1 Samuel 31:1-13 (Part 4) – Spiritual Warm Fuzzies vs. True Salvation: The Difference Between Saul & Samuel

Posted: April 26, 2018 in 09-1 Samuel

1 Samuel 31:1-13
The Death of Saul (Part 4 of 5)

In my previous blog, I talked about how I remember the day of my salvation like it was yesterday. The memory of the location, the sights, the sounds, my breathing patterns, my heartbeat, the details of the play that I was attending. It is all still fresh in my mind – even now, a little over 16 years after the event. Salvation is an event, but sanctification is a process. Salvation is the beginning of a life change from the inside out. Sanctification is the hard work, the process of the Holy Spirit chiseling away that which is not of God and replacing it with that which is of God. The difference between salvation and a spiritual warm-fuzzy is that salvation is followed by a lifetime of Holy Spirit changes in our life, our outlook, our priorities that progressively makes us more and more like Christ. A spiritual warm-fuzzy, as I like to call it, is a emotion induced spiritual high (following powerful worship at church and a powerful sermon). However, in a spiritual warm fuzzy situation, there is no life change. There is no desire to chase after God. There is no ravenous appetite for God’s will. There is no desire to let go of things that are in opposition to God’s Word. You can have many spiritual warm-fuzzy experiences in life but only one day of salvation.

When I read through this passage this morning for the fourth time, that’s what struck me was the difference between spiritual warm-fuzzies and true salvation. When you bottom line 1 Samuel, you have the contrast of Samuel and Saul. Samuel must’ve had a salvation experience at a young age. His entire life was dedicated to doing God’s will. Not out of some attempt to appease God by doing the right things but rather a complete all out desire to please God and to do His will. Saul, on the other hand, had spiritual warm-fuzzy experiences throughout the history that is presented in 1 Samuel. He would have those moments where you think he finally “gets it” but then as we follow him further in the book, he just blows it and does such selfish and sometimes evil things. His actions are to satisfy his personal desires, even his so-called spiritual experiences. They were done for show or they were done in an emotional moment after it appeared that God had granted his desires. The difference between Samuel and Saul was the motivation. Because Samuel had true salvation he came at things from desiring earnestly in his heart to do God’s will whereas Saul was completely consumed with his “me-first” attitude and simply used God to validate that, if he could. His love of God was based on his outward circumstances rather than an inner love for the Lord of the Universe.

How often for us as Christ followers have we lived that way before our true salvation experience. We had spiritual warm-fuzzies galore. We may have raised our hands multiple times when a pastor asks at the end of the service who has come to Christ today. We may have gone to the altar many times to accept Christ as our Savior. Like Saul though there was no real life change. I know that was the case with me over the years before that night in December 2001. I modified my behavior for a while but would return to my old ways rather quickly just like Saul. It was not until I completely surrendered my will to that of Jesus Christ that real life change occurred. The Holy Spirit cannot enter our hearts until we open the door, really open the door in total honor and submission.

That difference between spiritual warm-fuzzies and true salvation came to mind this morning as I read through this final chapter of 1 Samuel for the fourth of five times this morning. Let’s read through 1 Samuel 31 once again now:

31 Now the Philistines attacked Israel, and the men of Israel fled before them. Many were slaughtered on the slopes of Mount Gilboa. 2 The Philistines closed in on Saul and his sons, and they killed three of his sons—Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malkishua. 3 The fighting grew very fierce around Saul, and the Philistine archers caught up with him and wounded him severely.

4 Saul groaned to his armor bearer, “Take your sword and kill me before these pagan Philistines come to run me through and taunt and torture me.”

But his armor bearer was afraid and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When his armor bearer realized that Saul was dead, he fell on his own sword and died beside the king. 6 So Saul, his three sons, his armor bearer, and his troops all died together that same day.

7 When the Israelites on the other side of the Jezreel Valley and beyond the Jordan saw that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their towns and fled. So the Philistines moved in and occupied their towns.

8 The next day, when the Philistines went out to strip the dead, they found the bodies of Saul and his three sons on Mount Gilboa. 9 So they cut off Saul’s head and stripped off his armor. Then they proclaimed the good news of Saul’s death in their pagan temple and to the people throughout the land of Philistia. 10 They placed his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths, and they fastened his body to the wall of the city of Beth-shan.

11 But when the people of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all their mighty warriors traveled through the night to Beth-shan and took the bodies of Saul and his sons down from the wall. They brought them to Jabesh, where they burned the bodies. 13 Then they took their bones and buried them beneath the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted for seven days.

In this passage, as we approach the end of our visit to the Book of 1 Samuel, we must consider the difference between the last judge of Israel and first king. Samuel, the last judge, was characterized by consistency, obedience, and a deep desire to do God’s will. He had a genuine desire for an abiding relationship with God. Saul, the first king, on the other hand, was characterized by inconsistency, disobedience, and self-will. He did not have a heart for God. When God called Samuel, he said “Speak, your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10). In contrast, when God, through Samuel, called Saul, he replied “Why are you talking like this to me?” (1 Samuel 9:21). Saul was dedicated to himself. Samuel was dedicated to God.

My prayer this morning is that we all have that true moment of salvation where you come before the Lord with our hat in our hands and humbly kneel before Him knowing that we do not deserve what He has to offer. Knowing that we have made a mess of our lives. Knowing that one sin disqualifies us from heaven. Knowing that a lifetime of sins piled on top of that first one just adds to the justice of us being sent away from God to a place called hell. Knowing that we have nothing to negotiate with before a righteous God. Knowing that it is only Jesus who can snatch us from our eternal fate. We beg him to pull us out of our nightmare and our nightmarish fate. There can be no greater moment of humility than our moment of salvation. We are beggars look for a scrap from the Master’s table. It is only then that we are ready for the Holy Spirit to enter in and change us from the inside out.

We go from trying to do the right things seeking behavior modification to a soul change that desires to please God in everything we do. We go from despair to joy even in the hardest of times. We go from living like hell during the week and trying to make up for it by going to church on Sundays to a real desire to live our lives according God’s Word and to really, really want to please God. We go from “have to’s” to “want to’s”. That’s the difference between Saul and Samuel. That’s the difference between spiritual warm-fuzzies and true salvation.
Amen and Amen.

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