God's people at the time that they may have lied, etc.? God sometimes winks at people's ignorance or if they don't know better.

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  12. Its amazing to me how different people read the same bible and come up with different thoughts about God. All I know is His ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts . They are to High for me . I have learn to just trust Him and obey. I keep my eyes on JESUS.

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  13. I agree with John H. Nichols, I am not going to attempt to figure out God's Actions or commands. I am just going to trust that His ways and thoughts are righteous and that all I am called to do is follow them not figure them out. Its too mind boggling. I would rather just TRUST HIM.

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  14. It is good to anlayse to analyse and to go deeply into scripture and understand and to know God's will better. But is more important to also live with the THRUTH that as sinners and as limited as we are in our comprension of God and His ways, we are not able to understand God's will at all times. Our part that we must play is just to put all our TRUST in Him as an all time loving Father and Savior who does need our selfish and non holy spirit inspired help to achieve His plans. No end is justified by the means , but only and End justified by the everlasting love of God and our Trust in Him is the good End. God bless Seth

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  15. It would be nice to have the privilege of sitting on the sidelines: to trust and obey and ride the wave that leads into the gates of heaven. But some of us have enlisted into the Lords army. As soldiers of God, we are called to the front line of battle.
    Exodus 20, verse 13 Thou shalt not kill. Abraham knew this, but like a good soldier, when he received his orders from his Commander and Chief, he followed His orders.
    Reading the Abraham story we all can agree that God gives strange and controversial orders.
    Is it possible that God's spirit impressed Rebekah to do a strange act to save her husband’s life?
    Is it possible, that if Isaac would have given Esau that blessing, that god would have struck him down?
    My comparison is with Zipporah from Exodus 4 verse 25. Please let the readers know that.
    I am not playing the devil's advocate. I love my lord Jesus Christ. This week’s lesson is about getting to know the God we serve.
    Revelations 21 verse 8...all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone:
    I am not advocating lying. The Hebrew midwives did not lie in ignorance. I think when God makes all things known; we will see God's Holy Spirit working behind the scenes doing His strange works. Isaiah 28:21
    But their actions are not judged by human eyes.
    I agree that only God has a right to take life, because, only God can read the heart. Only God knows when a soul has reached the point of no return, irreversibly lost.
    King David’s motives, Judas motives, were selfish and condemned by God.
    Joseph's brother’s actions were condemned by God and did not help God's plan. God would have found another way to place Joseph there in Egypt.
    God has many ways of working that we know nothing about. Even if there are no more options, God will create one thousand more options. He did it when the children of Israel reached the Red Sea. Our job is to wait patiently and see the work of the Lord.

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  16. I agree with olivia that,we wuold rather just trust him, god allows any
    circumstance to occur at the right time.He knows someones future before
    that person is borne,not that he plans that occurence,but rather its fulfilled
    And it is written in the Bible that ,(THANK GOD IN EVERYTHING).

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  17. We must always remember we do not see things the way that God sees things, from the end to the beginning, and we only have the perspective that was written in the Bible. To address the question about Abraham and Sarah as we as Rebekah and Jacob, let us first remember these are two examples where man does not have God's patience.

    God had told Sarah that she would have a child not that she would adopt one. Because of her lack of faith Sarah caused her husband to sin by taking a second wife which was clearly not part of God's plan. The result of letting himself be influenced by an impatient and spiritually weak wife was the birth of Ishmael and the devision of Abraham's decendants into the Jews through Isaac and the Muslims through Ishmael causing war and ppain even to this day. This happened because of what God had already said, "your offsping shall as many as the stars in the sky." Once God says something it is going to happen because His power is in His word, just like when He said let there be light and light appeared, so Abraham's seed multiplied regardless of the mother because God said so.

    Looking at Jacob and Esau and what God had said about the older serving the younger, let us remember what happened before the deception with Rebekah. Esau was so hungry he felt he would die and he saw his brother had prepared some food. Thinking he would not live without eating that hour he hastily had sold his birthright, something I am sure that both Isaac and Rebekah knew about after the fact. The problem in this situation is that Isaac had his mother's stubborness running through his veins, instead of remembering ]od's words on the matter and honoring his son's decision to sell his birthright, he had every intention of giving the blessing of the firstborn blessing to Esau, who was clearly his favorite due to similarities between himself and his son. However, Jacob and Rebekah acted inappropriately and should have confronted Isaac about what he was doing, how it was contrary to both God's word and to the deal that Esau had made. Truly from the moment Esau gave up his birthright he should have been treated like the younger brother in always and Jacob treated as thoguh he really was the firstborn.

    We must remember that God has given us all the freedom to make our own decisions and he must act as such, that is not stepping in to stop us from making the wrong decision. He will warn us through His word and His Spirit, He may even send an angel or two but ultinately He must let us choose which path we willl take. God's will happens because He said it will and we as humans often do not accept His timetable. Another examples include Joseph ruling over his brothers and how they tried to get rid of him just to end up depending on him for food later in life. Though we may not fully see God's perfect plans we as Christians must trust Him and pray for peace in the acceptance of His timing.

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    • I agree with you brother.i belive in just obeyin the word of God.than 2 make sacrifies for our own personal gains.

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  18. This argument is a slippery slope fallacy. God in His perfection does not need our lies in order to fulfill his good works. Instead in spite of our imperfection He pardons us when we fully surrender to His will. The arguments listed don't share the full story.

    1. When Abraham told a "half lie" and stated that Sarah was his sister and did not include the fact that she was also his wife, God had to intervene or it could have caused Abraham's death.
    2. When Rebekah lied to her husband so that Jacob would be given the birthright, her sin resulted in years of pain between the two siblings. Pain and suffering that probably was not originally intended. Some of the suffering that we encounter as Christians was not originally in God's plan for our lives, but because of His love He does not cast us aside; instead He still bestows His love on us just like a loving parent.
    3. In the instance of Rahab, the Bible does not tell us the direct consequence that followed, but God did not need her lie to accomplish his goal. Our God who is all powerful could have destroyed their city another way. She was rewarded for her faith and courage to help the men and not her lie.
    4. Judas was given a choice, He did not have to betray Jesus, someone else could have.

    God, the Alpha and Omega, already knew the beginning and the end. Our omnipresent God already knew what choices would be made and was not condoning their decisions, the scriptures through inspiration were only reporting the facts. However our God in His infinite wisdom and mercy gave each of the individuals free will to follow His direction on their own.

    It is very dangerous for us to try to justify doing wrong in the name of the Lord. Our sin does not become right or righteous because of our motive. When we submit to that view we are allowing Satan to distort our view of Truth and God.

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    • Additionally, let us not forget that David and Bathsheba's love child died. God could have let their child live but he did not. They were both punished.

      In the instance of Rahab, it is also a possibility that she was judged based on her knowledge at the time. She was a heathen harlot that did not know God; but believed in Him and turned from her ways and followed the Israelites God and His principles.

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    • so true..... God does not need the help of humans, angels, nobody. He is God and by His words alone this world came into being. However if we confess our sins he is always ready and willing to forgive our sin and He is able to turn the worse situations into something great if we will just allow Him. That's the problem with human beings - as sinful as we are, we always think we can help God out. God does not need our help. He is GOD all by Himself. He speaks and things happen.

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  19. I’ve appreciated all the input from our readers so far.

    However, I wonder if you can see any similarities between the actions of Cain (in his offering), Abraham having a child with Hagar, Rebekah and Jacob’s plot to get the birthright blessing, Prince Moses’ killing of the Egyptian, Saul’s offering of a sacrifice (1 Samuel 13:5-12) and, possibly, even Judas’s cooperation with the priests and rulers of Israel?

    Is it possible that the actions of the Egyptian midwives and Rahab are in a different category? Could it be that contemporaries who protect the persecuted are in a different category than the persons above? I'm reminded of the "underground railway" -- an underground organization that protected slaves on the run from their owners in the pre-civil-war United States and helped them escape to freedom. Could those facilitating the underground railway be in the same category, which is different from the first category mentioned? [Ellen White participated in “underground railway” operations and encouraged SDA members not to obey the federal fugitive-return laws. See http://ellenwhiteanswers.org/gen_dyn.php?file=media/pdf/HERMEN3.pdf. And John Byington's home was one of the stations on the underground railway. See http://temcat.com/L-1-adv-pioneer-lib/Stories/Pioneer-Days.pdf] In other words, is civil disobedience in a different category than the examples in the previous paragraph?

    What are the distinguishing principles involved?

    What would be the difference between people in these two categories, if they are, indeed different categories?

    One of our readers mentioned Zipporah, Moses' wife. Apparently she had resisted the command to circumcise their babies, which was a sign of the covenant with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses was a member of the covenant community and was chosen to be God's representative to that community -- all the while in flagrant disregard of the covenant because of his uncircumcised sons. So the Lord met Him in a seriously threatening manner, and Zipporah yielded to the threat (See Exodus 4:24-26), circumcising the boys herself. Is her action in the same category as Rebekah's action, as our reader implies? [The fact that she personally circumcises the boys and called Moses a "husband of blood" strongly suggests that she had resisted Moses' wish to circumcise the boys.]

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    • Inge, I see at least four categories here. Some, such as Rahab, the Egyptian midwives, etc., are showing their faith in the true God by seeking to help His servants, or by otherwise working against evil. Yet, they remain in partial ignorance of His requirements, particularly in regard to truthfulness.

      In a second category, we have the failings (i.e. sins) of true believers, due to their lack of faith. Abraham, Rebekah, and Jacob were mentioned here. Thirdly, we have high-handed or stubborn rebellion against God, as demonstrated by Cain, Judas, and ultimately Saul. Lastly, we have the tactical errors (not sins) of God's servants who fail to adequately consult Him. Moses seems to fit here. Note that the inspired Stephen blames Israel, not Moses, for the undesirable outcome of that situation.

      I do find it interesting to note how differently God deals with violations of His will, depending on the principles involved.

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  20. Inge, As far as I am concerned these questions are among the hardest to answer. For instance, while Ellen White sided with the slaves and fought for a ministry among them she also counseled church members to stay out of the war because of the worldly principles being used in it and the fact that it would be nearly impossible for a person to obey God in that environment (1Testimonies 361.2). Furthermore, there are things I simply don't understand. Why does God permit persecution if He is so willing to fight for slaves, many who will not be in the kingdom of Heaven (Early Writings 276.1)?

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    • Tyler, perhaps you would be less confused by Ellen White's position regarding participation in the war between the states if you took into consideration the fact (noted by Sister White herself) that the war was not fought against slavery. Its sole purpose was to preserve the Union, to force the seceding states to come back into the federation. She did not consider this to be worth fighting and killing for.

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      • R. G. you have sparked my curiosity, could you please give me the reference to Ellen White's position on the war, thank you.

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        • Sure, Tyler, but since she had the testimony of Jesus, we are really talking about His position on the war, right? I've found a very interesting discussion of the matter in the Testimonies for the Church, Number 7, Chapter 53. It's found in Volume 1, pages 253-260. There are some particularly direct statements regarding the purpose of the war on page 254 and on page 258. It seems many soldiers enlisted who had been deceived into thinking that the purpose of the war was to end slavery. However, many of these strong anti-slavery men were deliberately sacrificed, like Uriah, by pro-slavery Northern commanders. May God bless your reading and understanding.

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          • I understand what you are saying, R. G. However, in my opinion the entire chapter is not about God's position concerning the war but about the state of things as He saw it.
            Nowhere in the chapter does Ellen White state that church members should stay out of the war because of the confused condition of the North or the treatment the men received from their officers. What she did do is to present the whole thing as a statement of fact because she "was shown some things in regard to our nation" (1T 253.1).
            A far clearer statement on her reasons for counselling our people to stay out of the war is found in 1Testimonies 361.2 which I referenced in support of what I said. In the first few sentences she said, "I was shown that God's people, who are His peculiar treasure, cannot engage in this perplexing war, for it is opposed to every principle of their faith. In the army they cannot obey the truth and at the same time obey the requirements of their officers." (1T 361.2) As a matter of context, in the previous paragraph she starts out by stating, "I saw that it is our duty in every case to obey the laws of our land, unless they conflict with the higher law which God spoke with an audible voice from Sinai" (1T 361.1). She then closes in the second paragraph which includes the supporting reference by saying, "But if the requirements of the rulers are such as conflict with the laws of God, the only question to be settled is: Shall we obey God, or man? (1T 361.2)
            These are the reasons why I said what I did. I suppose at times I may seem confused but I really don't think I am, at least not on this issue.

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  21. It was at one time a topic of discussion. The concluding coment was with or without man. God will always fulfil HIS plans.

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  22. God’s law, or His perfect will, is connected with one huge problem, and it is that ”and yet none of you keeps the law” (John 7:19). Nobody can ever meet the standards of God.
    For the fact is that we are all sinners and do not come even close to God's standards. There can be great and small sinners in the world, but there is still such a huge gap between God and men that no one can cross it by himself.

    Even though there is a huge gap between God and us, the Bible teaches that Jesus came down from Heaven and bridged this gap. He came to live under the law (Gal 4:4,5) But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.) He fulfilled the Law and always acted in accordance with His Father’s will (John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me.). He came down from Heaven and did everything that was impossible for us sinners to do.

    [Link removed by editor]

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