“So when Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, it was told Samuel, saying, “Saul went to Carmel, and indeed, he set up a monument for himself; and he has gone on around, passed by, and gone down to Gilgal.” Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the LORD! I have performed the commandment of the LORD.” But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” And Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.””
I Samuel 15:12-15 NKJV
When one comes to know Jesus, there begins a transformation, a moving from darkness to light, as life begins to reflect Christ. Part of that change is the shedding of things in life that do not match up with with the holiness of God. These might be in the form of habits, or long held beliefs, relationships that drag on spiritual growth, or even fellowship with other, self professed believers who do not have evidence of a biblical world view.
Most often the changes come at the behest of God, through conviction from the holy Spirit. It is common for one to resist those convictions, and instead, seek to fulfill one’s own will. In the early stages of a building faith, this is expected, but it becomes a burden if continued further, as it creates spiritual immaturity, and inhibits one’s ability to be obedient to God.
in I Samuel chapter 15, I read of the rejection of Saul, as he was openly disobedient to God and failed to do all that he was commanded.
“Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ ””
I Samuel 15:3 NKJV
Samuel disobeyed and left an opening for the sinful lures of the evil one, as he sought to please the people, and thus cement his standing in their eyes, rather than pleasing God. In his unbelief, he gave into his own appetites, and aspirations, and sinned, as yielded to the seduction of the world.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”
I John 2:15-16 NKJV
Saul was captured by the wiles of that one trick pony of old, the evil one, who uses the same temptations he used at the dawn of creation to lure the unsuspecting into sin.
Saul desired to have the respect of the people, going so far as to erect a monument to himself, that his people could revere. He spared the kng af the Amalakites, in exchange of some kind of future political favor, and spared the choice livestock, to satisfy the hunger of the people.
In all these things he was disobedient, and demonstrated a lack of faith and reliance on God. When discovered in his sin, Saul seeks to counter that he spared the livestock as a sacrifice to the Lord. He had excuse for his other failings. God did not ask for a sacrifice, but obedience.
“So Samuel said: “Has 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 heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.””
I Samuel 15:22-23 NKJV
Many of us desire greatly to be used by God. All too often we seek to do so against the leading of the Lord, and find ourselves in disobedience. We seek to serve Jesus the way that we want, often in ways that do not reflect His holiness.
In Saul’s disobedience, God tore the kingdom from him and gave it to his neighbor. He also took his spirit from him. One of the greatest costs of sin and disobedience is the loss of the presence of God.
In those moments when I stumble, I ache with the momentary absence of fellowship with God. Though my salvation is assured, I desire intimacy uninterrupted, and run to Him to confess and walk anew.
“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.”
Psalms 51:7-12 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, it is easy to fall as Saul did, and seek to live by the world and not the Lord. Let us seek the Lord and be obedient to what He has asked us to do. Let us also be faithful to live reflecting God’s holiness, even as the world we live in is taking a different path. We are to be light in darkness, as the darkness is becoming dark indeed.
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