Every one of us faces temptation every day to do things that displease God. In our text tonight we see a contrast between two aspects of Samson's character. As we have said before, he was strong physically, but was weak spiritually. Can we see that contrast here?
The amount of physical strength that was required to do what Samson did in these verses was nothing short of supernatural. Gaza was a large Philistine city and that meant that this city gate would have been huge. Also, the distance he carried made an already remarkable feat even more remarkable! Hebron was 38 miles from Gaza!
Samson, perhaps more than any other character in the entire Bible, had first-hand knowledge of what the power of God can do in a person's life physically. But he continues to waste God's power on foolish and selfish behavior. And that is the tragedy of a life wasted! Along with the physical strength that God made available to Samson, there was also spiritual strength, but it seems that he never tapped into that resource. We see it time and time again in his life, and that is tragic! But wait, not just tragic for Samson, it is tragic for you and I tonight…to have access to the power of God and still be servant to the flesh! To know that the abundant life is available to us…but to continue to live on in spiritual mediocrity…that is tragic!
Note: Ephesians 1:15-20 Ephesians 3:14-21
What Paul wanted for the Ephesians, and what God wants for all believers like you and me, is exactly what Samson did not have.
With that in mind, we want to consider four biblical principles that will help us overcome temptation, and have power with God.
I. Temptation Blinds Us To The Danger of Sin
A. Consider where Samson is at geographically.
1. Note a couple of things from this map.
2. First, consider how deep into the enemy's territory Samson had gone.
3. Realize that Gaza was one of five major cities of the Philistines.
4. The others were Ashdod, Ashekelon, Gath, and Ekron.
5. Timnah had been a small city very near to Israel's border, but Samson was very deep within the enemy's territory.
B. Consider why Samson was there.
1. He was there to satisfy the lust of the flesh.
2. Here is the man who God had chosen to lead his people into godliness, but his interests were far more selfish than that!
3. Why do you suppose he went so far away from home?
4. Perhaps to taunt the Philistines and flaunt himself before them…
5. And perhaps to indulge himself with the excitement of someone new and exotic.
6. Samson was there because he chose to be there…he was there because he thought he could get away with it!
C. Lessons for us tonight.
1. If we fail to resist temptation, the consequences are devastating.
Ga 6:7-8a "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption…"
2. They are not always immediate, but God's principles are clear.
Jas 1:14-15 "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."
3. If we fail to resist temptation, we become blinded to the dangers of sin.
a. We'll end up going to dangerous places
b. We'll end up saying dangerous things
c. We'll end up doing things that are reckless, putting ourselves and others in serious jeopardy.
4. Sin will always take you farther than you meant to go, keep you longer that you want stay, and cost you more than you are willing to pay!
a. Samson started down this road early…
b. He went down to Timnath…
c. Now he goes down farther to Gaza…
d. We will see in the rest of this chapter where this progression leads him!
II. Temptation Blinds Us To True Reality
A. The World's View of Samson
1. Samson was 'buff" - He had 'abs' of steel!
2. He had a lot of women
3. He was fearless
4. He was a force to be reckoned with
5. He a good sense of humor
6. At times he was a lot of fun to be around
7. He was no doubt a hero to many…
8. Note: We need to be careful who we allow as our children's heroes!
B. God's View of Samson
1. He was a waste.
2. He was a washout.
3. His life made very little difference in what God wanted to accomplish at that time, in that place...
4. Except to serve as a negative example.
a. Who cares if you're strong enough physically to rip the city gate off its hinges -- if you're not strong enough morally to overcome the temptation to go into a prostitute?
b. Check out today's headlines…Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson, etc. etc.
c. A person can have a lot of things going for them physically and materially, but if that's all they have...it's a life that's empty.
d. That's why the Lord would later tell Samuel -- man looks on the outward -- but God looks on the heart. Cf. 1Sa. 16:7b
C. What about us?
1. Have we put too much emphasis on the outward?
a. Our wardrobe?
b. Our physical appearance?
c. Our home?
d. Our car?
2. Is it possible that we've been satisfied as long as things are going OK on the outside?
3. When God would want us to be developing inner strength of character, and placing the emphasis there?
4. Are we looking at our lives properly considering how the Lord would view us?
III. Temptation Blinds Us To The Power of Sin
A. Samson thought he was invincible.
1. His thinking was, "It's not going to hurt me".
2. "I can handle it, I can handle it"
3. "I can stop anytime I want."
4. But what was happening was that he was getting more and more entangled and bound up by sin.
5. By the time he met Delilah, he was so bound up in his sin that he easily falls for the temptation she offers.
B. Note: Proverbs 5:20-23 "And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger? For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings. His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray."
1. The underlying principle of this passage is, every time we sin, it makes it a little bit easier to sin again
2. Or it makes it a little bit harder to say "no".
3. Solomon likened it to cords being tied around us...at first it doesn't look like much…but sin entangles us and hinders our walk with God.
Heb 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
C. Contrast to our society.
1. Our world would have us to believe that we have freedom when we get to do what we want.
2. When we get out from under our parent's authority
3. When you forget about what the Bible says and just do our own thing.
4. That's what the world says real freedom is all about!
5. But that isn't true!
6. Real freedom is doing what God wants us to do.
7. Anything other than that, though it might be enjoyable for a while, is eventually going to make us its slave.
2Pe 2:19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
8. God wants us to see the binding power of sin.
9. Samson never understood that principle, and it cost him dearly.
IV. Temptation Blinds Us To Coming Judgment
A. Just because judgment doesn't come immediately, does not mean judgment isn't coming!
1. We might ask ourselves, 'Why did God allow Samson to continue on in his sin?'
2. Why didn't he judge him right on the spot?
3. Why didn't God turn him into a 98lb. weakling?
4. I don't know!
La 3:22-23 "It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."
5. Is Samson the last person who sinned without being immediately and completely judged?
6. Here is an interesting way to answer that question…
a. Take your right thumb and your index finger like this…
b. Put it over your left wrist and gently squeeze…
c. Do you feel your pulse?
d. If your heart is still beating, it's a demonstration of the grace, mercy, and long-suffering of God.
B. Is it possible to take that for granted?
1. Even though God wants His grace to motivate us to love and serve Him more effectively…
2. Sometimes you and I can presume upon His grace
3. We can think in our hearts -- maybe I can get away with this
4. Maybe I can sin without God knowing, or without Him caring.
5. And when God's judgment doesn't fall immediately, we foolishly think that we will not have to deal with God's judgment upon our sin.
6. Tonight we need to learn this lesson from the life of Samson…
7. Just because judgment isn't coming today, that doesn't mean judgment isn't coming!
Temptation Blinds Us…