1 Samuel 15:9 ~ But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.
“Destroy the despised and worthless” was not the command that God had given Saul. The command was, “Destroy everything. Kill all that breathes Totally wipe out the Amalekites.” Why? Because the Amalekites had ambushed Israel on their way out of Egypt. God had promised to punish them for this act, and Saul had been commanded to carry out that punishment.
But Saul did not obey God. As Samuel arrived at the camp, Saul announced that he had carried out the Lord’s instructions. “Then what is that sound I hear? The bleating of sheep?” asked Samuel. Instead of destroying everything, Saul and the people kept some of the best of the land, supposedly as a sacrifice to God. The despised and worthless they destroyed, but the best of the flocks they did not. And for this disobedience, the kingdom was taken from Saul.
God also says those words to me: “Destroy everything. Destroy every work of darkness, every temptation that can ambush you along your way out of Egypt.” And, like Saul, I’m okay with destroying the despised and worthless things. I don’t have a problem getting rid of what I perceive as the “big stuff.”
But what about those things that are attractive to me? What about the things I enjoy? What about the seemingly harmless things that, if allowed to live, may someday ambush me? The “big sins” are no problem. But what about how I spend my time or money? Have I crucified those desires? What about my thoughts? Have I allowed those to live? What about unhealthy relationships, unprofitable habits or secret fears?
In verse 15 of this chapter it is clear that Saul thought he was doing God a favor, sparing sheep he had been commanded to kill, saving them as a sacrifice to God. But God made it clear, He demands obedience, not sacrifice.
How many have had the kingdom of God die in their hearts because they hold on to things that should have died? For how many as the love of God grown cold because of divided attention, divided love, and a divided heart?
Do you dare to let it all die? Do you dare to hold nothing back, to cut ties with all that has ambushed you along the way? God has chosen us by His overwhelming grace. It is now up to us to be obedient to His will, to carry out His commands. Until that happens, giving up the “big sins” is just window dressing.