The Ends and the Means

Varied Scenarios

In considering ethics, one is presented with varied scenarios dealing with what is moral or correct. Differing theories concerning a proper ethic have been explored throughout human history, ranging from utilitarianism to nihilism to universal moralism. The discussions by philosophers and thinkers can be an interesting study, but in the end any ethic which denies the overall authority and power of God is faulty.

A Perfect Ethic

The Christian must adhere to an ethic which is bound not by one’s own desires or definition of “good” and “bad” but is instead bound by God’s Word. Understanding this presents us with some questions concerning what a truly perfect ethic looks like.


There is no “situational” or “relational” quantity to be considered when following God’s Word. This thought may be best expressed by Jesus’ admonition to “love your enemies” (Mat. 5:44ff, et al, NASU). While this concept is full of meaning, including the meaning of love itself, at the very least it proves that one’s reactive choice is not determined by the recipient. A sinful response cannot be justified because the recipient “is deserving”.


The master of our ethic is not ourselves but instead God. Therefore it ultimately does not matter what our opinion is concerning a given moral choice. Such a reality can be difficult for some to swallow, especially when extraneous circumstances are considered. An example of this kind of reaction can be found in Matthew 19, where Jesus explains the difficulty men have with some teachings (19:11ff). The truth He described concerning divorce and remarriage was not well received by the apostles – this did not make it untrue.


There is no justification for sinful practice, even if the intention is a positive one. There is never ultimately a positive result of sin and any good end will be tarnished by the means. This includes the greatest of ends as well. Would it ever be proper to engage in deception to further the Gospel of Christ? Such a scenario could include a hostile audience or even a hostile government. The work could possibly be furthered, but the work would also be harmed – there is no place for a lie in the work of Christ.

Impossible Difficulty

Considering what a truly perfect ethic looks like one is forced to appreciate just how difficult following such an ethic can be – and just how amazing Jesus’ ability to live perfectly truly was. We will not have a perfect ethic, but this does not change our obligation to follow it.

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