West Side church of ChristDan Lightfoot


 

HACKING AGAG TO PIECES

1648

 

A. If we are to help our nation return to a sense of righteousness, WE must arrive there first... We must look to ourselves first: I Pet. 4:17 — “It is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; & if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

1. Churches & Christians are apostatizing on the coattails of men like Max Lucado and institutions like Abilene Christian U.

2. But don’t look at the landscape today. Let’s look at me — & you.

3. In justifying his sin, one recently quoted the following:

I Cor. 15:57— “thanks be to God, who gives us the victory thru our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Rom. 8:1 — “ :. there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

a. “Since there is no condemnation, I can do as I please, & the grace of God will overlook it.”

b. That kind of stupid interpretation of Scripture will damn many...

B. So, if sin is a defeated enemy, how can it cause us so much trouble? If sin’s dominion has been broken, why does sin so often dominate us?

1. Rom. 7:25 — “On the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.”

2. The tendency to sin is not erased by being saved. We still derive plea- sure from sin. ...still struggle with sinful habits. ...even after years of spiritual warfare against them. We fall into appalling, shameful sins. 3. We sin daily. Our tho’ts are not what they ought to be.

Our time is often wasted on frivolous & worldly pursuits.

And Our hearts grow cold to the things of God. Why??

I. GOD'S ANGER AGAINST AMALEK

An OT illustration sheds light on our relationship to sin.

A. I Sam. 15:3, Samuel anointed Saul & gave him instructions from the Lord: "Go & strike Amalek & utterly destroy all that he has, & do not spare him; but put to death both man & woman, child & infant, ox & sheep, camel & donkey.”

1. Command was clear. Saul was to deal ruthlessly with Amalek, killing even infant children & animals. —leveled—no hostages taken.

2. It was judgment day for Amalek!

B. What would make a God of infinite love mete out such severe judgment? 1. They were an ancient nomadic race, descendants of Esau (Gen. 36:12). 2. ...inhabited the So. part of Canaan & were perennial enemies of Israel. 3. ...the tribe that attacked Israel at Rephidim shortly after the Exodus,— — when Aaron & Hur had to support Moses' arms (Ex. 17:8-13).

4. God actually made it a point of the Mosaic law that Israel was to destroy Amalek: “Remember what Amalek did to you along the way when you came out from Egypt, how he met you along the way & attacked among you all the stragglers at your rear when you were faint & weary; & he did not fear God. :., it shall come about when the LORD your God has given you rest from all your surrounding enemies, in the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance to possess, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you must not forget. (Deu. 25:17-19)

5. The Amalekites were fearful warriors. Their intimidating presence was one of the reasons Israel disobeyed God & balked at entering the promised land at Kadesh-barnea (Num. 13:29).

6. God’s anger burned against Amalek for their wickedness. He sent the corrupt prophet Balaam to prophecy their doom: "Amalek was the first of the nations, but his end shall be destruction" (Num. 24:20). Amalek came into Israel after crops had been sown & moved thru farmland with their tents & livestock, destroying all in their path (Judg. 6:3-5). They hated God, detested Israel, & delighted in wicked & destructive acts.

7. God's instructions to Saul, :., fulfilled the vow He swore to Moses. He & his armies were the instrument thru which a righteous God would carry out His holy judgment on a sinister people.

II. THE FOLLY OF PARTIAL OBEDIENCE

A. But Saul's obedience was only partial.

1. He won a crushing defeat against Amalek (I Sam. 15:8).

2. As commanded, he killed all the people present, but “he captured Agag the king of the Amalekites alive" (v. 8). “But Saul & the people spared Agag & the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, & all that was good, & were not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised & worthless, that they utterly destroyed." (v. 9). (They had a better idea than God!)

3. Motivated by covetousness, they kept all the best possessions, collecting the spoils of victory, disobeying the Lord's instructions.

B. Saul seemed motivated only by pride at this point; he even set up a monument to himself at Carmel (v. 12). Whatever his reasons, he disobeyed the clear command of God & allowed Agag to live.

1. The sin was so serious that God deposed Saul & his descendants forever from the throne of Israel. "Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king" (v. 23).

2. Shouldn’t we learn from this that God means exactly what He says?

...That our ideas are not better than God’s?

3. 15:22 — “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices

As in obeying the voice of the LORD?”

C. Then Samuel said, “Bring me Agag, the king of the Amalekites" (v. 32).

1. Agag, evidently thinking that his life had been spared & feeling pretty confident, “came to him cheerfully." (v. 32).

2. Samuel was not amused. Told Agag, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag to pieces before the LORD at Gilgal" (v. 33).

3. Our minds instinctively recoil from what seems a merciless act. But this was an act of divine judgment to show the holy wrath of an indignant God against wanton sin.

a. God hates sin. At some point it must be judged. If we love God, we will learn to hate sin the way He does.

b. Unlike his king, Samuel determined to carry out the Lord's command entirely.

4. Even so, some Amalekites survived. A few years later, the reinvigorated tribe raided the southern territory & took all the women & children captive—including David's family ( I Sam. 30: 1-5)

a. David found the Amalekites, “Behold, they were spread over all the land, eating & drinking & dancing because of all the great spoil that they had taken from the land of the Philistines & from the land of Judah" (30:16). b. He slaughtered them from twilight until the next evening, killing all but 400 who escaped on camels (v. 17).

D. 550 years later, an Agagite named Haman was almost able to destroy all Israelites in the Persian Empire... (book of Esther.)

E. The Amalekites are a perfect illustration of the sin that remains in the believer's life. That sin—already utterly defeated—must be dealt with ruthlessly & hacked to pieces, or it will revive & continue to plunder & pillage our hearts & sap our spiritual strength.

1. We cannot be merciful with Agag, or he will turn & try to devour us. 2. Scripture commands us to deal with our sin by putting it to death: "consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, pas- sion, evil desire, & greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience” (Col. 3:5-6).

3. We cannot obey partially or halfheartedly as we seek to eliminate sin from our lives. Sins, like Amalekites, have a way of escaping the slaughter, breeding, reviving, regrouping, & launching new & unexpected assaults on our most vulnerable areas.

4. It’ll walk up to you with a grin on its face... because it knows you’re not serious about defeating it...

III. LIFE IN THE SPIRIT

A. In Rom. 8:13 Paul wrote of "putting to death the deeds of the body."

1. He declares victory over sin in Rom 6, describes the ongoing struggle with sin in 7. Rom 8 is the triumphant experience of life in the Spirit. 2. In the midst of Rom 8 the distinctive behavior of those who are led by the Spirit is that they continually put their evil deeds to death.

B. Rom 8 portrays the HS as the divine agent who frees us from sin & death (vv. 2-3), enables us to live righteously (4-13), assures & comforts us in our affliction (14-19), preserves & sustains us in Christ (20-28), & guarantees our final victory in eternal glory (29-39).

1. Right in the middle of this profound teaching, Paul has some important things to say about mortifying sin. He contrasts life in the spirit with life in the flesh & under the law.

2. It’s important to see these truths in proper context: READ — 8: 3-11

3. There are only 2 kinds of people in the world—those who are in accord with the flesh, & those who are in accord with the Spirit.

a. Of course, there are many different levels of spiritual maturity.

b. & varying degrees of wickedness.

4. The HS changes our basic disposition when we are born again. He brings us into accord with Himself & actually indwells us (vv. 9, 11). a. Orientation to God changes. Was enmity, now love (Rom. 8:28).

b. We become partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). ETC. . C. Central to all of this is the reality that our whole mind-set is new.

1. If your mind-set did not change ...., something’s wrong!

2. We have new holy affections & longings for godliness.

...a love for God transcending our attachment to this world (Jas 4:4). ...no longer blithely "indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires" (2 Pet 2: 10). ...have nothing in common with those "who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven" (Phil. 3:19-20).

...it is toward heaven that our minds are now inclined.

...set our minds on the things of the Spirit (Rom. 8: 5). & Even when we fall to earthly temptations, we "joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man" (7:22). That is our basic orientation & mind-set.

3. In contrast, "the mind set on the flesh is death" (v. 6). “is death.”

4. If you live in accord with the flesh— if you live in response to bodily impulses—you "must die."

IV. WHAT IS MORTIFICATION?

A. “If by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (v 13)

1. It is characteristic of true believers that they put to death the deeds of the body. Nothing is more natural than for people "led by the Spirit of God" (v. 14) to mortify their sin. It is the expression of the new nature.

2. The believer is not like Saul, who pampered & preserved Agag, but like Samuel, who hacked him to pieces w/o mercy & w/o delay.

a. We will never tame our flesh. We cannot mollycoddle our sin.

We must deal with it quickly and severely.

B. Jesus said, “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, & throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, & throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matt. 5:29-30)

1. Not literally, spiritually!

2. & in Rom. 8, we get to practical application. He does not tell the Romans to "let go and let God" take over while they sit idle.

a. He does not suggest that a turning-point "decision" will solve the matter once and for all.

b. On the contrary, he speaks of a continuous struggle with sin, where we are persistently, perpetually "putting to death the deeds of the body."

3. Paul’s describing a way of life where we seek to throttle sin & crush it from our lives, sapping it of its strength, rooting it out, & depriving it of its influence. That is what it means to mortify sin.

V. HOW DO WE MORTIFY SIN?

A. Mortification involves the cultivation of new habits of godliness, combined with the elimination of old sinful habits from our behavior. 1. It is a constant warfare that takes place within the believer.

2. We are to be perpetually committed to the task. ... see sin as a sworn enemy & commit ourselves to slaying it every time it rears its head.

B. Scripture offers some practical means for believers to mortify their sin. 1. Not one of them is a fleshly or mechanical formula. They are not religious activities or rituals.

2. They are simple commands. Here’s one.

VI. Abstain From Fleshly Lusts

A. "Beloved, I urge you as aliens & strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul" (I Pet. 2:11).

1. In other words, stop lusting. Abstain from it. Stay away from it.

a. "Flee immorality" ( I Cor. 6: 18). — What could be more direct?

2. Do you want to put to death the lusts in your heart? Then stop entertaining them. Peter does not prescribe a program of therapy. He does not suggest that it be treated as an addiction. He simply says abstain. a. Quit doing it. You’ve no business indulging such thoughts. Put them away at once. You must do this; it can’t be done for you. b. There is no point waiting for some heavenly power to erase this sin automatically from your life. You are to stop it, & stop it now!

— Apply to pornography! It is the mind set on the flesh.

c. "I do not know of a single scripture which tells me to take my sin to God in prayer & ask him to deliver me from it & then trust in faith that he will.

d. What does Scripture say in Eph. 4:28 to the man who finds him- self constantly guilty of stealing? What am I to tell such a man? Am I to say, "Take that sin to Christ & ask him to deliver you"? e. No, what the apostle Paul tells him is this: "Let him that stole, steal no more." Just like that! Stop doing it!

f. And if it is fornication or adultery or lustful tho’ts, again: Stop doing it, says Paul. You’re a child of God — stop it!

B. Here is the most straightforward, obvious means of mortifying our sin: stop doing it.

1. Too many people think they must wait for an extraordinary experience, a miracle from heaven, a sign from the Lord, or whatever.

2. Christ has freed you from sin; now stop doing it. "Abstain."

3. "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). It is as simple as that.

4. We will look at other simple commands that help us mortify sin in our bodies in future lessons.

Conclusion:

A. There is great power in confessing our sins and seeking the prayers of others.

B. “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. (Jas. 5:16)

1. It gives others a chance to support your and help you.

2. And it gives you accountability.

3. Keeping your sins a secret just enables you to continue in them.

What the Law could not do, weak as it was thru the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh & as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life & peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; & those who are in the flesh can-not please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you. (Rom. 8: 3-11)

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