Saul is the first king of God’s people, Israel. But it doesn’t take long in his reign before the flaws in his character begin to surface. God has told Saul to destroy the Amalekites because of the way they had treated Israel when they had come out of Egypt. Saul had led his army into an incredible victory. One problem, God had given very clear instructions; “Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him.” (I Samuel 15:3). But Saul had captured his adversary, King Agag, as a trophy, and they had taken some of the best livestock and possessions.
Saul and the army are returning when they are met by God’s preacher, a man named Samuel. As Saul greets Samuel Saul says, “Blessed are you of the LORD! I have carried out the command of the LORD.” About the time that he has said this, you can hear the bleating of the sheep, “Baaaaa,” in the background. Samuel says, “If you have indeed carried out God’s instructions, then what is the bleating of sheep and lowing of cattle that I hear?”
“Oh, that,” says Saul. “Some of the folks thought it would be a good idea to bring back the best of the livestock to offer as a sacrifice to God.” This all leads to a very telling statement by Samuel, “Has the Lord as much delight in burn offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord. Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” (I Sam. 15:22) We discover something very important: Partial obedience is the same as disobedience. This mistake is quite costly to Saul, ultimately costing him the kingdom.
I have read many blogs recently where the writer asserts the spiritual ignorance of many Christians today. Again and again there is strong encouragement to know more about what the Bible teaches. There is a problem, however, in my opinion, with all of this. The maturing process in the Christian faith is not fed by knowledge, but by obedience. If you read the roll call of heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 there is not a single one commended for what they knew. They are commended for what they did. Christian faith is an action faith.
Consider the matter of the Great Commission. Jesus commands us to “Go into all the world and make disciples.” That is our mission as followers of Christ; we are commanded to make disciples. Jesus then tells us to teach them something. But if you look carefully at the instruction He gives, it is not the imparting of knowledge. He says, “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” (Matt. 28:20)
In other words, making disciples means training believers to obey all that the Lord commands.
When a person hears the Gospel as a non-believer, there is only one action that will take them to the next step. They must obey the Gospel, they must believe. When a person believers, then they are told to confess their faith publicly by baptism. We are told to pray, to give, to love, and so on. Each instruction from God through His Word calls for a response of obedience on our part as an individual. Accumulating information about the faith does not grow us to maturity in faith. We grow to maturity by obeying each instruction that God gives us.
The old hymn we sang in church says it best. “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” Are you caught up in your obedience? What is God saying to you today that calls for a response on your part? What is the next step that you need to take as a follower of Christ?
Brad Bessent is the founder of Church Unleashed Global, Inc.