The Christian Leadership Publication

Watchman Nee on Spiritual Authority

Obedience to God’s Will—the Greatest Demand of the Bible

The greatest of God’s demands on man is not for him to bear the cross, to serve, make offerings, or deny himself. The greatest demand is for him to obey. God ordered Saul to attack the Amalekites and destroy them utterly (1 Sam. 15). Yet after his victory Saul spared Agag, king of the Amalekites, along with the best of the sheep and oxen and the fatted beasts and lambs and all that was good. Saul would not devote them to destruction; he argued that these were spared to sacrifice to God. But Samuel said to him: “Behold, obedience is better than sacrifice, Attention than the fat of rams” (verse 15.22 Darby). The sacrifices mentioned here were sweet-savor offerings—having nothing to do with sin, for sin-offering was never called an offering of sweet-savor. They were offered for God’s acceptance and satisfaction. Why did Samuel say that “obedience is better than sacrifice”? Because even in sacrifice there can be the element of self-will. Obedience alone is absolutely honoring to God, for it alone takes God’s will as its center. For authority to be expressed there must be subjection. If there is to be subjection, self needs to be excluded; but according to one’s self-life, subjection is not possible. This is only possible when one lives in the Spirit. It is the highest expression of God’s will.

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