This action is almost universal in human beings. We all seem to invent plausible explanations for speech and actions that are actually based on less than acceptable causes. Often this behavior is done with the justification that it is being done for “the greater good” to ease our conscience. When we repeat the reasons to ourselves often enough, we may throw a conniption fit when they are challenged. Invading another country and killing thousands of innocent people with the pretext of liberating them comes to mind.
The Jewish leaders of Jesus’ time on earth became experts at rationalizations. They hated the Roman occupiers but were willing to let them do the horrible task of killing Christ Jesus (Jo 11:49-53) (Mk 15:9-14) with the excuse it would preserve their nation. They tried to kill the Apostle Paul with the pretext of wanting more information about his case (Acts 23:12-15). They knew that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, yet wanted to kill him as well because many were going over to Jesus (Jo 12:9-11). Some of the leaders believed in Jesus but would not confess their faith for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue (Jo 12:42-43).
As 21st Century Christians we can also fall prey to rationalizations. We can read Jesus’ prayer that we should all be one and be brought to complete unity and somehow still quarrel with our brethren (Jo 17:20-23) (Rom 16:17) (Gal 5:13-15). We can lose sight of what Jesus commanded if we rationalize and ignore it by claiming our relationship with Him (Mt 7:21_23) (Mt 25:41-46) (Lk 13:24-27).
In nearly every case of rationalization we can imagine Satan whispering, “surely God didn’t mean what He commanded” (Gen 3:1-5) (2 Cor 11:14). Our attitude today should be like that of King David when confronted by the prophet Nathan after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba (Ps 51:1-12). God demands confession, remorse and repentance, not rationalization.