Sunday Recap for 3/18: Why is obedience so hard?

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Sunday, March 18, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at 1 Samuel 15:1-15

1 And Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. 2 Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. 3 Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

4 So Saul summoned the people and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand men on foot, and ten thousand men of Judah. 5 And Saul came to the city of Amalek and lay in wait in the valley. 6 Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart; go down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. 7 And Saul defeated the Amalekites from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. 8 And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive and devoted to destruction all the people with the edge of the sword. 9 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.

10 The word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night. 12 And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.” 13 And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” 14 And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” 15 Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.”

In those verses, we attempted to answer this Big Picture Question:

What makes obedience so hard? 

  • God’s commands are clear.
  • God’s commands are personal.
  • The heart wants to look good.

God’s commands are clear

1 Samuel 15:1And Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. 2 Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. 3 Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

There is no wiggle room in God’s commands.  He commands, and we are to obey.  Saul had that same directive.  He was called to protect the people of God by thoroughly defeating the enemy of the people of God.  We’ll learn he can’t do that.  Our hearts struggle as well.  God’s commands are always clear.  Do not lie means don’t lie.  Be content means be content.  The heart struggles with such clarity

God’s commands are personal

1 Samuel 15:4 So Saul summoned the people and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand men on foot, and ten thousand men of Judah. 5 And Saul came to the city of Amalek and lay in wait in the valley. 6 Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart; go down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. 7 And Saul defeated the Amalekites from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. 8 And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive and devoted to destruction all the people with the edge of the sword. 9 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.

The commands of God are not capricious or random.  They are personal reflections of God’s character.  Therefore, when the human heart hears God’s command, we rebel personally.  Saul did not thoroughly defeat the Amalekites.  He kept the king alive and the best of the spoil.  These things assured Saul affluence and reputation in the eyes of the world.  Saul wanted that more than obedience.  We struggle in this as well.  For example, when God tells us to be content, He is commanding us to trust His provision and providence.  Our discontentment is because we think we have a sense of what those things should be that are better than God’s.

The heart wants to look good.

1 Samuel 15:10 The word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night. 12 And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.” 13 And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” 14 And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” 15 Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.”

When Saul’s sin is found out, he blames the people of God (“they”), and then says he was actually planning on making an offering to God.  Both of these are coverups, blame-shifting, and stink of self-righteousness.  The heart may rebel against God, but it still wants to look like it is obeying.

Here is our hope:  Titus 2:14 Jesus Christ 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Big Picture Question:  What makes obedience so hard? 

Truth:  Obeying God is hard because His commands are clear and are contrary to our selfishness and pride.

Application:  Live knowing that God’s commands are a way out of the muddled selfishness that we indulge in each day.

Action: 1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

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