Sanctification & Growth
God said something very surprising in today’s Bible reading.
“I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned away from following Me and has not carried out My instructions.” So Samuel became angry and cried out to the Lord [all] night. (1Sam 15:11 HCSB)
God gave very specific instructions to Saul: kill everything and everyone in this battle. Saul told Samuel that he had followed God’s instructions, but Samuel pointed out that he had kept some of the animals alive.
Many application points can be seen in this passage. Here are a few.
1. When we hear a specific word from God, He intends us to carry it out to the fullest. Saul said that he had saved the best animals for sacrifice. But Samuel says that, “To obey is better than sacrifice”. (verse 22)
2. When Samuel heard that God regretted choosing Saul as king, Samuel was angry and cried out to God all night. It’s ok to be angry. It’s ok to cry out to God. He can take it.
However, when we get angry, it should be about the right things. We don’t know if Samuel was mad at God or at Saul’s disobedience. Regardless, his response was right: cry out to God.
Are you angry about something? Have you cried out to God about it? Remember, He can take it. But be ready to hear and heed what He tells you in response.
Don’t rest on past reading. Read your Bible more and more every year. Read it whether you feel like reading it or not. And pray without ceasing that the joy return and pleasures increase.
Three reasons this is not legalism:
- You are confessing your lack of desire as sin, and pleading as a helpless child for the desire you long to have. Legalists don’t cry like that. They strut.
- You are reading out of desperation for the effects of this heavenly medicine. Bible-reading is not a cure for a bad conscience; it’s chemo for your cancer. Legalists feel better because the box is checked. Saints feel better when their blindness lifts, and they see Jesus in the word. Let’s get real. We are desperately sick with worldliness, and only the Holy Spirit, by the word of God, can cure this terminal disease.
- It is not legalism because only justified people can see the preciousness and power of the Word of God. Legalists trudge with their Bibles on the path toward justification. Saints sit down in the shade of the cross and plead for the blood-bought pleasures.
So lets give heed to Mr. Ryle and never grow weary of the slow, steady, growth that comes from the daily, disciplined, increasing, love affair with reading the Bible.
Do not think you are getting no good from the Bible, merely because you do not see that good day by day. The greatest effects are by no means those which make the most noise, and are most easily observed. The greatest effects are often silent, quiet, and hard to detect at the time they are being produced.
Think of the influence of the moon upon the earth, and of the air upon the human lungs. Remember how silently the dew falls, and how imperceptibly the grass grows. There may be far more doing than you think in your soul by your Bible-reading. (J. C. Ryle, Practical Religion, 136)