Partial Obedience Reaps God’s Sternness

May 16, 2015

“But I have obeyed the Lord.” This is what many people say to themselves when confronted with, “Why are you not obeying the Lord?” We can read about this same exchange in 1 Sam. 15:19,20 when Saul insisted to Samuel that, in spite of not obeying God completely, he actually had been obedient to the Lord. “I did carry out the mission God sent me on,” so many say, just as Saul claimed in verse 20. “And in that small part where I didn’t follow God’s directions exactly, I did it so as to help (love, pity, acquit, and/or encourage) others, and so that they could better serve God.” Is this not the reasonings of many –so similar to Saul’s in verse 21–?! But Samuel rebuked Saul, informing him that his negligence to follow God’s orders precisely was both disobedience and evil in the eyes of the Lord. (v. 18,19)

So is partial obedience to God okay for anyone? Does God ever reason, “Well, this servant of Mine carried out most of My orders, so I will be happy with him for that.” –?

Let’s look at what the partial disobedience cost Saul: “Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has rejected you as king.” (1 Sam. 15:23) It cost Saul his position of authority. And though Saul remained king for a duration, another (David) was anointed soon afterward to take his place. Moreover, the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul (16:14) and an injuring spirit was sent by the Lord to torment him. Talk about a heavy judgement for neglecting to obey God fully!

“But I do a lot for the Lord and the furtherance of His Gospel,” people say when rationalizing their negligence in obeying God perfectly. But what does God’s Word say about this? “Does the LORD appreciate sacrifices, offerings, and worship as much as in obeying His voice?” (See 1 Sam. 15:22) He does not! (Same verse) For such conduct God considers to be rebellion and arrogance, sins equal to those of divination and idolatry. (v. 23)

What lesson are we to hear from these pages in God’s Word? We are to hear what the whole of God’s Word is warning: Obey the Lord, obey Him fully, obey Him carefully, obey His precise orders. When we do this, we will walk in the will of the Lord –which is a must for inheriting eternal life. (Mt. 7:21 & 12:50 // Heb. 10:36 // 1 John 2:17 // see also 2 Cor. 5:15 and 1 Peter 4:2)

Jesus, too, confirms the necessity of obeying God so that we walk in His will and are allowed entrance into Heaven. For He warns in Mt. 7:21-23 that to call Him “Lord”, to prophesy (preach or teach or proclaim) in His name, to cast out demons, and to perform many mighty works means nothing to God if that worker is not in the will of the Father. In fact, Jesus teaches, that worker will be considered instead to be a worker of iniquity / evil / lawlessness / rebellion.

So is sacrificing for God enough? Does it make God favorable toward that sacrificial one? No. Not if that person neglects to follow the precise orders he has heard God give him, especially given him again and again. And not only will God NOT be favorable toward that individual, but God may send an injuring spirit to torment him. As both Ja. 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 warn, “God opposes the proud.” For as we have learned from 1 Sam. 15:23, pride is as the sin of idolatry. Furthermore, because all sin is hostility toward God (Rom. 8:7 // Ja. 4:4), no one who continues in it can please Him, (Rom. 8:8), escape His vengeance / opposition / punishment / judgement / anger / wrath (Rom. 11:22 // 1 Cor. 11:32 // Heb. 10:26-31), or belong to Him (1 John 3:6-10) as a son who has a permanent place in the family. (John 8:34-36 & 15:2,6 // 1 Cor. 3:16,17 // Rev. 3:5) Indeed, a continuation in sin (a lack of repentance) reaps death and damnation. (Rom. 6:23 // Heb. 10:26-31)

Let no one rest in the illusions of the false refuge which ignorant teachers have conjured up and propagated. Disobedience to the Lord, especially deliberate, careless continued disobedience, does not put one walking in the will of the Lord. Be assured that such arrogant rebels will heap to themselves conflict and punishment from the Lord, and if they do not turn from their sin even in their desperation, the Lord will abandon them to the fate of unbelievers. (Mt. 7:21-23 & 24:45-51 // 1 Cor. 3:16,17 // Heb. 6:4-6 & 10:35-39 // 2 Peter 2:20-22 & 3:17)

Care for your soul, and the souls of those you teach, and meticulously study God’s Word itself (not men’s doctrines) so as to see that these things are so.

with love,

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