We are all familiar with the scenario; the little child is exposed as the culprit that has been snitching the chocolate cake by the ring of chocolate around his mouth. He may well hold firm to his innocence, but no matter how hard he tries to defend himself, the evidence is clear. Often our disobedience to God is evidenced by the figurative “chocolate around our mouth”. The account of Saul, the first king of Israel and his obedience, or lack thereof, in carrying out the command of God to destroy the Amalekites serves as an excellent example of such behavior (I Samuel 15:1-26).
Shortly after Israel departed the Egyptian bondage, Amalek fought against them and God said then that Amalek would be destroyed because they had fought against Israel (Exo. 17:8, 14, 16). Saul is given the responsibility to carry out that promise against Amalek (I Sam. 15:2-3). He was told to “utterly destroy” Amalek. Yet, the text tells us that “Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them” (I Sam. 15:9). Upon his return, “Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord. And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear (I Sam. 15:13-14)? It would seem that Saul had chocolate around his mouth. His words said that he had obeyed God, the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen was evidence to the contrary. Oh, he argued his case, he maintained that he had obeyed God (verse 20), but it did not change the fact that he had not. He played the blame game, trying to cast the blame on the people (verses 15, 21). He appealed to good motives as just grounds for not doing all that God had commanded, claiming that the sheep and oxen were brought back to offer as sacrifices to God (verses 15, 21). Nothing changed the fact that He had not obeyed God.
Our point in all this is to encourage a little examination of our own claimed obedience to God. Most who claim Christianity, claim to be doing the will of God. Yet, in many cases there is way too much chocolate around their mouths to take their claim seriously. The evidence refutes their claims. Let us consider just a few examples to set the mind into motion in our evaluation of how clean our faces are, or how many sheep and oxen we have making noise in the background.
In the great commission, Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15:16). This is an obvious command for the people of God. Initially given to the apostles, it is passed along to all Christians as seen in Matthew’s account of the great commission (Matt. 28:19-20). Now, the first question is, how many of us are “going”. The “ye” in that passage doesn’t just apply to the other fellow, it applies to each child of God. Then, there is the word, “go”. Are we going, or are we sitting? God didn’t command, sit ye and invite people to come to you, but instead for Christians to go to the people. Next, consider the order of events in following the commands of God in this text. First the gospel must be taught, then the gospel must be believed, then one is to be baptized and then that person is saved. Is this what we are doing, or are we teaching people to believe in Christ, proclaiming them saved and telling them they then need to be baptized? Saul certainly could not argue that he didn’t understand what God’s commands were concerning Amelek. It was crystal clear; utterly destroy Amelek. He even referred to those things brought back as, “the things which should have been utterly destroyed” (verse 21). He knew! He even knew the reason for what God commanded; for he was told up front what the reason was (verse 2). He had no excuse. Though the reason may not have been specified, the things God commanded in the great commission are just as crystal clear and it is just as important that we do it all and that we do it as God commanded. Oh, it may well be easy to point at Saul and see the chocolate all around his mouth, but it may be we need to check our own for chocolate (James 1:22-25). Just saying that we are obeying God is not necessarily the same as obeying God.
We can and should apply this same evaluation of our obedience in the realm of worship, purity of life, benevolence, knowledge of His word and every other aspect of being a Christian. Paul said that we should examine ourselves (II Cor. 13:5). It is not nearly enough to just say, I have obeyed the commandments of God. Even if we do not have the chocolate around the mouth or the bleating of the sheep and lowing of the oxen for others to see, God knows even the secret things of the heart (Ecc. 12:14), knowing just how obedient you really are.
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