Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Obedience, Rebellion, and Forgiveness

The LORD gave Saul a specific part of His plan.  Saul fulfilled most of it, but stopped short of completing it.  He didn’t kill Agag, king of the Amalekites.  He also didn’t destroy all the animals.  He kept the best of the animals to sacrifice to the LORD.

But Samuel replied, "What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to His voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22 NLT)

This is one of those verses that deserve to be committed to memory.  Obedience is better than sacrifice.  Submission is better than offering.  The Apostle, Paul, reminds us of this when he writes to the church in Rome.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2 NIV)

Worship is not music, singing, and giving money on the weekend.  Worship is obedience to the commands of our King.  That is why it is so important for us to renew our minds with music of praise, preaching/teaching, daily devotions, time of prayer and, especially, time with God’s Word.  We cannot worship unless we know the will of God – his good, pleasing, and perfect will.

Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the LORD, He has rejected you as king." Then Saul admitted to Samuel, "Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the LORD's command, for I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded. But now, please forgive my sin and come back with me so that I may worship the LORD." (1 Samuel 15:23-25 NLT)

As much as I hate to admit it, the first sentence in this paragraph is also worth memorizing.  Rebellion is as bad as witchcraft.  Stubbornness [against God] is as bad as worshiping idols.  All rebellion against God is sin.  In fact, that is a good definition of sin: rebellion against God.

But Samuel replied, "I will not go back with you! Since you have rejected the LORD's command, He has rejected you as king of Israel." As Samuel turned to go, Saul tried to hold him back and tore the hem of his robe. And Samuel said to him, "The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to someone else--one who is better than you. And He who is the Glory of Israel will not lie, nor will He change his mind, for He is not human that He should change his mind!" Then Saul pleaded again, "I know I have sinned. But please, at least honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel by coming back with me so that I may worship the LORD your God." So Samuel finally agreed and went back with him, and Saul worshiped the LORD. (1 Samuel 15:26-31 NLT)

Since sin is rebellion against God, forgiveness is in the hands of God.  God decides whether to forgive us or not because God is the one we rebel against.  We tell God, “I don’t want you.  I don’t need you. Leave me alone.”

I thank God that His Plan is big enough to deal with our rebellion.  God will fight those who fight Him…and win.  The penalty for rebellion against the King is death.  But, His Plan does not stop there.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 ESV)

God sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for our rebellion.

Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but He was raised to life in the Spirit. (1 Peter 3:18 NLT)

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV)

When the Apostle, Peter, presented this to a large group of visiting Israelites, they listened intently.  They understood this part of God’s Plan.  Then Peter finished his sermon:

"Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah." When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call." With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. (Acts 2:36-41 NIV)

How about you?   Have you been in rebellion against the LORD, our King?  Are you ready to stop your rebellion?  (Repent means, “Turn around.”)  Have you been baptized (immersed in water) to receive God’s forgiveness for your rebellion?  Have you received the gift of God’s Spirit?

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