We are not saved by good intentions.
If you asked most people the question: “Does God reward good intentions?” more often than not they would probably say something like, “Oh yes of course. God knows where our hearts are, He knows that we meant well“. Which is comforting and all; but what’s really important, is to know if it’s actually true. Does God give brownie points for good intentions? There is a saying that says, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” and this is certainly true. There are many people who live lives filled with good intentions, but ultimately end up in hell, because we are not saved by good intentions. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God. It’s not the result of anything you’ve done, so no one can brag about it” (Names of God Bible) and Romans 10:9 says, “You will be saved, if you honestly say, “Jesus is Lord,” and if you believe with all your heart that God raised him from death” (Contemporary English Version). So with regards to salvation, the Bible is clear that good intentions count for nothing.
Never settle for your current level of knowledge.
But what about just generally speaking, do good intentions count for anything when we get things wrong? Judaism (in which Christianity has its roots) is very clear on this matter. The Jewish scholars state in the Chumash (Stone Edition), “Good intentions do not purify a wrong deed. Its measure is whether it complies with God’s will; if it is wrong in His eyes, then good intentions do not give it sanction. Moreover, lack of knowledge is itself sinful, for a person has the obligation to seek instruction“. That is very uncompromising and does away with any arguments of “Well, I didn’t know…..“. Never settle for your current level of knowledge regarding the things of God, never settle for what your denomination believes, never settle for what you’ve always been told. Get into the Bible daily and start finding out things for yourself, allow God to speak to you. Your denomination may have got most of it right, or they may not; what you’ve always been told may be mostly right, or it may not. The point is that you need to find out for yourself and to do that, you need to read the Bible for yourself.
Saul’s intentions were certainly good.
Let’s look at a couple examples from the life of King Saul, with regards to good intentions. In 1 Samuel 13 we read of how Saul had become worried about a certain situation, and to make matters worse Samuel hadn’t arrived when he was expected. Rather than wait for Samuel, Saul decided to make a burnt offering to the Lord himself. Samuel then arrived just as Saul was finishing making the offering. Saul’s intentions were certainly good, he wanted to seek God’s favour – but the bottom line was, he should have waited for Samuel. What do you think Samuel’s answer was? Do you think he said, “Don’t feel too bad Saul. You did mess up, you really should have waited for me, but its fine – God knows your heart was in the right place“? No, that is not what Samuel said. Samuel’s answer was “How stupid of you to have broken the commands the Lord your God gave you! The Lord would have established your rule over Israel forever, but now your rule won’t last. The Lord will search for a man following the Lord’s own heart, and the Lord will commission him as leader over God’s people, because you didn’t keep the Lord’s command” (1 Samuel 13:13-14, Common English Bible). Saul’s good intentions didn’t count for much did they? Saul’s good intentions did not prevent the kingship between transferred to David’s family after his death.
Saul did not fully carry out God’s instructions.
Two chapters later in 1 Samuel 15, God had given Saul instructions to completely destroy the Amalekites: “Go and attack the Amalekites and completely destroy everything they have. Don’t leave a thing; kill all the men, women, children, and babies; the cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys” (1 Samuel 15:3, Good News Translation). However, Saul did not fully carry out God’s instructions. 1 Samuel 15:7-9 says, “Saul defeated the Amalekites, fighting all the way from Havilah to Shur, east of Egypt; he captured King Agag of Amalek alive and killed all the people. But Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and did not kill the best sheep and cattle, the best calves and lambs, or anything else that was good; they destroyed only what was useless or worthless” (GNT). Saul’s rationale was, “My men took them from the Amalekites. They kept the best sheep and cattle to offer as a sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have destroyed completely” – good intentions, but not what he should have done. The reaction from God, via Samuel was as uncompromising as before: “The Lord anointed you king of Israel, and he sent you out with orders to destroy those wicked people of Amalek. He told you to fight until you had killed them all. Why, then, did you not obey him? Why did you rush to grab the loot, and so do what displeases the Lord?“(1 Samuel 15:17-19, GNT). Samuel went on to say, “Which does the Lord prefer: obedience or offerings and sacrifices? It is better to obey him than to sacrifice the best sheep to him. Rebellion against him is as bad as witchcraft, and arrogance is as sinful as idolatry. Because you rejected the Lord‘s command, he has rejected you as king” (verses 22-23).
Let me give you two consequences of Saul not fulling destroying the Amalekites as instructed:
- 2 Samuel 1 records that it was an Amalekite that dealt the fatal blow to King Saul.
- The book of Esther records that Haman, who sought to have all the Jews killed, was an Agagite – meaning he was descended from Agag, king of the Amalekites. If Saul had fully obeyed God, the wicked Haman would never have existed.
Stop doing what seems right to you and instead find out what God has to say and then start doing it. Your good intentions are not going to cut any ice with God, partial obedience is disobedience. God is pleased with people who find out what His will is and then do it. God is not pleased with people who merely do what is right in their own eyes.
If you have any further questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.
If you have never received Jesus as your Lord & Saviour, if you have gone away from God, or if you have any doubts regarding your salvation. I encourage you to click on the link below. Clicking on the link will not secure your salvation, but praying the prayer you find, from your heart, will.
For the salvation prayer, please click here.