A woman complained about a physical problem. I suggested she take it to the Lord. She said, “But this is physical, not spiritual.” Later I realized she was using her physical problem to avoid other responsibilities. She really didn’t want her circumstances to go away for that was her excuse for not trusting and obeying God.
I cannot point fingers. I’ve used my situation as an excuse for failure to trust God also. Pain, human needs, anxiety, and other circumstances might be my excuses, but I know the root of the problem is lack of faith and my rebellious heart.
King Saul is an example. God commanded him to take no prisoners or spoils of war from a battle. He was supposed to destroy everything. Saul didn’t do that, so God told the prophet Samuel, “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.”
Samuel was angry at that decision and cried to the Lord all night. But he obeyed and met with Saul in the morning. Saul said, “Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” Samuel replied, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?”
The noise was evidence of Saul’s failure to destroy the spoils of the battle. However, rather than admit what he had done, Saul shifted the blame to the people with this excuse: “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.” They kept the spoils to give to God?
Samuel told Saul what God told him, and out came another excuse: “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” This time, he blamed the people.
With that, Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”
At that, Saul sort of admitted what he had done, but he blamed his circumstances instead of taking responsibility. He said, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may bow before the Lord.” Samuel replied, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” (1 Samuel 15:10–26)
Saul remained in denial and recanted (sort of) only because it was going to cost him something. As I read this, I can think of things that I have done and made a similar excuse. Rather than admitting my sin and turning from it, I’ve said things like, “I couldn’t help it because . . . .”
I know that Jesus died for that sin and that I will not lose the gift of eternal life because of it, but that is all the more reason to at least bring it to the cross. Better yet, listening to Him and obeying Him pleases Him far more than blatantly adding the weight of my sin to His incredible sacrifice.
The bottom line is that my rebellions are no different than Saul’s disobedience for when I sin and make excuses, I am rejecting God and His Word — and following the ways of Satan in iniquity and idolatry.