Getting Around It
King Saul was a king who tried, on several occasions, to “get around” the will of the Lord. Consider two key instances within the life of King Saul. The first example is found in 1 Samuel 13. King Saul was prepared to go into battle against the Philistines at Gilgal. King Saul was waiting on Samuel to arrive so that he, Samuel, could offer the burnt offering and peace offerings to the Lord. However, according to the story, Samuel was delayed in his arrival. King Saul waited seven days until the time set by Samuel. When King Saul saw that Samuel did not come, King Saul offered the burnt offering and the peace offering. Because king Saul was neither a priest nor a Levite, his actions were in direct violation of God’s will. Upon Samuel’s return, Samuel said to King Saul, “What have you done? . . . You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you. For now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.” (1 Samuel 13:11-13)
On a second occasion, King Saul attempted to get around the will of the Lord. In 1 Samuel 15, Samuel instructs king Saul regarding the battle against King Agag and the Amalekites, saying, “Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” (1 Samuel 15:3) King Saul made the decision to try to get around the will of the Lord by sparing king Agag and some of the livestock. In response, the Lord said to Samuel, “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.” (1 Samuel 15:11) Again, king Saul’s attempt to get around the will of the Lord failed.
King Saul’s attitude is not unique. Ever since the beginning of time, people have tried to get around the will of the Lord. As in the case of King Saul, many people have tried to use some sort of reasoning to alter or ignore God’s will. They would attempt to “rewrite” God’s will to fit their own wishes and desires.
Even among Christians there is a temptation to try to “get around” the written word of God. This attitude can be a problem for Christians at different levels of development. New converts can face this temptation when they begin to learn the changes required by God’s word. Young people who are “raised in the church” by faithful parents may face this temptation when they begin to see what the world has to offer. Even mature Christians can face this temptation when certain life situations begin to change. (When a person’s life behavioral patterns do not involve sinful influences, environments, or situations, then “compromise” or “getting around” is not a big issue. However, when influences, environments, or situations do encourage some type of sinful behavior or sinful act, the temptation to “compromise” or “get around” the Bible’s teachings grows stronger.)
There are times when one’s environment may encourage one to attempt to “get around” God’s teachings. For instance, if your friends are encouraging you to drink alcohol, to engage in sexual immorality, give drugs a try, use filthy language, etc., you, as a child of God must take a stand for God’s word. The difficulty comes in when these “friends” encourage you with words like “the Bible doesn’t say it is wrong to drink,” “the Bible doesn’t say certain sexual activities are forbidden,” “the Bible doesn’t expressly say that gambling is wrong,” etc. Shrewd and conniving people will do their best to try to persuade Christian’s to attempt to “get around” God’s will. According to the apostle Peter, these “false teachers” will attempt to exploit Christians by using “deceptive words” and “speaking great swelling words of emptiness.” (2 Peter 2:1-22)
There are times when a Christian’s life situation will present a temptation to “get around” God’s will. For instance, a Christian’s strict adherence to God’s teachings on marriage, divorce, and remarriage may suddenly change when he find himself divorced on grounds other than what is allowed for in the scriptures. A change in job status may also tempt a change in one’s belief regarding the necessity of assembling with the saints. I have even seen one instance where a divorce and remarriage ultimately led the Christian to walk away from the faithful path. In this case, it was both the life change and the influence of another who tempted this Christian to attempt to “get around” the Lord’s will.
The next time you are tempted to try to “get around” what the Bible teaches on a given subject, give great thought to the consequences. You may convince yourself that you are able to “get around” the teaching. However, in reality, you will have deceived yourself into disobeying the Lord’s will. I believe the greatest cause which often drives the temptation to “get around” God’s teachings is simple selfishness. When our wants and desires are in conflict with God’s word, it is at that moment that the temptation begins. We must choose at that crucial moment who it is we shall serve: Ourselves or God.