Wednesday, January 25, 2017
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Our son was a lineman when he played high school football. Which meant our son did a lot of weight lifting, which meant he got stronger. But it also meant a lot of eating, which meant he got bigger. I noticed that all the guys playing line had big muscles and big stomachs. When I commented on that, he said, "Dad, we're proud of that. It's lineman's gut!" Funny, I thought it was lineman's fat. Well, after the season, our son lost thirty pounds and his big stomach was all gone. He told me he was really proud that he had lost all that fat. (That was his word.) Of course, I had to say, "Do you remember when you told me it was lineman's gut?" He said, "Uh, Dad – I think we call that a rationalization."
I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Dressed Up Disobedience."
That little word game my son was playing with his overweight situation is a game we try to play with something far uglier and far deadlier. We try to put a cover-up name on sin. There's a disturbing example of that in our word for today from the Word of God in 1 Samuel 15:20-23. Israel's King Saul has been commanded by God to carry out God's long-standing word to the brutal Amalekites – to destroy all traces of them. Saul comes back from his attack with livestock that he was supposed to have destroyed.
But he's found a way to dress up his disobedience. He says, "But I did obey the Lord." Really? "Saul said. 'I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God.'" Nice try. God's reaction? "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Rebellion is like the sin of divination and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you as king."
Now, notice, Saul had disobeyed what God said, but he's wrapping it up in spiritual language. It doesn't cut it with God. The human mind has this devious ability to rationalize, to call fat "lineman's gut", to twist words and logic to fit what I want. Fat by any other name, I would have to tell my son and he ultimately admitted, was still the same thing. Sin by any other name is still sin.
Saul talks about "the Lord's instructions" and things being "devoted to God" and "sacrifices to the Lord". But God calls what Saul is doing "rebellion", "arrogance", and "rejecting the word of the Lord". And God says judgment will fall. Now, you can repackage sin into religious rationalizations, but you cannot fool God. You can come up with rationalizing that's good enough for people, good enough for you, but it's not going to be good enough for God!
Could it be that you've taken what you want and you've quieted your conscience by putting some spiritual name on it? You might be saying, "The Lord is leading me" when the truth is "I want this and I don't want anyone to argue with me." You may be calling it "waiting for the Spirit", but God's calling it laziness. You may call it "love" but God says it's lust or adultery. Your name for it is "conviction", but God calls it stubbornness. You say it's "caring for your family", but God would say it's greed or materialism.
We don't like to deal with our sin. No, we like to disguise it. But if you want to feel clean again inside, if you want to release God's blessings into your life, ask Him, "Lord, where in my life am I calling sin by a nice name? Where am I using religious rhetoric to mask plain old disobedience?" What matters is what God calls what you're doing. If He calls it sin, it's time you called it that, too, and then leave it where it belongs – at the cross of Jesus.