The Man Who Forgot to Remember
(From the book "The Saving Life of Christ" by Ian Thomas)


     God was at war with Amalek from generation to generation. There was no good thing in Amalek! In effect, there is absolutely no salvageable content in the flesh! That was God's mind, God's will, and God's all-knowing judgment concerning Amalek. But Saul forgot to remember!

     Even though Saul agreed to destroy every gross thing of the Amalekites, he "...took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive."  Saul spared the king - "self" - that ruled Amalek, and the best things that belonged to the self-life. He spared what he thought was good, even though God had totally condemned everything that comes from Amalek as bad.

     This was the sin of Saul. He kept what God hated - the basic nature that wanted to rule the body, and the best of its heart idols. Since he was unwilling to give up the flesh-life, he was unable to enter the promised Sabbath-rest where "the Lord your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you" who can afflict the spiritual life. The people of this world, even the ones who claim to be following Christ, but instead are following Saul's example, would rather keep self alive than to be set free from the spiritual bondage they naturally experience while clinging to their flesh-life.

     This is the subtle temptation with which you will be confronted. For the devil will come to you again and again and whisper in your ear that you are not as bad as the Bible makes you out to be. There is surely something good to salvage from your flesh-life.

     It seemed to Saul that God was taking things too far. God's judgment on Amalek seemed to be unwarranted, a fanatical exaggeration of the issues; and so, in defiance of God's word, God's mind, God's will, and God's perfect judgment, Saul made up his own mind about right and wrong. Like Adam and Eve, Saul ate of the tree of "good and evil" - the personal opinion tree - thus making himself into his own god. (Gen. 3: 4-5)

     It was this life of self-will that caused the Spirit to depart from both Adam and Saul. Are you still living by your own opinions and deciding what is right and wrong in your life? If you are, you are living by the flesh. God will not permit this evil to enter into His presence within His undivided kingdom. "So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Rom. 8: 8)

     It is comparatively easy to be sorry for our sinful past, and even to recognize and dislike some of the sinful things we may still stumble into {such as selfish anger, some other temper, or saying some unkind words}, but we are by nature loathe to concede the natural depravity and wickedness of our willful nature. We think there is something good in ourselves, and so we want to keep Agag alive in order to control our own life and have our own glory.

     Like Saul, we even plan to use the "good things" of Amalek in our worship to God. Many people save their self-life so they are able to build themselves up in the eyes of the people through their worship services. However, it is easy to recognize "the pride of life" in man, even when it claims to be worshipping God.

     In other words, the fact that you are a preacher, the fact that you are a missionary, the fact that you are a minister of music, the fact that you are a Christian educator, the fact that you are a Christian worker, the fact that you are a witnessing Christian, does not make you spiritual, nor your activity a righteous work coming from the life of Jesus Christ - no matter how deep your sense of dedication or the sacrifices involved.

     Are you still doing your Christian work with some hope of receiving honor and recognition? (John 5: 44) If you are, Agag is still alive and active. You are still acting like "mere men." (1 Cor. 3: 3) This is why you become worried and upset when things don't go the way you have planned them to. You have not yet sacrificed your fallen nature so that your body may become the temple of Christ's life. This is the "one thing needful." (Luke 10: 42)

     The flesh does not take kindly to an exposure of the unholy nature of its own self-righteousness. It will be hurt, offended, indignant, and resentful. Like Saul, it will even try to justify itself by claiming to be obedient to the word of God. But the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen did little to vindicate Saul's claim that he had performed as God had commanded. The noise that flows out of a carnal nature, such as boasting, quarreling, bickering, fretting and irritability, is the bad fruit that will demonstrate how an individual is still living under the power of the flesh like a "mere man" of the world. (1 Cor. 3: 3)

     Of course, Saul assumed an air of offended innocence and insisted that he had not only performed the commandment of the Lord, but had done so with superior human judgment. After all, he had spared the best part of Amalek to be offered to the Lord in his worship to God. In effect, he planned to serve the Lord with his very best efforts! Saul said in so many words, "Don't get me wrong! Don't do the injustice of misjudging my heart or my motives! The good that I have found in Amalek, I have kept to dedicate to God."

     Saul was saying the same thing that we hear from so many people in the church today. Even though they refuse to die to self so they may live under the control and power of the Holy Spirit and manifest the life and nature of Jesus Christ, they say their motives are right, even when they are still serving God in the power of the flesh. This heart deception is a stroke of satanic genius and one of Satan's most ancient devices, to persuade us to piously dedicate our fleshly human works to God.

     We think that the works we are doing for the Lord with our "right heart" will make our proud and willful way of life acceptable to God. And so we presume to find good in the flesh-life - a life that God has condemned. But it is nothing more than an attempt to build the Tower of Babel up to God through human works.

     This is the curse of Christendom! This is what paralyzes the Spirit's work in the church today! In defiance of God's word, men everywhere are prepared to dedicate to God the human plans that God condemns - the works of the flesh. No wonder God's life and glory are not being seen from the lives of Christians today.

     God had effectively said, "Do not forget the innate evil in Amalek." But Saul forgot to remember. Saul, in his own willfulness, had rejected God's verdict on Amalek. He therefore had to learn in a bitter way how God's verdict is always right and unchangeable. Though you may show mercy to Agag, this self-life will never show mercy to you!

     "I am in great distress," said Saul. "The Philistines {who represent the sins of a carnal nature} are fighting against me, and God has turned away from me. He no longer answers me either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do." Samuel said, "Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has turned away from you and has become your enemy? The Lord has done what he predicted through me...Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. The Lord will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines {which is a life of suffering under the bondage of a carnal nature}..."  (1 Sam. 28: 15-19)

     You compromise with Amalek at your peril. No good thing dwells in your self-life, nor can anything good come out of the wisdom of this world. Spare it if you will, but it will never spare you! Presume to find something good in it to offer to the Lord, when God has wholly condemned it, and the day will come when it will destroy you and rob you of your crown.

     God says that no flesh will ever glory in His presence. It can only make your body the devil's plaything so that his evil pride and self-seeking desires will become incarnate in all that you say and do.

     Are you still offering to God the best of what God has condemned? Are you still living under law by human effort while offering tokens to the Lord from your treasures? Be careful; God cannot be mocked. You need to come out from the ways of the flesh and stop touching the unclean things of this world before you can enter into the divine life and nature of the Lord. (2 Cor. 6: 17) "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world {with its self-sufficient, self-willed and self-seeking ways}..." (Rom. 12: 1-2)

     Think about this: With an entrance into the Promised Land only a twelve day journey from spiritual regeneration at the Red Sea, "then came Amalek." Because they would not destroy Amalek, for forty years the called out people of God wandered around the wilderness, grieving God in their self-imposed poverty, robbed of all the blessings for which they had been redeemed!