1 Samuel 15
Saul’s failure to follow well leads to God rejecting him as King over Israel in this chapter. We often fall in to the same errors that Saul did. We think that we have a better plan than God. We listen to advice from those around us, even when it differs from the Word of God and what He has commanded. We presume that partial obedience is acceptable. And we mistakenly think that, if we disregard God’s commands and go our own way, it is a simple thing to offer a sacrifice and return.
Saul understood God’s command to devote everything of the Amalekites to destruction, but thought it better to save the best of the livestock for sacrifices and to spare the king of the Amalekites. But when God has called us and given us instruction, we are to follow His guidance. We don’t have the option of “tweeking” God’s plans.
When God’s instructions seem challenging, or even impossible, we hear those around us whisper that we should reconsider. Be practical. “Did God really say . . . ?” Even Jesus had to rebuke Peter when the disciple tried to propose a “better” plan than God’s plan for our redemption. Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan. You do not have in mind the things of God but of man.” His referring to his close friend as Satan informs us that the origin of guidance which leads us to compromise God’s plans is the pit of hell.
We measure our obedience giving gracious partial credit, but God measures it on a pass/fail scale. There is no partial credit. We must follow every step as instructed. Failure to complete the assignment in its entirety and according to the directions results in a big, fat zero. Our failure is thankfully and mercifully covered by Jesus, who perfectly fulfilled every assignment on our behalf. But we miss the blessings that accompany joyful obedience to God.
Finally, we think that we can skimp on this one assignment, ask forgiveness and do better next time. In reality, we find ourselves in a vicious cycle (very much like the Israelites throughout the Old Testament) where we sin, suffer the consequences, cry out for salvation, God saves, we rejoice and promise to do better . . . And then find ourselves falling back into the same sin or something even more destructive. It’s a downward spiral.
Christ died not to enable us to continue on this spiral, but to allow us to step off the hamster wheel. To fill us with the power that enabled Him to speak the universe into creation and to raise himself from the dead. In this power, we are more than overcomers. We are victorious over death, hell, and the grave — and we are victorious over sin. We are able to walk in victory, following Christ’s commands, not in our own strength and power, but in utter dependence on the Spirit inside us.