Pleasing God, Making Disciples of Jesus Christ

It’s Obedience Not Good Intentions

MATTHEW 16:21-23 – From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

THEME OF THE DAY. IT’S OBEDIENCE NOT GOOD INTENTIONS. In today’s scripture, Peter meant well. He thought he was doing right in defending the Lord. His intentions appeared good. And Peter isn’t the only one doing this in scripture. Uzzah had good intentions also – And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the LORD, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God (2 Samuel 6:5-7). Yet, in both cases, as it will be in all cases, God does not honor good intentions if they are contrary to His desires, will, and Word. In fact, He rebukes people who do such and that severely. In Peter’s case, we read that Jesus called him “Satan”. And for Uzzah? It cost him his life. It was ignorance in Peter and disobedience in Uzzah which drove them to put good intentions above obedience. For Peter, he was ignorant of Jesus’ mission and he was rebuked. For Uzzah, he assumed the priest role while not being a priest. Only the priest could touch the ark, and though Uzzah’s intent was noble in protecting the ark, God viewed it as disobedience and He killed Uzzah.

What may we learn from these examples of good intentions trumping obedience to God’s Word? A couple of things; for the individual Christian and the local church.

First, as individual Christians, don’t compromise the truth of being separated from the world and ungodly influences in human relationships. Too many Christians have regretted the day of compromise as they allowed themselves to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. When a Christian pursues a relationship with a non-Christian with the “good intention” of leading the unbeliever to Christ, it rarely, if ever, happens. Sadly, many Christians, who had “good intentions” in a relationship, have disobeyed God’s clear command “to be separate” and be dragged into sin and away from Him.

Another application of not allowing good intentions to override obedience is in a church’s attempt to reach their community for Christ. Friends, we don’t reach the world by becoming like the world or adopting the world’s method, music, or other pragmatic ways. God has ordained we reach the world by preaching, praying, and loving one another. It is when the church is so much not like the world that she will reach the world. All our good intentions, when contrary to God’s Word and ways, will not receive His blessings or favor, though we may have the same spiritual goals.

So, let’s be sure we don’t let our “good intentions” be the determining factor in living out the Christian life and reaching our worlds with the Gospel. God honors our obedience, not good intentions.

PRAYER: “Father, don’t let me be deceived to think good intentions override active obedience to Your Word.”

QUOTE: “God does not honor good intentions when they violated obedience to His revealed will”