Sunday, August 27, 2017

He Had So Much Potential

Recently I read once again about the life of Samson, the last of Israel’s judges (a word that in the book of Judges speaks of a deliverer more than what today we would think of in a judge). Samson comes on the scene at the tail-end of a long sorry cycle of Israel sinning, being given over to judgment and bondage, repenting-and-crying-out-to-God, being delivered, and then starting it all over again—multiple times!

We are tempted to think that the Israelites were such losers during this period, until we realize that what we see in their behavior is too often the same as what we see when looking into the mirror. We slog along most days, weighed down by the same self-centered, God-denying sin. After chapters of this in Judges it is crystal-clear that, “In those days there was no king in Israel [and] everyone did what was right in his own eyes!” (Judges 21:25) Human deliverers were not enough. They needed a king who would save them in the ultimate way and enable them to bow the knee to God’s saving reign and blessings. They needed the Messiah, the Christ!

But, we are getting ahead of ourselves. Back to Samson…

Samson came along with so much potential. He was given as a special gift, to be a savior,  through a miraculous birth to Manoah, of the tribe of Dan, and announced by an angel to his formerly barren wife (13:2-7). Sound familiar? God, through the pen of the biblical writer is giving us a little foretaste of what was needed in the future through a greater Savior. Samson is, in many ways, a type of Jesus Christ!

So Samson had a special role to fill in Israel, was divinely commanded to live under a Nazirite vow, meaning he should not drink anything from the vine, eat no unclean thing, and his hair should not be cut (13:4-5). Not only did God give Samson great strength (14:6; 15:14, 19, et. al.), but also moved in and through him by his Spirit on many occasions (13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14, et. al.). In spite of the fact that Samson eventually broke every part of his Nazirite vow, God graciously saved Israel from the hand of the Philistines through him (cf. 16:23-31). Through Samson’s story (and that of every other judge), God points to the gospel by illustrating that where Israel’s sin abounded, his saving grace super-abounds (see Romans 5:20)!

However, the entire story is hard to read because in the middle of it is this man, Samson, who had so much potential and could have been a great leader, but he was done in by his weakness. It was not just the disobedience involved in breaking his Nazirite vow, but over and over again, as recorded in Judges 14-16, he was done in by his sinful love of women. Rather than turning to and trusting in God and thus following his fatherly instructions to marry a fellow believing Israelite, Samson had a lust for foreign, unbelieving women. He kept giving in and eventually they were his downfall (see 16:4-22 and Delilah). He kept following them as if they were inviting him to this wonderful party, only to find they led him to a banquet in the grave (Prov. 9:13-18).

I am afraid many men in our own day and time are following the road of Samson, ending up in the grave and destruction. Only the women are not foreign unbelieving women named Delilah. They are found on the screen in pornography! I am afraid that someday it will be said of many such men, “Oh, he had such potential to be a good husband, a good father, a capable leader in the church. But, he was done in through pornography. It’s just too bad!”

What is the answer?  It is the reality to which the book of Judges and Samson point—that we need King Jesus and not merely to do life on our own. When we turn to King Jesus as Christian men we will:

·         See that what our rich good heavenly father has for us at his banqueting table is far better than eating out of the pornographic garbage bin in the back alley!

·         See that Jesus redeemed us and so we are adopted into the family of God with all the rights and privileges of his sons. We are no longer identified as “porn-again” Christians, but truly “born-again” Christians!

·         Believe we can say, “Yes,” to God, holiness, and purity, and “No” to the temptation of porn.

·         Understand we are forgiven and so we can get up, brush off, and move forward after repenting.

·         Want to do whatever we have to so we can break this habit, including having men around us who will pray for us, hold us accountable, and help us apply the gospel.

·         Cry out to God repeatedly for his help.

·         Not try to beat this on our own in private.

·         Turn to Celebrate Recovery for help.

Brothers, don’t destroy your marriage, your family, your reputation, and your life. If you are struggling, talk to another man about this, and seek help.

A Grateful Follower Of Jesus Christ, A Former Porn-Again Christian, And On The Journey With You,