“The Downward Spiral”
Pastor David Moore
New Testament reading: Romans 1:16‐32 (NRSV)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is God’s saving power for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith, as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.”
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and injustice of those who by their injustice suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. Ever since the creation of the world God’s eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been seen and understood through the things God has made. So they are without excuse, for though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human or birds or four‐footed animals or reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. Their females exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the males, giving up natural intercourse with females, were consumed with their passionate desires for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to an unfit mind and to do things that should not be done. They were filled with every kind of injustice, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God‐haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die, yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.
God has a design of how we interact with Him and this helps us learn about Him and learn about ourselves in the process. Today we will see in this story how Saul learns about God and himself, and Saul’s downfall.
Old Testament reading: 1 Samuel 18:7‐16, 19:18‐24 (NIV)
As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.
The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the harp, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.
Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David, but had left Saul. So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns.
19:18‐24: When David had fled and made his escape, he went to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. Then he and Samuel went to Naioth and stayed there. Word came to Saul: “David is in Naioth at Ramah”; so he sent men to capture him. But when they saw a group of prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing there as their leader, the Spirit of God came upon Saul’s men and they also prophesied. Saul was told about it, and he sent more men, and they prophesied too. Saul sent men a third time, and they also prophesied. Finally, he himself left for Ramah and went to the great cistern at Secu. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?”
“Over in Naioth at Ramah”, they said.
So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. He stripped off his robes and also prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay that way all day and night. This is why people say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”
Saul makes decisions over and over again to fight God’s will. ~D. Moore
We will see three stages of Saul avoiding God’s will in these themes: jealousy, slavery, and blasphemy.
C.S. Lewis in the book “The Great Divorce” states that hell is locked from the inside. The people in hell are stuck with sin (pride, anger, etc.) that keeps them locked inside and they are unable to let go of that sin. We will see these ideas played out in observing Saul during his downfall. ~D. Moore
Romans 12:15: Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
As Christians mature in their faith, we are able to take our frustrations to God, allowing the spirit of God to work in us to get rid of jealousy, envy, and other sins from our lives. ~D. Moore
Jesus, who is love, says “I have achieved all of this, and I want people to have what I have earned, not what they deserve.” Jesus wants us to inherit what He earned through His life and His death on the Cross. ~D. Moore
If people don’t judge them, but hopefully, helpfully let people know there are consequences for saying no to God, but that does not change my calling to love them. ~D. Moore
Saul’s number one thing in his life was his position as king, far more important than God. Saul lost control of his emotions and fear took over, creating the desire in Saul to kill David. ~D. Moore
Anything that is more important than God in your life will make you it’s slave.
Odd though, that even though Saul’s heart is far from God, it is possible for God to break in and give abilities that someone far from God ought not to have such as the ability to preach, to teach, to help people. This is why if you want to know if someone is genuinely a follower of Jesus you don’t look at their gifts or how they use them. You don’t look at whether or not they are teaching Sunday school or serving food to homeless people. Look instead to see if your heart is with that person. Look at their prayer life, look at the fruits of the Spirit; are they kind, patient, wise, peaceful, joyful? Are they good and faithful and gentle? Are they self‐controlled? Do they rejoice with people who rejoice and weep with those who weep? Are they growing in the knowledge and love of God?
Examine yourself. Do you love God’s will? Do you allow it to correct you and rebuild you? The gospel is fundamentally foreign to us all. The gospel working in us is the willingness to let God shape us and mold us, despite our feelings, despite what we want to have happen.
This week: allow the Spirit to root out our stiff neck and our unwillingness to follow God’s will.