Today’s Reading: 1 Sam 15:1–35, James 3:13–18, Ps 119:121–136
Today’s Theme: Be Killing Sin
Today’s title is inspired by the Puritan John Owen who said “Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it while you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.” John Owen. (1862). The Works of John Owen (Vol. 6).
1 Samuel 15:1–35
Devote to destruction
Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ ” 1 Samuel 15:3 (ESV)
This is a true account. God called for the people of Israel to exact His judgement on the people of Amalek by making a call to “haram” or devotion to destruction (see notes on Judges chapter 1 from 1st May 2015).
This was also used as a final test for Saul, an opportunity for redemption for the wayward king which he fails to take advantage of.
We need to hear the call of the Spirit today to put sin to death. Without pardon, mercy or compromise we are to devote sin to utter destruction in our lives, leave not one sin alive.
As Paul reminds us in Romans 8:13 “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction. 1 Samuel 15:9 (ESV)
There are some sins we put to death without much resistance, but then there are the darling sins, the ones that have a stronghold over our minds or a special place in our hearts. These sins receive pardon, we say oh it will take time to kill this sin or “it’s a process”.
We must not deceive ourselves, we need to break off our love affair with sin and exact the judgement on it that it deserves by the power of God the Holy Spirit.
Darling sins are often more subtle than the obvious sins and so by their nature are very dangerous. They eat away at our consciences and give a foothold to the enemy which leads to a stronghold, bondage and death.
As mentioned in the introduction to today’s notes, we must be killing sin or sin will be killing us.
Sin’s intention is your death as Paul makes clear in Romans 7:11 “For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.”
Put your dear, precious, darling sins to death today.
A monument to the flesh
And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.” 1 Samuel 15:12 (ESV)
Saul is so caught up in his own pride and sin, that he sets up a monument to himself. Sin has as one of it’s chief aims to exalt man instead of God.
Sin will cause us to feel puffed up in our flesh so that through our apparently good achievements we open the door to the chief sin of pride and idolatry of self.
Ask God to help you identify and tear down any monuments in your life to the triumphs of sin and the flesh. 2 Corinthians 10:4–5.
Also note Samuel said Saul seemed small in his own eyes. Often feelings of insecurity lead to over compensation and pride, one sin hiding behind the other.
The self deception of sin
And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the LORD. I have gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. 1 Samuel 15:20 (ESV)
Saul was walking in self deception. He literally said he had obeyed God when he had not, he only “obeyed” on his own terms which is rebellion and disobedience.
Sin in the human heart is a crafty and deceptive thing. We will literally lie to and deceive ourselves while deceiving others, because our flesh has built up justifications and arguments to excuse or explain away our rebellion and sin.
Paul warns Timothy that “while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. in 2 Timothy 3:13.
Don’t allow sin to lead you and others into deception. Kill the sin before it speaks its lies and convinces your flesh that it should stay alive.
Bring God pleasure
And Samuel said, “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. 1 Samuel 15:22 (ESV)
So how do we kill sin? By positively obeying God according to His word by the power and leading of God the Holy Spirit.
Samuel makes it clear that God gets pleasure from our obedience, not from dead ritual and religiousness.
We should all determine in our hearts today to obey God, this is the pathway to life and true prosperity.
We are reminded that we must obey God in faith to please Him in Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
The true nature of rebellion
For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.” 1 Samuel 15:23 (ESV)
The first rebel was Satan, he rebelled against the loving rule of Yahweh the king of heaven and was cast out along with a third of the Angels.
When we rebel we are walking in his footsteps, we are engaging in a sort of witchcraft as we rebel against the rule of God the King and align ourselves with Satan the usurper.
Jesus made clear the nature of rebellion to the word of God is demonic and satanic in John 8:43–44 “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
We must not rebel against God and His word, we humble ourselves before His word today.
Hack sin to pieces
And Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hacked Agag to pieces before the LORD in Gilgal. 1 Samuel 15:33 (ESV)
Samuel filled with God’s righteous anger, is not deceived by the folly of king Agag who says “Surely the bitterness of death is past”.
We too must not listen to the deceptive plea of sin which may come in the form of something like these words “well you are saved now”, “no need to keep a watch on every sin”, “surly the bitterness of sanctification and deliverance has passed”, “we all sin”, “learn to live with it”
Samuel’s response is right, he does not just kill Agag he hacks him to pieces. We must do the same to sin. We must kill sin with a passion.
We must be killing sin as Paul says in Colossians 3:5 “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
Or sin will be killing us as Paul states in Romans 7:5 “For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.”
Wisdom from above
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:17 (ESV)
The wisdom of this world is a hiding place for sin, James calls it demonic. Wisdom must come with meekness which is why we need wisdom from above.
We need the wisdom of God in our lives which goes beyond anything we can learn from a book or classroom and requires us to put sin to death so there is no place for jealously or selfish ambition.
James’ description of true wisdom should be an aspiration for us all. If we pursue these things, sin and pride will have to die.
Unfolding of God’s word
The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130 (ESV)
We must give God thanks for our Pastors who continually unfold God’s word for us by explaining the bible, this gives us light and understanding.
Recognise today that we are not wise but simple and need God’s guidance, we should not try to be smart like Saul, we should simply and humbly obey the word of the Lord.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
The Gospel Coalition on James 3