In this episode, we continue to look at the life of Samson and unpack why he is included in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. Samson, like all of us, has weaknesses. And Samson is renowned for his strength. How do these strengths and weaknesses contribute to who He is? Through the life of Samson, we will see what it is to die for your faith and what it takes to exercise the courage to fight and die daily to self. Our Hall of Faith series closes with a summary from The Book of Revelation.
We Don’t See His Weakness Properly
Now the second reason that we tend to be really, really surprised at Samson being included in the Hall of Faith is because we don’t really see his weakness properly.
Samson’s weakness was women. It was sexual immorality. But it’s not like he got away with it. He ended up blind and in prison. And what we tend to do is say, “Well, when I become a believer, then God will never judge me.”
Which is true in one respect because every sin is nailed to the cross, and God will never judge any sin that would keep us from being his child and part of his family. Our acceptance into God’s family is unconditional. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. So that part’s true.
But the prize is something different. The gift is unconditional, but the prize is conditional on our behavior. And part of the prize is there are consequences to our choices. And you know what happens with sin is there’s a consequence. And when we sin, we have natural consequences.
So let’s look at the sin of sexual immorality and what the Bible says about it. 1 Corinthians 6:15-19 is written to Paul’s children. He’s writing it to his children that are believers. And he says this:
Do you not know that your bodies—that earth-suit, that earthen vessel with the treasure in it—are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Like Samson did? Certainly not! Can we? Absolutely. Should we? Of course not. Why? Because you’re not really a believer? No.
Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.”
Sexual intercourse is two becoming one. Properly, marriage.
But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.
So why should we not pursue sexual immorality? Because it’s self-destruction. It’s like standing in front of a tractor looking for a rabbit that’s not there and getting run over.
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you—Any doubt about whether these are believers or not? The Spirit of Christ is in your temple, in your earthen vessel, in your body, in your earth-suit. The Holy Spirit’s in there. You have this from God, and you are not your own?
For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
When we take our temple and join it with a prostitute, we’re joining the spirit of Christ with a harlot, he says.
Well one thing we can take from the story of Samson is that sexual sin will make us blind. And you know what? 2 Peter 1:9 says that very thing, not just with respect to sexual sin, but any sin. It says that what we need to do is add to our faith things like virtue and knowledge and self-control. And if we do that, we will be fruitful. Fruitfulness is another word for winning the prize.
But then it says this, 2 Peter 1:9. For he who lacks these things—the knowledge and virtue that we add to our faith—is—what? Not really a believer? No. He who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness—like Samson—and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
We’ve been cleansed from our old sins. Can we remember? If we remember that we’re cleansed from our old sins, it makes us want to spur ourselves forward to live in holiness like a Nazarite.
And when we forget, we do sinful things, and it’s a sin against our own body when it’s sexual immorality.
Well, you ask, why in the world would Samson not learn not to be manipulated by women? It happened to him over and over and over again.
Slaves to our sin
Let’s ask ourselves, why do I keep doing things that don’t work? Why do I keep trying to control things I can’t control? Why do I keep getting offended by things that are completely outside of my control and letting other people control me?
See, Romans 1 says God’s wrath is poured out against all unrighteousness and all ungodliness. All unrighteousness and all ungodliness, no matter where it happens, including on us as believers.
See, we tend to misunderstand our own salvation and say, “Well, now that I’m in God’s family, my Father will never discipline me, and he’ll protect me from all of my own bad choices.”
No. No. Your father wants you to grow up, and he’s going to let you make choices and feel the consequences of those choices just like a good earthly father would do.
And Roman says that that wrath is poured out when God lets us have what we want. And it gives three progressions: He gives us over to our own passions. And then he gives us over to our own flesh and that passion becomes an addiction. And then he gives us over to a debased mind. We can’t even think right.
Well, why did Samson keep chasing women when they were constantly betraying him? Well, maybe it’s because he couldn’t think right. And his spiritual blindness became physical blindness, perhaps as an Illustration for us.
Paul also says in Romans that when we go into sin, we go back into slavery. We were in slavery to sin, and God has miraculously delivered us from slavery. But we’re just like a slave in a galley ship rowing away, and somebody comes and undoes our chains, and we get off the boat, and later we say, “You know, I kind of miss rowing. I think I’ll just go back and start rowing.”
“Oh, this is terrible! Why am I here?”
Well, just get up and walk out again! We do not have to be chained any longer. But what we’re inclined to do with someone like Samson is say they weren’t really a believer. And what we are inclined to do in our own life is say God will protect me from my own choices. Well, no, that’s just not the way this works.
Choices have consequences. They don’t have consequences for who we belong to and whether God accepts us; but they have consequences in whether we’re fruitful and whether we live a life that’s abundant. Choices absolutely have consequences.
But one thing Sampson does show us is it’s never too late. It’s never too late to turn from failures and do something great. God used Samson’s failures to set up his greatest accomplishment. He can do that with us as well.
So, we tend to look at ourselves incorrectly, and we tend to say, “Ah, well, that person must not really be a believer because I was good enough that God came down and saved me, and that person’s not…”
No. No. That’s not right.
Or we tend to say, “Well, you know, that person’s not being delivered from the negative consequences of their own choices like I am, so that person is not really…”
No, that’s not right. No, choices have consequences.
We Don’t Properly Value Samson’s Strength
The third reason that we’re surprised that Samson is in the Hall of Faith is that we don’t properly value his strength.
You know, Samson had this sexual immorality, and it really took him down. It was a sin against his own body. But he had a characteristic that the Bible really, really places a high value on, and I don’t think we do. And what that is is a willingness to die.
The Bible places immense emphasis on the willingness to die, to die for the cause.
Revelation 21:8 is a very fascinating verse. We could have a whole series on this one verse. We’re just going to look at what the characteristics are here, and what order they’re in.
But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Now we’re not going to talk about all the ramifications of that verse, but we are going to talk about the reality that God doesn’t like these things. That seems clear, right? And look what order they’re in:
Unbelieving. That’s no surprise. If somebody doesn’t have faith, God doesn’t like that.
Abominable. Not really even sure what that means, but he doesn’t like that. It must mean sexually immoral, among other things.
Murderers. That’s not surprising that that’s there.
Sexually immoral. No surprise that’s there.
But you know what’s surprising? The first thing in the list is cowardly. The first thing in the list.
The Disciples were Willing to Die
You know, Jesus chose as disciples 12 idiots. They didn’t understand a thing he said. They understood he was the Christ, and that’s about it.
If you go through there and look at just what the Bible says about them, they’re always jockeying for position to be next in line. Toward the end of Jesus’ ministry, they even brought their mothers to lobby for them, to be to be the greatest.
They’re jealous. They’re dumb. They don’t understand anything Jesus says. In Acts, one of the things that’s fun about Acts is it keeps saying, “And then they understood.” “And then they understood.” “And then they understood.” You know why? They never understood. They were clueless. They were clueless, selfish, prideful.
But you know what they had? They had a willingness to die. And that, apparently, was so important that Jesus overlooked all the rest.
You can see this in John 11:16. Then Thomas—you know, that doubting Thomas, the guy that didn’t have any faith, the guy who is deficient in believing—Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”
Now the context here is Jesus said, “We need to go down by Jerusalem because our friend Lazarus needs us.” And the disciples say, “Oh, they want to kill you down there.” And Jesus says, “Yeah, but he needs us. Let’s go.” And Thomas says, “Well, let’s go with him. We’ll die too.”
That is the attitude that Jesus picked these guys for. They were zealots, and zealot sympathizers. The whole zealot movement was about people willing to die for their country. What Jesus did is he took that zealous attitude of theirs and reoriented it to die for the mission of the gospel.
What it Looks Like to Die for our Faith
Well, I’m going to give you three passages, and then talk a little bit about Revelation that leads us to look at what it looks like to die for our faith. Because that’s what God calls us to do. You want to really be godly? Be a zealot, the right kind of zealot, one who’s willing to die for your cause.
1 Corinthians 16:13. Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Like Samson. Let all that you do be done with love.
See, it takes incredible courage to truly love.
I’ve noticed when people see that someone else needs something, what they tend to do is just kind of kick the can down the road. They don’t want to be uncomfortable. They don’t want to risk rejection by stepping in and confronting that brother.
We’re supposed to take the log out of our eye before we take a speck out of someone else’s. But you know what we’re supposed to do? Take the log out of our eye and then take the speck out of someone else’s, when they’re ready to hear. And what we tend to do is just kind of live in comfort with our own log because we don’t want the potential rejection that comes with telling someone else they have a speck.
If you want to love others, you have to put their interests ahead of your own, and that’s generally always uncomfortable.
If you’re willing to serve without any earthly reward, that takes some real courage, bravery.
Ephesians 6:10-13. Finally, my brethren—This is, again, speaking to believers—be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
Put on the whole armor of God—Now Paul’s going to describe the uniform of a Roman centurion, one of the greatest killing machines has ever lived in all of human history. These guys were like Samson in their strength.
Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
You see, we’re not really fighting against people. And in order to have this zealot attitude that the disciples were chosen for, this willingness to die, this courage of Samson, what we have to do is look through people into the spiritual realm which is where the true battle is.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood—
It’s not the dirt and the earthen jars that other people have that’s the problem. It’s not their earth-suit that’s wearing out that’s the problem. It’s not even them that’s the problem. It’s the forces of darkness and the spiritual forces behind them. Don’t get offended at other people. Look through other people.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
That’s our true enemy. Don’t let other people bother you. Fight the forces that really need to be fought.
See, these Avenger movies are closer to true than we think, huh? We’re supposed to be the ones protecting earth from forces from the outside through our lives, through our prayers.
Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
If we confront evil in a way that is not personal—we don’t take things personally. We don’t make things personal. We don’t get offended, and we don’t give offense. If somebody wants to be offended, that’s their choice. What we do is speak what’s true. And we pursue what’s in the best interest of others. Well, then, we’re being an Avenger in the way that Samson was an Avenger. We’re being a disciple of the kind that Jesus called, the kind that’s willing to die.
2 Timothy 2:1-4. You therefore, my son—This is Paul’s lieutenant that he recruited to follow in his shoes, and this is what he wants Timothy to think and say and the perspective he wants him to have—be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
True fighting as a warrior that’s willing to die for the cause is to invest your life such that it’s an example for others.
You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
If you are a soldier, you have a duty. Things going on back home. Sometimes you write letters; sometimes you get letters. But you don’t let that distract you from your mission. And your mission is to fight the forces of evil and not be afraid to die.
The whole book of 2 Timothy is set up where Paul is saying, “Look, I’m about to die. Don’t get the wrong impression from this. Don’t get the impression that this is something to avoid. Understand that this is the way of a blessed life. Because I’ve committed. I know I’ve committed unto that day. And I believe that it’s waiting for me. I’ve won the crown of life. This is the way you should live, Timothy. Do not be afraid. Don’t have the spirit of fear.”
2 Timothy says if you desire to live godly, you’re going to endure persecution. Why? Because it’s a fight.
What hardship are we supposed to endure? Well, everything Jesus asks us to do is hard. He gives us the power to do it; why is it so hard? Because we live in earthen vessels. We have a decaying earth-suit. We are sheep and children and dumb dogs chasing rabbits that don’t exist.
But we have the spirit of God. And with that spirit, we can seek the best for others. We can listen to others and see their perspective. We can look through people into the spiritual realm and not be offended. We can—if we give offense or if someone takes offense—we can reorient ourselves to try to seek that person’s best without being controlled.
We can give without specific expectations of return and lay that up with Christ, who will pay us richly and handsomely for anything we give up in this life.
We can turn the other cheek. Another way to say that is don’t react. We can avoid reaction, and we can love our enemies and pray for them.
It’s a fight. It takes courage.
You know what other thing it takes? Dying daily, dying to self.
I’m going to close with a summary of the book of Revelation. It’s a very simple book with a very simple message. And if you want to hear all about Revelation, there are 54 podcast segments you can get on yellowballoons.net from yours truly. It’s in 20 minute pieces. You can do it while you’re running. I talk slowly. You can do it on double speed and do it in 10 minutes.
But Revelation. I can give it to you in one minute. It’s a very simple book with a very simple message. It’s written so that you can read, understand, and do the words of the prophecy, which means it’s a book about the present, about doing.
It talks all about future events, but the main point of the future events is they’re all authorized by God from his throne. The word throne shows up 40 times in Revelation, and 39 of those times it’s God on his throne. It’s a reference to God on his throne.
Why? Because everything that happens, all these terrible things that happen are all authorized because God’s always in control, and nothing comes into our life he didn’t let happen.
But what the message all the way through the book of Revelation is be a faithful witness and don’t fear death. Don’t fear loss. Don’t fear rejection. Don’t fear following Me. Why? Because that’s how you overcome, nikao, the Greek word for victory. It’s translated victor and conqueror.
If you want to be a conquering hero, the Avenger that wins at the end of the movie, the champion that’s crowned at the end of the race, what you do is you’re a faithful martureo, which is translated witness or testimony or martyr.
And don’t fear death. Revelation promises a special blessing. Pretty simple to understand why. Because Jesus says, “Behold, I’m coming, and my reward is in my hand!” Special blessing goes to those who, like Samson, are willing to die and give their all to fight the good fight of faith.
So Samson had a secret, but Samson had a problem. He lived in an earth-suit, just like us. He was a fallen, sinful man, just like us. But he is in the Hall of Faith, and so can we be if we’re willing to die for the cause and overcome the sin that so easily ensnares us, like Jesus did.