THE CARDINAL SIN

Scripture Reading: I Samuel 15:1-31

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is an act of divination and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.” (I Samuel 15:23,24a)

God gave Saul a clear command but Saul failed to obey God. Saul was to destroy the Amalekites and all their livestock because of the evil they had committed against God’s people. Instead of obeying God, Saul spared Agag the king and the best of the sheep and oxen (vs. 7-9).

God sent Samuel to confront Saul (vs. 10-12). When confronted Saul began to make excuses for his disobedience (v. 15). He blamed the people and even stated that he kept the best animals to offer as sacrifices to the Lord. Samuel did not accept Saul’s excuses (vs. 16-19). Saul’s disobedience caused him to lose his kingship. Sin has serious consequences.

At the heart of the matter is the issue of disobedience. Sacrifice (religious activity) is not to be substituted for obedience. Disobedience is a serious offense against God. Disobedience is the cardinal sin because every sin is the result of the sin of disobedience. It is the assertion of our power and will over the power and will of God. Substituting religious activity for obedience is not acceptable to God — “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to listen than the fat of rams.”

Let’s be clear — we cannot be saved by our feeble attempts to earn God’s favor. No one is justified by works, for we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. This is where the gospel comes into play. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. But once we have been saved, we should desire to obey God. Obedience is proof of our love for God. Jesus said, “If you love Me you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).

God’s desire is for us to obey Him. When we fail to do so, we must acknowledge our sins and not make excuses for them. Then we must claim the forgiveness we have through our Savior Jesus.

Lord God, I know that I have failed to obey You many times over. I confess my sin and come before You in humble gratitude for Your grace shown to me, an undeserving sinner. Thank You for forgiving me of my many acts of disobedience. Give me grace to obey You, for to obey is better than sacrifice.

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