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Have you ever known or been a double-minded person? Many believers try to live with one foot in the kingdom and one foot in the world, never quite giving themselves fully to either one – obeying the commands of God that are comfortable, but participating in the values and ways of the world that satisfy the flesh. The truth is that all of us have to fight the battle against double-mindedness because the natural man (the flesh) wars against the spirit and constantly pulls us in the direction of the world while Satan provides every justification for ignoring or putting off the things of God.


King Saul is a classic study in double-mindedness. Anointed by God and made king by no effort of his own, he served God from time to time but served himself more consistently, while all the time convincing himself that he was being perfectly obedient to the God of Israel. His tendency is never more apparent than in his dealing with the Amalekites.


We are told, “Samuel said to Saul, ‘I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys’” (1 Sam.15;1-3). Through the prophet Samuel, God gave a very clear directive to Saul. He was to be the instrument of God’s judgment on the Amalekites for their attacks on Israel. The command was to attack and leave nothing alive or standing.


We are told that Saul mustered his troops, attacked the Amalekites, and routed them. “Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt. He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed” (1 Sam.15:7-9).


Notice that Saul did much of what God had commanded, but held back on some things that stirred the desires of their flesh. The king of Amalek, Agag, was spared. I have no doubt that Saul spared him because he too was a king (professional courtesy, so to speak) and because it made Saul feel powerful and exalted for Agag to be indebted to him. They also spared the best sheep and cattle. I sense that they thought some of those animals might end up in their pens as spoils of war. The text says that they were “unwilling” to destroy them completely, even though God had given a very clear command. They were not willing to destroy the things they desired but did destroy “everything that was despised and weak.”


In the same sense, in serving God we are often unwilling to give up the things of the world that give us pleasure, but freely give up the things we don’t particularly value. In doing so, we convince ourselves that we are obedient servants of Christ. When confronted about his disobedience, Saul was confident that he was pleasing to the Lord. But the scripture says, “Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: ‘I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions…When Samuel reached him, Saul said, ‘The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.’ But Samuel said, ‘What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?’ Saul answered, ‘The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest’” (1 Sam.15:10-15). Saul’s first declaration was that he had totally fulfilled God’s command. When confronted, he blamed the miscue on his soldiers but imputed “godly” motives to them. “We spared the best for sacrifice.” In other words, Saul determined to serve God in ways that might profit him and on his terms while convincing himself that he had done all that was asked.


Ultimately, God removed the kingdom from Saul and gave it to David. The idea is not that David was perfectly obedient in all he did. Bathsheba comes to mind. The difference was that David did not justify his sins, ignore them, or blame others. Whatever God called sin, David called sin. He failed to live up to those standards at times, but he didn’t dilute the standards and when he failed he took personal responsibility and felt genuine sorrow. Saul only feigned sorrow when he was caught. In fact, David was so concerned about the deceptive capacity of the flesh that he prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23-24).


We all live in danger of slipping into the double-mindedness of Saul. God’s blessings are very limited in that direction and he will be able to trust us with very little because we will want to do it our way and call it good. That approach to life is also an open door for the enemy because placing ourselves, our will, and our desires ahead of God’s commands constitutes idolatry in which we give ourselves greater standing than God. Some of our personal idolatry is subtle and hard for even us to detect, but the Holy Spirit is glad to make us aware if we truly want to know. David’s prayer is a great prayer for us to offer on a regular basis. Uprooting double-mindedness in our own lives is an essential key to seeing God do great things through us. It might be a valuable joint project between us and the Holt Spirit for 2018.










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