Faithlife Sermons

When Good Becomes Evil

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Most men and women have a natural attraction to freedom and independence.
It has been said that the desire for freedom lives in the heart of every man regardless of ethnicity, circumstance, upbringing, or education.
Even those who were born enslaved and never experienced freedom desired it.
John 8:36 says “if the Son makes you free, you are free indeed.”
This means that if we accept Christ as our savior we are totally free from the bondage placed on man by God’s perfect standard and law.
However with freedom comes a responsibility.
At its most basic level, the primary responsibility of a free man is to protect that which provides for freedom.
As Christians we have a responsibility and should have the desire to protect and nurture our relationship with Christ.
The source of our freedom.
Therefore we have a responsibility to protect and nurture that relationship.
I have said this many times, and I will continue to say it until I leave this world; the most important thing a man or woman can do is come into and grow a personal relationship with Christ; so that we can help someone else come into and grow in a personal relationship with Christ.
We do this in many ways.
As a result of the relationship we have with Christ we should have a desire to
worship Him;
know Him better
and serve Him.
But all of those things must be done as a result of our relationship with Him and our recognition that everything we have,
even our ability to do those things, comes only as a result of the freedom we have through His sacrifice.
To think otherwise will take us down a destructive path.
Today I want us to consider how Saul’s self-reliance and personal desires dictated by a fleshly world view eventually led to his destruction.
Throughout time, evil in this world has always been brought about by the lust and desires of the flesh.
Sin came into the world when man’s desire for knowledge resulted in disobedience; sin.
But God made a way for restoration then and it is the same way now.
We can be set free from our sin by entering into a submissive relationship with Jesus Christ.
This passage illustrates a pivotal event in Saul’s life.
But it also illustrates a problem
The problem is that evil is not always easily recognized
In fact, sometimes evil appears to be good
This morning I want to address the topic “When good becomes evil.”

The struggle between good and evil

1 Samuel 15:10–11 ESV
10 The word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night.
If we knew nothing about the situation before verse 10, we would wonder what sin Saul committed.
What commandments from the Lord did Saul fail to comply with?
In the previous verses God had given Saul a command to destroy Amalek.
Nothing was to be taken, nor was anything or anyone to be left alive.
Amalek was the grandson of Esau, Jacob’s brother.
It was the Amalekites who attacked Israel just after they came out of Egypt.
This was the battle when the Israeli army only prevailed while Moses stood on the mountain with his arms lifted.
There had been a constant struggle between Israel, the descendents of Jacob; and the Amalekites, the descendents of Esau.
Because Jacob represented the pursuit of spiritual priorities, even while he was doing evil;
while Esau represented the pursuit of the desires of the flesh, even while appearing to be a victim of Jacob’s deceit.
You see even when Jacob was doing evil; God saw what his heart desired.
Esau sold his birth right in order to obtain temporary physical gratification.
The loss of his father’s blessing, in his mind simply cost him possession and power.
He never had, nor would he ever have a heart that sought God.
This is why God wanted His descendents destroyed.
They represented the flesh and man’s desire to fulfill the lusts of the flesh;
to be completely independent from everyone and everything, including God.
This is a struggle that has always existed, and will always exist until the Lord comes back.
Even when we accept Christ we still face this struggle.
Once we have been saved, Satan will try to get us to succumb to that struggle.
Some fall easily, others take more work.
Sometimes we fall, but don’t realize it until it’s too late.
This usually happens when we begin to act independent of God and forget to protect and nurture that relationship that gives us our freedom.
Satan’s goal is to make the Christian ineffective and rob us of the joy of our salvation.
He will tempt us, just as he did with the Lord Jesus.
He’ll tell us one little drink won’t hurt;
you don’t have time to pray or read your bible right now;
church really isn’t necessary, Sunday morning is your day to sleep in.
He will use all of those desires of the flesh and the world view of life on this earth to get us to disobey God.
When we begin to dabble in disobedience, a barrier is created between us and God.
This barrier continues to grow and makes us completely ineffective for God.
It all starts with how we protect the relationship that brings us the freedom from sin we once had.
Warren Wiersbe put it this way:
Saul had everything in his favor: (1) a strong body, 10:23; (2) a humble mind, 9:21; (3) a new heart, 10:9; (4) spiritual power, 10:10; (5) loyal friends, 10:26; and most of all, (6) the guidance and prayers of Samuel. Yet in spite of these advantages, he failed miserably. Why? Because he would not allow God to be the Lord of his life.
Who is Lord of your life this morning?
That question is at the heart of the struggle between good and evil
Your answer to that question decides the outcome of that struggle

Sometimes Evil does not look evil

1 Samuel 15:12–23 ESV
12 And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.” 13 And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” 14 And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” 15 Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.” 16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me this night.” And he said to him, “Speak.” 17 And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And the Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ 19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” 20 And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. 21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” 22 And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”
If someone goes out and robs a bank;
kidnaps or assaults someone;
gets involved in dealing drugs;
or commits some other sort of serious crime,
we can easily identify that as being evil.
By the same token, in our society there are things which the world may not call illegal or evil,
but the Christian sees, and based on God’s Word recognizes them as such.
Just because it is legal and maybe even accepted does not make it okay if God’s Word calls it sin.
Paul makes that very point in 1 Corinthians
Just because you can do something. does not mean you should
Just because it may be okay, does not mean that it is good for you
Our society and this world would be a much better place to live if our leaders and those who make the laws would recognize this.
Now, will that ever happen?
Probably not often
I was at a church in Arizona last weekend and some asked me what I thought of the state of our country and our world
I told them things are bad
Contrary to what many think, things are not the worst they have ever been
History shows us that things have been much worse from time to time
I also told them that laws and human desire will not change anything
The only thing that will change us is a personal relationship with Christ and a willingness to follow the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit of God
But we have to be careful not to be too pious about these issues, because there is another kind of evil.
It is the kind of evil we see in our passage
Saul’s evil was disobedience to God’s command.
His came as a result of what Wiersbe stated, “He would not allow God to be Lord of his life”.
He ended up succumbing to the very flesh, represented by what Esau and his Amalekite descendents.
I would submit that our Christian life and our churches are full of this kind of evil today.
We see a lot of churches doing a lot of good things.
We see wonderful song services,
benevolence programs,
mission trips,
and so on.
But are these things being done in accordance with God’s instructions and at His direction; or are we simply doing it on our own?
I submit that our choir lofts, Sunday schools rooms, pews, and even our pulpits are full of the spirit of the Amalekites.
That notion that we can do something on own, apart from God’s Lordship and it is okay because we are doing something good.
We may even tell ourselves and others, as Saul told Samuel, it is for the Lord.
As I said earlier, Satan has lost us to the Lord when we accept Christ and his goal is simply to make us ineffective and steal our joy.
Satan also knows that there are some things he will never be able to get us to do.
Is there a circumstance or situation that you can think of that would cause you to deal drugs, commit murder, or rob a bank?
Probably not and Satan knows that.
But if he can bring us to a point where we act on our own
and rely on our own understanding,
our own ability in doing something that may be good,
then he can bring us to a point of disobedience.
That is what he did with Saul.
God had given Saul instructions that nothing was to be taken. Nothing was to be left alive.
Everything was to be destroyed.
But Saul decided it would be okay to spare some of the animals and make a sacrifice to the Lord.
He decided it would be okay to capture King Agag rather than kill him.
All of this, Saul states was done in the name of, and for the Lord.
But that was not God’s instruction.
God does not want us to do anything for him.
We are not capable of doing anything for Him.
Now some may be thinking “I was with you up to that point preacher, but now you’ve gone too far”.
God wants us to serve him.
He wants us to work in the church; sing, teach Sunday school, and so on.
I agree, but the only thing God really wants from us is an obedient relationship.
He wants to be the Lord of our life.
He does want Sunday school teachers, but only those he has called for that service.
He does want missionaries, but only those He sends.
And when He calls us, He wants us to rely on Him as we do it.
He does not want us to do anything for Him, rather as a result of our relationship with Him; he wants to work through us.
Anything else is disobedience, and no matter how good our intentions, or how noble the act, it becomes evil.
This point is illustrated in verses 22-23.
Samuel asks a rhetorical question in verse 22.
He then answers that question and identifies why what Saul did was sin.
He says that rebellion is just as bad as witchcraft. Some translations use the word divination.
The Hebrew word means several things but basically identifies divination was one of man’s attempts to know and control the world and the future, apart from the true God.
Which is the opposite of submitting to God’s sovereignty
Samuel goes on to say that this desire results in insubordination and that is sin.
God does not want our ability or anything else we have or can do.
He does not want anything from us, even when we claim it is done for Him or in His name.
He simply wants our complete trust and obedience.
He wants to be Lord of our life.
He wants us to rely on Him; trust in His will; and have faith in His ability.
That is when we have true freedom.
That is how we overcome that Esau and Amalekite spirit of the flesh.

The Flesh will Destroy Man

The flesh will destroy man.
Saul’s reign as King was marred as a result of his disobedience.
His reign ended when he was eventually killed on the battlefield.
The flesh had a negative impact on his reign as King, disqualified him in God’s eyes and eventually killed him.
2 Samuel 1:2–8 ESV
2 And on the third day, behold, a man came from Saul’s camp, with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. And when he came to David, he fell to the ground and paid homage. 3 David said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I have escaped from the camp of Israel.” 4 And David said to him, “How did it go? Tell me.” And he answered, “The people fled from the battle, and also many of the people have fallen and are dead, and Saul and his son Jonathan are also dead.” 5 Then David said to the young man who told him, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?” 6 And the young man who told him said, “By chance I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and there was Saul leaning on his spear, and behold, the chariots and the horsemen were close upon him. 7 And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called to me. And I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 8 And he said to me, ‘Who are you?’ I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’
You see Saul was supposed to destroy the Amalekites because they represented the flesh and evil.
He disobeyed and it destroyed him.
The person who ended his life and the last thing he saw before he left this world was an Amalekite.


The flesh separated man from God in the garden, and good and evil have been at war ever since.
That is the struggle we face.
It is a battle we cannot win on our own
and if we fail to rely on anyone other than the God who granted us the freedom and liberty we have as Christians;
our deeds, even our good deeds, may become evil.
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