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Spring Warrior Church of Christ

7432 S. Red Padgett Road


Perry, FL 32348
584-5176

Prove All Things Vol. 1 No. 39


“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21

THE SIN OF GOOD INTENTIONS, part 2


by Bill Blue, bill@bibleweb.com [10/31/01]

Last week we discussed the fact that there are no “little sins,” and observed that
God punished sin on occasions where intentions, at least from man’s point of view,
appeared good. Before considering applications of these lessons, let’s revisit the story of
Uzzah.

There was an occasion when Israel was moving the Ark of God. During the
journey, “Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen
stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him
there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God” (2 Sam. 6:2-7). Uzzah tried to
prevent the Ark from falling. Some would argue that Uzzah was trying to do a good
thing, even trying to assist in God’s work, but to God Uzzah was irreverent and God
killed Uzzah “because he put his hand to the ark” (1 Chron. 13:7).

Uzzah probably wasn’t the first person who sinned while trying to do right, nor is
he the last.

Consider the merchants and the moneychangers that Jesus drove out of the
Temple. On the first occasion we read that, “He found in the temple those who sold
oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers doing business. When He had
made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the
oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. And He said to
those who sold doves, ‘Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a
house of merchandise!’” (John 2:14-16)

Three years later, Jesus cleansed the Temple again, but this time He said that the
moneychangers and merchants had turned the Temple into a den of thieves (Matt.
21:12-13).

Have you considered how the moneychangers and merchants were able to set up

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their tables inside the Temple walls? After the Israelites were taken captive by the
Assyrians and Babylonians, many Jews never returned to Israel to live. However, many
would visit Jerusalem to take part in different festivals. Because of their long journeys,
many Jews did not bring with them the right animal to offer as a sacrifice, and would
have to purchase the animal in Jerusalem. Because some Jews came from foreign lands,
they needed to exchange their currency for legal tender in Palestine; thus, the need for
the moneychangers.

Considering this, which explanation seems more plausible: (1) That the
merchants and moneychangers set up shop against the will of the people, priests and
Pharisees and had the explicit intent to cheat fellow Jews, or (2) That the merchants and
moneychangers saw an opportunity to serve their fellow Jews in their worship to God
and had at least the implicit consent of the people, priests, and Pharisees? Perhaps no
one knows for certain, but it seems unlikely that the merchants and the moneychangers
could set up shop without public approval. Thus, it is possible that no one at the time
thought anything was wrong with these practices.

Remember, the first time Christ cleansed the Temple, He did not accuse the
moneychangers of being thieves, nor did He cite any Scripture that they had violated.
The problem wasn’t that the moneychangers had violated a specific law. Rather, they
did not have authority from God to set up their tables inside the Temple in the first
place.

Do people like Uzzah or the merchants exist today? What about churches that
host common meals like Wednesday night suppers? What about church softball teams
or gymnasiums? No one suggests these activities are being done with an evil intent. To
the contrary, the churches doing these things are trying to reach the lost or keep the
converted. These churches have the best of intentions at heart – just like Uzzah.

The problem with these activities, like that of the moneychangers, is that there is
no authority for church sponsored meals, softball teams, gymnasiums, fitness centers,
daycare centers, or movie theaters.

In fact, where congregational common meals are concerned, we have an express


prohibition. Paul condemns the eating of common meals when people “come together
as a church” (1 Cor. 11:18-34). He first asks, “What! Do you not have houses to eat and
drink in?” (1 Cor. 11:22). Then he instructs that, “if anyone is hungry, let him eat at
home, lest you come together for judgment” (1 Cor. 11:34). Clearly, the Corinthian
brethren were confusing the Lord’s Supper with a common meal, and were adding to
their problems of factionalism by their conduct during this meal. To remedy this, Paul
said that we should not eat common meals when we come together “as a church” (1 Cor.
11:18).

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There is no express condemnation of gymnasiums or church-sponsored softball
teams. The problem here is not the lack of a specific prohibition, but the absence of
Bible authority. One may argue that, “The Bible doesn’t say not to.” However, Biblical
silence isn’t authority. Just ask the moneychangers.

Others argue that offering these services encourages attendance. However, if


someone will only attend church to participate in these activities, then he really isn’t
interested in serving God in the first place.

Some seek to justify these practices by arguing that they help spread the Gospel.
Of course, Uzzah probably thought he was helping out also, but God didn’t see it that
way. Instead of believing the myth that “different times call for different methods,” and
deviating from the Divine standard of worship found in the New Testament, we should
simply obey God’s instructions in the manner He has authorized. Only then can we be
certain that our well-intended actions will not one day result in condemnation.

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