Discover the Book - Aug. 27, 2008
James 4:5 “Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously?” Did you catch why God hates this world-friendly mode so much? It is because God loves us with a jealous love.
God compares friendship with the world to adultery. God says that we as believers are “married to Christ” (Rom. 7:4). We ought to be faithful to Christ as our husband.
The picture of “spiritual adultery” is a repeated theme in the warnings of the Old Testament Prophets Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Hosea (see Jer. 3:1–5; Ezek. 23; Hosea 1–2). God warned
Understanding that the Holy Spirit’s jealousy for us as James states it—
“opens a heart-changing truth to us: even when we sin by seeking our pleasures in friendship with the world, we are greatly loved, for jealousy is an essential element of true love.
We are brides of Christ, and the Holy Spirit does not want us to go somewhere else to “have our needs met.” The Holy Spirit’s true love for us evokes a proper intolerance of straying affection. The personal nature of this ought to steel us against wandering. This jealous Spirit is inside us. When we sin, he is pained!
Furthermore, his jealousy is passionate, for the idea in the Greek is that he longs or yearns for us with an intense jealousy. To realize that the awesomely holy God who transcends the universe and is wholly other and self-contained is at the same time personally and passionately and lovingly jealous for our affection—this realization ought to stop any of our “affairs” with the world and cause us to prostrate our souls adoringly before him. How we are loved!”
And because we are so loved, God wants us to repent of any friendship with the world—so He warns us by showing us what will happen to us if we persist in this friendliness to the world mode.
Now that takes us to Samson. He is the classic picture of one who through the lusts of the flesh became a friend of the world.
Samson is one of the most powerful pictures I’ve ever seen of the futility and loss that friendship with the world brings. Samson gradually became a friend of the world and reaped in his lifetime the complete loss of everything he had lived his entire life to get.
Samson is a powerful reminder of God’s grace. Though he descended into the depths of a lust filled life, wandering far from his calling and consecration – the Lord never let go of him. His soiled life is recorded. His defeats are unvarnished and clear for all to see. But against the backdrop of sin is the beauty of grace. God forgives, God restores, and God uses Samson one final time. That’s the wonder of God’s grace, the God of the second chance.
The life of Samson is recorded in God's Word as a picture of the destructive power of sin, and the restoring power of grace. Samson often lived in the lust of the flesh; Samson often walked by the lust of the eyes; Samson often responded with the pride of life. Yet Samson in the final analysis, as God sees His life – is a man of faith. What a picture of grace. One moment of godly sorrow, leading to a repentant prayer of faith -- at his darkest hour, God brought him back to the place of blessing. God is the God of the second chance.
Marvelous grace of our loving God,
grace that exceeds our sin and our shame.
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled…
I always like to say: If Samson made it – anyone may. He was about as low and as far and defiled as you can get and yet he made it and was one of God’s dear heroes of the faith.
The life of Samson is a tragic story of the cost of yielding to the lusts of the flesh- and that’s what I want to show you this evening as we start back in the book of Judges 13-16.
But before we go, let me just summarize the dangers of friendship with the world, the consequences of wandering from consecrated living, and the wonders of God’s grace! All seen in the incredible life of Samson. If I was to distill his life down I would say this:
Samson is a powerful illustration of friendship with the world through the lusts of the flesh—and those destructive powers that the lusts of the flesh wield.
- Samson illustrates people who have power to conquer others, but who cannot conquer themselves.
- He could set the Philistine fields on fire, but was consumed by the fires of his own lust.
- He could kill an attacking lion, but was utterly defeated by the passions of his own flesh.
- He could easily break the bonds that men put on him, but the shackles of his own sin gradually grew stronger on his soul.
- He could have led the nation, he preferred to work independently, and as a result, left no permanent victory behind.
- He could have been remembered for what he built up, but instead everyone but God only remembers what he destroyed – lions, foxes, fields, gates, soldiers, women’s purity, and his own life and ministry.
Samson is a powerful reminder of God’s grace. Though he descended into the depths of a lust filled life, wandering far from his calling and consecration – the Lord never let go of him. His soiled life is recorded. His defeats are unvarnished and clear for all to see. But against the backdrop of sin is the beauty of grace. God forgives, God restores, and God uses Samson one final time.
- Sampson pictures the consequences of friendship with the world and the flesh. He is a graphic picture of loss.
- Experiencing great blessing and strength in one area of our lives does not make up for neglect and weakness in another area of our lives. Just because Samson had supernatural strength, had a Nazarite vow and the Spirit of God moved upon him- that was his strength—it didn’t compensate for his overfed lust, anger and pride—he never restrained with repentance. Strength in one area doesn’t compensate for weakness in another area. We must in the strength of the one area stand in the boldness and power of the Lord to put to death those sins of our flesh and to stand in the strength and to mortify the weakness. Samson never realized that.
- Knowing the presence of God does not automatically overwhelm our will. Samson knew God personally but did not choose to obey. We must choose to obey or we will disobey!
- God always uses men and women of faith in spite of their failures! What a lesson, what a blessing.
But what is the answer for all of us today who want to be God’s friends and yet who still struggle with the lusts of this world around us? The answer is in James 4.
“But he gives more grace.” That is the answer—more grace!
This is not saving grace, for every believer has that. Rather, it is literally “greater grace”—God’s gracious supply to live as we ought in a fallen world. As Augustine put it, “God gives what he demands.” There is always, for the believer, greater grace. This is without doubt one of the most comforting texts in all of Scripture.
This verse means there will always be enough grace regardless of our situation or need—always. The writer of Hebrews confidently tells us, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
We have no need which outstrips his grace, and we never will! Even if we fall into abject sin there is a stream of grace, as Paul said: “But where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Romans 5:20b). “For daily need there is daily grace; for sudden need, sudden grace; for overwhelming need, overwhelming grace,” says John Blanchard. John Newton, author of “Amazing Grace,” knew this well:
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come:
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
Whatever our condition or situation, he always “gives us more grace.” He gives grace to overcome personal weaknesses. If to your alarm you find that you are repeatedly succumbing to a burning pursuit of pleasure, God will give you more grace if you ask.
If you are a victim of an imploding self-centeredness which repeatedly sucks you into its nothingness, and you want deliverance, there is grace for the asking.
Perhaps you are so stubborn that you have never lost an argument. Perhaps you are such a knot-head that you never listen to anyone. Now you find that your most intimate relationships are impaired, so that your spouse and friends find your presence a burden, but you want to change. God will give you more grace.
If you have fed on cherished hatreds, but now see that the feast has really been the Devil’s feast and the main course your soul, and you want deliverance, he will give you more grace.
All we need to do is ask for it!
For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit discoverthebook.org.
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