Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Excuses,Excuses - Just Drop Them!
Shemuʼĕl Aleph/1 Samuel 15
Shalom to you all, may the mighty name of the יהוה be esteemed as we gather together as the body of our Saviour and Redeemer, יהושע Messiah! There was a mother helping her child with spelling and in the process they came across the words, ‘conscious’ and ‘conscience’, and the mother asked if the child knew the difference between the two. “Yes,” said the child, “’conscious’ is when you are aware of something and ‘conscience’ is when you wish you were not!”
Well today I am very sure that we are more often than not very conscious of our conscience that bears witness with or against us!
All too often when our conscience bears witness that we are not fully walking in humble obedience, we may very quickly and all to easily come up with a whole bunch of excuses thinking that we can excuse away that which is not right and try justify our actions, words and thoughts with, at times, lame excuses! My message tonight is called, “Excuses, excuses – just drop them!” Understanding then clearly the need for us to constantly walk in loving obedience, sadly what we do not see much of today is true Scriptural character that is only shaped through trials, integrity and responsibility for actions. Far too many people are excusing their way through life and it is time for the Bride to make herself ready and drop all the excuses that are so easily and readily used. Tonight I want us to look at Yisra’ĕl’s first king, King Sha’ul (Saul), and learn from Scripture how we are to quickly drop all or any excuses we may find ourselves having in walking in total obedience to the very Word of Elohim. King Sha’ul was given very clear and specific instructions from יהוה through Shemuʼĕl the prophet, to which he simply disobeyed and when he was reprimanded for his disobedience he used a number of excuses in trying to justify his actions – excuses that we still see very much being used today by far too many – and perhaps even us here tonight have even used these very same tactics of excuse in order to justify our actions. Let us learn from the Word as we look at King Sha’ul and be reminded once again to drop all excuses for living in obedience. Turn with me to Shemuʼĕl Aleph/1Samuel 15 (Read).
In the passage we have just read, may we be quickly reminded that excuses did not work for King Sha’ul back then and they will not work for us today, no matter how hard we try to make them to. יהוה has called us to be set-apart – to be people of integrity, and people who take responsibility for our actions. Even as we look at this week’s torah portion, which we will go through in the morning, we see that with the ‘guilt’ offering or in Hebrew ‘asham’, is that the regulations for the ‘asham’ of unintentional sins required this offering to be considered most set-apart. You see, even if we sin unintentionally we still incur the guilt and consequence of that sin. We can and must most certainly praise יהושע in that He has fulfilled our sin requirements and has taken away the penalty or punishment of our sin once and for all. Yet we are still accountable for the sin and guilt and take responsibility for it by repenting! יהוה is concerned about our character – the very character that He shapes in us as we go through trials of many kinds and rejoice in them too! He is more concerned about shaping His character in us than our seeming ‘comfort’! The character of Messiah shaped in us is the moral, ethical and spiritual undergirding that rests upon truth; it reinforces a life in stressful times and resists the temptations to compromise.
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 22:1 tells us that a name or rather a good name is better than riches. Our reputation as children of the Most High El ought to be seen in our living daily obedient lives and is better than what any money can buy! We all need to learn to drop the excuses to living 100% in obedience, so let us look at 4 useless excuses of justification that King Sha’ul used, and recognise how the very same excuses are being used at large today – excuses we are to drop!
1 – RELATIVE OBEDIENCE
King Sha’ul was clearly told to strike Amalĕq and 'put under the ban’ all that he has, not sparing any – not any man, woman, child or animal. Very clear instructions as we see in verse 3 – and what does King Sha’ul go and do? Well he gathers the troops – 200,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 men of Yehuḏah and goes off to strike the Amalěqites as instructed – in other words started out well – yet, he never completed the task faithfully – he spared Aḡaḡ the Amalěqite king, and spares also the best of the sheep, cattle, lambs and all that was good! King Sha’ul was supposed to ‘put under the ban’ everything! To ‘put under the ban’ in Hebrew is ‘ḥāram’ which means to ‘cut off, or have no part in, or destroy utterly, or exterminate’ etc.
He was, in other words, supposed to, at the commands of Elohim, exterminate the Amalěqites! Did he do that? No!!! Yes he did destroy all that was vile and garbage yet did not destroy the best! He was disobedient as he did not surrender completely to the command of יהוה. Half obedience is not obedience! Pretty much what we see happening a lot today! Sha’ul was obedient to a point, when it was easy for him and whenever there was no sacrifice or cost involved! Just think about it for a moment – he only kept that which was valuable and destroyed what he didn’t want or couldn’t use anyway! How easy it is to get rid of that which you do not want!!!
Today people are the same, as they try to satisfy the commands of יהוה with half-measures, ready and willing to give up that which they do not want or cannot use; yet they do not ‘ḥāram’ (that is totally destroy and exterminate and have nothing to do with) that which they feel is still too valuable to let go of or destroy. And so they will easily practice ‘relative obedience’ – that is being obedient relative to it fitting in with my likes and dislikes – relative to when it is easy and does not cost me anything! This kind of half-hearted or rather ‘relative obedience’ is nothing more than disobedience and a continual balancing act that requires constant attention and does not satisfy nor please Elohim. Relative obedience is simply being obedient in part, yet not fully and seeks only to do that which seems to be ‘relatively enough’. “I am doing enough to get by, so it is ok if I do something I shouldn’t once in a while” approach, which is not absolute in its worship unto יהוה but is simply relative to one's own inclination and desires and is unable to fully surrender all unto the perfect will of יהוה.
It may often be that there are times when we find ourselves trying to sell Elohim on the notion that He should be pleased that we have obeyed in some matters and at times expect יהוה to appreciate the fact that we have obeyed Him – when it was convenient for us, that is! One of the biggest obstacles to fully walking in obedience is our need to rationalise why we have to do whatever we are supposed to do! Sha’ul rationalised in his mind and when you begin to rationalise, all too often the flesh takes precedence and that is where the problems begin as we try to rather satisfy the hunger of the flesh over spirit! Sha’ul in looking from a fleshly point of view rationalised that it would be a tragic waste to destroy all of the best of what the enemy had. And sadly we see the very same rationalising and excuses going on today, as most people will make useless and vain concessions for why it isn’t necessary to be fully obedient. You got to understand what happened here – when Sha’ul saw the fat Amalěqite livestock and all their good plunder, he thought of himself and considered just how all of this could enhance his honour and prestige among his people, if he were to bring back the enemy king as prisoner as well as all the best of their land. Something he could not resist in a means of public display of his leadership and as we see in verse 12 he even set up a monument for himself! When there is only relative obedience pride has a way of gripping a man’s heart! Partial obedience is riddled with pride, and as we know in Mishlĕ/Proverbs 16:18 we are told that before destruction comes pride!
Sha’ul claimed to be obedient, by the fact that he had done most of what he was told too, and that is not obedience. This kind of relative obedience is an excuse used by many today – while there is no point in it – you are either obedient or not – no half-hearted efforts need apply!
2 – REHEARSED OBSTRUCTIONS (to the confronting of sin)
What do I mean by this? Well simply this, you know that when you have not been totally 100% faithful and obedient you will often tend to have many rehearsed reason as to why, just in case someone may confront you! Rehearsed and well-crafted speech and mannerisms – and in effect will end up ‘telling lies as if they were the truth’! Think about it – isn’t that just what the Church has done and is still doing? It has in a sense been relatively obedient, and certainly has well-crafted rehearsed obstructions that are keeping many away from the unadulterated truth of the Word. King Sha’ul used this very tactic in telling lies as if they were truth and felt good about it too – to the point he began to believe his own lies. יהוה came to Shemuʼĕl at night and told him of Sha’ul’s sin, to which Shemuʼĕl cried all night unto יהוה for Sha'ul, but יהוה had rejected Sha'ul as king. Shemuʼĕl’ goes to confront Sha’ul and when Sha’ul sees the prophet coming, what does he do? He tries to bluff his way out of trouble! He knew he was wrong and when he saw the prophet coming to tell him he was wrong he used rehearsed obstructions to dealing with the reality of his sin. He tries to steer the focus away from his error and declares a lie, ‘I have performed the word of יהוה'. That was a lie, he was only relatively obedient which we have seen is not obedience. He was trying to tell the prophet how he was such a faithful servant of Elohim. He knew he had not been faithful, but hey why not try and proclaim it – it might work he may have thought. Our false confession may fool many, but will never fool יהוה!
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 20:6 “Most men proclaim each his own loving-commitment, But who finds a trustworthy man?”
Most people will be very quick to say how good they are and how faithful they have been, even when they have not been, and after a while they will even begin to believe their own lies and in the process even revise the very living Word of יהוה as they will twist the truth to their own self gain, but ultimately to their destruction. This is precisely what Satan and Ḥawwah did in Ěden! Many can tell loads of people just how faithful they are and that they are truly faithful followers of Messiah, but the confession alone does not make it so. As we know the old saying, ‘talk is cheap’ and as the word says, faith without works is dead’. Our daily lives must match up to our good confession of faith in Messiah. There are many who are able to craft a story that can often make them sound so much better than what we are, however crafted lies or twisted truth will never convince יהוה. We need to make sure that we rid ourselves of empty words and never try to replace the truth with lies in an attempt to justify our actions that may not line up with the Word! How about the time when someone calls to see how you are doing – do you use rehearsed obstructions to the confronting of possible sin. Like when Craig phones I better be ready with things to say like, ‘יהוה is good, I have been really faithful’ when you are not as you try to start the conversation off with a bang diverting any confrontation in dealing with sin. It is time to drop the excuses for rebellious living!
3 – THE BLAME GAME – REFUSING OWNERSHIP
Wow, the famous blame game or ‘pass the buck’ routine! We certainly see a lot of this being used in Scripture, almost to perfection by those disobedient ones and the same happens today. This blame-shifting is a common tactic used all too often by too many, I am sure we have all had experience with it! Now that Sha’ul was found out, he was, in verse 15, basically saying that it was not his fault – as it was the people who brought back the king and all the good stuff! Do you remember how Aharon also did the same in the golden calf event where he took the gold and made a calf, yet when confronted he quickly shifted the blame to supernatural events – he just threw the gold in the fire and ‘poof’ out popped a golden calf! I do not think that we may fully realise just how stupid we sound when we try to shift the blame and not take responsibility – stupid we sound and know it – but why do we still so very often do it? (Or has nobody here ever done that?) In verses 21 and 24 we see again this tactic being used by Sha’ul – he just would not take responsibility by making lame excuses every time! He claimed it was peer pressure – peer pressure – he was king!!! What in effect he was saying was, ‘I know that I have sinned but it really was not my fault!’ Have you ever heard that one before or even used that line before? Adam even said to יהוה, 'It was the woman You gave me!’ Listen we are to own up and take responsibility when we mess up:
Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 1:8-10 “If we say that we have no sin, we are misleading ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is trustworthy and righteous to forgive us the sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.”
Confessing our sins is only ‘confession’ when we have admitted our sin (which is lawlessness) and recognise that our lawlessness violates the set-apartness of יהוה and His Word! We should never substitute excuses for confession, never let the pride of sin hold us back to being restored, renewed and cleansed from all unrighteousness! Drop the blame game excuses and take ownership for your walk in Messiah.
4 – RELIGIOUS OVERTONES
By this I simply mean that is when people try to sound very religious and spiritual in their attempt at excusing their blatant disobedience! Sha’ul tried very hard to ‘spiritualise’ his sin, basically saying, “I did wrong but it was for a valid reason!’ Listen there are no valid reasons for doing wrong!!! All too often we see that many try to think that if they attach some kind of spiritual significance to their wrong ways they somehow make it acceptable and right! I mean think about it – people will even go so far as to blame יהוה and throw off all their blame as to why they were wrong on Him! There are many examples of this today, even this one, "I have prayed about it and it is the Father’s will that I leave my family!” Hogwash, no it is not His will! The only way you are allowed to get out of marriage is through marital unfaithfulness, otherwise stick it out and win over the unbelieving spouse by your life of faith! Do not give יהוה the blame because you want out of your marriage!
Sha’ul in verse 15 is using the blame game and is also using religious or spiritual overtones in defence of his sin by saying that they did wrong in order to make sacrifices to יהוה – as if spiritual terminology whitewashes our sin! Whitewashed tombs perhaps – dead on the inside while trying to look all clean and justified through excuses! I mean just think about it for a moment as we look at Sha’ul’s excuses – how many times have you ever heard the phrase, or even found yourself using it once too often, “I know what the Word says, but…”?
I know what the Word says about tithing, but…
I know what the Word says about not eating pork and shellfish, but…
I know what the Word says about keeping Shabbat but…
I know what the Word says about throwing off the things of the flesh but…
I could go on…
The point I am making is this: good intentions do not offset sin – sin is sin and sin is… lawlessness (Torahlessness)! In fact in verse 23 Shemuʼĕl tells us that disobedience is as the sin of witchcraft!!! Witchcraft! Today many do not even consider witchcraft or divination as sin – it has simply become an accepted religion or belief system – yet we know that sin is lawlessness and witchcraft does not submit to the Torah of Elohim. We are to obey the Word no matter what and stop excusing our sin or lawless deeds with religious overtones trying to make them sound as if there was a valid reason to sin. Anyone who walks in יהושע Messiah is done with sin! Too many people make use of far too many religious overtones, trying to over spiritualise their lawless actions! They will use terminology that sounds like, “I couldn’t keep Shabbat because I had to take care of… and I am sure the Father understands!” This is excuses not valid reasons to not obey! When we make excuses we are in fact in a sense ‘denying’ Messiah! And Messiah Himself said that if we deny Him before men, or rather if we are ashamed of Him before men, that He would deny us before the father!!! We must learn to drop the lame excuses to obedient living thinking that if we make the excuse sound spiritual it is ok! Just drop them!!!
Anybody can go through the motions of trying to be spiritual, but what יהושע calls for is obedience. As we consider this passage and we look at our own lives today we must ask ourselves if character, integrity and personal responsibility can be found present in our daily walk. The excuses Sha’ul used were not acceptable back then and are certainly not acceptable today, no matter how over spiritualised they are. We are to take responsibility for our sin and lawlessness and confess it before יהושע so that His Blood washes and cleanses us from all unrighteousness and walk in His instruction.
How have you been at the excuse abuse? What excuses have you used in an attempt to whitewash your sin? It is time to drop the excuses and live 100% in obedience to His Word. Our obedience cannot simply be relative, nor can we have rehearsed obstructions to the confronting of sin in our lives, nor are we to play the blame game and refuse any responsibility for our actions and neither can we think that any form of trying to over spiritualise our disobedience will work. Excuses – Excuses – Just drop them! Excuses, are in fact, more work than simple obedience!!!
Perhaps as we have gone through this word tonight you have realised that there have been too many excuses to serving יהוה with your all, well drop them right now and confess to Him that he may cleanse you and that you can walk upright with integrity and great joyous faith in Him. Don’t have talk without actions, and do not have excuses but rather confession and do not substitute your will for the will of יהוה – let His good pleasing and perfect will be done as you are transformed by the renewing of your mind. May this be a day remembered for when we declared all excuses to be dropped, aměn!
יהוה HAS GIVEN US CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS IN HIS WORD – IN HIS TORAH – MAY WE NOT BE FOUND MAKING VAIN AND USELESS EXCUSES BUT RATHER BE FOUND TO BE DILIGENT IN OUR OBEDIENCE TO WALKING WHOLEHEARTEDLY IN HIS TORAH!