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First Things @ First

Pastoral Perspectives;

In the Gospel Project Study for adults, we recently were reminded of Samson in the book of the Judges. Samson, like many men today was a man of both physical strength and spiritual weakness. His physical strength was produced by the Lord who separated him from birth as a Nazarite. A Nazarite was set apart for God's purpose in life and for life. A Nazarite was required to watch his diet closely meaning He didn't drink any type of alcoholic beverage nor did he eat certain foods. Secondly, a Nazarite was never to go near anything that was dead. Thirdly, a Nazarite never cut his hair as an outward display of his vow to God, first and foremost.

Aside from the facts surrounding his birth we know little of Samson's early years. The next time we see Samson he has grown to be a young man who's dealing with an old problem. Lust.

The first words, we have recorded from Samson are these-- ' I saw a woman..." Judges 14:1-2

Charles Swindoll has noted in his book 'Living Above the Level of Mediocrity' that Samson was a 'he-man' with a 'she-weakness'. That statement well sums up Samson's life. We first see his 'she-weakness' in the woman of Timnah that Samson set his eyes on. (don't miss that) The woman is not named. One reason may well be that when lust is loosed in the heart of a man, he doesn't care what the name of the woman is. He only cares about one thing; that's satisfying what we'll call the urge to merge. In addition, you won't find one detail of this woman's character. She is only described as a woman of Timnah, a Philistine. Who she was, where she had come from, what she held dear did not matter to Samson. It should have but it didn't. Such is the case when a person is driven by their glands instead of being directed by God. Samson would later marry this Philistine woman and afterwards is seen mingling more and more with the enemy as a result. The enemy will attempt to use this situation against him. He does the same thing to people in general today. When that attempt fails, Samson gives his wife away to his companion. Judges 14:20 That only reinforces the truth that what is gained too cheaply is often taken too lightly. And that is seen in both Samson's marriage and ministry purpose.

Throughout Samson's life as a judge of Israel, there would be glimpses of glory, demonstrations of God's power on display in his life, but Samson would never experience nor enjoy all that God had set him aside for. Samson's lust for what was outside the boundaries of God's word and will for his life would eventually catch up with him and cost him dearly. Oh, that we learn that and live differently.

As the saga continues, Samson is seen returning to re-claim his wife and when he is denied, Samson directs his anger toward the enemy of God's people. Many Philistines are killed (1000) and much property destroyed in the process. God's purpose in delivering Israel from their enemy through Samson appears being fulfilled. God's purpose in Samson; let's just say, not so much.

Upon arriving at Judges 16 we soon discover that Samson's 'eye' problem did not correct itself with time or with age because growing older is no guarantee of growing up. That describes Samson. He never grew out of his own adolescence. Listen to the words of Judges 16:1--"Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there and went into her." Notice the word 'saw' in verse 1. Samson's desires remain without discipline. He was an ordinary man who was provided extra-ordinary strength from God for the purpose of doing the work of God, not for his own pleasure or pursuits. His extra-ordinary strength is seen in chapter 16 when Samson carries the gates of the city of Gaza and the gateposts up to the hill at Hebron while they were closed and locked. Samson had no trouble with carrying the gates of Gaza. His trouble was that he could not close the 'gate' of his eye to temptation and his unwillingness to do that led to his heart being overcome with lust. His lack of discipline in what he 'saw' would ultimately lead to his downfall and death.

James 1:14 says--"Every man, (not few, not most, not many) but every man is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust." It is worth noting that the word 'enticed' means 'to lure by a bait'.

Let me be clear--It's not a sin to be tempted. The first look is not a sin. It's when the glance becomes a gaze that the door is opened to being carried away in sin.

Samson was 'carried away' by his own lust because he preferred to live by his own rules instead of God's who supplied his strength. And Satan noticed his weakness through his behavior. The adversary notices ours, as well.

When the enemy of God's people (Philistines) came to the woman of Timnah, their orders were simple; 'entice' your husband. Judges 14:15

This was the same play in Satan's strategy against Adam and Even years before when the enemy of God came to the first woman in the garden of Eden and Eve saw that the fruit was good to look at. The Bible says that after she ate, Eve gave also to her husband. Eve 'enticed' Adam. Satan twisted Eve's love for her husband and used it as a lure to destroy their relationship with God and each other. However, the fault for 'the fall' lay with Adam primarily. Reason being, Adam was present when Satan tempted his wife and Adam did nothing to counter the assault with the truth that God had told him directly. ("You shall not eat of it...") Adam heard Satan twist the truth of God in deceiving his wife and said nothing. And in being 'carried away' by the lust 'to just try it' in choosing to live outside of the boundaries of God's word, Adam knowingly and willfully disregarded the word of God. And sin did what sin still does. It brought death. Romans 6:23 What began in the garden with lust for what was forbidden in both Adam and Eve, we're still facing today in many various forms. But the goal of the enemy remains the same. The destruction of what God first designed and desires for Himself.

The trouble that Samson experienced could have been easily avoided if only he would have exercised the discipline to take the way of escape when he was tempted. 1 Cor. 10:13 If only Samson had run from the lure of lust as Joseph did when he was enticed by Potiphar's wife. Genesis 39 Instead, Samson ran after his lust as though it was prey to pounce on because he foolishly thought he could handle it. It would be too late when Samson would discover that the prey, he pursued was more dangerous and deadly than he realized.

For those of you who are male and still reading this--guys, learn to guard your eyes by yielding yourself to God every morning and often through the day. Commit your eyes to honor God. Because if we, as men fail to guard our eyes, it will be virtually impossible to guard our heart. With time we, like the strong man Samson we'll be carried away, captured and eventually conquered by the enemy. Samson's self-indulgence and lack of discipline resulted in a shameful life instead of a joyful life. Lust for what was outside the boundaries of God's word coupled with a willful disregard for his vow to live a consecrated life before God cost him everything.

For those of you who are female and still reading this--Ladies, dress in a way that honors God. Don't dress in public in a way that invites the sensual appeal of the flesh. I know that may be unpopular and even difficult in a culture that emphasizes being noticed. However, God's word says, don't be conformed to the image of this world system in any form. Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your mind each day. Romans 12:1-2 God's instruction manual helps a woman who desires to honor God live in a way that draws attention to God, not herself.God's word instructs the older women to teach the younger women how to present themselves in public.Titus 2:4-5 That means that mothers/grandmothers (older women) do not approve of nor do they promote or purchase anything that would place their daughters/granddaughters (younger women) in a position where the adversary, Satan can use them as bait; as a lure of lust. Godly women do not dress their daughters in a way that invites/encourages the 'likes' or look of lust. Anything less stands in direct contradiction to God's word and will for those He, Himself has saved from the penalty and power of sin.

I want you to see one more thing about Samson that is seldom seen. It's in Judges 16:21. Upon revealing the sign of his strength to the harlot Delilah, Samson is captured. And the first thing (not the second or third, but the first) thing the enemy does to Samson is found in verse 21. "then the Philistines took Samson and 'put'(lit.--'bored') out his eyes." Why would the Philistines 'bore' out his eyes and not cut off his arms or legs? What damage could his eyes do? In the minds of most his arms or legs would have been more dangerous. An answer from God's position; the eyes are the gate to the heart and to lust. You see, (no pun intended) life is in many ways lived through the eyes. And God often permits the object of our desire, (when not centered on Him) to become the target of our discipline. (Something good to remember the next time you're tempted to be carried away by lust)

An answer from the enemy's position; the Philistines wanted no more problems from this 'he-man' with a 'she-weakness' and they did everything they could to guarantee it. In their way of thinking, if Samson couldn't see them, he couldn't harm them.

Samson had permitted himself to be seduced by sin instead of being separated for God and he finds himself shackled to the consequences of his sin, as a result. Samson, the strong man is grinding grain like an ox to feed the enemy he was assigned to destroy. (absolute humiliation) Same will be true for those who think themselves strong enough to 'handle' living outside the boundaries of God's word today. 1 Corinthians 10:12

The nature of the flesh feeds on lust, so beware of the lust for power, position and personal pleasure. Left unchecked, lust will carry you away and cost you dearly. As with Samson, sin will rob you of God's strength and your potential and leave your God-designed purpose cut off. Proverbs 2:10-22

Only the continuous filling of the Spirit of God will enable the believer to starve the flesh to death and overcome lust.

Ephesians 5:18

Why that is important is because we become most like what we 'feed' on consistently. That's either the offerings of the world system under the control of Satan, OR it's the offerings of the word of God that provide the counsel of God to flee immorality and temptation.

1 Cor. 6:18 Only then will we experience His power and see our potential fully realized.

We know the sad end of Samson's story. How God overcame the best laid plans of the enemy and permitted, if only one final time the power necessary for Samson, to accomplish God's designed purpose. The reality is, Samson died in the process when God could have done so much more had he chosen to honor his vow and live for God instead of himself.

What is driving your passions or your pursuits today in life?

Is it based on a personal love for God or powerful lust for life?

Good questions in a culture driven by the desires of the flesh.

The good news is; God is able, ready and willing to help you with the strength to overcome.

If you choose to ignore it, then take a page from the life of Samson. Lust will carry you away and leave you shackled in something you could have overcome in the power of Jesus' name.

If you're interested in starting fresh, the best place to begin is by confessing your sin to God. 1 John 1:9

Then start a daily regimen of being in His word as you humbly engage God on your knees in prayer. If you will do that consistently, you won't end up like Samson, the strong man who lived a weak and worldly life.

'Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might.' Ephesians 6:10

God's best always!

Pstr K

Hebrews 10:35-36