Two Times to Disobey

For the Christian, the ends don’t justify the means. But God does give us two exceptions. This 1-minute devotion explains.

Someone once told me it was okay to use copyrighted material inappropriately in order to promote Christian causes. He said, "At the end of the day, all that matters is that God is glorified."

He expressed a popular belief: The end justifies the means. 

But he's wrong. God cares about our methods as well as our results. For the Christian, the ends don't justify the means.

We can and should obey laws.

Scripture offers only two exceptions:

1. When a life is at stake.
Rahab lied to save the lives of the spies, and God rewarded her. So saving a life might require violating a lesser law of God or a government law.

For the Christian, the ends don’t justify the means. But God does give us two exceptions. This 1-minute devotion explains.

2. When we're commanded to disobey God.

The Apostles refused to quit speaking about Jesus when the authorities ordered it (Acts 4:1-22). So we can/should disobey government laws that prevent us from sharing Christ, although we do so at our own risk. 

Romans 13:5 says, "it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience." 

Our conscience should bother us if we do something illegal, unethical, or immoral. And we can't justify it based on the results unless we are saving a life or being forced to disobey God's commands. 

God tests us in the little things (Luke 16:10), and we never glorify Him by using ungodly methods to promote His kingdom.(2)

I encourage you to read When Little Things are Big Things to add additional insights to this subject.

(2) Using copyrighted material is a form of stealing. Following copyright laws doesn't violate any biblical command.

For more on this subject, check out the devotion I guest wrote from my friend Dawn's blog. It's called "God Wins All Wrestling Matches" and talks about a time when I almost broke the law and when I did break the law.


  1. Agree -- the little things do matter. And, if you have kids, they watch and pick up on those little things...and use them to define the world around them. I've been working on following through with what I say I will do with my toddler, because I want him to do the same :).

  2. Thanks for tackling a tough topic. A young friend asked me about Rahab's lie. I thought back to Corrie Ten Boom's "sort of lie" ... (sarcastically?) telling the Nazi guards the Jews were "under the table." It looked like a lie, but it was actually the truth. They were hiding under the floorboards! This is one of those "God knows the heart" things.

    Thanks for the link to the UPGRADE post (your article) ... I hope your readers take time to go there!

    1. Yes, Dawn, I love that story in the Hiding Place.
      Actually, Corrie told lots of lies to protect the lives of the Jews they assisted. She definitely was doing "Rahab lying"--to save lives. Definitely approved by God.
      Gail : )

  3. "So saving a life might require violating a lesser law of God." I really do not think Rahab violated God's law by lying. She is mentioned in Hb 11 as a member of the gallery of faith, and all that does not proceed from faith is sin - so she did not infringe the commandment even though she lied. I believe "Thou shalt not bear false witness" is relative, so much as "Thou shalt not kill". The same Law of Moses allowed (and in fact imposed) killing adulterers and blasphemers, as well as in war. David pretended to be mad when he wasn't, and that is, in a way, lying. The Hebrew midwives in Egypt lied to the king and saved the Israelite children - and that was not sin. Well, I basically agree with you, but I would not say Rahab "violated a lesser law".

    1. Hi João,
      I actually thought about David feigning mental illness when I wrote this, but I didn't think about the midwifes. Good additional examples. Thanks.

      I think the prohibition against killing is a bit different in that the commandment is best translated "thou shalt not murder" and there's a difference between murder and war or state imposed death penalties.

      But I think you're right that we probably agree on the basic principle even if we disagree on the wording.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. You are definitely right, the end justifies the means, the so purpose is that God must be glorified