But ye denied the Holy One… And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead;… Acts 3:14, 15
The test by which all conduct must finally be judged is motive.
As water cannot rise higher than its source, so the moral quality in an act can never be higher than the motive that inspires it. For this reason, no act that arises from an evil motive can be good, even though some good may appear to come out of it.
Every deed done out of anger or spite, for instance, will be found at last to have been done for the enemy and against the Kingdom of God!
In this matter of motive, as in so many other things, the Pharisees afford us clear examples.
They remain the world’s most dismal religious failures, not because of doctrinal error nor because they were careless or lukewarm, nor because they were outwardly persons of dissolute life.
Their whole trouble lay in the quality of their religious motives. They prayed, but they prayed to be heard of men. They gave generously to the service of the temple, but they sometimes did it to escape their duty toward their parents, and this was an evil. They judged sin and stood against it when found in others, but this they did from self-righteousness and hardness of heart.
That this is not a small matter may be gathered from the fact that those orthodox and proper religionists went on in their blindness until at last they crucified the Lord of glory with no inkling of the gravity of their crime!