There is a story of a young man who begins his life with all of the assets of intelligence and good looks. The people were impressed with him as he was known as an influential person and was rising to take his destiny of leadership. However, he struggled with three character issues, 1) pride, 2) accountability, and 3) anger. These problems dogged him and magnified into arrogance, irresponsibility, and bitterness. Offered another chance to get things right, instead he began consorting with the dark side. He finally embraced the evil that he was supposed to reject. Who is the subject of the story? Is it Darth Vader or King Saul?
Saul Chosen as King
King Saul was recognized as the most handsome man in Israel in his time. At a time when the people of Israel wanted a king so they could be like the other nations, God gave them what they wanted. Immediately, King Saul began to do things his way instead of God’s way. In 1 Samuel 13 Saul refused to wait for the prophet and priest Samuel to perform his priestly duties at Gilgal before the king and his soldiers went out to battle. Saul took it upon himself to lead the consecration and blessing service as if he were the priest. Finally Samuel arrived and informed the king that God had rejected him as a result of his pride and arrogance.
Saul Gets a Second Chance
King Saul began poorly and broke down the three-hinged door of Integrity. To function properly the door of Integrity must have the three hinges of 1) trust, 2) loyalty, and accountability. Because King Saul violated each character asset needed for a relationship with God, his Integrity door flew off of its hinges. However, God is forgiving and actually wants his people to succeed, so he offered the king a second chance. In 1 Samuel 15:1 the prophet informed Samuel that the Lord desired to anoint him as king…again. This was a second chance, another opportunity to do things God’s way. However, the rest of the chapter recounts how Saul 1) set up a monument to himself, 2) disobeyed God, and 3) Samuel gives us a hint of Saul’s spiritual leanings:
23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.”
Saul was not growing as a disciple of the Lord, but I believe he was headed in the opposite direction. Chapters 17-19 illustrate the decline of King Saul’s character as he exhibited anger, jealousy, unforgiveness, bitterness, and a desire to kill David who had already been identified as his successor to the throne. By the time we get to 1 Samuel 28, King Saul’s journey to the dark side is almost complete.
Participation in the occult at any level can lead to devastating results for one’s life. However, there is freedom in Christ!
Saul Consulted “The Dark Side”
Samuel had warned Saul about his path of rebellion and defiance that could lead to witchcraft and idolatry. Now it came true. His journey to the dark side was almost complete as the king consults the medium or witch of Endor:
1 Samuel 28:6-7 (NKJV) 6 And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets. 7 Then Saul said to his servants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “In fact, there is a woman who is a medium at En Dor.”
The medium successfully raised the spirit of the Prophet Samuel from the grave and God pronounces the penalty of death upon King Saul and his son Jonathan for the very next day. King Saul’s journey to the dark side is complete and he was killed the next day and his son, Jonathan.
The events raise many questions but it is clear in the Scriptures that Christians are to have nothing to do with the occult including spiritism, witchcraft, Wicca, fortune telling, tarot cards, Ouija boards, séances, horoscopes, or anything similar. The number of people involved in some aspect of the occult is astronomical and many pastors would be surprised to learn that there are a significant number of church people who involve themselves in it at some level. One young person asked about horoscopes which are presumably based on astrology. My question to him is, “Do you want to be guided by a person who reads the stars or by the creator of the stars?”
Neil Anderson (The Bondage Breaker, 1990) warns Christians that involvement in even the seemingly innocent activities of the occult can be a gateway to greater problems. He warns of demon influence and even possession. Not every participant involved leads to such dire consequences but again, it can be a gateway for some people to begin a dark and painful spiritual journey.
THERE IS A NEED FOR DISCIPLESHIP!
This lesson is evidence of why conversion without discipleship is such a problem. Church leaders will be held responsible by the Lord for not providing full discipleship for those who are baptized. Here are articles that speak to the issue and promote developing an effective discipleship process:
- Do you see and agree with the progressive spiritual decline of King Saul?
- What questions does 1 Samuel 28 raise for concern?
- Is participation in fortune telling, Ouija boards, and horoscopes a positive, negative, or indifferent issue for Christians?
- Do you agree or disagree that participation in spiritism, witchcraft, or items mentioned in #3 can be a gateway for a journey away from God?
- How is your church leading people to worship the Lord only?
Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC. He is a pastor, author, professional coach, leadership specialist, and is a member Coach/Teacher/Speaker for the John Maxwell Team
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