Question:When is obedience not obedience?
Answer: When it is partial.
There is a profound and sobering lesson in obedience for all Believers in 1 Samuel chapter 15. Here we find King Saul being directed of the Lord through the prophet, Samuel, to utterly destroy the Amalekites and all their livestock in battle. In verse 9 we read that Saul and his people took captive King Agag and kept the best of the livestock for themselves, destroying everything else. This seemed “good” in their eyes, but they did not fulfil God’s directions to them. It was “partial obedience.”
The Lord’s response to Saul’s disobedience came to Samuel, the prophet saying, “It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king, for he is turned back from following me and hath not performed my commandment,” 1 Samuel 15:11.
The record continues in the same chapter. Samuel reprimands Saul for his disobedience to fulfil God’s command. King Saul justifies himself (vs.20-21) declaring he has utterly destroyed the Amalakites but has brought King Agag to him. Then he blamed the people for taking the spoils of the best livestock to sacrifice with unto the Lord. Samuel replied to Saul’s bleatings, (verses 22-23) “….Hath 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 hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” Disobedience produces consequence. Saul goes on to confess that he feared the people and obeyed their voice rather than God’s command.
We observe and learn from this record that privilege is accompanied by greater responsibility. We are a privileged people to have been born into the family of God through salvation. Our freedom in Christ Jesus was paid for with His life blood on a cruel cross at Calvary. His sufferings bought my freedom. “‘Tis mystery all…” the old hymn declares…Yes! The mystery that the amazing love of God shed abroad in my heart now desires to serve King Jesus with the liberty He has granted me. But conflict will come in the shape of our daily circumstances, and we too, must choose who we will serve: God or the devil and my flesh. Thank God we have the scriptures and the Holy Spirit to learn from and be guided by. So….back to our first question: When is obedience not obedience?….When it is partial. Partial obedience is disobedience and has consequences.
Obedience has to be learnt. Even Jesus had to learn obedience as the Son of man by the things which He yielded to, (Hebrews 5:8).
When God speaks He uses few words and is specific. In my ignorance I can find myself making an additional “clause” to what He has said. God does not need my “good” ideas added on to the words He has spoken for direction and guidance. His thoughts and ways are higher than ours, as we all have proved! My additions betray my incomplete trust and abandonment to His words. God’s word is always more than enough for my situation. As we remind ourselves of this lesson, let us also remind ourselves of the consequences of obedience: that is the river of peace released from the throne of God that floods my whole being with His presence and manifests in the fullness of His joy, His wellspring within me! Hallelujah! What a joy to serve our King!
The Lord spoke this word to us following the ministry that was shared this morning:
“If only you knew the depth of My love to you. You have been hearing about partial obedience; delayed obedience is not obedience…..full obedience, instant obedience is My purpose for you. Obedience has to be learnt. As you receive and know the depth of My love, your obedience will increase. My purpose for My people is to hear My word and instantly obey. This has to be learnt. As you consider My love for you, you will receive and see more and more in this dimension.”