So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the LORD…. (1 Chronicles 10:13a)
Our salvation for heaven depends on the finished work of Christ. Redemption comes by faith. Our status in heaven depends on our finishing the work Christ has for us. Reward comes by faithfulness. You can win a crown—and you can lose it!
On the one hand, we are exhorted to pursue our crown, "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life." (Revelation 2:10b) On the other hand we are encouraged to preserve our crown, "Hold fast what you have, that no one man take your crown." (Revelation 3:11b)
Saul lost his crown.
A chill runs up my spine and a tear wells up in my eye as I consider this horrible possibility, documented in Scripture. I can be just like Saul. I can lose my crown.
He had so much potential. God had blessed Saul with great ability and grand opportunity. His beginning was one of humility and success, as one chosen of God. His ending, however, was one of tragedy and failure, as one cast aside by God.
You cannot win the crown, if you stumble before the finish line.
There were three temporal losses which Saul experienced on his way to losing his crown. All the consequences of unfaithfulness may not await eternity. Many are suffered now.
We observe A DIRECTION THAT WAS UNCLEAR. Saul had spurned the Word of the Lord so much, that God said, "Have it your way!" The Lord would not listen to the one who would not listen to him. In a state of spiritual confusion and utter desperation, he sought a medium for direction. If you insist on refusing to seek God, and then one day in difficulty, decide to place an emergency call to heaven, God might graciously respond—or He may not. He is the Almighty God and not to be treated like an ambulance dispatcher! You can lose your crown!
There was also A DEFEAT THAT WAS UNAVOIDABLE. Saul had first surrendered to sin, before he suffered defeat on the battlefield. Having forsaken the Lord, he had no strength to win. The outward loss was inevitable, due to the unseen conquest of his soul, by not heeding his Commander's orders. We see the fall of some pastor, a fellow church member, someone we had confidence in—beaten down by the devil—and think it a sudden setback. Seldom, if ever, is that the case. Behind the scenes, a thousand little private defeats led to the public disgrace. You can lose your crown!
Then, we note A DEATH THAT WAS UNNECESSARY. Saul falls on his own sword and takes his life. His sons, including the good and gracious Jonathan, fall in battle. Many a soldier had their blood spilled on the ground that day. Grieving widows and pitiful orphans were the heirs of this defeat. The effects of our backsliding are never limited to us. It is true that we will lose our crown, but how many others will we drag down with us? You can lose your crown, and this can lead others to lose theirs.
Now, I am not talking about losing your salvation, but losing your standing—our relationship is unalterable, but our reward isn't (see 1 Corinthians 3:11-15). I fully expect to see Saul in heaven one day—without his crown.
Let us pray more earnestly that we would live more faithfully. Don't lose your crown!