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King Agag and Your Television: When We Tolerate Sin

Greg E. Gifford, PhD, CBC



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King Agag and Your Television

       King Agag and Your Television

We were in the woods near Columbus, GA where I was doing training with the Army and at one of the locations we stayed, there were showers! Hallelujah! When you have sweat for the past few days, a shower is worth its weight in gold. However, there was one catch—the water was cold … really cold. The only way you could take a shower was to acclimate to the coldness and attempt to rinse off the soap and shampoo. But before long, the cold water was not as shocking. We could hop right in, get clean, and continue on with life. After a while, the extremely cold water became normal. And sin has a way of taking something extremely shocking and making it normal. Ken Sande writes a wonderful section in his book, The PeaceMaker, on the progression of an idol. In it he shows how we are people who often have good intentions (or desires) and how those desires can quickly go off-track to become demands (or idols). But there is one more outworking of this observation: the opposite is true. If good things can morph into bad things, it must be noted that bad things can morph into good things (at least in our opinion). We will laugh at things that really are not funny. Perhaps, repeat scenarios that definitely don’t deserve repeating. All the while becoming more calloused to sinful things. At the core of this evil-sanctifying process is a poor understanding of the danger of sin.

In 1 Samuel 15 there is another instance of someone taking sin flippantly: King Saul is commanded to destroy the Amalekite people. The Amalekite people were a people who had attacked Israel, harassed Israel, and generally exposed Israel—especially during their exodus from Egypt. Therefore, God gives King Saul the orders to kill the entire Amalekite people. In this we see that sin is serious and it also has serious consequences. However, we see that King Saul took a very flippant attitude toward sin. So much so that He didn’t kill the leader of the Amalekites and kept the best of their things to offer as a sacrifice. And in both, he directly contradicted God’s command (15:18). This minimizing of sin and God’s command led to the kingdom being torn from Saul. But this section of Scripture also ends in a very brutal scene where Samuel hacks King Agag into pieces. Why?

Why get rid of King Agag in such a brutal way? Because sin cannot be tolerated. The toleration of sin led to compounding sin (i.e., King Saul tolerated Agag therefore disobeying God). Why did Agag need to die? Because sin is serious. Why then would I every want to ‘acclimate’ myself to something so serious?

TV: An Acclimation to Sin

One of my greatest concerns is that television has a covert way of making sin okay. If you have watched any sitcom over the past year, you would see that sexual references, disrespectful children, and insubordinate people are normative. The message that is being communicated is talk to your parents however, treat your bosses however, and take advantage of the marriage bed however. Sin has become acceptable and even entertaining. I want to watch what I should inherently despise!

One thing that got King Saul in trouble is that he didn’t take sin seriously. And I pray that we are not allowing our televisions to harden us towards sin. I am not a legalist and love a good movie. However, there is one rule in my house regarding TV. We don’t watch TV, we watch movies and the kids can watch some cartoons. Why in the world would I do this? Is it because I want to control my family and dupe them into believing what I believe? Am I a legalist? I don’t think so. It is because sin is so deceitful. I think Samuel understood this when he killed Agag and I think you need to know that TV is not just entertaining you; it is informing you. It is acclimating you to a deadly thing, namely, sin.

Not loving the world (1 John 2:15) starts with not loving the things of the world. And that is challenging enough with our own sinful hearts, nevertheless a device that is trying to draw out that sinfulness. So take seriously what your TV is doing to your—and your family. You don’t need to move to the mountains and isolate yourself but you do need to ask if God is pleased by what you watch on TV. And, as John Owens said, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”

"God may be looked upon in an absolute consideration, as he is in himself the best and most excellent being, wherein we behold the concurrence of all perfections, the most amiable and beauteous excellences, to an intellectual eye, that it can have an apprehension of." --John Howe, On Delighting in God
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