Judgement begins in the house of the Lord. This week, while the whole world was hunkered in houses wondering what will happen next with the coronavirus, God was taking just a moment to deal with some of His children. I, for example, was spanked but good. The worst part isn’t even that it was that for an issue that He has already addressed (I guess I’m a slow learner). The worst part is that it’s the exact problem that a big Bible character had too – and not one of the “wins in the end” ones either. When all was said and done this week, I think I finally did get the message. I also got a very disgusting object lesson about iniquity that should be a warning to us all.
King Saul’s Partial Obedience
King Saul was Israel’s very first human king. Up to that time, God had been ruling His people through priests, prophets, and judges. But the people were unhappy with their current judge’s sons who were greedy and corrupt. They looked at the nations surrounding them who had kings and wanted to be like them. So, Saul was chosen by God to give the people what they wanted. God warned them that they wouldn’t like the reality, but they didn’t listen.
Speaking of not listening, this was Saul’s problem in a nutshell. He had a nasty habit of not exactly obeying God. Just after the Prophet Samuel anointed him as king, God ordered Saul to completely destroy the Amalek people. In 1 Samuel 15:3, Samuel told him, “’Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” So Saul did. Sort of. He destroyed every single person and thing of the Amalek – except the king and the best of the sheep and the oxen. When Samuel questioned him about his disobedience, Saul didn’t even get that he had done anything wrong.
1 Samuel 15:20-21: “And Saul said to Samuel, ‘But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me…’” Okay, so far so good. “…and brought back Agag king of Amalek…” Here’s a problem. “I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.” Good. “But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” Not good.
Saul didn’t understand the reason for God’s orders, so he obeyed the part of the order that made sense to him – and completely ignored the rest. This was my problem too. Amazingly enough, I also thought I was obeying what God had told me to do. I really did. But then God showed me that anything less than complete obedience is actually disobedience. It is error, or a turning away from the right path. It’s iniquity. (See Bible Study Tools.)
A Broken Stove and Unwanted Guests
Last May, we brought a brand new stove. Last week, it went on the fritz. Since it hadn’t even been a full year, I was sure that the warranty would cover whatever problem the flashing error “F1 EO” meant. Not so. Because the problem wasn’t a faulty part. The problem was an infestation of cockroaches that shorted out the electronic board. Gross! The cost to repair the stove was about the same price as a brand new one. My stove had been totaled.
I’m ashamed to say that my first reaction was anger…at God. “What happened to rebuking the devourer?” I exploded before I got ahold of myself. (Malachi 3:10-11: “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse…And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy…”) I thought being faithful with money was a protection against unnecessary loss. But for bugs to destroy an entire electrical board in less than nine months, that felt PERSONAL. Immediately in my spirit, the answer became crystal clear. WAS I being faithful? Sadly, I was not.
Doing Things My Way Instead of God’s Way
A year or so ago, God had impressed upon me that I was not to use my credit card. I was in the habit of charging expenses and then paying them off each month, but sometimes those charges could get very high without even a whole lot of effort on my part. So, I thought to myself: “Of course, I will still use my credit card to charge NECESSARY items that I would have to buy anyway. It only makes sense to get the free points to use toward gift cards. I will just charge them and then come right home and pay the bill immediately. That way, they aren’t on the card – because God doesn’t want me to have charges on the card – but I can still get my points. Win/win.” See what I did there?
But this month, somehow things had gotten away from me. The “necessary” charges became greater than the amount of money in my account. For two days, the balance sat on my credit card before payday. Even if that hadn’t been the case, though, the charging AT ALL was doing the exact opposite of what God had told me to do. Even if it didn’t make sense to me to forgo those free points, I should have completely obeyed God and stopped using my credit card. Period. I had pulled a Saul without even realizing it.
A Disgusting Spiritual Lesson
In dealing with the fallout from all of this, I believe God also used this situation to teach an important lesson about iniquity. A few months ago when we first saw the bugs, my husband had sprayed the kitchen. We also went through and put opened food in sealed containers and tried harder to keep the area free of crumbs that might invite them. This week when I realized that the few we actually saw were nothing to the mass it would require to be labeled an “infestation,” I went to work doing some deep cleaning in the kitchen. I emptied drawers and cabinets, and I was shocked to see the evidence of those masses underneath the items that were stored there.
For months, we had gone about our lives oblivious to what was happening at night in our kitchen. It wasn’t until we decided to set things in order and looked deeper that we found the truth of the situation. This is a spiritual picture of the seemingly small issues that may be wrong with our spiritual walk with God. Times, for example, that we choose to do what “makes sense” to us instead of the exact directive given by God/the Bible. Times when we do what we want to do instead of what would please God.
Like vermin, maybe one might not seem like a “big deal,” but where there is one, there are usually more if you take the time to look closer. The Bible calls this the deceitfulness of sin in Hebrews 3:13 because it seems so harmless but can do so much damage to our ability to hear from and be close to God.
Time to Get Our Houses in Order
“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”Matthew 24:12
We are in the last days, the days of the great apostasy, and iniquity is dangerous. Some people use it as a synonym for sin, but to me it is that and so much more. Sin is black and white. The Bible says not to lie, so we don’t lie. But sometimes little white lies – not “REAL” lies but just little “variations of the truth” — are kind. That’s iniquity. The slope is slippery when we disobey God because our way seems easier, kinder, or even “better” for God Himself.
Partial obedience in any area is disobedience. We must guard ourselves so that it never has dominion, or control, over us and our actions (Psalm 119:133). We must make the decision now to set things right, to start looking deeply into our lives for evidence of problems. It is only then that we can begin to get our spiritual houses in order.
Enjoy articles about warfare? Check out Spiritual Warfare: A Defeated Foe. In it, God uses a housefly to teach me about the way I should view the enemy. Or, try 4 Ways to Avoid Spiritual Deception. In that one, I learn important lessons from a time when I was deceived. Please subscribe to my blog via email in the top right corner and consider visiting my YouTube Channel where I read the blogs out loud. I also have a playlist of hymns from my church.