None of us like being rebuked, but how we react to rebuke says a lot about what we believe about God and ourselves. Last year my pastor had to confront me for not handling a disagreement in a biblical manner. The rebuke was well deserved and his goal was restoration, not condemnation. Recognizing this and seeing his love for the church made it easier for me to repent and seek reconciliation.
The Bible tells us about two kings who were rightfully rebuked. Comparing their stories helps us to avoid pitfalls and to respond wisely when we need to repent.
The first king I would like to examine is Saul, who unlawfully offered a burnt offering because the people were scattering from him (1 Sam. 13:10). Pleasing his people was more important to him than obeying God's word. The prophet Samuel rebuked Saul by saying, "You have done foolishly ... Your kingdom shall not continue." (1 Sam. 13:13-14) Saul reacted pridefully. Rather than seeking God's glory, he set up a monument for himself (1 Sam. 15:12) and continued in sinful disobedience, so that Samuel had to confront him a second time: "Why did you not obey the voice of the Lord?" (1 Sam. 15:19). Still, Saul remained obstinate, not wanting to own up to his wrongdoing. "I have obeyed", he lied. To Saul, saving face was more important than being repentant: "I feared the people and obeyed their voice (15:24). "I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders," he demanded. (1 Sam. 15:30)
Saul had always been a hider. When the people wanted to make him king, he had "hidden himself among the baggage." (1 Sam 10:22) Now, just like Adam and Eve had done, he hid himself "from the presence of the Lord God" (Gen. 3:8) when he was called to be accountable for his actions.
Saul remained in a posture of pride, people pleasing and hiding from God for the rest of his life. Therefore "the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him." (1 Sam. 16:14)
Now let's look at King David, a man who knew God intimately and practiced seeking God's glory above his own. In contrast to Saul, who erected a monument to himself, David desired to build a temple for the Lord. When he came under discipline, David responded in a God-fearing, humble manner. "The Lord sent Nathan to David, He came to him and said to him ... 'Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife'" (2 Sam. 12:1, 9). David immediately repented and confessed: "I have sinned against the Lord" (2. Sam. 12:13). His relationship with God was restored: "I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover my iniquity; I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord', and you forgave the iniquity of my sin" (Ps. 32:5). Instead of inheriting Saul's harmful spirit, David asked God to "renew a right spirit within" him (Ps. 51:10). He learned that "the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit" (Ps. 51:17), not the self-serving sacrifices of Saul.
The three postures and underlying lies that kept Saul from reacting with humility, as his successor David did, are the same that many times hinder us from running to God. We can learn to identify the lies that keep us captive and replace them with the truth.
1. Fear of man vs. Fear of God
Lie: It is my job to make everyone happy.
Truth: If I am still trying to please man, I cannot please God.
Lie: My value depends on what others think of me.
Truth: God gives my life value.
2. Pride vs. Humility
Lie: God is not concerned with my best interest.
Truth: I can completely trust that God's way is the best for me.
Lie: My goal in life is to achieve fame and riches.
Truth: My goal is to glorify God with my life.
Lie: God does not have a special plan for my life.
Truth: God has a special plan for my life.
3. Hiding vs. Living in God's light
Lie: God does not really love me.
Truth: God loves me and nothing I do will change that.
Lie: God likes to make me feel bad about my sins because He does not want me
to be happy.
Truth: God wants me to feel bad about my sins so that I will repent and have a restored relationship with Him.
Lie: God cannot redeem all the bad things in my life.
Truth: God can and will redeem everything for my good and His glory.
Because David believed that God is who He says He is, Satan's lies did not stand a chance with him. And like this "man after God's own heart," when we replace Satan's lies with God's truth, we will run to Him who can "create in us a clean heart" and "restore unto us the joy of His salvation" (Ps. 51:12).