Friday, January 12, 2024

The Destructive Power of Sin

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” (Deuteronomy 30:19 NLT)

The Philistines, the enemies of Israel, had mounted an attack against them, and fear was immobilizing the people. As a result, they went into hiding. Meanwhile, King Saul was trying to rally his troops.

God had told Saul to wait until the prophet Samuel arrived to offer a sacrifice and ask the Lord for direction as to what they should do next.

But Saul grew tired of waiting. When Samuel didn’t show up as soon as Saul thought he should, Saul essentially said, “Why do I have to wait for some prophet to do this? I can offer a burnt offering as well as anyone else. I’ve watched him do it.”

Then Saul proceeded with the offering the way he thought he should do it. And when Samuel arrived, there was trouble. 

We pick up the story in 1 Samuel 13: “Samuel said, ‘What is this you have done?’ ” (verse 11 NLT).

“Saul replied, ‘I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn’t arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle. So I said, “The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!” So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came’ ” (verses 11–12 NLT).

Saul had been on a roll. Everything was going beautifully. But then he started to self-destruct. What he did may seem like a small thing to us, but God had said not to do it. And who are we to say something is small if it is a big deal to God?

The problem is that we want to edit the Bible. We try and rationalize something by saying, “Maybe it is a sin, but it is not as bad as other sins. Therefore, it is okay. Besides, everyone else is doing it.”

It always starts that way. Little sins always turn into big sins. If God says don’t do it, then that means don’t do it. All too often we underestimate the power of sin.

Saul was no exception to this. He was disobeying the Lord, and that led to his downfall.

Samuel told him, “How foolish! . . . You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom must end” (verses 13–14 NLT).

At first blush, this reaction may seem a bit extreme. But we must remember that God looks on the heart. And He could see that Saul’s heart already had turned away.

Sin can seem small when we start to fall into it, but it can become big in the end. Think of the messes that people make of their lives because they disobey the Word of God.

Like Saul, we unnecessarily bring trouble on ourselves when we don’t obey God. Yet God says that He gives us a choice: life or death, blessings or curses (see Deuteronomy 30:19 NLT). We choose how we want to live.

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