Most Christians I engage with would consider themselves willing to sacrifice. They would be willing to give up things (time, money, things) if they had to. At the same time, most of these people would also act sacrificial. They would put on sadness or heaviness as a display of penance when they had been found out for doing something wrong. Do acts of penance expose a flaw in our sacrifice? God calls us to unlimited sacrifice (Luke 14:33) but, generally speaking, most Christians have a limit to their sacrifice. Why?
Is our sacrifice genuine or reflective of something wrong in our spirit?
The Word of God in 1 Corinthians 13 declares that you can give your body to be burned but it could prosper you nothing. That’s a pretty big sacrifice to no avail. Why does God describe love in the light of sacrifice? I guess we think that sacrifice is an expression of love, but God stresses that love is firstly based on obedience before sacrifice, and without obedience our sacrifice is a wasteful exercise. If your sacrifice is for any personal benefit or reward, then you sacrifice is fake.
Initially, the disciples followed Christ for the benefits and the popularity. It wasn’t until they willingly sacrificed everything did they see and grasp what it was all about. They gave up their job source and their popularity to gain nothing but Christ. A 70% commitment like most Christians is not discipleship. To follow Christ requires 100% sacrifice; no reliance on Egypt, career or family, but only Jesus Christ. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a career etc.; it means there should be no reliance on any source except Christ. Most Christians think they do this but when it comes to the crunch, they falter.
What about obedience?
All Christians would say they were obedient. I’ve met many Christians who live by rightness. From their perspective they live good and upright lives always trying to do what’s right and do what they’re told (but generally only if they think it’s right). So if you suggest that there seems to be something wrong with their attitude and thus in their spirit, there’s always a reaction of defensive offence. They can’t believe it, because their goodness in comparison to others is what they measure themselves by. It comes as a complete shock that there may be something wrong with themselves. Reaction to correction of wrong, is where the true inner spirit’s character is exposed. Anyone can fake the exterior, but sooner or later, disobedience will show as a mood.
Why does God say that obey is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22)?
Recently I experienced 3 separate situations where supportive members of my fellowship challenged my authority when I addressed something wrong in their behaviour. There mood was showing. Now, it’s ok to respectfully challenge the pastor’s authority when he is out of alignment with the Word of God, but it’s evil to challenge his authority when your own heart is out of spiritual alignment. In these 3 cases, the manner in which I was challenged was aggressive and disrespectful. I knew I was being challenged by a demonic spirit; Christian or no Christian. I knew they were silently telling me that I wasn’t being fair and understanding, and that I had no right to make them feel bad, or to tell them what was right or wrong. Having experienced this many times, I turned to the Lord, stood righteously and quietly but firmly re-challenged their challenge.
Fortunately, each of these persons respected me enough to stop and re-look at their behaviour and concede that I was right and that something was wrong in their heart. Once they had decided to concede to my authority, in each case they revealed a circumstance where they had secretively done something contrary to my advice and instructions. Each situation seemed minor to their thinking, but when they looked at it with open eyes they could each see that they had been disobedient, and they repented.
If you’re a Samuel, there’ll always be a Saul who questions you
Satan always questions righteous authority. He hates the righteous. He’s purpose is to destroy anyone who puts up their hand for the living God, and he usually uses family or friends to try and pull down the righteous.
A 4th person, whom I considered a friend, rose up against my authority. When I challenged him, he confessed to his pornography. I had previously helped him remove his wifi so that he wouldn’t be tempted, but he had deceptively defied my instructions. He refused to repent and his disobedience separated him from the Garden. Sadly, he opened his heart to the world through the lust of the flesh and spiritually suicided. He had no power to fight it. The spirit of God had left.
Demonic occupation of our spirits
It was the disobedience that had exposed these four to demonic occupation and under that occupation they became defiant to authority when questioned about their spirits. Subtle disobedience exposes the fact that our spirits want to do what we want to do. We don’t want to be told. God calls this want “rebellion, stubbornness and witchcraft” (1 Samuel 15:23). We want to be obedient but we, like Eve, lose the power of this healthy want the moment we fall to disobedience.
Disobedience takes you out of the blood covering and only genuine repentance can correct the problem. Sacrifice is something we do usually for others or something we do to look good or make ourselves feel good, but disobedience is a choice of often unintentional defiance against authority. It exposes the “I won’t be told what to do” of our inherent selfish spirit. It carries much more spiritual consequences.
Disobedience is way different to sacrifice. You don’t come under demonic influence for sacrificing, but you do when you disobey, either wilfully or unintentionally.
Disobedience was the issue that caused Adam and Eve to bring the whole human race under the influence of Satan. Disobedience without repentance was the whole issue that caused them to be expelled from the Garden, and disobedience was the issue that eventually saw the death of Shimei, and the satanic possession of King Saul.
The strategy of Satan is the same as in the Garden
Namely, promote subtle defiance so that the church is annihilated. The children of our modern western society are deliberately being taught to have their own mind for the sole purpose of undermining parental authority so that families are fractured and Christianity is wiped off the face of the earth.
Rightness thinking, fake sacrifice
Once you justify disobedience you lose your clear thinking and start thinking evil against the righteous. Once you choose to disobey by surrendering to the subtle sweet voice of Satan, you start telling yourself that there’s nothing wrong with your decision and you shift your conscience from righteousness to rightness. Once you do that you are automatically in opposition to the righteous, and eventually you will challenge the authority of the righteous. Satan’s got you where he wants you.
The fact is, that those who live for rightness are actually being disobedient, somewhere in the privacy of their inner heart, to the righteousness of God.
Shimei (I Kings 2)
From Shimei’s point of view it was a justifiable minor infraction to go and get back his run-away servants. Surely it was fair and right! But Solomon didn’t judge him for his actions, he judged his heart via his actions. Shimei was killed, not because he had disobeyed, but because of what was privy in his heart (1 Kings 2:44). Solomon knew that Shimei was silently telling him that he wasn’t fair and just and that he had the right to make his own decisions. When you disobey, it’s not the action that’s the problem, it’s what’s privy in your heart.
King Saul (1 Samuel 15)
From King Saul’s point of view, it was sensible not to waste good animals but to bring back the livestock to sacrifice to God. He wasn’t judged for the deed, but by the deed. The disobedience exposed what was privy in his heart. Samuel knew that the real underlying issue was the fact that Saul was questioning his authority. Unlike David who sinned far worse, Saul wouldn’t repent in his heart, but only on the surface for the benefit of looking good to the people. The consequences of this fake repentance was demonic possession.
The issue is always authority
From Satan’s perspective the issue is always, “who’s the boss”. When you disobey you come under the same thinking. Unrepentant disobedience, no matter how minor, will cause you to lose your right mind, and result in defiant resistance to righteous authority. You won’t be able to stop it because Satan will be pulling your chain whether you know it or not.
May God stir the hearts of the righteous to own up to disobedience before it’s too late and Satan takes your God-given authority for himself.
Pastor Gordon Maynor