Getting Out of Step
Charles F. Stanley
Scripture: 1 Samuel 9-30
I. Introduction: What happens when a person deliberately chooses to rebel against the Lord? Saul, the first king of Israel, disobeyed God, and his rebellion ultimately destroyed him. The narrative of his life provides a clear warning: God requires complete obedience. Wise believers will learn to avoid the four spiritual mistakes King Saul made.
II. What causes people to get out of step with God?
- After Jonathan defeated a Philistine garrison, Saul stole the credit (1 Sam. 13:3-4). Later, the king performed a sacrifice without waiting for Israel’s prophet Samuel. That impatience cost his descendants the throne. God revealed that Saul would be replaced by another king who would love the Lord wholeheartedly (1 Sam. 13:4-14).
- When we allow conceit into our lives, we lose God’s favor (Prov. 11:2). Pride drives a wedge into relationships and damages friendships. In contrast, the person who humbles himself will be honored (Prov. 29:23).
B. Deliberate and willful sin
- Saul disobeyed the Lord by not destroying the Amalekites completely. As a result, he lost his divine right to rule Israel (1 Sam. 15:23).
- It’s easy for us to rationalize obeying in part, but partial obedience is actually disobedience. Only when we follow God’s plans fully can He bless us with His best.
- David’s success eventually made Saul jealous (1 Sam. 18:7). The king sought to kill the younger man, even after David had spared his life (1 Sam. 24:6).
- Jealousy is like corrosive acid to the heart and mind. It quietly eats away at a person from the inside and can lead to making unwise decisions.
D. Seeking Unwise Counsel
- Saul sought guidance from a medium because the Lord no longer directed his life through the priests. Although the king’s action violated God’s law, the Lord allowed him to see a manifestation of Samuel—and He spoke to Saul through the prophet. Samuel told the king that because he didn’t fully obey the Lord while battling the Amalekites, God had allowed the Philistines to attack him. Samuel predicted that the king would soon die a horrible death.
- Christians should avoid all forms of the occult—including fortune tellers, horoscopes, and all New Age practices. First, we should ask God to speak to our hearts and guide our decisions. Second, we should seek advice only from godly men and women who can counsel us with wisdom from the Holy Spirit and God’s Word.
III. Conclusion: When Saul chose to obey only part of God’s instructions, he brought serious consequences upon himself and his household. Ultimately, his jealousy and willful disobedience destroyed him. That’s why we should strive to avoid rationalizing or excusing our sin. We must be vigilant to keep anything from disrupting our fellowship with God. If we consistently seek to obey the Lord, we can walk faithfully with Him for a lifetime.