Tuesday, March 07, 2006

1 Samuel 13: The Anatomy of Sin

What follows is a rough outline sketch of the message I presented Sunday evening, February 19. I am indebted to the good (but not great) commentary, 1, 2 Samuel (NIV Application Commentary) by Bill Arnold. I know some guys who love this series, and some even say they take it straight to the pulpit. I just don't think it is that good -- frankly I don't think any commentary should be a substitute for a pastor preparing his own messages for his own flock each Lord's day. However, I consult commentaries because I don't know it all, and neither do the guys writing the commentaries, but together we are in a conversation about the text, sharpening the point toward truth in exegesis (what the text says) and hermeneutics (what the text means), and then in homiletics (what we preach about the text). In this case, the commentary helped me develop the outline of the passage.

1 Samuel 13: The Anatomy of Sin

I don't know many Christians who would wake up in the morning and say, "I really hope I sin today." But I don't know many who lie down at night and say, "Thankfully, I didn't sin today." We don't want to sin (I trust), but we often do. How does this happen? Let's learn from Saul's errors here and try to recongize these patterns in our own lives as well.

I. Fixation on the moment at hand (vv5-8)
* Failure to remember lessons and testimonies from the past.
* Failure to consider consequences for the future (see vv 13-14)

II. Execution of Partial Obedience (vv 8-9)
* The timing of the matter is only part of the equation.
* Acceptance of the boundaries of one's position, responsibilities, and authority is another.
* Saul may be kind, but he is not the Supreme Authority. God is. And Saul is answerable to God and His prophet/priest. Saul's attitude demonstrates a pride that refuses to accept his limited authority and the authority of another over him.

III. Rejection of responsibility (vv 10-12)
* The blame game (just like Adam and Eve)
* Making sin small. Anytime we do this, we are in great danger. To minimize sin is to minimize the cross, which is blasphemous at best, completely and absolutely anti-Christ at worst. We should recognize and accept the magnitude of our sins so that we can fully experience the magnitude of God's grace. John Wesley said, "There is no little sin because there is no little God to sin against. In general, what to us seems a small offense, to him who knows the heart may appear a heinous crime."

There are many parallels between this story and the story of the Fall in Genesis 3. We see the same patterns there and in our own sins as well. Saul was right where God wanted him to be -- he was anointed, Spirit-filled, empowered by God for the task at hand. But all it takes is a moment of ceasing to trust and obey for a downfall to occur -- in Saul's life, in my life, in your life.

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