What Does It Mean When We Say That the End Justifies the Means?

Social IssuesReligion

  • Author James Rondinone
  • Published March 21, 2022
  • Word count 5,259





This is a very interesting doctrine that I became aware of in my younger years in ministry; however, I was not fully aware of its actual meaning and destructiveness in the lives of believers. What does it mean when it’s said that the end justifies the means? From what I’ve learned, what this essentially means is that at times certain decisions can be emphasized by leadership that the assembly of believers should support unequivocally even if the avenue for implementing such is sinful as long as the end result promotes the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

What is meant concerning the sentiment of promoting the Kingdom of God could mean many different things depending on the faith at hand. It could refer to increasing the capacity to reach more souls for Christ. It could mean enhancing the financial status of those in leadership. It could mean the allowance of the leadership hierarchy to have many wives. However, what we could infer as to what it’s really all about is simply to have the ability to exert control over the assembly of believers by means of Scripture for power, money, and sex.

When certain Scriptures are used in this manner, they might appear to support God’s kingdom. If you are going to follow God, then you will be told to follow Him with no reservations. Probably one of the main scriptural sections that are used to support this perspective is found in the book of Joshua. Let’s go there and see what this was all about.

Suggested Reading: Joshua 2:1-24

The Lord has chosen Joshua to lead the Jews out from the wilderness wanderings by crossing over the Jordan River into the land of Canaan, the land that God promised them for an inheritance. This land would be theirs by means of conquest. The first place that Joshua sets out to conquer is a place called Jericho.

He sent out two spies into the city, who eventually lodged at the dwelling place of a prostitute named Rahab. While there, it was their mission to obtain information about this fortress - its gates, fortified towers, military [forces,] and the morale of its people.201 In the meantime, somehow, the king of Jericho was made aware that there were two spies sent from the children of Israel who could be residing at Rahab’s house. So, he sent messengers there in order to apprehend them. She, finding out about this before they arrived, being aware that all of them were in danger for their lives, asked the spies to hide on the rooftop under the flax fibers which were attached to the stalks of a plant that were placed there. In those days, flax fibers were laid out in heaps where the sun would dry them so that they could be used for weaving them into linen cloth.

5 And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them.

When the king’s messengers arrived at her house, they asked her where the spies were. And here is where the end justifies the means. She told them that they had already left. In other words, she lied. Some would say that the situation was such that lying or committing sin was the appropriate response. And because the result was beneficial, that being of the saving of the spies’ lives, therefore, this story is about a type of sin that could be accepted by those in the leadership of the New Testament church as warranted by the situation at hand as long as it promoted the Kingdom of God.

Let’s take a look at another Scripture that could be used to convince God’s people that the end justifies the means. Please go to the book of Matthew.

Matthew 16:24

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

This is a powerful Scripture, especially when presented over and over again. All of us want to do God’s will. For many believers, they don’t know what God’s will is, so this verse sounds like what this could be all about. If we deny ourselves for God’s sake and take up our cross, then we’re told that He will be pleased with us. Deny in what way? There could be many ways that believers could be told to do such and such for the benefit of the kingdom. One of them, which we’ll take a look at next, is in the area of financial giving that is also found in the book of Matthew.

Matthew 19:29

And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

It’s true that churches need money to pay staff, building expenses, outreaches, etc. They should let the assembly know when they need money and what it is to be used for. What this verse seems to be saying is that if we forsake (give up) real estate property or even our family who are not serving God for Christ’s sake, then we’ll receive a hundredfold and inherit everlasting life. Some might even interpret this verse as saying that God would give us more real estate holdings and a new godly family if we forsake this or that for Christ’s sake.

The story of Rahab and the spies, along with the two verses just mentioned about forsaking this or that, is quite compelling. They appear to convey to us that God will excuse sin as long as it promotes His kingdom. Furthermore, they seem to stress that in this life, we should deny ourselves of whatever it is for Christ’s sake or for those who operate in His stead, i.e., leadership when they request from us whatever it is. And if what we own or if our family is inhibiting us in our walk with God with respect to obeying leadership, then we should sell all that we have and give it to the church and/or divorce our wife, and find a new one who will support us unequivocally. 

Has anything I’ve mentioned sound right to you? You might say it kind of sounds right, but. Believe me, there are many believers who are under church leaders that espouse one or more of these perspectives. Are they correct in their perception of the Word of God? Well, there is another way to look at this view of the end justifying the means, which is what we’ll undertake next.

The end result of furthering the kingdom of God does not justify the means of promoting sinful words and actions for the assembly to agree with and implement.  

In this respect, we’ll begin by taking a look at an Old Testament saint that most of us are familiar with in respect to an animal called a lion. Does this animal recall to you the name of this person? There is a book of the Bible named after him. I think you know now who I’m talking about. Please go to the book of Daniel.

Suggested Reading: Daniel 6:1-28

3 Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.

In 538 BC, Cyrus of Persia, the subordinate prince under King Darius of the Medes, conquered Babylon. He decided to appoint one hundred twenty governors over the kingdom, along with three administrators, one of whom was a believer in Yahweh called Daniel. Over time, he outshone (showed himself prominent) over the two other administrators. With this consideration in mind, King Darius is now considering consolidating the number of administrators and making Daniel the sole one.

Somehow, word of this got back to the other two presidents along with the administrative officials, i.e., the governors, princes, counselors, and captains. So, they banded together in order to prevent this from happening. They tried to find out something about Daniel’s behavior that they could present before the king that would disqualify him, but they found nothing. What they did come up with, however, was a clever plan to not only have him removed from his position altogether but also to have him killed.

7 All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.

They came before the king and asked him to approve of and establish a royal statute for thirty days that in effect said if anyone prayed a prayer to anyone for thirty days other than the king, then they would be cast into a den of lions. The king signed the decree being unaware of the deception involved.

10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

When Daniel found out about this decree and that it was signed by the king, we would assume that he was aware of what was going on behind the scenes. He could have simply stopped praying for thirty days and waited until the time was up, and then resumed his daily routine. To the natural mind, this sounds like the right thing to do, doesn’t it?

However, as a man of God, he continued on in his daily routine, praying three times a day. We could look at this and say he was reckless. I would respond by saying that he probably brought this situation up to the Lord and asked for guidance. If God wanted him to stop praying or even leave the geographical location for his safety, He would have communicated so to him.

Another thing to contemplate was his testimony before God and the people, most of whom were unbelievers. What would have been the message to those that knew he was someone that followed Jehovah. Would his decision to stop praying send a clear signal to them that His God couldn’t protect him from not obeying the king’s decree?    

The governmental hierarchy could now carry out its nefarious plans to the fullest. They arrived at Daniel’s house at one of the times of prayer and found him praying as they knew he would. This was reported back to the king, who begrudgingly cast him into a den of lions overnight. All appeared lost. Daniel would be torn apart by these hungry lions.

19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.

20 And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?

In the morning, the king quickly arrived at the den and cried out to Daniel, asking him if his God was able to deliver him. And David replied back, responding that an angel of the Lord had shut the mouths of the lions, thus preserving his life. What happened next is quite astonishing.

24 And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.

Not only was the king glad for Daniels’ sake, but he was well aware of this insidious plot. He commanded that all those men who were complicit in this scheme, along with everyone in their family, be cast into the den of lions. And so, they were no more.

What this story tells me is that Daniel didn’t use any sinful means to try to get out of this situation. As one of the administrators of the kingdom, he probably could have tried to hire some hitmen to get back at those whose intent was to kill him. As I’ve already stated, he could have stopped praying for thirty days. The final thought was that a man or woman of God should not use sinful words or actions to promote the Kingdom of God.

With that said, let’s take another look at some of the verses from the book of Joshua and draw a different conclusion as to why Rahab might have responded the way she did to the messengers of the king.


Suggested Reading: Joshua 2:1-24

3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country.

4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were:

5 And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them.

When the king’s messengers asked her to bring the spies before them, she responded by saying that they had already left her dwelling earlier that night. And that if they were to go after them immediately, they could possibly catch up to them. It’s true that the spies’ lives were saved in this regard, but it’s also true that she probably was not a believer in Jehovah. She did what her natural mind told her to do.

However, but for the sake of argument, what if she was a believer? Would she have acted any differently? I don’t know. It depends on her walk with God. She might still have lied. On the other hand, she might have gone to prayer and asked God for guidance. It’s possible that she might not have hidden them at all based on what God’s response to her might have been. But to use what happened here to condone sin is in itself sinful.

Don’t allow someone in leadership to convince you that committing a sin of any kind will promote God’s kingdom. This should show you right away where their faith is centered. It’s certainly not on the Word of God and reliance of the Holy Spirit.

Now, let’s go back and take another look at the verse from the book of Matthew that talked about self-denial and realize that there is another way to translate it.

Matthew 16:24

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

It’s true that Jesus said that if anyone would come after Him, let him deny himself, and take up his cross. But how else could this verse be translated? We know from comparing Scriptures that Jesus wasn’t saying that if you deny yourself of this or that means you are taking up His cross. In this sense, if this verse was interpreted in that way, then what we would be talking about is religion, i.e., doing this or that to please God.

What this is actually talking about is a person’s eternal standing. It’s about no longer relying upon our self, our good works, but repenting to God the Father and believing in His Son as to who He is and what He has accomplished for salvation (the bundle of benefits received, one of which is the indwelling Spirit). When Jesus said follow me, this referred to what should be taking place following salvation. What should be taking place is learning how to walk in the Spirit, which is another way of saying learning how to rely on or be in subjection to Him, which is not accomplished by sinful means or coercion.

This brings us to one of the most egregious abuses of power in the church today. And that is using Scripture to take advantage of believers financially in order to benefit the kingdom of God. As I’ve previously mentioned, believers should give support to missions, for leaders’ salary, for church building obligations but not in an unscriptural manner and oppressive approach. Let’s take another look at this verse from the book of Matthew concerning this approach.

Matthew 19:29

And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

One thing that resonated with me after I read this verse was the idea that if someone forsakes thus and such, they will inherit everlasting life. What this conveyed to me is that this was talking about salvation. Before any of us were saved, we had areas of our life that we considered prominent, i.e., riches, family, sinful desires, addictions, etc. As for myself, I had many things that I thought were of paramount importance. I took drugs, I drank too much, I had affairs with different women, I spent my money on foolish things, I hung out with the wrong crowd, and I had very little respect for others.

Then, there came a time when I didn’t like myself anymore. I no longer praised who I had become. I needed a complete overhaul. At this time in my life, I had just finished taking an elective course in college, which was on the life of King Saul. What resonated with me was all the different ways in which God (Jehovah) interacted with him. I wondered if this kind of relationship with God could occur in my own life. I was not unfamiliar with religion as I had been an altar boy in one particular mainstream faith in my younger years, but for some reason, I never had a personal relationship with the God that I thought I was serving.

However, what I did determine was that if God truly existed, then I would hopefully find Him in church or in at least one of them. Where that church was located, I had no idea. So, I began to attend many different faiths. They all seemed to have the same things in common. Do this or that, as spoken in the writings of the faith, obey the leadership so that God would be pleased, and you will probably go to a better place at physical death. This didn’t appease my longing for God at all. I had been involved in this type of religion before. Then one day, something occurred that set me on the right road to finding this one true God who would change my life forever.

I was working for my dad at a spa and grille that he owned. It was a holiday Sunday, and I was getting out of work at noon. As I was about to leave, a local parade was passing by. So, I decided to follow it to the center of town, where at which location it dispersed. When I arrived at this place, I heard a loud voice in the distance. When I turned around in a three hundred sixty degree manner, I saw a large gathering of people standing before a staging platform, where it appeared that someone was speaking. So, I decided to walk over and find out what was going on.

As I approached, I heard a young man talking about God. He said that God wants to become personal with us. He wants to give us a new nature. This got my attention. He presented the gospel of repentance and faith, to which I didn’t respond. However, I did get the address and time of the next meeting.

This gathering was to be held at one of the church member’s houses. When the day and time arrived, I showed up. There was a barbecue taking place, and I was offered free food and drink, to which I would never say no. After everyone was finished, one of the pastors was introduced.

He proceeded to give a message, which was followed up with an invitation to respond to the gospel message. He asked if anyone was interested in walking up to where he was standing. So, I did. He said that if I confessed the words that he proclaimed, God would come into my life and fill me with His presence. I repeated the words he said, but nothing happened. He, in turn, paused and then said something remarkable to me. He said that God showed him that I was dating a married woman, and I needed to confess this as sin to Him and break off this relationship. I proceeded to confess this sin in front of all who were present and acknowledged that I would no longer date her. Right after this pronouncement, I was saturated with God’s presence. I found God, or instead, He found me. To me, this was an example of forsaking something, in this case, an illicit relationship with someone, that was hindering me from being saved.

As far as the scriptural declaration that if we forsake all, we’ll receive back one-hundredfold. If you want to say this means material possessions, that is your prerogative. If this were the case, we would be playing the game, Let’s Make a Deal with God. To me, what I believe this refers to are incomparable spiritual riches.

I have one more thought for you to consider in respect to forsaking real estate or family, as some leaders might command. While it’s true when Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all that he had and give it to the poor, and he would receive eternal life. But I believe that this stumbling block was that which was the predominant issue that was preventing him from becoming saved. This obstruction of an ever-present sinful desire is different for each unbeliever.    

Before we close our discussion on this topic, I just thought of another section of Scriptures that some churches could use to provide additional support for their teachings that a believer has the right to forsake his wife and possessions for the Kingdom of God’s sake.

Please go to the book of 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 7:26, 29-30

26 I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.

A lot of what Paul was talking about here in respect to marriage and owning property seemingly had to do with the words that he mentioned in this verse, i.e., for the present distress. Some commentators believe that these words convey to us the political conditions of the time in that Nero was the current Caesar who had begun to persecute Christians.

29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;

He goes on to declare that the time is short or was made short by their impending persecutions and trials.202 And when he said, they that have wives be as though they had none, some leaders could take this to mean that if your wife is inhibiting you from serving the Lord faithfully, then you should divorce her. This is not what he was saying. Based on the historical context, what he was saying was that if trials or the situation might become so difficult that even those already married will have to live as though they were not married …. perhaps Paul was referring to husbands and wives being separated from each other because of economic distress or persecution.203

30 And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not;

Due to trials and persecutions, grief will come, but don’t let it gain uncontrolled mastery over you. Stand [readily] prepared to escape for [your] life, or meet death, as the providence of God may permit.204 And if you own property, consider it as though it doesn’t belong to you in the sense that it can be taken away at any time. These verses appear to have nothing to do with giving our earthly possessions to the church or divorcing our wives for the furtherance of the kingdom.

Be careful when there is a continual mention of giving all that you own to the church for the furtherance of the kingdom. Be careful when you are told that sexual sins are considered acceptable if they further the kingdom. Be careful if you are instructed that all types of sin are approved by God as long as they promote His kingdom.

I would like to leave you with this verse, which I believe exemplifies the perspective that the end does not justify the means.

James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

Do what we know is right according to God’s Word, and if we don’t do what it says, then it’s sin.

Do you know that there is something else that authoritarian leaders will use to justify their control over their followers? We looked at this, albeit briefly, in an earlier chapter. Let’s take a look at it more in-depth in the chapter that follows. It’s composed of two words -- one word beginning with the letter n and the second word with the letter r. I’m sure you’ve got this.

But before you do, I would like to leave you with an article that talks about what should be the focus for each person, each institution, each country, i.e., the outcome or the means.


AUGUST 26, 2020

All of history reveals a mindset which promotes the END as a justification of the MEANS. 

America has used this mindset since its founding. All nations use this mindset (to a degree) to advance their self-interest. This mindset is what creates our wars, contention, hatred, and destruction of property. Politicians think of their END vision and then implement a MEANS for accomplishing this END. It [doesn’t] work for mankind because this thinking is [backward] and diabolical. Will America’s leaders (we vote in November) develop new thinking? I doubt it!

America’s leaders will likely use this belief that the ‘end justifies the means’ to further their political agenda. The Donald will think in this manner. Joe Biden will think in this manner. This mindset goes all the way back to Niccolo Machiavelli. Lying is justified. Corruption is justified. Refusing to balance our monetary affairs is justified. Blaming another country (like China) for the Covid-19 virus is justified. Our leaders are steeped in this mindset that the [end] justifies the MEANS. What is their END? This mindset [doesn’t work,] and yet our leaders continue with this mindset.

God’s logic (within [Scripture]) says that the MEANS is the key to the END.                                                                                                                 

Justice starts with the MEANS. The Commandments of Yahweh are based upon the MEANS. [Problem-solving] must start with the MEANS. Yet, our world system operates with the opposite mindset. Destruction is guaranteed with this mindset of the END as justification of the MEANS. I can guarantee more war, contention, and destruction when I witness this mindset within our leaders. 

America is the Super-Power on planet Earth as I write. China wants to be the next Super-Power. Russia would also like this [role,] as would Europe. We live in a world where select leaders conceive their goals and plans with this mindset of ‘the END justifies the [MEANS.’] [It’s] a mindset which leads to war, contention, and destruction. Yet our political leaders have no interest in changing their thinking. This diabolical mindset is why our world system is collapsing from within. It’s our thinking which creates our END result.

Today, [it’s] our Central Bankers who devise and conceive new policies for promoting an END (prosperity) via a MEANS of corruption and fakery. Money units are created out-of-nothing (the mind of banksters) and then circulated to select clients for the purpose of promoting a conceived END. The end is control (over the marketplace) and [fake] prosperity which never advances human happiness and progress. The END is a misguided mental image [that] produces more strive, contention, and destruction. [Yet,] these thinkers [don’t] change their thinking.

Justice and real progress must be based upon the logic of the MEANS as key and the END as a Result of the MEANS.

With a valid MEANS that is based upon truth, liberty, and justice, the END can emerge as a RESULT. Today, [it’s] our THINKING which produces false [results,] and the results which emerge create more destruction for mankind as a whole. Our world system is [collapsing,] and yet our leaders continue with this mantra that the END justifies the MEANS. Will American leaders change their thinking? My sense is NO!

A favorable END never arrives as our THINKING is diabolical and corrupt. 

Thinking must change. The [mindset] of our leaders must be based upon God’s logic of the MEANS coming before the RESULT. Justice, peace, stability, freedom, and progress must be based on sound logic and thinking (at the start). Today, our leaders [don’t] THINK with a logic that produces these needed results. Watch as America elects another administration this fall and watch what happens as they implement their THINKING. Will real peace, happiness, progress emerge? I would suggest that this is impossible given their THINKING. As a man thinketh so is he! Proverbs 23:7.


The MEANS is key to the END. 

Justice in the NOW is needed. Freedom in the NOW is needed. Equality in the NOW is needed. The NOW demands a new mindset based upon the MEANS (coming first). This [isn’t] happening. I will suggest that our THINKING produces our RESULTS. If our thinking [doesn’t] change, then more of the same will result (unhappiness). We need new [leadership,] which thinks with a mindset of the MEANS coming before the END. That is my viewpoint and perspective! What is yours?205

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201Bible Knowledge Commentary/Old Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries; Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries. All rights reserved.

202Barnes' Notes.

203The Bible Exposition Commentary.

204Adam Clarke's Commentary.           

205Don Swenson. “THE MINDSET OF MAN: ‘THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS’! WHY THIS MINDSET?” Kingdom Economics 21 November 2021 .


My name is James Rondinone.

I grew up in Massachusetts and began my own spiritual journey early on in life.

I attended Bible college, having completed a two-year Christian Leadership course of study, and graduated as valedictorian (summa cum laude).

I’ve written and published a number of spiritual books on various biblical topics.

These books can be found online.

Amazon.com: https://amzn.to/2RB0Y7D Website: https://makingtheonerightchoice.com

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