Have you ever noticed that some people think it is okay to disobey God about one thing if they are making attempts to please Him in other ways?
However, 1 Sam. 15:22 states otherwise, and its context teaches that if we do not do exactly as the Lord commands for a given situation, then He is flatly not pleased. We cannot fall back on other areas where we think we are pleasing Him. For example, it would be as if one’s child refused to mow the lawn when the parent told him he must. Yet he keeps saying, “But Mom, I dusted the counter, I told little sister ‘I’m sorry’, I washed my dinner dish, I even vacuumed my room! Doesn’t that account for quite a bit… or at least –something?” No. Because the boy simply did not obey. And, just like King Saul, this boy did not obey, because 1) –he did not love enough, and 2) –he did not believe enough in the authority’s word to think that there’d be much, if any, punishment for disobedience.
So, what if the boy mowed part of the lawn? Or what if he made sure the job got done, but he actually didn’t mow it; instead he bribed his little sister to mow it? Or, let’s say, he even stole from his mom’s purse to pay a neighbor boy to mow it. The scenarios are almost endless… the point being, that if the boy did not mow the lawn, then it is called “rebellion”.
“To obey is better than sacrifice… For rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft / divination [which is considered utterly abhorrent to the Lord --see Dt. 18:10-12]… Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has rejected you as king.” (1 Sam. 15:22,23) And Saul’s life went horribly downhill from there: –An evil spirit sent to harass him; being overcome with fits of rage and jealousy; going to a witch to be told his future; committing suicide; his kingdom given to another family line… pretty harsh punishment, it seems. Should we think WE are okay? –because we “are under grace”? No, as Jude 1:4 tells us, grace is not a license to sin.
Rebellion in the Old Testament is also called rebellion in the New Testament. “In fact, sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4) And verse 8 says, “He who does what is sinful is of the devil.” So that sounds quite a bit like what 1 Sam. 15:23 is saying –”For rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft / divination…”
And as Heb. 3:7-19 says, “So, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert… I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known My ways.’ So I declared on oath in My anger, ‘They shall never enter My rest.’” See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God… so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ IF we hold firmly till the end… And to whom did God swear that they would never enter His rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.”
Scripture makes clear that “disobedience” and “unbelief” go hand in hand. We also know that the kind of belief we must have is trust –also called “faith”– because “without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Heb. 11:6) Therefore, just as unbelief displeases God, and unbelief in His Son denies us entrance into Heaven, so disobedience displeases God and keeps one from entering “His rest”. For disobedience, being the same as rebellion, –in God’s eyes, is just like the sin of witchcraft.