“It strikes me that on the very surface of this passage there is a refutation of a very common error, that if we do a thing from a right motive God accepts it, even though it is a wrong thing. The common error of the time is this, “Well,” says one, “I have no doubt that if a man is a good Mahomedan, and keeps up to what he knows, he will go to heaven.” “Ah,” says another, ” and if he is a good Roman Catholic, and if he keeps up to what he knows he is safe.” “Ay,” says another, “we must not judge one another harshly; no doubt those who bow before Juggernaut, if they live up to what they know will be saved.” Do you take in the devil-worshippers and the snake-worshippers too? You must let them all in. You have opened your door wide enough to let them all come in. And the Thugs who are going about India cutting men’s throats—they do it as a matter of principle, it is a part of their religion, they consider it to be right—do you think they will go to heaven because they have done what they thought is right? “No,” says one, “I will not go that length.” Yes, but if the principle is right in one case it is right in the other. A principle will go the whole way it will stretch in any direction, and be as applicable to one as to another.
But it is all deception and falsehood. God has revealed to us the one true religion, and other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid. We are responsible to God for our faith; we are bound to believe what he tells us to believe, and our judgment is as much bound to submit to God’s law as any other power of our being. When we come before God, it will be no excuse for us to say “My Lord, I did wrong, but I thought I was doing right.” “Yes, but I gave you my law. but you did not read it, or, if you read it, you read it so carelessly that you did not understand it, and then you did wrong, and you tell me you did it with a right motive. Ay, but it is of no avail whatever.” Just as in Uzzah’s case, did it not seem the lightest thing in the world to put out his hand to prevent the ark from slipping off? Who could blame the man? But God had commanded that no unpriestly hand should ever touch it, and inasmuch as he did touch it, though it was with a right motive, yet Uzzah must die. God will have his laws kept.
Besides, my dear brethren, I am not sure about the rightness of your motives after all. The State has issued a proclamation, it is engraven, according to the old Roman fashion, in brass. A man goes up with his file, and he begins working away upon the brass, erases here, and amends there. Says he, “I did that with a right motive, I didn’t think the law a good one, I thought it was too old-fashioned for these times, and so I thought I would alter it a little, and make it better for the people.” Ah, how many have there been who have said, “The old puritanic principles are too rough for these times, we’ll alter them, we’ll tone them down a little.” What are you at, sir? Who art thou that darest to touch a single letter of God’s Book which God has hedged about with thunder in that tremendous sentence, wherein he has written, “Whosoever shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; and whosoever shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city.” It becomes an awful thing when we come to think of it, for men not to form a right and proper judgment about God’s Word, for man to leave a single point in it uncanvassed, a single mandate unstudied, lest we should lead others astray, while we ourselves are acting in disobedience to God.
The fact is, there is one way to heaven, and there are not fifty ways; there is one gate to heaven, and there are not even two gates. Christ is the way. Trusting in Jesus is the path to Paradise. He that believeth not in Jesus must be damned. The religion of Christ is intolerant; not that it ever touches man in his flesh and blood, even if he rejects it, but it does not allow of a second method of salvation. It demands your full obedience, your child-like faith, or else it threatens you with the direst penalty, if you refuse to yield to it. That idea of free-thinking and the like, and the right of man to think as he likes, has no countenance in Scripture. We are bound to believe what God tells us; as he tells it to us; bound not to alter a single word, but to take the Bible as it is, or else deny it, and take the consequence.”
Charles Spurgeon “Importance of Small Things in Religion” April 8th, 1860