One of the main sins of the self is that of Self-Indulgence. It is defined as the excessive or unrestrained gratification of one’s own appetites, desires or whims. King Saul demonstrates the destructiveness of this sin in 1 Sam 15:14-22
But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?” Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.” Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.’ Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?”
“But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.” But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
It’s the sheep that give away your sin of self-indulgence… the little things that seem good but are not in God’s will. It seemed good and even spiritual for Saul to sacrifice to the Lord; but God is interested in our obedience, not our opinion.
Self-indulgence leads us to blame others, create excuses and deny our own sin. Saul blamed the soldiers for bringing back the sheep. It was customary in those times for Kings to bring back plunder from the nations they conquered and to publicly humiliate their king. It seemed foolish for God to ask for the complete destruction of these things. Therefore, Saul created the excuse of sacrificing them to God in order to indulge his own selfish desires. Through this, he was blinded to his own sin.
We allow ourselves to experience that which God has forbidden and worse, we often do it in his name.
Selfishness does not cause us to sin; selfishness is the sin.
We must take an honest inventory on our obedience level. This cannot be fixed through self-control, self-determination, self-actualization or self-help. We can only be transformed through self-sacrifice.
“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?” Mark 8:34-37 MSG
Are you willing to sacrifice even when God’s commands seem like foolishness to this world? Where do you hear the bleating of sheep in your life?