King Saul received every opportunity to become a godly king. The Lord Himself chose Him, the Spirit of God gave him a new heart, and he did mighty deeds in His power (1 Sam 9:16, 17, 10:6,9, 11:1-11). But in the end, the Spirit of God left Saul and he died a humiliating death (1 Sam. 31:31:4, 8, 9). Why did the Holy Spirit do this and how can we keep Him from leaving us in the last days?
The primary reason why the Spirit left Saul was because he did not obey the Lord. In Saul’s own words, he tells us why he was disobedient to his God.
“Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash…I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering” (1 Sam. 13:11, 12). (emphasis supplied)
“I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice” (1 Sam. 15:24). (emphasis supplied)
Saul disobeyed the Lord because he wanted to keep the influence he had over his people. He knowingly betrayed Him to gratify the sinful desires of his people. This rebellious course of action would lead God to reject Saul as ruler over Israel and cause the Spirit of God to depart from him (1 Sam. 15:11, 23, 16:13, 14). Are we in danger of making the same fateful error today? Indeed, we are.
Like Saul, we also have been chosen by God. In accepting the Lord Jesus by faith as our Savior, we have become part of a royal priesthood. We are charged to make God known to the world and will soon reign with Him in His heavenly temple (Mt. 28:18-20; 1 Pet. 2:5-10; Rev. 20:4-6). Through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence, Jesus also gave us a new heart, as well (2 Cor. 5:17; 1 Pet. 1:22). We even have the testimony of His prophets to give us counsel as Samuel advised Saul (Isa. 8:20).
But like Saul, we are making the same fateful mistake that will cause the Spirit of God to depart from us. Particularly, our church leaders are violating the commandments of God to appease the sinful desires of their congregations. Many of these leaders are appointed precisely for that reason.
These undershepherds are not called by God to lead His church; nor have they been ordained by His Spirit as Saul once was. They were chosen by persons who have not forsaken all to follow God. Neither they or their appointed leaders have any regard for the coming of their Lord or the testimony of His prophets concerning this time.
“That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us” (Isa. 30:9-11).
When they are called to account for these errors, the wrongly-appointed leaders of these churches point to the numbers and the contentment of their congregations. Like Saul before Samuel, they profess that they have performed the commandment of the Lord. But why, then, are these pagan doctrines and these erroneous traditions of men among their ranks? Beliefs and practices that exalt man in the place of God and tolerate open sin in the house of God are rampant in their churches. They make gray what God has made black and white. It is to these leaders and their churches that the rebuke of Samuel is given:
“Thou hast done foolishly; thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God which he commanded thee…” (1 Sam. 13:13).
In fearing the worldly desires of their congregations above the Word of truth and in appointing worldly-minded men to lead them, these erring church leaders and their members have put themselves in the same unfavorable position as the former king of Israel. Should they continue in this open rebellion against God, whether knowingly or unknowingly, the Holy Spirit will surely depart from them in these last days. None who desire to see the King of glory can possibly enter the gates of heaven without His indwelling presence, for it is through Him that Christ dwells within us and perfects us.
Those in these churches who still fear the Lord must repent of their wickedness and forsake those beliefs, traditions, and practices that separate them from God. They must appoint over them “…men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom,” men who dedicate themselves “…continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:3, 4). Such persons like the apostles and deacons before them, will effectively minister to the spiritual needs of their congregations and prepare them for the coming of the Lord.
If those currently in positions of church leadership will not commit to this work of preparation in their church and in their own lives, then their churches must remove them from their office and find leaders who will do this. The time is short and we’ve not a moment to lose. Should these churches fail in readying themselves for the final reformation and the final events of this world, the Holy Spirit will depart from them as it did Saul. Do not repeat his failure; obey the commandments of the Lord, lest you forfeit your royal priesthood in the kingdom to come.
“And Samuel said, Hath 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 hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king” (1 Sam. 15:22, 23).