Feb 2013

Obedience vs. Sacrifice

Sermon audio:

Act 3 | From a People to a Kingdom

This sermon on “Obedience vs. Sacrifice” from The Drama of Redemption was preached by Robert Greene at Redemption Hill Church on Sunday, February 3, 2013.

Sermon Text:
1 Samuel 9:1-15:37

Sermon Reflection Guide:

Saul’s Good Start  1 Samuel 9:1-3, 21; 10:20-22, 27; 11:12

  • What kind of guy is Saul?
    • Faithful
    • Humble
    • Self-controlled
  • Why is this important to know for the story?

Saul’s Downward Spiral 1 Sam 13:4, 11-14, 14:31-32

  • How does Saul change over time?
    • He takes credit for his son’s victory (13:4) – Deceit.
    • He disobey’s the Lord’s Word and offers sacrifices instead of waiting for Samuel.
    • Impatience – disregard for God’s Word.
    • Saul is ready to kill his son for violating his command.
    • Saul had weakened his men and in weakness faced with temptation, they caved.

Saul’s Motives

  • What was God’s command?  1 Sam 15:2-3
  • What did Saul do? 1 Sam 15:8-9
  • What is at work in Saul’s heart?
    • Saul was fatally disobedient:
      • We see him becoming more like the kings of the nations.
    • Saul kept the best of the herds which was their wealth & he spared the king, demonstrating his power.
    • Saul has adopted the wealth / power perspective of the nations.
      • When Saul had defeated the Amalekites, the first thing he did was build a monument to himself. (what do you do with the bonus check, big victory?)
  • Evidently Saul was more interested in getting a name for himself than in making a name for God through obedience to his word.
  • Saul had misplaced his praise from God to himself.
  • If he wanted honor, he should have been amazed and satisfied with the honor that God had given him.
  • Saul was not content with the glory of God and the honor of being his chosen king. He wanted his own glory and his own praise.
  • Though God had made him king, great honor, he was still small in his own eyes…needed to make a name for himself

Saul’s Self-Deception Exposed 1 Sam 15:13-21

  • How did Saul respond to Samuel’s confrontation?
    • Saul is full of excuses… ‘it wasn’t my fault’, “they did it”… ‘but for good reasons’
    • “we reserved the best for worship”
    • Saul reveals that religion is one of the most power forces for self-deception in the world.
    • Self-deception: the ability to justify things you know are not right, to know something, yet not know it, b/c you don’t want to know it…smother your awareness of it
    • Your heart has the capacity to hide the truth from itself, b/c it’s too painful.
    • Self deception in itself is not the worst thing that we do, but it is the reason we do the terrible things we do. (Tim Keller)
    • The capacity for self-deception is why decent people can wind up doing such terrible things.
  • Religious people use their religious activity / devotion to deceive themselves regarding their sin… “I’m a good person”
  • It’s the greatest slight of hand you can imagine… ‘don’t look over here…look at all that I do, all that I know…’
  • Millions of people hide behind their religiousness to say that “I’m really ok”.
  • But the rest of the world looks and isn’t deceived, “I don’t have to take the gospel seriously”.
  • Saul’s continued self-deception “I have obeyed the voice of the LORD”
  • Partial obedience is disobedience.
  • Your heart has an infinite capacity to hide from itself what is really true to justify to yourself what you know is really wrong.

The Truth and God’s Verdict 1 Sam 15:22-30

  • What does God really desire from you?
    • We often think that what God wants is our activity rather than giving our hearts and lives to Him…to listen & obey
    • What good is it to be a great student of the Bible and busy with activities every night of the week if your family is falling apart? What good are all the books if there is a cancer in your home?
  • Why is rebellion ‘as’ the sin of divination?
    • Both are trusting something other than God for direction…
    • Divination is trying to know what to do in a way that ignores the Word God.
    • God says one thing, and we say, I think that I will get a 2nd opinion—from MYSELF!
  • Saul gets close to the truth
    • “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.
      • Why did Saul obey the people instead of God?
      • Because he feared the people instead of God.
      • He feared the displeasure of the people more than the displeasure of God.
  • But Saul’s confession looks real, but the story leans otherwise.
  • There is a way to say sorry without being sorry. We can tell by what happens next.
  • Forgive me, then come with me so the people can see us together. I want your public approval.
  • He’s mixed his sin in with religious language. This is what self-deception does.

Samuel’s Righteous Response 1 Sam 15:32-33

  • Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.” “let’s just call it even Samuel…negotiate a settlement”
  • Saul spared Agag, God’s enemy, Samuel slayed him.
    • Saul wanted an ease that let him have everything he wanted, kept the people quiet & let him keep on building monuments to himself.

What does this mean for us?

  • God has called us to a mission that demands obedience.  The mission that we have is to join Jesus in His battle.
  • His battle is not against flesh and blood.
  • We are to put to death the remaining enemies of sin, deception in us.
  • Our enemies are the powers and principalities that seek to daw us away from God.
  • Jesus, our King, doesn’t negotiate with the enemy, no settlements.
  • Saul wanted a peace and prosperity but it was the wrong kind and came the wrong way…he was a king just like they wanted.
  • Jesus is the kind of King we need!
  • a King that brings real peace / ease…it does not come with a negotiated settlement with His enemies.
  • he comes against the powers that have asked to sift you like wheat, that roar around seeking to devour God’s people,
  • he strolls up on the scene as one who died in your place at the hands of His enemies but was raised victoriously to new life…the one with authority over every potential rival and He slays before the Lord the powers at work against you.
  • The peace and ease we need only comes through Jesus.
  • I am not at war with Him, I’ve been crucified with Him, raised with Him, surrendered to Him…joyfully spending the remaining years of my life hacking to pieces the rebellion and self deceit that’s left in me.

How do we put to death the self-deceit that remains?

  • By the Word of God, the Truth of the Gospel. The very things Saul rejected.
  • Saul was not able to let it sink in how honored he actually was.  1 Sam 15:17.  He was little in his own eyes.  Samuel could have said: “God has made you great Saul, He anointed you, He sent you on a mission…why are you trying to make yourself look so great?”
  • Saul is deceived. Je can’t seem to see himself the way that God does. He knew that God had honored him, but he didn’t really know it.
  • Saul never let it sink in, how honored by God he was.
  • he heard, but he didn’t hear because he didn’t want to.

You and I have what Saul didn’t have!

  • Hebrews 10:5-10  When Jesus came and lived on this earth, He was perfectly obedient to the will of God in your place.
  • Jesus was King – but He did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped, so he humbled himself. He who was great became small.
  • He lived the perfect life of obedience to God’s will in our place, on the cross He died the death we deserve for our sin.
  • By His life and death and resurrection, though we are small we can become great.
  • When we realize that He lived a perfect life in our place and died the death we deserve to die and we ask God to forgive us and receive us for Jesus’ sake.
  • He became nothing so that we could become something.
  • When that sinks in, it will hack to pieces the self-deception threatening your soul.
  • Unlike Saul and the kings of the nations, Jesus is the true King of Kings who didn’t come to assert and gain power, He lost it. He didn’t seek to save His life, He gave it up so that in Him we could become like Him.