The Pryor Times


June 27, 2014

Partial obedience is not obedience

Pryor Times — When King Saul was about to have a battle with the Amalekites, God gave him some specific instructions.  He told Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites and everything they had.  All of the men, women, children, and animals were to be killed.  Saul very confidently went into battle and soundly defeated them, but rather than obeying God’s specific instructions, he spared the king’s life and saved some of the animals.  

I Samuel 15:9 says, “But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them.”  This disobedience angered God, and He was sorry that He had ever set up Saul as king.  After this battle, Saul boldly said to Samuel, “I have performed the commandment of the Lord.”  Though he claimed to obey God, he did not obey Him.

Samuel asked Saul about all the animals he heard, and Saul answered that the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen so they could sacrifice them to God.  And Saul quickly added that they had destroyed the rest, just as God had commanded.

Notice carefully Samuel’s words in I Samuel 15:22: “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.”  He also told King Saul that because of his rebellion and stubbornness, God had rejected him from being king.

Saul apparently assumed that his idea was better than God’s way.  He would not only win the victory for the Lord, but he would also bring back offerings and sacrifices to offer to God.  But God was not pleased.  God is more interested in our obeying His specific commands than He is in our trying to do even more for Him.

This is a vital lesson for us today.  People may devote numerous hours and utilize various talents while they think they are serving God.  But it could all be in vain!  It is not enough to just call Jesus our Lord and then do many wonderful works.  Good deeds cannot save us.  In order to be saved, we must obey the commands of God.

Pay careful attention to what Jesus said in Matthew 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.  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?'  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”  God wants us to know that obedience is better than sacrifice.

Jesus tells of people who devoted much of their time teaching and working hard for the Lord, and yet they would be lost.  Why would Jesus say He never knew them?  Why did Jesus accuse them of practicing lawlessness?

Look at Matthew 7:21 again.  To enter heaven, one must obey God, and that includes everything He says.  God doesn’t just tell us to work hard.  He tells us to obey Him.  Obedience is much more important to God than sacrificing is.  Jesus asks in Luke 6:46, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?”

If Jesus is our Lord, then we must submit to Him.  We will not just do the things that seem to be reasonable, but we will obey all of His commands. James 2:10 says, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”  

Those who truly love the Lord will obey Him (John 14:15).  Partial obedience is only doing the things one chooses to do and rejecting the things one chooses not to do.  If Jesus is our Lord, we do not have that choice.  Partial obedience is no obedience at all.



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