To Obey is Better than Sacrifice | 1 Samuel 15:22
In this manner, we are very often like Saul, caring more about the fickle favor of those around us (or worse, of the online masses) than the favor of the true and living God. Yet we also tend to follow Saul’s pattern in handling our sin. Like Saul, it is all too easy to attempt covering up our disobedience with sacrifice. We disobey in some manner and then resolve to do something else for God. We then feel better because we have done something tangible to make up for our sin. Unfortunately, that impulse runs contrary to the gospel. In fact, it is anti-gospel.
And 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 listen than the fat of rams.”
1 Samuel 15:22 ESV
Even before 1 Samuel 15, God had already promised another king in Saul’s place as a result of his presumptuous sacrifice before a battle. Yet this chapter marks the full-blown decline of Saul’s reign and is followed up in the next chapter with the anointing of David as the next king. Here’s what happened.
Through Samuel, God told Saul to destroy the Amalekites, and by destroy, God meant, “kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey” (v. 3). In other words, the LORD was using Saul and the Israelites as His instrument of judgment upon the Amalekites, and their judgment would be the same as that of Sodom and Gomorrah: utter destruction. Wickedness of the Amalekites was evidently complete, and God would not spare any of them.
Those were Saul’s commands, and after assembling an army of two hundred thousand soldiers from Israel and ten thousand from Judah, Saul purged the land of the Amalekites. Unfortunately, Saul cut some corners of God’s commands. For one, he kept Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, likely as a trophy of his victory. For another, the Israelites did not destroy the animals that were pleasing to them. Interestingly, Samuel hears the animals and rebukes Saul.
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3 Reasons Why You Must Mortify Sin in Your LifeBy Jim Richman — 1 year ago
There is nothing about your sin that wants to help you along this journey, dear friend. It wants you to be as lame and crippled as you can possibly be as it sucks the very life out of you. It wants the world around you to see an unclear picture of Jesus—one that is insufficient, one that is weak and unable to save men’s souls. That’s what your sin wants.
Mortification of sin is not often discussed openly in churches these days. It sounds very Puritan. In a sense, it is. If anyone had a deep understanding of the reality of sin and its impact, it was the Puritans. What’s even more unfortunate is the dilution, perversion, and complete loss of the principle itself. Absence of the mortification of sin in the contemporary church, however, has not removed the principle from Scripture.
Put to death what Is earthly in you.
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul deals with the dynamic of our new nature versus the combative presence of the old:
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Col. 3:1-4)
The first four verses of chapter 3 talk about our new identity. It’s the substance of what life in Christ is. Paul frames his entire argument with “If you have been raised with Christ.” In other words, if we in fact have been made alive, these are his instructions with regard to remaining sin.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. (Col. 3:5-8)
When Paul is laying these things out, he is not doing it in a way that is encouraging hypocrisy. He is not saying, “I want you to stop doing these things only so that you can appear moral and pious.” He’s saying, “I want you to put these sins to death, because as Jesus said, you are to be holy.” The sin in your life needs to be rendered completely helpless with regard to influencing your living and your relationship to God. Here are three reasons Christians work to mortify sin:
1. God’s wrath will be poured out on all unrighteousness.
When we mortify sin in our bodies and minds, we imitate the way our heavenly Father has mortified the wages of our sin through Christ.
The reason Christians struggle so deeply with the presence of unconfessed and unrepentant sin in their lives is because they know God sees it, they know what God is capable of toward it, and they know they are acting outside of their new identity.
Jesus did not die to allow God to shrug off our sin; he died to justify who we are before the holiness of God. The theologian R. C. Sproul says this about sin:
Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself. Have you ever considered the deeper implications of the slightest sin, of the most minute peccadillo? What are we saying to our Creator when we disobey Him at the slightest point? We are saying no to the righteousness of God. We are saying, “God, Your law is not good. My judgement is better than Yours. Your authority does not apply to me. I am above and beyond Your jurisdiction. I have the right to do what I want to do, not what You command me to do. (R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, p. 116)
If God is the ruler of this universe, there is nothing about sin that he, even as our Father, flagrantly dismisses. If that were true, there would be no need for sanctification.
Life and DeathBy Henry Anderson — 2 weeks ago
There is no higher calling in this world than to live for Christ. When you wake up tomorrow morning, using this verse or others, actively seek to dawn this mentality. Live for Jesus, display Jesus to others, tell others about Jesus, being reminded that this life is a vapor that is here and then vanishes. Make the most of the time God has granted us on earth.
Life and death… are a definition of opposites. They are two spheres we will all traverse, should the Lord tarry. It’s also true that while we will navigate both, we have only experienced one of which at this point in time. Life is present. Death is the future. Since death is the future, shouldn’t it affect life at present?
I imagine that everyone would agree here, that it should. ‘Yes, since death is coming, that should inform how I live at present.’ Sadly, I think at times unbelievers do a better job here (in a negative way) than we do––in living in light of the future. What I mean is this, since death is coming, unbelievers seek to enjoy their fill of the world to the full, indulging in sins and all sorts of evils, throwing caution to the wind with their souls. For the unbeliever, death often motivates unholy living at present, it fuels the fire, so to speak.
If that is the case, how much more so should Christians be sold out to live for the Lord at present, particularly in light of what death brings? If death motivates unholiness for the unbeliever, how much more should it motivate holy living for the believer, out of a love for the Lord? In Phil 1:21, Paul writes, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” That verse is a spiritual thermometer of sorts, it shows how you’re doing. The way you live your life at present testifies to what you believe about what is to come in the future.
I know we are well on our way into 2023. It’s a bit late for new years resolutions. I am generally not one for new years resolutions, given the world’s flippant commitments. However, I am for them in the Jonathan Edward’s sense. Edwards composed 70 resolutions for his life in being a follower of Christ. The first of his resolutions is undergirded with Paul’s words in Phil 1:21. Edwards wrote,
“Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.”
The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards, Jonathan Edwards
That is a grand statement. Our aim and practice as believers should be to live to glorify the God who saves, with all that we are, all the time. As I write that, which I firmly believe, I recognize that I do not live up to that statement perfectly, and I imagine that you do not either. Our God is awesome, in the truest sense of the word, because of what the future holds, we should live fully for Him at present… but we don’t. Despite how great our God is we can forget our purpose and call in life, at least in practice.
Again, Paul writes, clear, unambiguous teaching that summarizes the life of a Christian. He says, “for to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” At first glance, it might be easy for someone to assume that Paul writes a statement like this one when everything’s going his way in life. That’s not the setting. Paul makes that statement while imprisoned, not from the Ritz. He wrote in verses 7, 13, 14, and 17 of the chains that he wore. But the reality that he was imprisoned did not change or alter his perspective on his purpose in life. In fact, he wrote in Phil 4:11–13,
“Not that I speak from want, for I learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in abundance; in any and all things I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
At which point, we can see that “going Paul’s way in life” wasn’t what mattered most to him.
So here Paul is, this man who is heavenly-minded and therefore of the most earthly good, and he says to the Philippian church that his desire is for Christ to always be magnified in him. He says in verses 18–20,
“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my salvation through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.”
This is Paul’s focus in life. When Paul wakes up, his day is about Christ being magnified. When he goes to bed, the same is true. This is what he breathes, eats, drinks, and dreams. His life isn’t like a shotgun with many different pellets in a general direction, but rather like a rifle with a single bullet and precise aim. His focus is clear. He knows his purpose in life.
At this point, Paul has likely been walking with the Lord for around 26 years or so. If anything, he has only become more crystalized in his focus and resolve to live for Christ. Shortly after he was saved by the Lord Jesus, in Acts 9:19b–20 we read, “Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’” Upon being saved, Paul knew he was to proclaim Jesus Christ. He knew that he was to live for Him, and he continued to grow in this knowledge over time.
As we read on in Acts and in learning about Paul through his letters, around 16 years later we see a fuller picture of Paul’s heart for the Lord. We read him say in Gal 2:20, a statement that is so direct concerning the Christian life, that it only amplifies Phil 1:21.
Queer Nation Is No Nation At AllBy Carl R. Trueman — 10 months ago
Written by Carl R. Trueman |
Monday, June 13, 2022
For a flag to be a powerful, sacred symbol of unity and purpose, it has to symbolize a real common sense of unity—a unified moral vision around which individuals can rally as part of a larger imagined community. That the Pride flag already has so many variations reveals the lack of unity that has always marked the LGBTQ+ movement when the cameras were not rolling. This disunity has only become more obvious with the advent of intersectionality and the triumph of queerness and transgenderism.
Flags typically serve as rallying points for unity. They point to something a culture considers sacred. The Stars and Stripes was, for many generations, precisely such a rallying point in America. The fact that flag burning, while protected by the Constitution, was deemed by both its opponents and proponents to be remarkably serious, speaks to this: One cannot desecrate that which is not considered sacred.
This is just one reason why it is interesting that the American Embassy to the Vatican is flying the rainbow flag for Pride month. Commentators have pointed out the obvious intent to cause offense to the Catholic Church. But the embassy’s decision also sends a message to the American people: Another flag has government endorsement. The message of “inclusion” that it represents signals to those Americans who might dissent from the LGBTQ+ movement that in these interesting times their membership in the republic for which the real national flag stands is more a matter of tolerance than full-blooded affirmation.
The problems with LGBTQ+ inclusion are, of course, manifold. First, there is the logical problem that any movement deploying the rhetoric of inclusion has to face: If everyone is included and nobody is excluded, then the movement is meaningless. Thus, the language of “inclusion” here is really a code word for precisely the opposite: It actually means exclusion and the delegitimizing of any person or group that dissents from what the movement’s movers and shakers deem to be acceptable opinion. Acceptable thought will typically tend toward a view of reality that regards such dissenters as mentally deficient, sub-human, or simply evil.
Second, the emphasis on inclusion must inevitably default to queerness. It is interesting how the word “queer” and its cognates is beginning to supplant the old taxonomy of “gay,” “lesbian,” and even “bisexual” in common LGBTQ+ parlance. The reason speaks to the central incoherence of the movement. Gay men and lesbian women have identities predicated upon a sex binary rooted in biology. That is rather “transphobic,” to use the psychologized terminology typically used to discredit any pushback on the transgender movement. Indeed, in the wonderful world of intersectional mythology, white gay men and white lesbian women rank little higher in the political hierarchy than their straight counterparts.
In fact, the LGBTQ+ movement has always been a marriage of political convenience. Prior to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, lesbian women generally regarded gay men with deep suspicion, as those who enjoyed male privilege and whose sexual desires and experiences differed in fundamental ways from those of females.