The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Common Life

“. . . then shall I become weak, and be like any other man” – Judges 16:7

The greatest consequence of sin and compromise, the tactical objective of Satan is to bring people down. Satan’s ultimate objective is to see people disqualified for heaven and sentenced by God, “down to hell” (Ezek. 31:15, 16, 17; 32:27; 2 Pet. 2:4). If he can’t get people to that final destination he will try to get them as low down as possible.

Satan is persistent, ruthless and relentless. He is slithery and will squeeze through whatever door we leave ajar. He doesn’t give up when a person is born again to eternal life and decides to follow Jesus. No, then he simply implements his contingency plan to reduce those called to a holy life to live a common life.

Samson is a perfect and tragic example of what happens when one set apart for God’s use neglects their holy calling. Samson recognized he was different than others. He just didn’t recognize Who had made him different. This led to his downfall.

Samson had a unique calling from conception (Judges 13). He was a Nazirite from birth and for life. He was chosen and uniquely set apart for God’s use to deliver His people. For Samson, being a Nazirite entailed separation from “wine or similar drink” even from the womb (Judges 13:4). His pleasure was not to be from the fruit of the world but from faith in God. Samson was never to cut his hair. He was separated to God, willing to bear the reproach of men. Lastly, Samson was not to touch anything dead. He was separated to God who is life and not to touch the dead of this world. Attached to God’s high calling was Samson’s power to deliver God’s people from their oppressors (Judges 13:5).   

Throughout his life Samson neglected and willfully disregarded God’s calling. He sought an unbelieving wife who lived in “the vineyards of Timnah” (Judges 14:1-5). He casually and without a thought of his Nazirite vow, scooped up honey to eat from the carcass of a dead lion (Judges 14:5-9). Samson toyed with temptation by passing though the vineyards of Timnah and actually broke part of his vow when he took the honey from the carcass. The door was ajar. Satan would enter in.

Samson was strong. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him repeatedly (Judges 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14). But there is little indication that Samson attributed his strength to the LORD. There is every indication that Samson thought his strength came from himself alone. He acted as his own lord. His life testifies to one who was over confident and proud. He was going down.  

With Delilah we see the perversity of Samson. He indulged his flesh with the harlot (Judges 16:1). His weakness was a lust for women.   His enemies knew his weakness and used it to their advantage. Delilah was the devil’s instrument to pry open the door, discover the secret of Samson’s strength, and bring him down (Judges 16:2-5).  

In proud self-reliance Samson entertained the queries of the temptress. It only took three pitches to strike Samson out. On the third he “told her all his heart” and divulged the secret of his strength. “Cut my hair and I’ll be weak like any other man” (Judges 16:17). The power was not in his hair but in the final portion of his faith vow to God that he broke.

In our own strength we are no match for the wiles of the devil. The most precarious place to be in our walk with the Lord is the place of presumption. Samson presumed on the strength of God never acknowledging or thanking the God who strengthened him. Samson thought he could handle this woman. He had no godly fear. For Samson, the pearl of God’s power was like a pearl ring in a pig’s snout (Mat. 7:6).  When the presence and power of God left him, he didn’t even know it (Judges 16:20). He was just like most men.

Proud sinful presumption led to the binding, blinding, and then grinding of this once mighty judge (Judges 16:21). That is sad enough. But what is even more tragic is that Samson knew he was different. Three times Samson told Delilah that he would “be like any other man” if he did certain things (Judges 16:7, 11, 17). Each time he played his game with Delilah he got a little closer to the truth and a little closer to losing the gift of his strength. In the end, he forfeited God’s holy best and became a common beast of burden.

Don’t miss the important truth here! The entire objective of the enemy was to discover the way to bring Samson down so that he would be, common, “weak, and like any other man.” Samson knew he was different! He had knowledge and experience. He wasn’t brought down by the mere questions of the temptress. He was brought down by presumption, pride, and a neglect of his unique place in the plans of God. As we pity Samson we need to ask, “Am I any different?” Should we pity ourselves?

Samson was willing to jeopardize his holy calling by playing with common things. Satan wants to bring God’s people down. He wants to get God’s people to forsake their high calling. And he does this by tempting them to indulge common things. Satan wants to relegate us to the rank and file sinful world. If he can’t get our soul, then he’ll settle for soulless behavior. Samson sacrificed the holy for the common. That is the victory Satan seeks to win against us.  

God wants us to rise above commonness to experience distinction. He calls us not to a common life but to a holy life. The apostle Peter was inspired to write, “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Pet. 1:15-16; Lev. 11:44). God says, “There is none like Me” (Ex. 9:14; Is. 46:9). God is unique. He is the most uncommon of all. God calls His people to be holy and unique too. We cannot be equal to God but we can be uniquely His (Mat. 5:48). Those who have been born again into the family of God are called “saints” or literally holy ones (Acts 9:32; Rom. 1:7; 15:26; Phil. 4:21).  

The word “holy” means separate, separated unto, or distinct. To be holy means to be separated to God for His use. To be holy we must be cleansed from sin. When we receive Jesus as Savior we are birthed spiritually and our sins are washed away (Titus 3:5). We can be cleansed from sin and set apart unto God for His use by the once for all atoning cross-work of Jesus (Heb. 10:10).  All we need to do is believe and receive Who and what God has offered us by His grace.

What does this distinctive uncommon holy life look like? It looks like Jesus. The objective of God in your life is to make you like His Son Jesus (Rom. 8:29). God wants to help you get off the broad easy-street Samsonite way that leads to destruction. He wants to guide you to the straight and narrow way that leads to eternal life (Mat. 7:13-14). The LORD wants to help you walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). He wants you to follow in the steps of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21). He wants you to be one of the uncommon “more than conquerors” (Rom. 8:37). Jesus wants us to experience an uncommon abundant life (John 10:10). We are called to something more than what the world commonly offers.

Holy living is closely connected to sanctification. To be sanctified is to be cleansed from sin that impedes our separated service to God. Jesus spoke of a sanctification that comes by the word of God (John 17:17, 19). Paul also referred to this (Eph. 5:26). The light of God’s word exposes the pests of sin so that the cleansing blood of Jesus can wash them away. Sanctifying cleansing comes by faith in Jesus (Acts 26:18). The Holy Spirit is the Agent of holy sanctification (Rom. 15:16).  When we confess our sins to God and ask Him to forgive us based on our trust in Jesus’ atoning work, God will cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:7, 9). Jesus is able to sanctify us to the uttermost! (Heb. 7:25). God’s desire is to do a deep thorough cleansing (1 Thess. 5:23).  If we surrender to God, He promises to deep clean us (1 Thess. 5:24).

In Hebrews it states, “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:29). In light of the life of Samson, in light of your holy calling and the life you live, how would you answer that question? Are you living a common life?

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