Then 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.
1 Samuel 15:22-23
Through Samuel the prophet, God had told King Saul to “utterly destroy” (v3) the Amalekites for what they had previously done to Israel, their men, their women, their animals, everything. But instead of doing what the Lord had said, King Saul “spared the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to destroy them” (v9).
Saul had done these things, in clear opposition to what the Lord had said, with what he (and we) would have thought to be the best of intentions, “to sacrifice to the Lord” (v15). The problem was this, that King Saul did not follow the Word of the Lord, but “did his own thing” and what he thought was right. As a result, God rejected Saul as king (1 Samuel 15).
In not obeying God’s Word and going “his own way,” Saul committed the sin of idolatry. Even though he thought that he was doing right, he was greatly in the wrong, even going against God, for he acted in defiance of God by putting his own thoughts and ways above the One who gives all things.
As it was with Saul, the sin of idolatry is inherent in each of us. Stubbornness is this way. We have God’s Word, and yet, we act and do according to our own will and desire, even considering that “going our own way” is in keeping with God’s commandments. God says one thing, and yet, we think we know better and do something else, all the while convincing ourselves that we’re “doing the right thing.” Thus, like Saul, we defiantly disobey the Lord, forsake His Word, and delude ourselves into believing that we are in the right, though God has given another Word. This is nothing less than a rejection of the Word of the Lord.
The child of God does not remain in this delusion, convincing himself that he is in the right when God speaks differently. Rather, the child of God lives continually in the state of repentance, sorrowing and grieving because of his idolatrous heart. The child of God hears the Words of the Lord and seeks mercy and forgiveness for his stubbornness. He wants to be rid of his sin, for he sees it for what it is, Coram Deo, before God. He sees himself for what he is before God—nothing but a sinner.
And yet, it is sinners that God saves! It is sinners that God forgives. It is sinners for whom Christ died (John 3:16; Luke 15; Acts 13:38; Romans 4:7; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; 1 John 1:9; 2:12).
Your sin of idolatry God forgives, for Jesus Christ not only committed no sin, no iniquity, and no idolatry (1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5). This Jesus, on the cross, shed His blood which covers all your idolatries, all your iniquities, all your sins. These are no longer yours to bear, for Christ has born them all. And in exchange for these, Christ gives to you His righteousness, His sinlessness, and His perfect love to the Father.
In Christ, you are born anew, born of God, given new life, good in God’s sight. Instead of listening to your own voice and the words of sinful man, being born anew, you hear Christ and His words and “deny yourself” (Matthew 16:24). As a child of God, you want to hear God’s servant, who preaches Christ to you. You want to join with other Christians at the Lord’s Table who confess the same faith and are united in the one true doctrine according to Holy Scripture, the living Word of God. And you forgive others their sins against you, just as God in Christ has forgiven you. And so you do, by God’s grace! Amen.
“American Protestantism and fundamentalism have, in large measure, adopted the U.S. consumer and marketing perspective; thus all different types of churches are marketing Jesus to particular segments of the community. Individually, we are lords of our lives. No community or family can tell me what my personal faith should be. I can define it myself, then find a church to give me what I think I need.” (Harrison, Christ Have Mercy, 115)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, giver of all good things, grant that I not deny Your most Holy and precious Word for my sake, because I want to do my own thing and go my own way. Keep me in the faith that I not deny you. Lead me not into the temptation of trying to define faith or the church my way that I forsake Your life giving Word for what I think that I need. Rather, keep me steadfast in only Your Word, for only in that is their true and everlasting life, through Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen.
Filed under: Bible-Holy Scripture, Church-Ecclesiology, Confession & Absolution-The Office of the Keys, Devotions, Freedom of the will, Justification & Sanctification-The Christian Faith & Good Works, Theology & Doctrine | Tagged: Devotion, Fundamentalism, Harrison, Idolatry, mercy, prayer, Protestantism, Stubbornness |