The Trap of Looking too Low

September 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 2 Comments
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Samson: a man known for his tremendous, albeit supernatural, physical strength. Among his various exploits, the most well-known is probably his tryst with, and betrayal by, the Philistine seductress, Delilah. If pressed to name another Samsonite adventure though, the average church-attender would probably say, “One time, Samson killed a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey!”

And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands. And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.

Judges 15:14-15

When Samson had accomplished this mighty task, he found that he was parched, but he still had the energy to pause and compose a little ditty to celebrate his victory:

And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.

Judges 15:16

This verse loses some of its lyrical wit when translated into English, but the idea is that there is a play on the Hebrew words for “ass” or “donkey” (chamowr in Hebrew) and “heap” (chamorah in Hebrew). The theologian James Moffatt tried to capture the flavor of the pun by paraphrasing the verse. In his translation, Samson’s song or poem would go something like this:
With the jawbone of an ass
I have piled them in a mass.
With the jawbone of an ass
I have assailed assailants.
With the jawbone of an ass
I have slain a thousand men.

Catchy, huh? From Samson’s point of view it was just another day in a life filled with whatever came to pass as he pursued his passions and battled his personal demons. We might expect a man with Samson’s calling and endued with such power to use this miraculous feat as the launching point for a concerted effort to unite his countrymen, draw near to God in gratitude and trust, and to throw off the yoke of the Philistine oppressors once and for all. Alas, it was not to be. In the very next chapter Samson goes into Gaza to visit a prostitute.

What was Samson’s problem? It appears to have been a vision problem. Instead of looking up to God, he kept his sights trained on the day-to-day, the mundane, and the instantly gratifying sensations of fleshly adventure. In other words, he looked – and aimed – far too low.

May we not fall into this trap ourselves. We were made and redeemed by God for purposes far greater than the temporal pursuit of pleasure. But we need to fix our eyes in the right direction, or we will quickly forget our holy calling.

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

II Corinthians 4:18 (emphasis added)

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:1-2 (emphasis added)

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2 (emphasis added)

The Trap of Losing Long-Sightedness

August 2, 2013 at 10:54 am | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 1 Comment
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The birth of Samson is recorded at the end of Judges Chapter 13, and the next three chapters tell the story of his life. As his deeds are being described, the phrase “and it came to pass” is found seven times.

In Judges 14:11 he was about to celebrate the feast at his wedding to a woman he had no business marrying. In Judges 14:15 his wife was being persuaded by Samson’s enemies to betray him by revealing the answer to his riddle. In Judges 14:17 he gave in to her. In Judges 15:1 he bickered with his father-in-law. In Judges 15:17 he had just finished making up a silly little song to celebrate killing 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. In Judges 16:4 he made another bad choice in romancing a forbidden woman. In Judges 16:16 he was annoyed with her for trying to coax another secret from him. Sinful partying, illicit lust, gambling, fits of anger, marital squabbling, family bickering, and pointless word games. Judges 15:20 tells us that Samson “judged” Israel for 20 years. You would think, in that length of time, a man with Samson’s tremendous supernatural strength and Holy Spirit-anointing would have been able to make more progress in delivering his people from Philistine oppression.

Alas, it appears that he was more preoccupied with the here-and-now than he was in accomplishing the long-term objective assigned to him by the Lord. If you are a Christian – especially a Christian man – are you thinking about (and living) your life with the “eternal” or the “temporal” in view? Are you planning mainly for the next weekend or for the next generation? Are you building your Heavenly Father’s eternal kingdom or playing games in the personal little kingdom you have constructed around yourself?

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

II Corinthians 4:18

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 6:33

It is important to take a “long-term” view of our lives in light of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in light of the fact that what we do here on Earth, during the brief time we are given, does matter.

Here is the last time the phrase “and it came to pass” is used in the account of Samson:

And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.

Judges 16:25

Samson, who had lived much of his life as if it were one big joke, was now being made the butt of his enemies’ joke. Will you and I pass through this world lightly skimming the surface, seeking shallow entertainment and amusing distractions? Or will we plunge in with a determination to make a lasting impact, with the ripples from our lives spreading on into future generations, and even into eternity, to the glory of our great God?

The Trap of Loose Liaisons

July 1, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | Leave a comment
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In the last lesson on Samson’s pattern of lawless living, I advocated banishing the term “luck” from our vocabulary as we think about God’s sovereign and providential control of the circumstances in which we find ourselves day by day. Another example is the way in which Samson only appears to have been “unlucky in love.”

From his marriage to the girl from Timnath, who ended up with the fellow who had been the “best man” in his wedding (Judges 14:20), to the harlot from Gaza, who was nothing more than a one-night-stand (Judges 16:1-3), finally to Delilah, who had to manipulate him repeatedly to get the secret of his super strength out of him (Judges 16:15), Samson does not seem to have been the type of man who was big on emotional or spiritual intimacy. (Physical intimacy was obviously another story!)

Even in the area of non-sexual friendship, though, Samson appears to have been very aloof. Over the four chapters which recount his life, there are no close friendships, no male camaraderie, no sharing of his thoughts or feelings with any sort of trusted “confidant” (aside from Delilah). When his own countrymen came to see him, they found him sitting alone on top of a rock, and he made no special attempt to reason or fellowship with them. Rather, he sulkily told them he was a man motivated by a personal grudge, and asked them not to attack him personally as they handed him over to the Philistines (Judges 15:11-12).

One of the lessons we may learn from Samson’s life is the danger of trusting those who are not trustworthy, but another valuable lesson is the danger that lies when we fall into the trap of being a “lone ranger” in the Christian life. God does not command his people to live a life of monkish isolation. Instead, His Word often extols the benefits of healthy companionship.

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Proverbs 27:17

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Hebrews 10:25

Maybe it’s overly simplistic, but I like to wonder what would have happened if Samson had made a couple of trusted friends during his time as a Judge over Israel. Perhaps, if there was someone in which to confide, someone to give wise counsel, Samson could have rallied his kinsmen against the Philistines in a concerted God-honoring effort and ended the cycle of wrath and repentance sooner. Judges 14:20 is the only mention of Samson even having a friend, and it says that Samson only “used” him as a friend. As Christians today, we certainly need to be wary of placing our trust in those who have yet to demonstrate a Godly character, but, at the same time, God has placed us into a “family” of brothers and sisters, and Christian friendship can be a terrific asset as we invest our lives in serving our Lord and our fellow human beings.

Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

John 15:15

The Trap of Leaning on Luck

June 10, 2013 at 10:27 am | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 8 Comments
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Samson appears to have had a preoccupation with Philistine women. First, he wanted to marry one, then, in Judges 16, we find him visiting a Philistine prostitute.

Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.

Judges 16:1 (emphasis added)

Once again, Samson was tempted by what he saw, and the fact that he “went in unto her” means that he eagerly acted upon the temptation. While this was going on, his enemies, the Gazites, surrounded him during the night.

[And it was told] the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they compassed [him] in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.

Judges 16:2

Something roused Samson at midnight and warned him of the danger. Since there is no indication in Scripture that Samson had a special “spider-sense” like the comic book hero, Spider-Man, it seems likely that God in His providence woke Samson at what would seem to unbelievers to be a “fortuitous” time.

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And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put [them] upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that [is] before Hebron.

Samson 16:3

The fact that the very next verse tells of his “love” for Delilah indicates that Samson believed he was invincible. He does not give thanks to God for rescuing him. He does not heed the warning that his sin is repeatedly placing him in danger. He simply relies on the fact that he “somehow” keeps getting away with it, and continues to do it over and over again.

Have you ever escaped from a close call and found yourself “thanking your lucky stars?” Ever marveled at some blessing you received by calling it a “lucky break?” If we are not careful, we will forget the truth that in our God-controlled and -monitored universe, there is no such thing as “luck,” and, in the truest sense, the terms “accident” and “chance” are misnomers for the providence of the Lord. Samson kept defying God’s will for his life until his “luck ran out,” but what really happened is that he drove God’s presence from his life with such carelessness and defiance that the Spirit of the Lord finally left him (Judges 16:20).

We would do well to delete the term “luck” from our vocabulary and to banish the idea of random chance from our thinking. As Christians, we need to trust in the Lord our God, and – with eyes of faith – to see His invisible hand at work in all our circumstances, surroundings, appointments, and encounters.

The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.

Proverbs 16:33

The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.

Proverbs 18:18

The Trap of Loving Life

May 20, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 3 Comments
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Double-minded, unstable people foolishly and sinfully cross boundaries and live in lawless rebellion. They also don’t know when to be serious. Samson’s name meant “Sunny” or “Son of the Sun,” which would have been fitting given his calling by God, and the dark days in which he lived. Samson was supposed to be a light, and it was a serious responsibility.

For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

Judges 13:5

Instead of being serious, though, Samson was often more of a joker. Although he did harass the Philistines and act as a thorn in their side for 20 years, and, although his mission was only to “begin” the deliverance of the Jewish people from the Philistines, he spent most of his time getting into – and getting out of – trouble of his own making. Samson (until right at the end) appears to have placed more value on his earthly life than on his opportunities for making an eternal impact. He devoted an inordinate amount of his energy to making jokes, playing games, chasing women, and having fun.

Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,

Titus 2:6-7

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

Titus 2:11-12

Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

Psalm 2:10-11

When my oldest daughter was very small her favorite book was called The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. Because I had to read it to her over and over so many times I eventually memorized it. The line from the book that always comes to mind when I study the account of Samson is, “It’s fun to have fun, but you have to know how.”

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Samson loved living, but he seemed to lack a sense of how to rein in his impulse for fun. When you study his life, it seems like he never did anything just ordinary. Everything he did was either a tremendous miracle or complete foolishness. Do you know someone like this in your church? Oh, like Samson, he can testify that the Spirit of the Lord did something great in his life, and at times he seems like the most spiritual person in the world. He’s up in front of the whole congregation, celebrating, laughing, dancing, slapping backs, shaking hands, and kissing babies – for about two weeks. Then his whole life is suddenly in shambles. He splits up with his wife, or he’s struggling with addiction. Somebody looked at him crossways in church, and he went from total victory to total defeat. It’s just that we see it on a grander scale in the life of Samson.

Don’t get me wrong. I hope you have a great time in church – and when you’re not at church. I hope there’s a sincere smile on your face and a bounce in your step. But I also hope that when it’s time to be serious – when it’s time to dig in and do the work of the Lord that isn’t always done right up in front of everyone else – that you’ll be sober and steadfast and even (oh no, get ready to call me a legalist or a Pharisee) serious.

Samson loved life, which sounds positive, but we have to be careful not to love life itself as a substitute for the Giver of Life.

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

John 12:25

The Trap of Failing to Learn Lessons

May 3, 2013 at 9:40 am | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 4 Comments
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They say that the definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I don’t think that Samson was “insane” in the clinical sense, but we sure have to wonder about his tendency to repeat the same mistakes. They also say that those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Two times, with two different women, Samson was tricked into revealing a secret to his own detriment: Judges 14:16-18; 16:6-19. In fact, on the second occasion – with Delilah – he was fooled multiple times by the same ploy.

Where was Samson’s ability to gauge cause-and-effect? Where was his “nonsense” filter? Where was his aptitude to learn from his own mistakes? The same place yours and mine so often is: buried beneath a layer of sinful flesh.

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Romans 7:18-19

If you are a Christian, then the Lord has set you free from the bondage of the Law by His love and grace. However, our march toward complete surrender to His will and total conformity to the image of Christ is more of an uphill climb over rocky terrain than a casual stroll though a peaceful park. Thankfully, God has given us His Spirit to indwell us, His Word to instruct us, and His body to influence us.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

Galatians 5:16-17

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Colossians 3:16

Experience can be a valuable teacher, but it is in our nature – apart from God – to repeat our mistakes. Our best method for learning from our failures is: (1) to yield to the Lord’s Spirit, remembering that He has set us free from the power of sin; (2) to stay focused on the Bible with the intention of obeying it; (3) to find brothers and sisters in Christ in a local Bible-teaching and -believing church who will hold you accountable in love.

For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

Romans 7:22

The Trap of Looking instead of Listening

April 10, 2013 at 11:22 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Traps of Lawless Living | 4 Comments
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An angel appeared to Samson’s mother before his birth and declared to her that Samson’s purpose in life was going to have to do with delivering God’s people from their Philistine oppressors.

For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

Judges 13:5

It seems likely that Samson’s parents must have relayed this information to Samson when he grew older, but Samson’s life seems to have been more of a series of side-tracked adventures than of purposeful and steadfast accomplishment. Part of his problem was that he allowed curiosity to distract him, and he was strongly tempted by what he saw.

And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. Then his father and his mother said unto him, [Is there] never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well. But his father and his mother knew not that it [was] of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel. Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him. And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and [he had] nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done. And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well. And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, [there was] a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion.

Judges 14:1-8 (emphasis added)

Certainly, eyesight is a great gift from God. Visual learning is one of our primary means of acquiring knowledge. However, while there are certainly some illustrated sermons in the Bible (where the prophecy of Scripture is acted out rather than communicated verbally), by and large, Christianity is a “verbal” religion. “Thus saith the Lord” was the preface to many if not most of God’s great specific revelations. Scripture is replete with commands to “hearken” (to hear and to listen). The “let those who have ears to hear” outnumber the “let those who have eyes to see.” At the beginning, when mankind first fell into sin by failing to heed God’s words, the tendency to look rather than listen played a key role in the decision to disobey.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

Genesis 3:1 (emphasis added)

And when the woman saw that the tree [was] good for food, and that it [was] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make [one] wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Genesis 3:6 (emphasis added)

Samson was guilty of ignoring what he had been told to do and going about to see what he might see. As Christians, we must remember to walk by faith and not by sight, and that faith comes by hearing.

The Trap of Lapsing into Laziness

March 20, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 8 Comments
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The Biblical hero Samson was consecrated from his birth, and was blessed by God as he grew to adulthood.

And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.

Judges 13:24

God’s calling upon his life was that he deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines (Judges 13:5). However, as Samson reached adulthood, we might wonder how much self-motivation he had when it came to performing this honorable task.

And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.

Judges 13:25 (emphasis added)

The Hebrew word translated “to move” in this verse has a connotation of violent persistence. It is almost as if the Holy Spirit had to beat Samson into action, so that he could begin to accomplish his purpose in life.

We tend to think of Samson as a “man of action,” with all his exploits – single-handedly slaying large numbers of Philistines, rounding up animals and setting them on fire, carrying off the doors of a city’s gate, fighting a lion, carousing with loose women, making up riddles, and generally causing mischief. However, the fact is, Samson was something of a sluggard when it came to getting down to the Lord’s business. For in addition to his battles, he is also seen wandering off the path into a vineyard, lounging about at a feast, dwelling idly atop a mountain, and dozing on Delilah’s lap while God’s enemies plotted his capture just outside. In fact, once, after avenging himself of a personal insult, he decided to simply call it quits.

And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.

Judges 15:7 (emphasis added)

You may have head the old expression, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” God made man to work and be productive. Even the plain revelation of His Law highlighted this fact:

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

Exodus 20:9

The Bible contains numerous warnings against idleness and laziness.

The soul of the sluggard desireth, and [hath] nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

Proverbs 13:4

The principle of hard work is highlighted as a Christian ethic in the New Testament as well.

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

As Christians we have divine callings upon our lives, every bit as much as Samson did, although certainly not the same one. Staying busy accomplishes a multifaceted purpose: It keeps us from lapsing into sin through inactivity; it brings blessings into our lives; and it glorifies the Lord.

The Trap of Listening to Lies

March 4, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 5 Comments
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Samson was not a man to be trifled with. At times he could explode in a fit of anger and lash out at those who had crossed him. The superhuman strength he possessed by the power of God’s Holy Spirit allowed him, at times like these, to wipe out vast numbers of men (Judges 14:19; 15:7-8; 15:15). It’s too bad, though, that he was not as quick to access the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, as he was His strength.

Part of the problem seems to have been Samson’s gullibility, especially when it came to women. After ignoring the sound advice of his parents, who had warned him against taking a Philistine wife, Samson made a wager based on a riddle, and challenged the men at the wedding party to solve it.

And Samson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you: if ye can certainly declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find [it] out, then I will give you thirty sheets and thirty change of garments: But if ye cannot declare [it] me, then shall ye give me thirty sheets and thirty change of garments. And they said unto him, Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it.

Judges 14:12-13

After three days’ worth of guesses, the would-be riddle-solvers decided to cheat, and they extorted Samson’s new bride into finding out the answer for them. Her method for getting the answer from Samson, while perhaps understandable given her circumstances, was extremely disingenuous.

And Samson’s wife wept before him, and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not: thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people, and hast not told [it] me. And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told [it] my father nor my mother, and shall I tell [it] thee? And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted: and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him: and she told the riddle to the children of her people.

Judges 14:16-17

Certainly the continual guilt-tripping and nagging of his wife played a part in Samson’s capitulation, but, even though the betrayal cost him dearly, it was not the last time he would fall for this same ploy.

Perhaps Samson’s most well-known escapade had to do with the deceptive trap set by his final female consort, the infamous Delilah, who managed to get Samson to reveal what he believed to be the source of his supernatural strength (his uncut hair), so that she could hand him over to his Philistine enemies.

And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart [is] not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength [lieth]. And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, [so] that his soul was vexed unto death; That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I [have been] a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any [other] man.

Judges 16:15-17

It seems that Samson had a real propensity for ignoring the truth and believing lies, and it is a propensity which has been shared by mankind since the beginning. The Bible warns us that there is great danger in rejecting truth, and that we must beware because lies can be very seductive. The solution for avoiding this trap takes resolve, yet it is very simple: Keep your mind renewed in the absolute truth of the Word of God, and keep its principles and precepts continually before your eyes.

My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, [and] tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and [when] thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment [is] a lamp; and the law [is] light; and reproofs of instruction [are] the way of life: To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.

Proverbs 6:20-24

The Trap of Lust

February 20, 2013 at 10:35 am | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 12 Comments
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Samson was under a Nazarite vow. God had placed clear boundaries on his life. These boundaries were meant for Samson’s protection, not to limit his fun. But Samson unlawfully crossed these boundaries. Physically, he crossed the boundary into Philistia, not to serve God, but to satisfy his own appetites. Spiritually, he crossed the boundary of his own Nazarite vow for the same reasons.

And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.

Judges 14:1-3

Samson was so intent on having this woman for himself that he disrespectfully went against the wishes of his parents. What was it that he liked so much about this woman? He hadn’t talked to her. He hadn’t smelled her perfume. He hadn’t kissed her. He hadn’t even touched her. No, when he said to his father, “She pleaseth me well,” he meant, “I like the way she looks.”

Sinful lust is a dangerous thing.

To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adultress will hunt for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?

Proverbs 6:24-28

It is dangerous because it is so often associated with what we see, and temptation is almost everywhere. It is a trap that is often attractively baited, difficult to escape from, and brutally destructive. Note the close association between sinful lust and “looking:”

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Matthew 5:27-28

For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

I John 2:16 (emphasis added)

The admonition to “guard your eyes” has become passé and legalistic-sounding in our modern society, but it remains eminently wise advice. Lust complicated the life of Samson, and many others around him. It tends toward heartache, pain, defilement, and shame. We must beware of it and avoid it in the power of Christ.

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