Does God Anoint Our Motives?

Permission is granted to reprint the following article as long as no changes are made and the byline, copyright information, and the resource box is included. Please let me know if you use this article by sending an email to

Does God Anoint Our Motives?
Copyright © November 6, 2011 Douglas W. Jerving.
All Rights Reserved.

"Motive is what God anoints." A pastor told me this, yet he claimed I had the motive of pride when I wore my head covering. Then the pervert who touched me inappropriately had good motives according to this pastor! It was Eli the Old Testament priest who refused to chastise his own sons for sin and he died for that.”

--quoted from a recent online post by a Christian woman who sincerely believes God has told her to cover her head when publicly praying or prophesying according to I Corinthians 11:4,5,10, and that not to do so would be disobedience and a lack of faith toward God on her part. The same woman has made it clear to me that this is her personal calling as a prophetic woman in the Church. She says that this is something she does as a result of her personal experience of Jesus Christ in prayer requiring this as a part of her ministry in the gifts of Discerning of Spirits and the Word of Knowledge for divine healing. She also sincerely believes that this personal calling given to her by direct revelation from God regarding her own ministry in the Church in no way implies the necessity of other women following her example. It is not a matter of pride for her, but of personal obedience and a desire to faithfully fulfill the ministry in the gifts that God has given to her. When she is asked by others why she wears a head covering when praying or ministering in the Church, she merely hands them a business card sized paper quoting the passage, and explaining the facts set forth above.

One of the most tragic stories in ancient Israel is that of the high priest Eli and his sons Hophni and Phineas told in 1 Samuel chapters 2-4. Eli judged Israel for forty years, during the time that Samuel grew up, entered his early ministry and began moving into a leadership position in Israel. There is every evidence that Eli was a godly man for the most part. But Eli’s sons were wicked men who sought to use the priesthood for their personal gain. As a result, they caused the nation to sin by not remaining faithful to the Mosaic laws regarding the burnt offering. Because Eli was aware of the sins of his sons and did nothing more than verbally reprimand them, God threatened judgment against the house of Eli. His sons would die in one day, and the priesthood would pass to the next eligible family descended from Aaron. The fulfillment of this judgment took place many years later in Eli’s life, when he was eighty years old, and Samuel was fully prepared to step into the civil role as judge of Israel. Eli’s sons died the same day in a battle against the Philistines. The ark of the covenant, the most holy piece of furniture in the Mosaic tabernacle was captured. When the news came to Eli, he fell over, broke his neck and died. At that same time Phineas’ wife bore a son, whom she named Ichabod, which means “the glory has departed” because of the Philistine capture of the ark of the covenant.

Eli’s house had been promised the perpetual service of the Mosaic priesthood. No doubt, he was sure that no matter what activities his sons were engaged in, God would overlook them and continue their service as the ordained line of authority. He may have hoped that they would do better in the future, and feared that making a public correction of them would bring disgrace upon his chosen line. To strong a show of discipline against his sons might ultimately do damage to the whole house of Israel, because it would cause them to lose confidence in their leadership at a time when Israel was still a young nation and still very much in danger of being assimilated into the surrounding nations and their pagan cultures. Quite possibly Eli’s fears were correct and his motives for not seriously disciplining his sons were understandable. His rationale for not disciplining them properly and publicly was likely based upon a motive to preserve the national identity of his people, despite the fact that their wickedness was causing sin to enter the nation in other less obvious ways.

After the death of Eli Samuel moved into the position of civil leadership over the nation (1 Sam 7), and later, his sons ruled as well, but they were self-serving like Eli’s sons had been, and Israel demanded Samuel give them a king like the other nations. God directed Samuel to seek out Saul the son of Kish of the tribe of Benjamin (1 Sam 9) and pour oil over his head as a sign of God’s acceptance of him to rule over the nation as their king. Our concept of anointing comes from this very act. It literally means “to pour oil upon one” in recognition of the power of God being bestowed for some service. Saul was anointed with oil as a sign that he was the man chosen and empowered by God for the office of King over Israel (1 Sam 10:1, 6-10).

It is not long in Saul’s career as king (a few years) that he begins amassing armies from among the best men in Israel. When the Philistines have become a dire threat to Israel he goes to war against them with success (1 Sam 13). He sacrifices animals not lawful under the Mosaic system because they were taken as spoils in war. When Samuel challenges him, he excuses himself, saying “The people of Israel were in disarray, and the Philistines were threatening us. And you, Samuel, had not yet arrived. I forced myself to perform these sacrifices, despite the fact I knew it was improper. If I had not done so, the troops and the nation would have viewed my leadership as weak, and we would have become vulnerable to the Philistines again.” In essence, he justifies himself before Samuel as having good motives despite his failure to obey the Mosaic laws. Samuel allows this error on Saul’s part to go unpunished this first time.

Apparently Saul did not learn from this first confrontation with Samuel because in 1 Samuel 15 we see him re-enacting the same sin. This time Samuel specifically admonishes Saul that every living thing, man and beast, are to be slaughtered and none saved back for future use. Saul does not get the hint. Saul goes up to fight against the Amalekites, slaying all the people, but sparing the king (Agag) and saving back for booty all the best animals. Yahweh (God) mourns to Samuel that Saul “has turned back from following me” and that He is grieved by His establishment of Saul as king.

When Samuel confronts the wayward king, Saul once again justifies himself for disobeying the direct commandment of God through Samuel. Amazingly, he even claims to have obeyed the commandment, but says that the people themselves saved back the flocks in order to sacrifice them to Yahweh. This is an implicit admission that he allowed and condoned such activity. He acknowledges the motivation of the people and his own agreement with it despite his full awareness of the crime. He pleads to Samuel “Our motives were right! What’s the problem?”

1 Samuel 15:22 says everything that needs to be said about how God views our motives when they are not based upon obedience first. “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” What difference does your seemingly holy motive make if you fail to obey God in the process! God is not interested in our religious works designed to maintain dignity and unity in the Church if they are not based upon absolute obedience to His Word. This threat against mere religious establishment for its own sake becomes a major message of all the prophets! Sacrifice is meaningless so long as it is based on any other motive than obedience. This is a huge part of the messages of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and many other Old testament prophets. There is not time to elaborate the evidence. Read your Bible.

1 Samuel 15: 23 is the passage that we all know at least a part of. But we never seem to remember the last part of it. “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” Every Christian quotes the first two clauses as if they were all there were. But Samuel tells us what our improper motives really are in the third clause, and what the consequences are in the last. However holy, pure, beneficial and community oriented our motives may be, if they are not directly motivated by obedience, they are proof of our rejection of the Word of the LORD. If our thoughts and actions, beliefs and practices, desires and plans are not done out of obedience, then we have performed them in direct opposition to God’s holy Word.

The last clause of 1 Samuel 15:23 goes to the heart of this study. We raised the question at the beginning: Does God anoint our motives? From this final clause, all we can answer is NO! If we are not motivated by obedience to the word of God alone, God’s blessing is not on what we do. If your heart is wrong, motives are wrong, despite all your good intentions, God’s blessing is not on what you do. There is no kingdom authority without obedience to the Word of God. God rejects every religious motivation of man that does not line up obediently to His holy Word. God will not anoint (pour out His oil of authority) upon a person or a Church that is improperly motivated and does not exhibit heart-felt obedience to Him. How can He? Why would He? That would be a denial of His very nature and His eternally settled Word.

Saul's motive in saving the king and the sheep after slaughtering the Amalekites at first appears to be a correct motive. Adam appeared to have correct motives for partaking with Eve in the fruit of the forbidden tree. After all, it was good for food, and she had not died! David's motive in ignoring the rape of his daughter Tamar was the preservation of the promised kingdom of God through his descendants, which would have had a taint on it if the sin were exposed.

No matter how you look at it, motive is not a justifiable reason for God to move (in anointing) upon His people. If God anoints motive first, then why is motive the foremost consideration in any criminal investigation? If motive is always the righteous purpose that God responds to in the justification of an action, then why does God condemn the Assyrians for their motivated judgment of ancient Israel? Why does He condemn the Babylonians who were fulfilling prophesy in their destruction of Judah in 586bc?

Why again, does He condemn Satan himself? Satanic motives are the total destruction of the Kingdom of God. And yet, the purpose of Satanism is to preserve and defend his kingdom. He really believed he was right at one time in eternity or he would not have rebelled. Obviously his motives are wrong, no matter how much like Saul he declares “Yes, I have obeyed the command” trying to convince us that it is God’s purposes that have made him our adversary. So then, does God anoint all motives? Of course that is nonsense! Therefore the statement that God anoints motive is also nonsense.

Motives that are based upon the fallen nature of man are not motives justified by God. Man's fallen nature means that his motives have fallen with him. The very plowing of the wicked man is sin. Nothing he does is from a heart seeking God. None seeks after Him. The Armenian view of man is totally without Biblical justification. Man is totally depraved apart from God's grace. Even his motives are self-serving and sinful. God cannot and will not anoint the motives of the unregenerate man.

Any retreat to theology that defends the motives of a man regardless of his position in Christ is a retreat to Armenianism, which is an evident heresy against the Biblical teaching of the total depravity of the race of Adam. Motivation outside of Christ is always self-serving and demonic. Only through humble confession of our sins and reception of the grace of God that changes our motivations to the service of God can our motivations be acceptable to God. That is the Gospel.


Doug Jerving is the publisher of the You may contact him at


Return to The New Edison Gazette main site.