Discover the Book - Aug. 29, 2008
Flee the Lusts of the Flesh-Remember Samson
Samson. He is the classic picture of one who through the lusts of the flesh became a friend of the world.
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.
His life is recorded in God's Word as a picture of the destructive power of sin. 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.
The greatest enemy Samson had was himself. What a warning to each of us who have the same problem—it is called our flesh. Within each of us a traitorous inclination against God never slumbers, and always smolders. Given any amount of fuel either through the desires of the body, the desires of the yes or the pride of life—and it blazes to life in a conflagration of destruction.
Samson’s history is an illustration of Paul’s warning in 1 Cor. 9:27: But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
Samson was disqualified. In Heaven he was remembered as a man of faith. On earth he was remembered as a man who was disqualified. Hebrews 11:32 cites him for his faith in God’s Word, but apart from this, very little can be said on his behalf. “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor. 10:12, NKJV) Note the steps that led to Samson’s sin and tragic end.
To have grown up with Samson must have been amazing. His neighborhood pals must have stood in wonder at his immense strength. His enemies must have fled quickly. It was like having a one-man army.
As a young man probably in his teens, we get the first indicator that Samson was not going the direction the Lord had pointed him. He was in great need of God’s grace. He begins to live by his desires and not God’s. He begins to serve his own lusts and not God's Words. A string of women begin to parade through his life. In fact seven times Samson is guided by the lust of his eyes when he sees women that please him. That was a dangerous choice each time. Here is the list: Judges 14:1, 2, 3, 7; 15:1, 2; 16:1.
The final, and deadliest woman is Delilah in Judges 16.4. Her name has become synonymous with lust, deceit, betrayal and ruin. She tries to find the secret of his strength for an enormous bribe. She finally wears him down. Samson knows it is his hair and in a series of three lies he slowly gives clues.
C. H. Spurgeon’s summary says it all:
"At last he falls into the hands of Delilah. He foolishly plays with his own destruction. At last he lets out the secret, his strength lay in his locks. Not that his hair made him strong; but that his hair was the symbol of his consecration, and was the pledge of God's favor to him.
While his hair was untouched he was a consecrated man; as soon as that was cut away, he was no longer perfectly consecrated, and then his strength departed from him. His hair is cut away; the Philistines begin to oppress him, and his eyes are burned out with hot iron. How are the mighty fallen!
And now he comes to the very city out of which he had walked in all his pride with the gates and bolts upon his shoulders; and the little children come out, the lower orders of the people come round about him, and point at him - "Samson, the great hero, hath fallen! Let us make sport of him!" What a spectacle!
Why, he must be the sport and jest of every passer by, and of every fool who shall step in to see this great wonder - the destroyer of the Philistines made to toil at the mill.
That he should have lost his eyes was terrible; that he should have lost his strength was worse; but that he should have lost the favor of God for a while; that he should become the sport of God's enemies, was the worst of all."
Samson’s soiled life is recorded. His defeats are unvarnished and clear for all to see. Practicing of sin blinds us, then sin slowly binds us with its fetters and finally blinded and bound we have to go grinding through life because of sin. Talk to anybody that’s lived an immoral life that’s come to Christ, and ask them how exciting it really was.
Talk to someone that’s been in the drug culture that’s come to Christ- ask them whether it’s as exciting as it appears to be in the media. Talk to anybody that’s gotten into the world of alcohol, bars and ask them whether it really satisfies. It doesn’t- it has a passing pleasure that slowly blinds- that binds us with cords that we forge for ourselves that we cannot break and finally we become the one who is grinding out an existence totally the captive of sin. God forgives, God restores, and God uses Samson one final time.
What was Samson’s problem?
1. First, Samson was dominated by lust. That passion led Samson to desire a Philistine woman as a wife, which was strictly forbidden by God’s Law. In addition, that passion led him to liaisons with prostitutes, like the one with the woman Delilah who betrayed him for money. How many times do men say no, no, I’m doing that because I love her. No- love can wait to fulfill a legitimate desire, lust can’t. Lust always fulfills legitimate desires in an illegitimate way. You want to know the difference between love and lust? Can you wait? If you can’t, it’s lust. Love always waits.
2. Second, Samson was driven by pride and revenge. He was more moved by anger at personal affronts to strike out at the Philistines than he was moved by the suffering of the people he was supposed to lead (cf. 14:19–20; 15:7–8; 16:28).
3. Third, Samson was defeated by himself. We can hardly imagine what Samson, with his great strength and godly heritage, might have been. If only he had lived out daily the formal commitment to God expressed in that Nazarite vow.
The rest of the story shows the tragic end of the believer who will not let God have his way with his life. From 16.20 on, Samson does nothing but lose. What exactly did Samson lose?
- Samson loses his hair, the symbol of his Nazarite dedication; for that dedication had long since been abandoned. God allowed the outward symbol of it to be taken away from him.
- Samson loses his strength, but doesn’t even know it until he is overpowered. Judges 16:20 And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him. He did not know how futile it is for the servant of God to try to serve the Lord when out of His will because he loses his strength. Be not deceived, God is not mocked. We operate in our own strength, he will let us fail in our own strength. We operate without heeding His warnings, He will let us live without heeding his warnings. We operate without walking in the Spirit? He’ll let us operate that way.
- Samson loses his sight, as the Philistines put out his eyes.
- Samson loses his freedom, for they bind him with fetters of brass.
- Samson loses his usefulness to the Lord, for he ends up grinding corn instead of fighting God’s battles. What a picture of sin. 1st sin blinds, then sin binds, and finally sin grinds. Ask any person who has lived a life of alcohol, a life of immorality, a life of drugs – they will tell you no matter how alluring it looks, it grinds—as the writer of Proverbs says it’s gravel in the mouth. And all of this began when Samson despised his blessings and defied his parents!
- Samson loses his testimony, for he was the laughingstock of the Philistines. Their fish-god Dagon, not the God of Israel, was given all the glory.
- Samson loses his life. Samson was a castaway he had committed sin unto death, and God had to take him off the scene. His loved ones claimed his body and buried him “between Zorah and Eshtaol”—the very place where he had started his ministry (13:25). What about Samson’s death? Was it suicide, and was it wrong?
Turn to 1 Corinthians 9. These are some of the warning verses of the New Testament. You might want to mark them. The scriptures tell us that we should ponder the example of the Old Testament. What about us in the New Testament? You say we’re not Nazarites and we get our hair cut and we don’t stay away from the fruit of the vine and from being near dead people and all that. We aren’t in the Old Testament. What’s the message for us?
- 1 Corinthians 9:27 “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified”
Disqualified is adokimos in Greek, and it is a very interesting word. It’s the word in the ancient world that was used in coin making. Individual men would melt gold and pour it into molds and they would stamp it with a number and they would give it out as currency and they agreed on how much it weighed.
But people learned early on that you could file off part of that gold coin and if you filed a little bit off of a lot of coins you could get coins with out working. So if you found coins with file marks on them- they would be adokimos- they’d give them back and say I’m not taking that coin, its not right, someone has shaved off the edges, cut the corners, and ruined its worth!
What Paul is saying is, after I’ve lived my life and poured my life into the mold of God’s will--if I cut corners and say I’m serving God so I can also serve my lust a little bit- I can have a little secret- you know life’s hard and you got to have a few pleasures.
No says Paul, I’ll not cheat in the holiness department or in the judgment God will say that one cut the corners, we’ll disqualify that life. That’s what Paul was afraid of. What’s the message for us? 1 Corinthians 3 and the fires of God’s Judgment burning away worthlessness from our lives is something to meditate on.
For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit discoverthebook.org.
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