|Mike Hosey, An Elder|
Murder is wrong. It doesn’t take a braniac to figure out that it is a terrible sin to take the life of someone else, not just because you would be destroying something irreplaceable that doesn’t belong to you, but because, quite literally, you would be marring the image of God (Genesis 1:27). But guess what is just as bad -- or maybe even worse -- than murdering someone? That would be planning and arranging for the murder of someone. The person who is pulling the trigger is certainly worthy of the highest punishment, but there’s something perhaps more diabolical about the person who came up with the idea, funded it, planned it, and gave the trigger puller the tools and blueprints on how to do it.
This kind of moral equivalence is seen in a variety of places in the bible. One such place is in the story of King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22-23. Saul, for a variety of reasons, chose not to follow God’s order of operations. The prophet Samuel warns him in those verses that his rebellion is just like the sin of divination or witchcraft. The Old Testament lumps divination and witchcraft in with a bunch of other terrible sins like necromancy (raising people up from the dead), and calls them disgusting, or detestable, or an abomination to God. Did you get that? Rebellion is as disgusting to God as necromancy. Those sins -- necromancy, sorcery, witchcraft, and divination -- all aim to usurp God’s role and authority in human affairs, and any rebellion against Godly authority is lumped right in with those sins.
When you sow discord at your work, at your church, in your family, or anywhere God has ordained an authority structure, you are sowing something that is disgusting to God. But notice how God tells Saul that he hates false sacrifice. And notice how he tells the Hebrew people the same thing through the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 1:11-20). Then consider how he tells them both that he loves obedience more than sacrifice or ritual. Such obedience is marked by doing good, seeking justice, and correcting oppression. It is not marked by the selfishness seen in Saul, or the division seen in Paul’s warnings against those who teach contrary doctrines (Romans 16:17-18). Instead, such obedience is marked by the submissive example of Jesus (John 5:30), and the maturity of a Godly spirit (Galatians 5:22-26).