Utterly Destroy

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Greetings, and welcome again to Meditation Moments.

We are talking to you today about two little words in the Old Testament, in 1 Samuel the 15th chapter, and those words are “utterly destroy.” As you know, in just the few moments we have on the air we couldn’t possibly tell you the story of Saul and Samuel, and of the king of the Amalekites, Agag.

We couldn’t possibly tell you the whole story, but Saul was told to go out against the Amalekites and to destroy them utterly.1 God’s Word says, “destroy utterly.” But Saul didn’t do that. If you remember, in the story he brought back King Agag, chained to his chariot. He also brought back the best of the cattle and the sheep because he was going to offer them, he said, in a sacrifice to the Lord. This is a sad story of the growth of evil in a life which was once given to God.

I want to talk about little sins that are left in the life that soon grow to be such great sins, and how what was once so harmless, seemingly, soon conquers the life. I had this brought to my mind recently by a girl that I knew of that had gone for a number of years to Bible school, right here in Los Angeles. Then she married, and she went to Korea. There she fell in with companions of her husband and business, and there was just a little touch of this and that socially.

Now she has come back home, and her mother tells me that she has gone utterly away from the Lord and into the world. Because she compromised in the beginning—and it just began with such little things, just little social temptations—now she’s utterly away from the Lord.

So Saul spared Agag, the wicked king, as he thought for a good purpose, and kept the best of the spoil to be sacrificed to the Lord. God had said “slay utterly.” That word slay “utterly” should be written upon our heart: not “halfway” but “utterly.” Anything less than that’s going to be disobedience, and it will bring disaster.

Why don’t we have the courage sometimes to bravely and definitely sever with the Enemy and stand out wholeheartedly for God? You cannot tolerate sin. I wish you’d write that little word down: “tolerate.” The only security against sin is to be shocked at it.

I confess that you don’t see much shock at sin these days. Even Christians have rubbed up against it all around them in the newspapers and everywhere, and tolerated just a little of this and that, until they have hardened their conscience.

Your only security against sin is to be shocked at it. Keep the fires of indignation kindled hotly against sin. So many things are to our advantage with only a slight wound of conscience, only a little sacrifice of principle. Some haven’t got the moral fiber to wholly separate themselves from forbidden companionship and some little social temptation.

I’ll confess that there are a lot of excuses made for just this slight wound of conscience, when the thing that is wanted to be done is much to the advantage of the person. The greatest sin and separation from God often starts with just an unholy friendship or ungodly association of some kind which seemed so advantageous for some reason, but ends up subverting the consecration for God that one time perhaps was wholehearted and so blessed.

Dr. Livingstone tells a story of a singular little creature he found in Africa called the “ant lion.” It attacked and destroyed the strongest victims by a masterpiece of strategy, just like the Devil does. It would excavate a little pit in the dry sand in the form of an inverted cone running to a point at the bottom. Then it would sit down at the base of its little pitfall and wait for some unsuspecting creature to tread too near the edge of the crumbling sand. The victim at last appeared, and perhaps just by curiosity looked over the edge of this strange excavation, but perhaps he lost his balance and rolled down the side of the little pit where the ant lion waited for his prey.

Not, however, directly and instantly does the destroyer attack his victim. It’s sort of an unequal contest for the little strategist, but he opens his sharp little mouth—like a pair of powerful scissors—and with one quick movement he cuts off a limb. Now this keeps up until he’s mutilated the little creature. And it tries to go up the slippery side of the pit, but just as it reaches the summit it loses its footing again and tumbles once more into the jaws of this waiting little monster. And so limb by limb it is wounded and its remaining strength is gone, and at last it falls right into the hands of its enemy, who devours at leisure the little animal, the little creature, whichever it was. He wouldn’t have dared to attack it directly; he couldn’t have had the strength to have done that.

That’s the story of many a defeated Christian! Some little fox, as God’s Word says: “It’s the little foxes that destroy the vine.”2 You’ve heard that many times, but it’s that little adversary that you didn’t even dread that has brought the final destruction, separated you from God. It isn’t by some outstanding attack of the Enemy always, but by a thousand little wounds to the conscience, that at last you lose your power of resistance against the Enemy.

And King Saul’s career is, I think, one of the saddest examples in God’s Word. One who had such a noble beginning but ended in awful disaster, simply because he began with just this little disobedience—if you can call any disobedience little. He had not lost out all at once, but the steady growth of sin in his life was horrible. At first it was just seemingly a justified act, a slight disobedience, a slight wound to the conscience. Self-will was a sin in Saul’s heart, but soon grew into a great giant that brought him to disgrace and disaster. But not all at once, remember.

This was the picture of the growth of sin when it was tolerated. For nearly ten years he sat on Israel’s throne while step by step the giant of sin grew. And that is a story of letting a little sin come into your life and not being shocked at it, not seeking God at once for victory over it—until Satan’s power has stripped you of a desire to resist.

God help you. Remember, watch the little sins, the little things that separate you from God. God will help you if you ask Him. He’ll give you victory, for God’s still on the throne, and prayer changes things.

  1. 1 Samuel 15:3.
  2. Song of Solomon 2:15.