“And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards out of the land.” (1 Samuel 28:3)
“Then said Saul unto his servants, ‘Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit that I may go to her, and enquire of her.’ And his servants said to him, ‘Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.’ And Saul….went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night…” (1 Samuel 28:7, 8)
IT IS UNBELIEVABLE that these two passages of Scripture could be talking about the same person. What is that subtle process that can so change an individual that he now condones that which he once hated and
condemned. What path did God’s chosen and anointed king of Israel travel-that led him to Endor? That road must be marked and avoided, for man in this age are through subtlety and deceit being lured into
the way that leads to Endor–the place of condoning and practicing the sin they once condemned.
What was Saul’s first recorded deviation from the pathway of the will of God. The dangerous deception of the first steps in the process of apostasy is that they seem so insignificant. In I Samuel 13 we are given Saul’s first steps toward Endor. In the lace of a superior enemy, the discouragement of his own army, and the delay of Samuel, Saul usurps the office of a priest and offers sacrifice. No sooner has he done so than the prophet Samuel appears and rebukes him for his folly.
What was Saul’s first error? He acted according to human judgement, sight, and reason. “I saw” and “Therefore said I” are found in his attempted justification to Samuel. Saul knew what God had said. When
we want to, we can always rationalize our way into doing what we desire to do. But remember, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
Now it was easy for Saul to yield to the pressure of the circumstances about him. Under these conditions, what was prohibited otherwise seemed now the thin to do. How modern is such reasoning. One has heard
the cry of the fact that we are living in a new age and different circumstances in justification of certain compromises until it is sickening. Has God changed? Has His standard changed? Is it ever right
to do wrong? One of the basic troubles of this hour is that many think we have arrived at a point in man’s intellectual development that the time-honored standards of conduct are no longer suitable for this
superior generation. Preachers are falling for the same reasoning.
A further element in Saul’s decline was that of bringing God’s standard down to his own level. While he was a king, the rights of the priesthood were not his. God had chosen the priests. But here Saul pulls God’s standard down to himself.
The next step downward was Saul’s deliberate disobedience. This is found in the record of his snaring Agag and the best of the cattle when God had told him to destroy them all. Saul sinned in sparing what God said to destroy. No matter how it maybe excused, no one is ever justified in condoning what God condemns, and in sparing what God says destroy. To destroy with holy zeal only a part, or even the most, while letting something else get by is still disobedience. Preacher, do you hear any crying voice of what you–through sympathy or cowardice–have spared in your church, when God has told you to utterly destroy? That is a step toward Endor.
Saul brazenly tried to pretend before Samuel, but the old prophet detected a discordant tone behind the testimony and the preaching. Many a preacher has bluffed on when spiritual people have long since
detected that there was something wrong within. When exposed, Saul tried to shift the blame to the people and to justify the disobedience by giving it a religious cloak. He was to lead the people, not to follow. While the preacher is not to be lord over the flock, he is to set the pace, not have his preaching and leadership molded by the wishes of the people. Many a preacher may answer at the judgement for the worldliness and sin taken into or condoned by the church, but which he has tried to blame on the people. If he had courage and grace enough to take a stand, such conditions would never have prevailed.
God’s cause is never advanced by the sacrifice of holy principle to gain apparent success. Ancient Israel was never to bring the Canaanite into God’s house or service. The church of today needs desperately to
learn that the world–no matter what we may re-name it–can never be acceptable to God. Be careful lest we be caught by the sly reasoning that the end justifies the means.
Deceit never advances righteousness, and worldliness can never be used to achieve spiritual ends. Oh, that Saul had humbly repented that day instead of crying on his pretense of religion. It seems all but
impossible to arouse and turn him, once a church leader reaches this point.
Saul now follows a road of rapid decline. He becomes jealous over numbers. He cannot stand to have David attributed ten thousand to stand to have David attributed ten thousand to his one thousand. He now cannot stand the company of one who truly has the anointing company of one who truly has the anointing of God. He has bitter feelings toward David, who once blessed him with his music. Do you find yourself shrinking from the company of the old-time saints who once blessed you with their testimony and their stand for spirituality? Take stock before God lets you follow Saul’s next step when he cast his javelin at the Spirit-anointed David. One astounding mark of apostasy in the holiness movement is how those who once sat at the feet of the anointed men of God are now casting their javelins of criticism, insinuations, and rank falsehood. Their targets are the men whom they once held in high esteem. The ones attacked have not changed from their long-held position, but those who are doing the criticizing have backslidden. Men who have lived irreproachable lives and whose ministry has been used of God are being maligned and their ministry classed as ranting. The tragic feature of it all is that it is being done by some who once stood exactly where these old-fashioned men are still standing.
This road to Endor leads at last to final doom. Through the shadows of the night the God-forsaken king slips down to Endor, where once he would not have gone or tolerated others going. Once this subtle
process of compromise begins there is no limit to where it will finally lead. Beware the first steps! Out from the witch’s house Saul goes to the battle on the slopes, and there we find his corpse surrounded by the bodies of his own sons and fairest son of Israel. A leader never dies alone; he carries his followers to a similar doom. What a responsibility to be a holiness preacher! When you compromise, you carry your church and other souls with you. The road to Endor finally ends on the bloody slopes of Gilboa, strewn with the bodies of holiness preachers who compromised, and those whom they led astray.
(The above material is from the Witness of God in 1970.)
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