Summary: While no serious Christian would overtly condone idolatry, we do something just as bad by allowing stubbornness to rule our hearts or the hearts of others.
Intro: Would you condone idolatry? Have you ever known anyone to casually admit to idolatry? What if you were talking to a friend who is a Christian one day about character flaws and he said something like, “Well, I know I’ve got a problem with idolatry” or “I’ve been an idolater since I was a kid; I guess that’s just part of my make-up”? There’s no indication from your friend that any change is forthcoming, just an admission that “this is how I am.” Wouldn’t this disturb you?
• Would you tell your friend that idolaters have no inheritance in heaven? Ephesians 5:5 “For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” Would you tell him that while idolaters cannot inherit the kingdom of God, that some of the Corinthian saints had been idolaters – but they repented and were washed, sanctified and justified in the name of Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
• Would you tell your friend that other Christians should not associate with him until he repents? 1 Corinthians 5:11 “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.”
• Would you tell your friend to flee idolatry? 1 Corinthians 10:14 “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”
While you may never have had a friend casually admit to idolatry and treat it with a cavalier attitude, you probably have had friends admit to and be accepting of a sin that is just a bad. Maybe you’ve admitted to it yourself. The sin of stubbornness!
I) The sin of Saul (1 Samuel 15)
A. It is as bad as iniquity and idolatry. (15:23)
NOTE: I am stubborn = I am an idolater.
1. Does stubbornness know it’s stubborn? At a particular moment in time, a person may not seem to know they’re being stubborn, even though they admit they have a problem with it. But in their heart they know. It’s iniquity!
2. What is iniquity?
a. In Psalm 32:5, the psalmist says, “I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.”
b. In this one verse, “sin,” “iniquity,” and “transgression” are all mentioned. Basically, the three words communicate the same idea: evil and lawlessness, as defined by God (see1 John 3:4).
c. The word trespass is also often found in Scripture to describe sin.
d. These words are synonymous, but carry different connotations when it comes the egregiousness of the sin.
• Trespass = crossing the boundary, often without knowing it.
• Transgression = going beyond or going over, often refers to sinning with volition or knowing that you’ve sinned
• Iniquity = willingly sinning; planning sin, premeditation, self-willed sin.
3. God says stubbornness is iniquity, the most offensive and heinous of sins. Therefore, a stubborn person really does know he’s sinning but pretends he isn’t so he can feel self-justified and look good in the eyes of others.
B) In Saul’s case, stubbornness involved following his own interpretation of God’s command as if it were correct, pride in his accomplishment, and arguing with one in spiritual authority (Samuel) that he had done right!
1) Despite God’s clear command, Saul chose to do otherwise (15:3, 7, 9)
2) He is proud of his accomplishment
(a) He sets up a monument for himself! (15:12)
(b) He claims to have done God’s will (15:13)
3) He argues with Samuel, the judge of Israel and the prophet of God (cf.1 Samuel 7:6, 15)
(a) He shifts blame (15:15)
(b) He justifies his action as an avenue of sacrificing to God (15:15) (although God had not asked Him to do this).
(c) Even after it is pointed out by Samuel exactly where he missed it in obeying God, he still insists that he obeyed God! (15:16-20)
II) Stubbornness today.
A) According to 2 Timothy 3:4 in the perilous times of the last days men will be “traitors, headstrong, haughty”
1) Headstrong means “determined to have one's own way; willful; stubborn; obstinate” (Dictionary.com)
B) Stubbornness involves
1) A determination to walk in your self-determined way. Psalms 81:11-13 "But My people would not heed My voice, And Israel would have none of Me. (12) So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, To walk in their own counsels. (13) "Oh, that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways!
2) A conviction that our assessments and judgments are invariably right.
(a) Job 12:2 "No doubt you are the people, And wisdom will die with you!”