Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Current Study: People Who Made a Difference
Today’s Topic: Personal Responsibility
Today’s Scripture: 1 Samuel 15:10-11 Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the LORD all that night.
We say it’s a new phenomenon. It’s not. We say it’s a new philosophy. In reality it’s as old as the human race. We think we are the first generation to have to deal with the problem to this degree. We are not. Humanism has been around for as long as their have been humans living with a sin nature, and that started with the first humans. Over the next several devotionals I want to address several humanistic issues that arise in the life of King Saul that are indicative of our current personal status and the status of the Christian church – a status that may not be worthy of praise.
In review, Saul was told to completely destroy the Amalekites and their possessions. He did not obey. He kept the King alive and then approved of his soldiers keeping the best of the flocks for themselves. That’s when God came to Samuel and said, “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Have you ever considered the implications of what God said? God is grieved by our choices and activities when they don’t conform to His standards. When we choose to pursue personal benefit and accomplish our own agenda the heart of God is grieved. Why should we expect that it isn’t? We are created in His image, and since we have emotions and feelings that can be hurt and grieved, then He must also. He does. But that only matters to those who truly love the Lord more than they love themselves. Let’s see which type of person Saul was.
The next morning after God had spoken to him, Samuel went to find King Saul. He was told that Saul had gone to Mount Carmel to set up a monument to himself. I’m sure we can all see the slippery slope of self-centeredness upon which Saul is sliding. After having received the Lord’s instructions, and gaining the Lord’s victory, Saul not only made an intentional choice to disobey God, but then set up a monument in his own honor, as if he had been responsible for the victory. Saul is choosing to glorify himself rather than God.
When Samuel finally finds Saul, the king makes a bold statement. It is the statement of a person trying to hide something. My dad always taught me that whenever I would arrive in a new town to become the pastor of a new church I should beware of those who initiate the first contact. The reason is that they usually have an agenda. That has been more true than I wish it were. Saul initiates conversation with Samuel and says, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.” Liar, liar, pants on fire. Samuel points out the lie by saying, “So what is this I hear? I hear sheep bleating and cattle lowing. Where did they come from?” Now, here it comes, the transfer of blame that has been around ever since sin entered the world. Saul says, “The soldiers brought them.” Saul took no personal responsibility for the actions he had approved, let alone for being king. He tried to blame someone else for what he had done.
You remember the first time that happened. It was in the Garden of Eden when God asked Adam what had happened, and he said, “It was the woman you gave me.” He blamed not only his wife, but bottom line he blamed God for giving him that wife. He actually thought that he could preserve some positive self image if he could convince God that his sin was God’s fault. Saul didn’t go quite that far, but he did try to pull another fast one on Samuel and God by suddenly deciding that the reason they had kept all of the livestock was so that they could be sacrificed to God. But notice something very important in the story. Saul says that they would sacrifice the animals to the Lord YOUR God (my emphasis). No longer did Saul consider God to be his God. God was Samuel’s God. You see, Saul had decided that he was the god of his own life, not the LORD God.
Well, before we get any further into the story, let me make two points. First, the humanistic philosophy of the world declares that the human race is basically good, and that evil comes from the pressures and failures of society. Time does not permit a full explanation, but trust me when I tell you that secular teaching contradicts the sacred. The ramifications of humanistic teaching are diverse, but in the case of Saul, and us, we are forced to place the blame for sin on someone else. The admission of personal responsibility for evil would mean that evil is generated from our own heart, which contradicts what secular people want to believe. This philosophy is the great deception of Satan, and has been around since Adam blamed Eve and God for his own sin. We cannot be forgiven for what we do not admit, so it is impossible to be saved unless we admit we have sinned. But secular thought teaches us there is no need to be forgiven because we are not responsible for evil. Any such thought would destroy self-esteem, and concept that is in direct contradiction to the teaching of Scripture. My friends, be very careful. This philosophy will infiltrate your life and your church and destroy them if you do not recognize it.
Second, and finally, our life’s throne has only one seat. It is not possible to share the reign of our lives. As soon as Saul made the choice to serve his own interests and follow his own desires, he became his own god, and the LORD God was removed from his throne. This is serious. We must stop believing that we and God have a time share on the throne. God does not share His reign or His glory with anyone. When we choose to disobey God, we choose to be our own god. Every choice that we make and every action we perform that is contradictory to God’s character and will is a choice to remove Him from the throne of our lives. For each such action we must repent. Saul made up excuses. He rationalized. He attempted to justify his actions. He did not repent, and God removed His blessing from his life. The same will happen to us if we persist in sin.
I know this got long today, but it is so important. Please go back a read this again, and read deeply if you just skimmed it. Satan has mounted an attack against true faith, and the result is going to be a great falling away from faith in these last days. Guard your heart, and do not start sliding down the slippery slope of disobedience. Recognize the symptom of sliding – it is blaming others for what you yourself are responsible. Take responsibility for your life, and surrender it to God. He alone is LORD, and we are not gods.