Recently, the Lord told me to do something which I found difficult to do. I did it, but I was not sure about the extents of what He had told me, and I asked Him a few times whether various things were permissible, in relation to what He had told me.
The Lord said to me “Partial obedience is disobedience!”
I was led to a scripture regarding King Saul’s death. In 1st Chronicles 10:13-14 (NIV) it says “Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.”
I considered in what way Saul was unfaithful to the Lord, and what is meant by “he did not keep the word of the Lord”?
The story is summarised in the following scriptures:
In 1st Samuel 15:1-3 (NIV) it says “Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'”
In 1st Samuel 15:7-11 (NIV) “Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt. He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs-everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed. Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the Lord all that night.”
After this, King Saul returned and went to Gilgal. In the morning Samuel went there to meet him.
In 1st Samuel 15:13-23 (NIV) “When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.” But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?” Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.” “Stop!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” “Tell me,” Saul replied. Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.’ Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?” “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 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 at Gilgal.” But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For 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.”
In what way did Saul reject the word of the Lord? I believe that because he did not fully obey what God told him to do, though he heard and knew what God had said, he rejected the word of the Lord. It was in partial obedience that he was unfaithful, and did not keep the word of the Lord. When we hear His voice, complete obedience is expected of us.
As humans, we try to justify with many reasons why we do not obey fully. Our minds try to justify using logic, and our emotions try to justify using feelings. In reality, this is hardening our hearts.
Hebrews 3:7-12 (NIV) “So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.”
A heart that hardens when hearing the voice of the Lord, is a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. If we hear God’s voice and don’t fully obey Him, we are hardening our hearts, searing our consciences as with a hot iron, and the result is, turning away from the living God.
The Lord is looking for those who are fully committed to Him, as is stated in 2nd Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” A heart that is fully committed to the Lord will obey His voice, even if it’s difficult to do, or we don’t understand the reasoning.
For a number of years, I have been influenced by the teaching of Derek Prince, and in particular one of his teaching series on Hearing God’s Voice. I have sought for these years to have great sensitivity to the voice of the Lord. As a result of my recent questions to the Lord regarding the extents of what He told me to do, I felt that the Lord said to me “What is the point of hearing My voice, if you don’t obey it?”
I believe that at this time in history, it is very important that the people of God, know and recognise the voice of the Lord, and obey it promptly when they hear it.
In John 10:27, Jesus said “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
It is impossible to follow Him, unless we hear His voice, and part of gaining sensitivity to hearing His voice, is to obey His voice. If we do not obey, we sear our consciences and become calloused (the opposite of sensitive), and can no longer hear.
Obedience to God’s voice does not require you to understand the purpose of what God is saying, it requires your commitment to fully obey, because you trust the Shepherd. I encourage everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord, to promptly walk in complete obedience when you hear His voice.