Winning the War Within

You have probably heard some variation of the saying that says: Sin takes you farther than you wanted to go, keeps you longer than you wanted to stay and costs you more than you wanted to spend. This is one of those statements that is so familiar that we don’t give it much thought when we hear it. We should however, because it’s true.

In my mind the best example of this in Scripture is King Saul. His story is found in the book of 1 Samuel. Let me remind you of what happened with Saul. When Israel wanted a king so they could be like the nations of the world, God gave them a man named Saul to be king. At the first of Saul’s story he seemed to be on the right track. He seemed to be a humble man that didn’t want to be king but did because of God’s calling on his life. He was filled with God’s Spirit, passionate about God’s glory and a brave warrior king.

As time went on Saul began to change. He started disobeying God in ways that he felt were minor. Once he refused to wait on Samuel to make the sacrifice before going into battle. He rationalized it by saying that Samuel was late and he was losing troops. It only made sense for him to go ahead and do it. In one instance he didn’t completely obey God. God told him to go and completely destroy the Amalekites and their flocks. Saul did most of what God said. He killed all the Amalekites but the king and he destroyed all the flock but the very best. He rationalized this by saying that it would bring more glory to God to sacrifice the best of the flock than it would to simply obey. God didn’t see it that way and said that Saul’s partial obedience was nothing more than disobedience.

Saul’s disobedience led God to choose David to be king after Saul. Saul wasn’t willing to submit to the Lord’s will and sought to kill David so he couldn’t be king. Saul spent a good deal of time trying to hunt down and kill David even though he had actually done nothing wrong. Saul’s departure from God continued as he had the priests of God and their families murdered and inquired of a witch. As a result of Saul’s disobedience he and his sons died in judgment from the Lord.

There are a couple things that I’m convinced of in the example of Saul. First, Saul didn’t make a large jump from being filled with God’s Spirit and serving the Lord to murdering the priests of the Lord and inquiring of a witch. Instead, he moved away from God in small but continual steps. Secondly, Saul never set out to ruin his life and depart from the Lord. If you had told Saul on the day he was anointed to be king that one day he would try to have an innocent man murdered, murder the priests with their families and then enquire of a witch, he would have told you that you were crazy. It was never in his mind that he would do such wicked things but he did. By all appearances Saul loved his sons but it was his decisions that cost them their lives. Sin took Saul farther than he wanted to go, kept him longer than he wanted to stay and cost him more than he wanted to spend.

We see this truth in life as well as Scripture. Most of us have probably known people that at one time in their lives seemed to be godly Christians that were devoted to the Lord that over time made horrific decisions that had terrible consequences. Now if you are young and self-righteous, you have probably looked at those people thought “How dare they? How could they?” If you are older and more aware of your own depravity you have probably thought, “There but by the grace of God go I” and “I do not want that to be me.”

Here is a sobering thought. Those Christians we’ve known that made these tragic mistakes probably thought those very things about others. Yet through a series of decisions they lost the war within and fell into sin and suffered its consequences. Now, I don’t want that to be me and I don’t want that to be you. So I am going to spend this week writing about some practical ways that will help us fight and win the war with temptation that rages within us all.

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