False spirituality minimizes sin.

False spirituality minimizes sin.

Read 1 Samuel 15:10-23

"What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears."

Outwardly, Saul had all the qualifications to be a leader. He was impressive in his physical stature, and he united the Israelites under his leadership. He led the nation into battle and achieved victory against the Israelites enemy. He outwardly professed his faith in God. Religiously he adhered to the Law of God and led the nation in worship. However, for all his outward achievements, he continually minimized his failures and tried to rationalize his sin. In 1 Samuel 15, God commanded Saul to be the executioner of God's judgment upon the Amalekites for their opposition to God. When God had brought the Israelites out of Egypt, the Amalekites opposed them and, in so doing, opposed God. Like the other nations in the land of Canaan, they were characterized by their idolatry and immorality. As a result, God pronounced judgment upon them and used Israel's armies to bring his punishment.

However, instead of destroying them as he had been commanded by God, the spoils of war were too tempting for Saul, and so he kept the Amalekite king, Agag, alive as a trophy of his conquest, and he spared the best of the sheep, oxen, and wealth. But God does not accept partial obedience; he demands complete obedience. Consequently, Samuel was sent to confront Saul with his sin of disobedience. Yet when Samuel met Saul after the battle, Saul piously affirmed, "blessed are you of the Lord! I have carried out the command of the Lord." (1 Samuel 15:13). With ironic humor, Samuel replied, "What then is the bleating of the Sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" Even though he was confronted with his failure to be fully obedient, Saul made excuses and minimized his sin by claiming he had kept the best for a sacrifice.

This becomes the characteristic of one who claims to be religious but is, in reality, a pretender. People who only focus on outward performance and embrace Christianity as a religion rather than a personal relationship with Christ minimize sin and its consequences. Tragically we see this prevalent today. Instead of confessing our sin, we rationalize it. Instead of acknowledging God's standard for holiness, we make excuses.

However, God makes it clear that he does not take pleasure in our religious activities when it is not an outgrowth of our desire to be transformed to reflect the holiness of God. Even though Saul minimized his actions and shifted the blame to others, God points to the severity of sin. All acts of disobedience of sin, no matter how insignificant in our eyes, are acts of rebellion that are "as the sin of divination and insubordination are as iniquity and idolatry." Like Saul, we rationalize sin, and we make excuses. Instead of acknowledging our sin, we justify it. Sin becomes a choice. It is a sickness. It is environmentally caused. However, when we minimize sin, we are minimizing the holiness of God.

It when we see the severity of sin and its consequences that we fully discover the wonders of God's grace. While we should never minimize sin, we should never diminish God's grace. Even though sin is ultimately grounded in the rejection of God, God offers his grace to forgive the worst of our sins. Genuine spirituality does not grovel in sin but rests in grace. Just as we should never excuse or justify our sin, we should always remember that God's grace is sufficient for the worst of our sins.

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