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Summary: How close to the world can you get without getting into trouble? Samson finds out and the results are less than pleasant. Learn about how to keep your purpose pure as you live in the world as a Christian.

There’s an old saying that goes: "when you journey through the vineyards, you’ll eventually eat the grapes." I’ve wandered through a vineyard or two, watched them harvest the grapes about this time of year. They sure do taste sweet. But what if along with the sugar came warfarin, an anticoagulant? It’d be nice if there were little skull and cross bones on the grapes to warn you, but there aren’t. In life, there are many places we walk that are filled with danger to the soul, but no warning label. The only warning label we Christians get is when we take God’s Word into our hearts.

In the four chapters of the Samson cycle we see his character manifested in pride, arrogance, sensuality, rebellion, disregard for the Lord, weakness of personal integrity, anger, vengefulness, lack of self control (over his actions and his tongue), and sheer unadulterated narcissism.

Samson was destined to be used by God but it seems everything that motivates him has nothing to do with Yahweh and everything to do with Samson: his pride, his lust, his anger, his revenge. Yet God seems to use him anyway. God uses Samson despite himself. God overrules Samson’s desires in order to accomplish His will.

But what we don’t see in Samson is what could have been done. What victories could have been won had Samson had faith in God instead of faith in himself. Too many times we do the same as Christians. God has blessed us and we begin to think that His strength and presence in our lives belongs to us and so we can just go about doing anything we want and He’ll still work through us the same.

While God will still use you, you will hamper what He wants to do through you. It doesn’t mean you hamper God’s overall plan, only your part in it.

Another question to consider: does God ever call you to do something wrong in order to do something right? We’re going to see what might have been a moral ambiguity: Samson falls for his lust and yet uses it as an opportunity to fight against God’s enemies.

Chapter 14 Verse 1

Samson’s first error - he went to Timnah which was on the fringes between Judah and Philistia. He was not going fully into the world, but just gazing into it. He saw something that enticed him and gave into the lust for this woman of the world. How often do we look into the world just out curiosity-into things we know aren’t right but we just want to check it out. Temptation arrests us and as we give in, those temptations pull us further and further in.

Verses 2 - 4

Here’s the second problem: upon returning from gazing into the world and lusting after it, he rejected godly counsel from his parents. That happens with us too. Our minds start to become set on doing those things we know are wrong but must justify itself, so we reject those around us who tell us "don’t do it!".

(vs 4) Now if you just read this you could draw the conclusion that God directed Samson to lust after a Philistine woman to marry her as a way to destroy the Philistines. His parents "did not know if was from the Lord."

There’s a huge problem with that. Did God want Samson to lust after a Philistine? God will never lead us to sin in order to do his will. That’s what happens to us, though. We justify our actions by saying to ourselves: "I’ll give God some extra when I cheat on my taxes. That’ll make it all right."

Exodus 34:12 and Deuteronomy 7:1-3 make it crystal clear that the Israelites were not to intermarry with the nations they would encounter in Palestine. Samson was only out to please himself.

Now, that being said, God can easily overrule our desires in order to accomplish His will, and that’s what happens in Samson’s life. You won’t want to be in that position because you will get no reward out of it.

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw- 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. ESV

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