Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time (Helaman 6)
We probably all experience occasions in our lives when negative consequences result from actions we take that may later seem rather questionable. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, someone may even ask us — or we may even ask ourselves — "Why would you do such a thing?" Sometimes, the only answer we can give — as lame as it may be — is, "Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time."
Sometimes, the consequences of doing something that seemed like a good idea at the time are minimal and can be laughed at later. To see a few short videos depicting this, click here.
However, when the actions taken are sinful in nature, the consequences may be such that we won't be laughing when we look back and wonder why we did it. Helaman 6 recalls a few such examples from the scriptures, adding that the devil is the source of these "good ideas":
- Adam and Eve knew that God had told them not to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge. However, the serpent told them that if they ate it, they would become as gods, knowing good and evil. It seemed like a good idea at the time. However, the consequences of their actions — expulsion from the Garden of Eden and eventual death — were severe and affected all mankind.
- According to Helaman 6:27, the devil convinced Cain that he could kill his brother and nobody would find out about it. Based on this, it must have seemed like a good idea at the time — perhaps Cain thought his sacrifices would be more acceptable to God if he didn't have to compete with his brother. However, God cursed Cain such that he was a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth, causing Cain to remark, "My punishment is greater than I can bear."
- Building a tower tall enough to reach heaven must have seemed like a good idea at the time since the people actually began working on the project. However, any plan to try to get to heaven without serving God is obviously inspired by the devil. God wound up confounding the languages of the people such that they couldn't understand each other so the project was effectively terminated.
Notice that in all of the above examples, what the people did seemed like a good idea AT THE TIME. Later on, they realized that it really wasn't a good idea at all. This is how the devil works — he entices you to act without thinking it through and without considering the consequences. Although it is sometimes tempting to just take a leap without having to always be thinking about what will happen later, remember that if the devil is inspiring the action, you will find out later that it was not a good idea at all, and you will regret taking that leap.
How can we tell when a "good idea" is actually coming from the devil?
When the associated actions are contrary to what is taught in the Word of God.
It doesn't matter if we think something good can come from it — the ends don't justify the means. It doesn't matter if we think we can "get away with it" — God sees all. It doesn't matter if other people (family, friends or famous people) say it's OK. God is the one who has defined what is good.
As servants of God, our goal should be to live as God has taught us to live. That was a good idea yesterday. It's a good idea today. And it will be a good idea for ALL TIME.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.