The Christ who saves is also the Christ who lords. One is not the friend of Jesus who does not do what he says. One is not a child of God if one is not interested in keeping his commandments. All who are atoned for by the substitutionary work of God and are justified by the gracious declaration of God find themselves progressively sanctified by Spirit of God. True regeneration saves men from the condition of sin, the consequences of sin, and the control of sin. All who are truly born again have a heart that pursues holiness. Sure, the redeemed hearts of sinful men are inconsistent, temperamental, and fluctuating, but within the Christian is a heart with an ever-growing passion to obey the will of God. To Christ’s cross-work, believers say, “Thank You!” To Christ’s good laws and principles, believers say, “Yes Sir!”
However, too often, those who were interested in being holy, doing right, and pleasing God, find themselves making allowances for sin, and rebelling against their Savior and Lord. And quite often, these compromises take place due to external pressures.
In 1 Samuel 13, one can see an example of such sinful compromise in the life of King Saul. At this point in his life, he is a Spirit-filled hero. He has heard the call of God, obeyed, risked everything, and has achieved some measure of success. He is tall, handsome, and faithful. Now he is ready to further lead and encourage God’s people. It is time to blow the trumpet, rally the troops, and finish off the Philistines. However, Saul does not have the green-light to march forward. Before he engages in conflict, he is to meet with the prophet, worship appropriately, and receive God’s benediction. However, with every passing day, his troops are loosing heart and decreasing in number. Therefore, on the eighth day, feeling incredible pressure, Saul compromised and sinned:
1 Samuel 13:8-9 He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering.
In this action, several sins were committed. Saul was not content with the Lord’s timing; the prophet was taking too long to arrive. Saul was not content with the Lord’s plan; too many soldiers were fearing the Philistines and walking out the backdoor. Saul was not concerned with the Lord’s priesthood; he would not worship according to God’s revealed ordinances, but would offer the sacrifice himself.
But what caused the formerly faithful man to compromise so heinously?
Perhaps it was the pressure caused by fear. Before him were tens-of-thousands of angry Philistines incredibly armed and riding on chariots. Behind him were Israelites hitting the road and finding their hiding places. With every passing hour, the chances of his success seemed to be decreasing.
Perhaps it was the pressure caused by pride. Winning was glorious; loosing was humiliating. How was he to go back home and face the reporters after blowing the trumpet, calling God’s people to arms, and becoming the loser in the conflict?
Perhaps it was the pressure caused by pleasure. He had been on the road for some months. He was ready to go back home and enjoy the life of nobility. Hadn’t he done enough for God and country? Hadn’t he proved his faithfulness? It was time to get the battle on, get the battle over, and find himself in the banquet hall again.
Perhaps it was the pressure caused by companions. Most likely he had “wonderful counselors” who were not so wonderful. When they saw the amassing Philistine army, and the diminishing Israelite army, perhaps they advised him to go ahead and offer the sacrifice. Surely, they reasoned, God would not care given the current circumstances.
Saul was foolish and sinful, and the consequences of his actions were great:
1 Samuel 13:13-14 And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which he commanded you. For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”
Samuel made it clear. Regardless of Saul’s problem, emotions, thoughts, desires, or counselors, it was never right to do wrong. Regardless of the external and internal pressure one faces, it is never acceptable to compromise.
Therefore friends, what will you do in your season of pressure?
- Will you disobey God and walk away from your bad marriage?
- Will you disobey God in order to land the contract or make the sale?
- Will you disobey God in order to keep big government from acquiring more of your assets?
- Will you disobey God in order to numb the pain?
- Will you disobey God in order to make the grade, to keep the grade, to keep the ranking, to get the scholarship?
- Will you disobey God in order to keep the richer, tithe-giving members?
- Will you disobey God in order to have sexual gratification?
- Will you disobey God in order to be considered sexy by your peers?
- Will you disobey God in order to please your counselors and neighbors?
- Will you disobey God because he is taking too long to give you an answer and come to your aid?
- Will you disobey God because his way is less pleasurable?
- Will you disobey God because his way is humiliating and people will not be singing your praises?
Saul is an example of one who makes small compromises in the day of pressure. His end is not that which we desire. May we be men and women after God’s own heart.