Unfortunately history is full of stories about people who at the peak of their career do something which jeopardizes everything they have achieved.
In my adult life I have watched politicians loose their influence and even offices, (Nixon and Clinton), I have witnessed CEO’s of major companies in an effort to add to their already inflated salaries steal from their businesses and then loose everything because they were caught. Certain celebrity ministers and some not so well known have allowed themselves to be drawn away from what they know to be right into lifestyles and relationships that are an abandonment of God’s word.
In the last 48 hours some of us have witnessed the painful and strange picture of one of the brightest stars of the NBA sitting with his wife confessing publicly his adulterous affair with a nineteen year old hotel employee. The possibility is there for him to go to jail for life if he is proven guilty of the sexual assault charge that he is being charged with. I have no idea what he is truly guilty of except cheating on his wife. I know that it is truly amazing that a guy with a beautiful wife and daughter, a personal record setting season last year in the NBA, millions of dollars in endorsement contracts and all the “things” that we so often equate with happiness would put it all on the line for a few moments of doing something wrong.
I want to tell you a story this morning of a man who had it all but threw it away.
We are looking at this today because this is the next name that appears in Hebrews eleven. In this continuing series on faith we come to the story of Samson. It is ironic really that a man known for his physical strength would be so weak in the area of obedience to God.
Samson is known for his strength. He was a man that God blessed with incredible and unusual physical strength. As with all of the stories that we have examined so far we are back in Old Testament looking at a story from early Jewish history. While Samson was blessed by God his story provides an interesting insight into what can happen to our faith if we are not careful about our actions.
Intro: We have an enemy who wants our faith to collapse.
You need to know that there is an enemy who wants to see your faith in God turned into rubble. You may have this great relationship with God today but there is an enemy who the Bible describes as a roaring lion seeking to devour his prey.
Our enemy is Satan or the devil. His sole focus is to attack our faith. His one objective for non Christ followers is to prevent faith from ever happening. In 2 Cor. 4:4 we read, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.”
For Christ followers his goal is to cause our faith to fail. In Jesus explanation to his disciples of the parable of the sower, He says, “Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.” (Luke 8:12)
You need to know that you have an enemy who is doing everything in his power to keep you from having faith or keeping the faith you have.
Because of this fact I want us to look at the story of Samson and try to learn from his mistakes. There are some basic underlying principles that I believe can help us to understand what happened to Samson. I believe they can also help us to not be blindsided by the attempts to steal our faith from us.
Let’s look at these principles together.
1. Every one is equal in the possibility of losing our faith.
Judges 13:24-25a, “The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the Lord blessed him, and the spirit of the Lord began to stir him...”
Samson was blessed and called by God. God’s hand was on him from the beginning of his life. If you were to read the whole story of Samson and Delilah and his downfall into sin you will be reminded of the power that the world and its devastating affects in a person’s life.
No one is immune from falling or failing. While we can certainly be kept by God’s grace and I believe He gives us the power to rise above temptation, it is very hard unless you are keeping your eyes on Christ. If you continually put yourself into situations that are ungodly you are playing with fire.
I am always amazed at how quick we are to try to find ways to compromise the truth so that we can enjoy the things of this world.
There is no position from which you can’t fall. Don’t take your relationship with Christ and treat it lightly. You have to be focused on Him.
Many times in the recorded story of Samson we read the words, “Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power.” (Judges 14:6,19, 15:14, 16:28)
Samson had it all yet he threw it away. What would you sell your soul for? What is it that is so important to you that you disobey what you know to be God’s will?
2. Faith collapse is usually not sudden but a gradual process.
Judges 14:1-3, “Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. When he returned, he said to his father and mother, ‘I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.’ His father and mother replied, ‘Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?’”
From the beginning of his adult life Samson could not be satisfied and contented to stay in God’s will. He had been raised up by God to defeat the enemy of Israel which was the Philistines, yet that is where he went to find a wife and other relationships.
The actual moment of collapse may appear sudden because all of a sudden it is made public but sin very rarely works that way. There is an inward process of backsliding or turning away from God.
Failing or collapsing faith usually begins very gradually. Prayerlessness, lack of spending time in God’ word and even the permission of “little” sins in our life is enough to start a spiritual landslide.
Once Samson took a wife from the Philistines he began to loose his focus on God’s call in his life and he became entangled in the petty circumstances surrounding his wife and her people.
The more he was involved with his Philistine wife and even after her murder, with Delilah, he just kept drifting further and further away from God.
The collapse of our faith most often happens in a gradual drift away from God.
3. Collapses often occur when our profession is more important than our possession.
Samson was a Nazarite in outward appearance. To be a Nazarite means that he had taken a vow to lead a life of separation to God. His long hair was an order from God. He had strict instructions on how to live his life and how to keep his secret regarding his incredible strength.
It is very evident that Samson knew very little about living a life of separation for God. A life of heart surrender, if you will.
It is too easy to profess with our lips and not serve God with our heart. It is easy to fall into the have a religion which is a form and not a force.
You and I must be very careful to keep ourselves in tune with God. It is very easy to stray off and miss the way that God wants us to go.
Let me remind you of the introduction of this message: We have an enemy who wants our faith to collapse.
You can only go so long running on spiritual experiences of the past. Serving God and being a Christ follower is about relationship with God.
It is about you and God connecting on a daily basis. When you connect with God on a daily basis it is hard to cheat on Him. When you share with God in conversation every day and find that He is the source of all you need stepping away from God’s way becomes less and less of an option.
The reason churches sometimes get into the messes they get in is because it is easy to think sometimes that we can do it on our own. Our talents, our gifts, our money our slick leaders, our pastors, our music, our agenda’s, our vision, our way . . . on and on it goes.
The same thing can happen in your personal walk with God. When you and I lose touch with Him and start thinking on our own we carry on the outward profession but have little in the inward possession.
Matthew 15:8-9, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain.”
II Timothy 3:5, “...having a form of godliness but denying its power.”
4. Deliberate disobedience to God’s word will cause collapse.
Samson in the course of his life found a way to disobey God. The story is very clear about the fact that once he started messing around with Delilah she began to use her persuasive charm to try to get the secret of his strength.
To tell the secret of his strength which was not allowing his head to be shaved, would jeopardize the whole plan of God. In fact his vow before God was that a razor would never touch his hair. Samson, in direct disobedience to God’s word, shared the secret of his strength.
You and I cannot live our lives and consistently disobey God’s word and imagine that we are in a relationship with Him. Our use to God and His work will be very small. In fact, if you are not living a life that is consistent with the word of God you will be a hindrance to the faith of others.
I don’t have anyone in mind this morning. I don’t have any inside information about your life, but I do have an understanding of humans and I know that it is not unthinkable that there is somebody here this morning that has compromised and done something for which you are very ashamed. Maybe you are contemplating an action that you know is contrary to God’s will. Maybe you have done something and you are amazed that you don’t even feel all that bad about it.
There are times when a pastor has to be faithful by giving a word of warning. I will never hesitate to do that.
You can not disobey God and get away with it. You can not continually live a life that is contrary to God’s word and enjoy the presence of God in your life.
What is your relationship with God like? How are you doing in following Him? When is the last time you spent time with Him? When is the last time you spent time sharing in prayer about others.
There is a much overlooked principle of sin in the Bible that I want to touch on briefly this morning. It’s called presumptuous sins. In Psalm 19, David prayed and asked the Lord to keep him from presumptuous sins.
If you know that something is wrong and you just go ahead and do it anyway that is presuming on the grace of God and is clearly an insult and violation to the Word of God.
I guess this is a call this morning to shake yourself a little bit.This is a call to get up out of the rubble and let God put you back together.
Ephesians 4:30, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
5. Rebuilding is possible after a collapse.
Samson lost his life due to disobedience. After finally being worn down by Delilah and her continual questioning about his strength he told the secret and was defeated and captured by the Philistines. They removed his eyes and imprisoned him.
Tell the story from Judges 16:25-30
Samson was able to rebuild his faith.
He prayed. He acknowledged God’s sovereignty. He asked God to remember him. He asked God to strengthen him.
It is a tragic story really. It does not have a happy ending. It is a lesson and one that I want to hear myself today.
You and I can’t mess around with sin and disobedience and not get burned. We are either walking with God or away from Him.
The Bible clearly teaches that we can be forgiven.
I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
I wonder today if there is someone who really wants to rebuild their faith in God. You can relate to the rubble up here on the platform. (use metaphor)
Until the final exam, Fred had not excelled on any of the tests or assignments. He was simply known as a football player who did not fare well in the classroom. The professor realized this and accepted Fred’s poor academic record without comment until he ended up acing the final. The professor knew Fred sat beside an excellent student during the test and clearly suspected foul play. His hunch was well founded when he compared their exams. Fred only missed one question but it was the same question missed by the A student. The professor called Fred into his office and confronted him about the scores. Fred defended his test results until he was shown the two exams. Both students missed question number thirty-five. The A student answered it, “I don’t know.” Fred’s answer was, “I don’t know either.”
I am afraid that sometimes we get into that mode of Christ following where there is nothing new or fresh in our relationship with God. We are just sort of floating along and making it up as we go along. Maybe like Fred, we just look at other people and try to mimic or copy their Christ following life.
Where are you this morning? What is it that you want God to help you with?