Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Destroy Your Idols Or Do Not Pray for God's Blessings

      (photo source)

“It is useless to pray for His blessing while we refuse to put away that which has called down His curse. It is vain to talk about exercising faith in God’s promises until we have exercised repentance for our sins. Our idols must be destroyed ere God will again accept our worship.” 

(“The Life of Elijah” A.W. Pink)

And then it gets very specific. Here's what the Lord has to say and here's what you're to listen to and obey, verse 2, "Thus says the Lord of hosts, I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel. How he set himself against him on the way while he was going up from Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has and do not spare him and put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey." That's what's called genocide, go wipe out a whole race...a whole tribe in this case, not really a race, but a whole tribe of people named for the man Amalek. God's command was very clear. Saul was to deal ruthlessly with these Amalekites. He was to kill not only the men but all the women and all the children and all the babies. And then he was to kill all their animals. The whole tribe was to be utterly and mercilessly taken out of existence. No hostages were to be taken and the implication here is no spoils either.

Let's pick it up in 1 Samuel 15 verse 7. "So Saul defeated the Amalekites." And the rest of the verse, "From Havilah as you go to Shur, which is east of Egypt," indicates that it was a crushing, wide-spread, far-reaching and devastating victory. He slaughtered them from pillar to post, from front to back, east to west, north to south, a crushing defeat. But, verse 8, "He captured Agag, the king of the Amalekites, alive and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword, but Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the ox and the fatlings, the lambs and all that was good and were not willing to destroy them utterly. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed."
Motivated by covetousness, motivated by the love of money, they kept all the best animals, they kept all the best possessions, collected the spoils of victory. They didn't even do a thorough job, by the way, of executing the Amalekites. A lot of them escaped. And then worst of all, they spared Agag. They spared the king.
Why? Why would Saul be so blatantly disobedient? Well it wasn't just materialism, in this case it was pride. Here was a marauding vicious terrorizing monarch of this tribe who was known to everybody as the greatest fighter and warrior and victor before whom others crumbled. Saul was going to show his great mighty power, his great force by holding up the trophy Agag and saying, "Look what I have, look who I defeated." It was pride and materialism. It was just an evil heart on Saul's part to flatly and blatantly disobey God.
But the sin was so serious that God immediately deposed Saul and all of his descendants forever from the throne. 

As I said, this is a tremendous insight into God's attitude toward sinners and His holiness and wrath against sin. But I want to use it just as an analogy, if I might, this morning. It is an excellent illustration analogically of the sin that remains in the believer's life. When you were saved and I was saved there was at that moment a crushing defeat of sin...a crushing defeat. From one end to the other, east to west, north to south our sin was crushed. But we still have remaining sins. There are some Amalekites running around loose in everybody's life. We all have our Agags. And the problem in our Christian lives is not that sin has not been defeated with a crushing defeat, it has but there is still remaining sin. There are some loose iniquitous Amalekites in all of us. And though there was a great and glorious and triumphant defeat at the time of our salvation, there is the necessity that the remaining sins be hacked to pieces or they will revive, they will plunder our hearts and sap our spiritual strength. We cannot be merciful with the Agags of our life. We cannot be merciful with the remaining sins in our life or they will turn and create an insurrection and a rebellion to attempt to destroy us.
In fact, it may well be that like the Amalekites, the remaining sin in us often becomes more fierce, more formidable than even before because we don't expect it. Certainly the children of Israel had felt that the Amalekites were a defeated foe. Their king had been hacked to pieces and here they came. Scripture calls on us to deal with our sin like Samuel dealt with Agag, to kill it. There is remaining sin residing in our unredeemed humanness, our flesh, and it has to be killed. It has to be followed up, found and destroyed. And until we do that, we're never going to enjoy what Paul experienced in his bold confidence about a holy and godly sincere conscience.
~John MacArthur, "Hacking Agag to Pieces"

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