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Does God Need Us to Make Excuses for our Sin?

This is part 3 of the series “Why are you making excuses?” To read the previous post, click here.

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This is a tale of two kings—two very real kings—from ancient Israel.

Both kings made a choice to sin.

Both received punishment for their sins.

Both made apologies to God.

Only one chose repentance.

Our first King was a man named Saul. While initially successful as the first king of Israel, he developed a fatal flaw: Saul became presumptuous, arrogant, and fearful of losing “his” kingship.

In 1 Samuel 15, we read of the tragic choice leading to Saul’s destruction.

God commanded Saul to destroy everything and everyone in Amalek (v. 3)

Saul goes out to fight—and he wins… however:

Saul and the people spared Agag [king of Amalek] and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. (v. 9)

Saul chose disobedience.

God spoke to Samuel, (the priest and judge) saying, “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.

Samuel, devastated by this turn of events, spends the night crying in sorrow and anger. In the morning, he goes to visit Saul. Saul, delighted to see Samuel, says, I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” (v. 13)

Can you imagine the expression on Samuel’s face?

The narrative continues:

Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears…?”

Saul said, “the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.” (v. 14-15)

Ah! Of course! It was those pesky people! On the other hand, the goal was to make sacrifices, so it must be ok right?

Then Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord?”

And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord.” (v. 18-21)

The people served as convenient scapegoats, but the fact remains that Saul was the king, entrusted with upholding the law. If “the people” disobeyed God’s command (and not Saul himself), then Saul bore the responsibility to set things right.

The next words of Samuel should resonate with us, even today:

Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
 as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has also rejected you from being king.” (v. 22-23)

We may do something with the best of intentions while making excuses for disregarding God’s commands. We can say, “I can’t give money to my neighbor because I’m giving my money to God,” yet, God commands us to love one another. Why not set aside a little something to help your neighbor also? Don’t make excuses, obey the Lord. Love the Lord and love your neighbor.

Saul saw his blunder, but his apology remained full of excuses:

“I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may bow before the Lord.” (v. 24-25)

The Lord didn’t want Saul’s excuses, he wanted sorrow and repentance.

Samuel replied:

“I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” (v. 26)

So much for King Saul and his lukewarm apology.

Let’s turn our attention to the second king—King David.

David is referred to by God as “a man after [God’s] own heart,” but even David sinned. In fact, we might even consider his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of her husband to be a “bigger” sin than Saul’s. To God, however, all sin is abhorrent—size and scope matter not.

In 2 Samuel 12, we read about Nathan the prophet going to David to expose his sin through a story. At the conclusion, David ignited with anger and said, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die!

Nathan looked squarely at the king and said, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul…And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight?” (v. 7-9)

Will David respond like Saul? Will he make excuses?

David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” (v. 13)

No frills.

No blame-shifting.

No “I-couldn’t-help-myselves.”

David recognized his sin was against the Lord first and foremost. David still suffered consequences for his sin, but the Lord showed David mercy by not killing Him, as was the due punishment under the law for both adultery and murder.

We often quote the verse, “Create in me a clean heart,” but did you know it was David who penned those words after this incident?

In Psalm 51, David makes a plea to the Lord for forgiveness and purification:

For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight…

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

David understood repentance. Unlike Saul, he loved God with his whole heart. The circumstances needed correction, but David knew that above all else, he needed to be right with the Lord. He didn’t want to be cast from God’s presence or lose the Holy Spirit. He knew the change needed to happen within

David’s grief did not stem from being caught, but from wronging God

Unlike Saul, David remained king until his death. While it may seem odd that God rejected Saul’s kingship, but maintained David’s, we need to see it from God’s perspective: there was a remarkable difference between the hearts of these two kings. The difference is made obvious in the manner of their response to sin—Saul made excuses while David mourned and turned back to God.

God doesn’t need excuses; He wants repentance.

When you go to God in your prayers and ask forgiveness, are you mentally excusing yourself or do you truly recognize your need for mercy? Are your pleas genuine like David’s or half-hearted like Saul’s?

Thanks be to God for His grace and mercy through Jesus Christ, for without grace we would be lost. No amount of work we do will “make up” for our transgressions. But as Paul says, don’t “continue in sin that grace may abound.” Choose obedience because you love the Lord with your whole heart. When we sin—as we inevitably do—request forgiveness without excuses, give thanks for God’s unfathomable grace, and make full repentance.

God doesn’t need excuses; He wants genuine repentance.


I hope you’ll continue to join me for the series “Why are you making excuses?” If you missed the previous posts, here are some links for further reading:

Why are you making excuses?

Making Excuses or Taking Action?

Take some time to read the passages above in full—they are so rich! All the links should take you to the BibleGateway website so you can read them in context wherever you are! 

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22 thoughts on “Does God Need Us to Make Excuses for our Sin?

  1. This is a terrific contrast between two attitudes Elihu. Great job at illustrating the differences!

    How would you now contrast that scenerio in the administration of the old covenant, with the finished atonement in the new covenant that we Christians enjoy today?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is such an excellent question, Lee, and I pray that I answer this according to the word of the Lord. I apologize for the length, but I feel a short answer may be misinterpreted.

      Under the old covenant, both men should have been physically killed.

      In Deuteronomy 17, Moses wrote: “The man who acts presumptuously by not obeying the priest who stands to minister there before the Lord your God, or the judge, that man shall die. So you shall purge the evil from Israel. And all the people shall hear and fear and not act presumptuously again.” [Saul]

      In Leviticus 20.10 it says, “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” [David]

      These men were under the law of sin and death—if you sin you die. The sacrifices for those sins that were not punishable by immediate death had to be made or no atonement would be made from sin and you would be cut off from the covenant.

      Under the new covenant, there would have been no forgiveness for Saul because he was presumptuous in his “apology.” He expressed no real remorse for his sin. The Hebrew writer says, “But if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth [referring to the New Covenant], there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?”

      That’s strong language. Saul would have been just as condemned under the new covenant because his heart rejected God.

      As for David, he walked by faith. Did he still sin? Yes. But when confronted with his sin, he repented. He cried out for forgiveness and pleaded with God for a clean heart. God gave him both mercy and forgiveness. Under the new covenant, we would say that God’s grace abounded to David because David repented. David wanted to restore relationship with the God He loved. He realized that his heart had strayed and wanted to get back on course.

      John writes,
      “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

      David confessed His sin, and under the new covenant would have also received forgiveness.

      I’m hope I’ve answered your question. God is still the same, the only thing that has changed is the covenant. Without Jesus, we would still be subject to the rules and regulations of the Mosaic law. The essence of what God wants in us has not changed: he has always wanted hearts that pursue Him and love Him wholeheartedly.

      Like

      1. Thank you Elihu for taking the time to ponder that question. Fascinating is it not? We may have a different perspective on Hebrews 10, 1 John 1.9, and the new covenant, but one thing we can agree on wholeheartedly 😇…God has always wanted hearts that pursue Him and love Him wholeheartedly!👍

        Lord bless you sister, and thank you for your kindness.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said! I appreciate this series you’re doing.

    Something that always jumps out at me about Saul, not only is he unrepentant, but he’s trying to make his sin good by saying he’s just doing it for the Lord, making a burnt offering.

    Recently someone pointed me to the fact that when Jesus is tempted by satan, all the temptations revolve around doing potential good, kind of like just give me your soul and I’ll give you the kingdoms of the world so you can really help people. Jesus does not fall for it of course, but we people sure can.

    I sometimes say our human capacity to rationalize just about anything is quite unprecedented. Cain and Abel for example,Cain thinks he’s doing good,he’s making a sacrifice. But if you dig a bit deeper we see that what Cain is really doing is disobeying God,trying to do it all his way, and then having a fit and taking it out on his brother.

    I’m chuckling here, Proverbs says, “there is a way that seems right to a man…,” and that is the whole problem right there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! That is definitely the point–“There is a way that seems right to a man.” I’ve heard a fair number of Christians disregard Biblical teaching with “good intentions.” Whenever someone tries to do something other than what God planned with “good intentions” it never comes out very well…

      I love your point about Satan’s temptations as well! I never really thought about it that way before, but it makes so much sense.

      Thanks for your comment, IB! You always have such awesome insight. God bless you!

      Like

  3. Another great on Elihu. David is such a great illustration of so many things. God’s love first and foremost. The fact that, even though his sin broke his fellowship with the Father, the Father never renounced him, but welcomed him back. Sadly, his story also shows that we never sin in a vacuum; our sin hurts many besides us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen! Sin is so incredibly messy. I recently heard about a pastor admitting to a past sexual indiscretion (over 20 years ago) while he was a youth pastor in another state. The girl wrote him a letter at the height of the #metoo stuff and he was forced to admit to this past sin to his entire congregation. To the dismay of many, his congregation gave him a standing ovation. (I was wondering what he said to get a standing ovation, but I didn’t get a chance to dig deeper). A lot of people flew off the handle harping about who was right and what was wrong, but at the end of the day, it’s as you say—sin never happens in a vacuum. How many people have sinned because of his choice? How much pain did he inflict? The problem is beyond messy! It went from being “private” sin to a very public one, and who can tell how many Christians grow discouraged by this latest scandal? How many unbelievers will use this to refuse the gospel?

      Sin has consequences. Thanks be to God that we have grace and forgiveness through Christ Jesus!

      Thanks for taking the time to read, Wally! It’s always nice to hear from you. God be with you!

      Like

  4. A great post and lots to take away from the stories of Saul and David.

    I reckon Saul didn’t have any interest in repenting and he was all about himself and power. From my memory of reading the book of Samuel whenever it came to approaching God, Saul was always referring to God as Samuel’s God. David was the opposite.

    “God doesn’t need excuses; He wants genuine repentance.” – Love this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great! I just love it when something strikes me on the word and then I hear someone touch on the same topic. I believe that is one of the ways the Holy Spirit works on our hearts as we commit God’s word to our mind. God be with you, Lynn!

      Like

  5. So many thoughts going off like rapidfire in my brain after reading this piece Elihu.

    1. LOVE the comparison and contrast in between David and Saul; it’s so rich and resounding, even today.

    2. This speaks to me personally, because THIS is exactly what made the biggest difference for me in my Christian life. As I often say in my blog, I am a “recovering hypocrite“ – and a big part of that is because I used to be a really proficient excuse-maker. I would say to myself, “Well, God made me this way, so He understands”, or even, “Well, everybody does it, so it’s not THAT bad.“ It took me a long time to finally realize that Jesus was not “cool“ with my sin (as apparently, many people believe). Once I “owned“ my sin, and took full responsibility for it, things began to change. And for that, I am grateful!

    3. Your blog has GOT to be one of THE best spiritual blogs out there today. It’s extremely well written, theologically adept, AND it’s easy to read. Hard to beat that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is such a beautiful thing to recognize the transformation God works in our lives when we submit to His will. 😊 I have a long way to go myself, and I am thankful He is so patient with me, discipline and training me to put to death those things which are sinful.

      Thank you so much for your kind words. It is my heartfelt prayer that I will glorify God through this blog.

      May the Lord bless you!

      Liked by 1 person

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