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Advice to a Drowning Man

Monday, March 29, 2010

Category: Change, Character, Sin / Suffering / Satan, Spiritual Life

To obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22

When I study the life of King Saul, I think of drowning. First this guy goes underwater when he makes a series of wrong choices—but he comes up gasping for air. Then he goes under with pride and arrogance. Then his heart hardens and sinks and he follows after it. Third time under and he’s gone. 

First Samuel 9-15 sets up Saul’s story. Israel wanted a king like every other nation. God says, Aren’t I enough? and they say no. So God gave them what they asked for and made this guy Saul king. Saul was the tallest and most handsome man in Israel but with a boatload of insecurity issues. When it was time for them to put the crown on his head, they found him hiding in the luggage room (10:22). The people probably thought, Oh, he’ll get over that.

But he didn’t. Not long into his reign, Saul started to sink fast. His first mistake was refusing to obey a clear directive from the Lord (15:13). When confronted about his sin, Saul then became the king-of-all rationalizers. He refused to admit his disobedience.  

According to Jeremiah 17:9, that’s our hearts, too. Surrounded by evidence of our own sin, how often do we also rationalize, spin or just downright ignore?

James 3:2 says we all fall in many ways.  Most often through His Word, God sticks a mirror in front of us and says, This is what you look like. The critical question that sent Saul into the deep end is: How do I respond when my sin is pointed out to me? Your answer is one of the most defining things in your life and the great dividing line in all humanity.

So what’s the life-preserver in all this?  It’s this simple, profound truth: when you realize you’ve sinned, go immediately to God. Go the first time you feel convicted. Be very specific about your sin and be very broken by its severity. Turn to Him in sincere repentance and you’ll see God’s hand reaching down into the water, pulling you back to the surface with forgiveness, mercy, and grace.

This could be your moment right now.

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