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Summary: This message uses Saul’s poorly-conceived rule as an example of how our rules can create major problems.

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- This was a difficult passage to find the “interpretive key” for.

How Legalism Starts: He made up a rule that made him feel better.

- 1 Samuel 14:24.

How Those Around Him Responded: They feared the rule, so they tried to live by it.

- 1 Samuel 14:26-28.

- v. 26 - There was honey that they wanted to eat.

- v. 26 - No one ate it because they feared the rule. (It was not because they agreed with it or thought it was a good idea.)

- vv. 27-28 - They even try to enforce the rule on someone else who dares disobey. (Actually, of course, he just didn’t know about it.)

The Consequences Of The Rule:

1. The victory was lessened.

- 1 Samuel 14:28 (“faint”), 30 (“greater slaughter”), 31 (“faint”).

2. It created a focus that led to the people actually violating a command of God.

- 1 Samuel 14:32-33.

- Leviticus 17:10; Leviticus 19:26.

3. Holy things were treated casually.

- 1 Samuel 14:35.

- Saul builds an altar, not out of love or devotion to God, but in order to get the job done. His rule has created a hunger and now an altar is just a way to get everything back in line.

4. The penalties didn’t fit the “crime.”

- 1 Samuel 14:43.

- One taste of honey, without knowledge of Saul’s edict and without creating any delay in prosecuting the battle, equals death? Talk about a loss of perspective.

- Some examples of how this happens with legalism today:

- It’s interesting that we see the same type of results all these years later. Here are some examples from various churches.

A. How you look - men should not have long hair.

1. The victory was lessened.

- We push non-conformists out of church.

2. It created a focus that led to the people actually violating a command of God.

- Rather than loving people, some are gossiped about because they have a hair style that is unacceptable (although, ironically, it’s the way Jesus wore His hair).

3. Holy things were treated casually.

- Rather than emphasizing that it’s what’s inside that counts, outward conformity as the sign of Christian faith is clearly pushed.

4. The penalties didn’t fit the “crime.”

- People are pushed out of church.

B. How you worship - never raise a hand in worship.

1. The victory was lessened.

- Fewer people in church.

2. It created a focus that led to the people actually violating a command of God.

- Services become about order instead of giving your heart to God.

3. Holy things were treated casually.

- Worship is cast aside.

4. The penalties didn’t fit the “crime.”

- People raising hands discover quickly that they aren’t welcome.

C. How you vote - good Christians vote Republican.

1. The victory was lessened.

- Those Christians who disagree are given no voice.

2. It created a focus that led to the people actually violating a command of God.

- Some Christian organizations support the repeal of the estate tax (a Republican issue) while remaining silent of the treatment of the poor (a Biblical issue).

3. Holy things were treated casually.

- The name of God is invoked publicly for things that He never said.

4. The penalties didn’t fit the “crime.”

- Those who oppose or question those policy priorities are demonized and their fitness to lead questioned (for example, Dobson slamming the policy guy at the National Association of Evangelicals who spoke out on the environment).


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