Serving the Lord in Truth with All Your Heart

By on January 24, 2015

“Serving the Lord in Truth with All Your Heart”
1Samuel 12

September 23, 2007
by C.W. Powell

Read all of 1Samuel 12

The time had now come. Saul and the men of Israel were fresh from their great victory over the Ammonites, and great things seemed to be ahead for them Samuel calls all the people together at Gilgal at the end of chapter 11, and a formal inauguration of the kingdom of Saul was done. Here in chapter twelve, we have the great sermon that Samuel made on that occasion.

Samuel reminds them that it was not because of any lack in God’s rule over them, that distresses had come upon them. God had been their king since they had come out of Egypt, but they had often forgotten Him and turned away from fully following and trusting Him, and had turned aside to worship the idols of the people of the land of Canaan. This was the root of all their trouble—not some deficiency in God, but their own idolatry and wickedness.

What is an idol? What is a false God. I will give you a biblical test. Beloved, we are to try the spirits, to see whether they are of God. The Bible gives us a way of identifying our gods so that we will reject them, and trust in Him alone.

There are several questions that need to be asked. These are questions that go to the very core of our being, and how we answer them will direct every religious impulse and practice.

1. What is the source of truth?
2. Who is the source of the laws by which I must live?
3. What is the reason for future events? Who orders them?
4. How am I delivered from my troubles?
5. Who gets the glory for the things that come to pass.

These are not all of the important questions, but they are fundamental and basic, and no man can escape them, and every man has ideas, maybe vague and half-formed, but ideas non-the-less, about their answers.

Israel’s troubles came from their essential idolatry, and our troubles arise form the same source. God is not to be trifled with, and even if He accommodates Himself to our weakness—as He did here in giving Israel a king, yet He will in no wise pretend that great sin has not taken place, but will call every man to account for the idols of his heart.

The particular reason for the demand of Israel for a king is revealed by Samuel in this sermon. The reason is in verse 12:

12 And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king. 13 Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! and, behold, the LORD hath set a king over you.

They had forgotten all the good things that God had done for them by the judges that had been sent. No, it just seemed that there was more wisdom in the traditions of the people around them, than in trusting the Lord their God. This was great wickedness, and Samuel calls them to account. To give great force to his words, Samuel produces great signs in the forces of nature. The root of their problem was not in this or that thing, but in the basic idolatry of their hearts:

“20 And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart; 21 And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. 22 For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.” (1Sa 12:20-22 AV)

It is an empty people that look to empty gods. The day would come when such signs and wonders would not be used to convince the people that God was speaking, for God would send for His spirit to dwell in the inmost hearts of His people and He would bear witness with their spirit that these things are of God, but that time had not yet come. It is a wicked and adulterous generation that seeks after a sign, because they have no inward conviction that is generated in them by the Holy Spirit. They very seeking after a sign is a witness against them that they do not have the Spirit of God.

But Saul was made king. They got what they desired. They got the pomp. What a magnificent figure Saul must have been. Tall, strong, looking very much the king indeed. As Samuel said in verse thirteen:

“Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! and, behold, the LORD hath set a king over you.” (1Sa 12:13 AV)

On another and terrible day in the history of Israel a man was presented to them with these words, “Behold your king!” and the response of the people was immediate and strong: “We have no king but Caesar,” we will not have this man to reign over us. They did not know the Lord Jesus Christ, and they did not accept Him as their Lord, because they did not know God, and had rejected Him as a nation many, many years before. God would not abandon them, because He would fulfill His purposes in Jesus Christ, but they would not acknowledge God as their king. No wonder David would write, ‘The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.” David knew the wickedness of the hearts of the people and that they would not follow Him. They would speak fair and glowing words, but their wickedness was known by God.

This brings us to our text, which is the verses 22-25

“22 For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people. 23 Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way: 24 Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. 25 But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.” (1Sa 12:22-25 AV)

There are three things to say about what God required of them. Jesus would say something very similar many, many years later, as He sat at the well of Samaria and talked to a woman there, revealing things to her that He never revealed to the proud rulers of Israel. “God is a spirit, and they that worship Him, must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.”

I. They were to fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all their hearts.

A. They are not engaged in fun and games. The Lord was not to be trifled with. He would continue to be their God and they would be His people, because of His own good pleasure, as He said in verse 22. He would do this for His great name’s sake, but this would be until his purposes in Christ were fulfilled.

B. Israel had not hope of any continued blessing if they turned away from their promises concerning Christ. The promise was to Abraham “in thee all the families of the earth would be blessed.’ If the tree does not bring forth the fruit for which it has been planted, then it will be uprooted and cast away. Things are not just because they are, they are for a reason, that that reason is always hidden in God and his purpose.

C. For my name’s sake is the reason for God’s favor to Israel—they must never think that they exist for their own sake, for there is some necessity for God’s blessing that is not connected with his purposes in Christ.

D. Behold the great patience of God: we wonder that He did not consume them. But the patience and longsuffering of God is the crown and glory of His power. He will now allow His own wrath and holiness turn aside His promise to Abarham which he purposed in Christ before the world began. He endures with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, because He has other, better things to do than to devastate the ungodly. That will come in due time, after all His purposes of grace and mercy and fulfilled.

II. This was the good and right way: to “fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart.”

A. The fear of the Lord is manifest by service in truth with all your heart.

B. God must be worshipped in truth.

1. This means with sincerity, without hypocrisy.

2. Service in truth means that there is no deceit. Idolatry is always the result of lies in the heart.

3. God has always revealed to men how He is to be served.

a) Cain knew that his sacrifice would not accepted: He brought the fruit of his own hand, refusing to bring the one that God had ordained and which had been offered since Adam and Eve came from the Garden, even before Cain was born. Cain stiffened his neck and hardened his heart, because of the lies that were in his heart.

b) He was of that evil one and slew his brother, for lying and murder always go together.

c) Idolatry is based upon pretending; pretending and imagination, and not submission to the revelation of God. We buttress our pretense with argument, with imagination, with force, and intimidation, for this is the Satanic method. Where there is envy and strife, there is confusion and every evil work, James tells us, for that is the fruit of the wisdom that does not come down from heaven. Our Lord Jesus came from Heaven, because their was not wisdom and light among men, and He came as a light in the world to save us from all our sins and iniquities.

d) It is insincerity that strains and gnats and swallows camels. Everyone knows that a gnat is not a camel, and if someone pretends that a gnat is a camel, he is not an honest man and is not to be trusted. It is insincerity that magnifies faults and dangers, the insincerity of a soul that is hiding from God and wants to conceal that fact. He would pretend to be a lover of truth and righteousness, when his true spirit is to bite and devour and destroy.

e) Many years later, the prophet Jeremiah would say:

“Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” (Jer 6:16 AV)

III. They could not serve God in truth, because they were double minded and their whole hearts were filled with darkness.

A. God can only be worshipped aright by an undivided heart. The wisdom that comes from above is not mixed with that which defiles, and this is found only in Christ. He must therefore be our Way to God, for if we do not come to God by the Lord Jesus, we do not come to Himat all. Jesus made it very clear in Matthew 6:

“21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Mt 6:21-24 AV)

B. Because God is one, “I, the Lord your God am one Lord.” there can be no divided loyalty. Nothing on this earth is to be tolerated as a rival for God and His truth and worship in Christ. But our hearts are idol-factories that speq out vanity and foolishness. We treasure not the things which are above, and we set our affections on things of the world.

C. The idols blind the mind and the heart and fills all with darkness. We have a form of knowledge and a form of faith and a form of righteousness and may be very passionate about them, but because the true object of devotion and love is not God, we are blind, deaf, and dumb to the things of God.

D. The cure is repentance and casting away of vanities and pretenses. We must cast off the rationalizations that defend our idols and the justifications for our clinging to them.

Conclusion: It is not how you start out that is defining—it is how you end up. The end of the kingdom of Judah came with these words in Jeremiah:

“6 Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah. 7 Moreover he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, and bound him with chains, to carry him to Babylon. 8 And the Chaldeans burned the king’s house, and the houses of the people, with fire, and brake down the walls of Jerusalem.” (Jer 39:6-8 AV)

The throne would exist in the idolatrous hearts of Isarel in abstract form until the usurper Herod and his evil spawn were swept away by the armies of Rome in 70 A.D. in a most bloody and horrible carnage.

A much better ending is described in the Scriptures for those who followed the good and the right way that Samuel spoke of and would be revealed fully in Jesus Christ, the Way the Truth and the Life. These words are found in the book of Philippians 2, and I will close by simply reading:

“5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Php 2:5-11 AV)

And in the book of Revelation:

“1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Re 21:1-8 AV)

May God bless you.

Amen and Amen

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