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August 26, 2013 / Pastor George Fike

“My bad!” … Actualized


Actualize

1 Samuel 15:13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out theLord’s instructions.” 14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”

15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”

16 “Enough!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” “Tell me,” Saul replied. 17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?”

20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”

22 But Samuel replied:

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.”

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

The Greek word for ‘confess’ is homologeo, a compound word that literally means ‘say the same thing’.  So to confess one’s sin is to say the same thing about that sin that God says about it.  Per our story from 1 Samuel, we see Saul’s sin as rebellion; God sees it to its very root: divination: relying on a source of revelation that is contrary to God’s.  It’s not that hard to see rebellion at its source as a total disregard of God’s counsel.  It was the very sin that expelled us from the Garden.  Again in 1 Samuel, we recognize Saul’s presumption as a sign of his arrogance, his overly high strength of ego.  God says it is idolatry: regarding anything – including oneself – as more worthy of honor than God.  Whereas we look at the leaves of our base nature, God has always looked at the roots.  There are some weeds that look good to the naked eye, but at the root level they are killing other plants around them.

An employer brings in an employee and chats him up about his family vacation for a few minutes, then clears his throat and says flatly: “We’re going to have to let you go.” Now think about that for a moment.  That phrase implies two things.  First, the boss was being forced to do it.  Is that really the case?  Not usually.  The decision had been made somewhere, and the boss was in agreement.  Second, it is implicit in the statement that the employee was being held against his will, and he would now gain his freedom.  Then this should be a joyous occasion, yes?  But is that the truth of the situation?  No.  Almost never.  What the boss should honestly say is: “You’re fired.”  That’s pretty accurate.  Sticking with the analogy of a handgun, he’s stating: “I’m pulling the trigger, and I want you as far away from me (and as quickly) as possible.  I’m sure this action probably will damage you and anyone close to you, but as long as I’m ok, it’s all good.”  We are willing to lie to ourselves and others rather than acknowledge the damage our sin causes.  We’ll lead other people through recovery, not even stopping to realize we have omitted people we’ve harmed from our moral inventory.  But even with our blinders on, God’s eyes see through us, deep down to the marrow.  And if the Spirit of God lives in us, He is screaming to us, “Wake up! You’re sick, and you need help!”

David’s psalm, recording the hard truths God taught him about his sin, contains this important lesson:

Surely You desire integrity in the inner self,… Psalm 51:6 (HCSB)

Let’s stop and take an accurate appraisal of ourselves.  Look for these things…

  1. What bad things am I doing? The acts of the flesh are obvious… I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.  (Galatians 5:19-21)
  2. What good things am I not doing? If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4:17)
  3. What things am I doing independent of God’s counsel? …and everything that does not come from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)
  4. What things am I doing just for the eyes of others, to look good? Jesus: “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” (John 7:24) Remember the 2 men praying at the Temple?
  5. What am I really doing?  Jesus: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’   But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” (Matthew 5:21-22)

Forgive the harshness of this post.  I would love to talk about the vast ocean of God’s mercy.  But how can we appreciate the heights of His grace without realizing how deep the pit of our sin really is?  Today, so few even want to recognize we have a sin problem…

Psalm 50:16 But to the wicked person, God says:

“What right have you to recite my laws
    or take my covenant on your lips?
17 You hate my instruction
    and cast my words behind you.
18 When you see a thief, you join with him;
    you throw in your lot with adulterers.
21 When you did these things and I kept silent,
    you thought I was exactly like you.
But I now arraign you
    and set my accusations before you.

A Sunday School teacher once asked his class of children, “What must you do to be forgiven of your sins?”  One little boy thought hard for a few minutes, raised his hand, and replied, “I guess you have to sin first.”

Out of the mouth of babes!  How great our appreciation of grace when we recognize the mess we were in before God rescued us!

Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent,
    my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
    your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
    as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
    my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
    the guilt of my sin.

Psalm 32:1-5

 

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