Intro: When is disobedience serious? How would you explain the importance of obedience to others? What are the consequences and dangers of disobedience? Could it be done by example?
1 Sam. 15:18-23 – 18 Now the LORD sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ 19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the LORD?” 20 And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21 But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal.” 22 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. 23 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.”
1) This event was a turning point in the life of King Saul, both spiritually and physically. Although God had chosen him as king and blessed his efforts to lead, his disobedience here changed all of that. Although he was allowed to act as king for a time after this, Samuel made it clear that God was removing him from his position.
2) But this was also pivotal because it led to more disobedience and a spiral away from God. Saul became consumed by his hatred and jealousy of David and used a lot of the resources of Israel in attempting to satisfy his vendetta. Where do we find Saul later, as his kingdom was in jeopardy from the Philistines? 1 Sam 28:3-7 – Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had lamented for him and buried him in Ramah, in his own city. And Saul had put the mediums and the spiritists out of the land. 4 Then the Philistines gathered together, and came and encamped at Shunem. So Saul gathered all Israel together, and they encamped at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. 6 And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets. 7 Then Saul said to his servants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.”
a) we cannot miss the irony and tragedy of this event. Saul had previously expelled the mediums and fortune-tellers from the land. His reputation was that he would put to death any that he found. Now he is asking one for help. Why? He is desperate.
b) But a life of disobedience is a life of desperation.
- It is ironic as well that God spoke to Saul through this medium (Samuel reappeared) and told him what he did not want to hear. He and his sons would die the next day. Saul took his own life.
c) On the other hand, a life of consistent obedience provides security, satisfaction, and fulfillment. God provides for our well-being through demanding our obedience to His will.
I. What is True Obedience? In his disobedience in 1 Sam. 15 it seems Saul was either an outright liar or he was defining obedience differently than Samuel or God.
A. True obedience indicates a desire to please God above all else. We do not always obey, and our hope is not based on perfect obedience. But true obedience reveals the heart of a person. Paul seems to touch on these two elements in Rom 6:17-18 – 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. The life mission of the slave or servant is easily defined. His aim is to please his master. Paul’s use of this terminology is not to denigrate our person, but to help us recognize the single-minded devotion that God requires.
1. Saul was deceived. He imagined a way to do what pleased him and still be obedient to God. Gal 1:10 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.
2. Paul also likened the responsibility of the Christian to obey God as that of a soldier enlisted in the army. 2 Tim 2:3-4 – 3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. – commitment to authority.
B. True Obedience is divinely defined. We can only obey God by doing what pleases Him, revealed in His words. Saul was willing to label his actions as obedience, but that didn’t make it so. God told Samuel to go to Saul because he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.” (1 Sam 15:11). Saul met Samuel by proclaiming “Blessed are you of the LORD! I have performed the commandment of the LORD.” (1 Sam 15:13) Whose assessment was correct?
1. Matt 7:21-23 – “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
C. Disobedience is inexcusable. Samuel told Saul that even his desire to sacrifice to God did not excuse his disobedience to the clear commands of God. In essence Samuel was saying there are no excuses for disobedience. It cannot be rationalized, even in the most desperate situations.
II. What is the Aim of True Obedience? 1 Peter 1:13-15 “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct”. Peter links obedience (“as obedient children”) to the pursuit of holiness. We are to strive to be holy because God is holy.
A. The struggle to obey is the struggle to be like God – they are one and the same endeavor. We do not become, nor can we anticipate, perfection. But the holiness of God is the aim of obedience.
1. Jesus validated His own life through His obedience: After skipping lunch to teach the Samaritan woman, the disciples “urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. (John 4:30-35) Jesus obeyed the commandments of His Father, and recognized that obedience as a fulfillment of His mission. John 14:31 – “But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do.”
2. Obedience to God is what you were created to do. It has intrinsic value to your whole life. The wise man once wrote in Eccl. 12: “Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole of man”
B. The willingness to obey is the evidence of faith. Jonathan Edwards once wrote, “Christian practice is much more to be preferred as evidence of salvation than sudden conversion, mystical enlightenment, or the mere experience of emotional comfort.”
1. God never equates words alone (even correct and sincere ones) with actual obedience. The shallowness to that approach that is apparent. I can give my wife Valentine, anniversary, and birthday cards like clockwork. I can say all the right words. But if I keep a mistress on the side, will anybody suggest that I truly love my wife? Or will it matter at all that I wept with joy on our wedding day if, ten years later, I’m a chronically selfish and critical husband? This is James’s point in James 2:14-17 “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
2. When Abraham had enough faith to sacrifice his own son to God, God said, “…now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” (Gen 22:12)
C. Only true and consistent obedience is evidence of an honest heart. How can a person who lives in disobedience to the commandments of God, feel as though he is doing fine with God? Here is Jeremiah’s answer: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9)
1. It is easy to fool ourselves. As long as we “feel” OK, we must be OK. It is absurd to pretend to have a “good heart” while living a life of wickedness. Luke 6:43-46 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?
a. When we are tempted to substitute something other than full obedience or only obey to be seen outwardly we are giving evidence that our heart is corrupt. Jesus said the hypocrisy of the Pharisees was evidence that they …outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matt. 23:28)
2. When faced with a choice (temptation), the question is not “do I have to do it?” or even just “will we do it or not”, but “Do we love God or not?” The only true affirmative answer is obedience. We tend to make excuses for our disobedience: I was tired, I’ve been under a lot of stress lately, If this had been different, or if this person had only done this. , That kind of cover-up talk will not even get by a good therapist, much less God.
3. In Matt. 25, Jesus depicts a judgment scene that is filled with surprised people – people who felt they were OK, but were rejected on the basis of actions, not feelings.
III. What is the end result of disobedience? A black hole is a stellar anomaly. An ultra-dense collection of stars, so dense that even light cannot escape its gravitational pull – everything that comes close is sucked in. When a person begins to choose to disobey God – it begins a downward spiral resulting in even more temptation and movement away from God.
A. Disobedience breaks down the barriers and breeds more rebellion. Paul contrasts the two directions we can travel in obedience or disobedience. 2 Tim 3:12-13 – 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
1. Yes, obedience is hard, and brings persecution, but those who choose to disobey grow worse and worse, being more deceived through their disobedience. Consider 2 questions:
- Do you think things are getting worse or better in society?
- Do you think that it is important for children to obey their parents when they are little?
B. Obedience becomes the hardest option. Consider the case of Hazael, Ben-hadad’s servant. He saw Elisha weeping in 2 Kings 8:12-13: Hazael said, “Why is my lord weeping?” He answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the children of Israel: Their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword; and you will dash their children, and rip open their women with child.” 13So Hazael said, “But what is your servant–a dog, that he should do this gross thing?” The next day he smothered Ben-hadad and took his throne. One sin led to another. He didn’t set out to be a mass-murderer – sin sucked him in.
Conclusion: There is no value in disobedience. In contrast, there is enormous value in obeying God. Roman 6:20-22 – 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
- Obedience is life giving. It strengthens us and renews our spirits in a quiet and steady way.
- Disobedience, in contrast, eventually saps our energy, gives birth to listlessness and discouragement, and often takes us right down to despair.
- The first most decisive step toward obedience is to renounce self-centered living and seek to please God above all else. You will not be perfect in your obedience to God. But God has provided a way for even our incomplete obedience to benefit us. We can trust in the blood of Jesus. 1 John 1:6-8 – 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. Jesus perfect sacrifice is the answer to my imperfection. But it is conditional upon my obedience to His will. Heb 5:8-9 – 8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.
- Have you obeyed Him? Are you living in Obedience?