He Couldn’t Quite Shake It Off

Judges 16:20 – And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.

Hey all, back with another blog, and once again talking about the life of Samson. I have done quite a lot of blogs on Samson, his story is so unique in the Bible. He is like a superhero in the Bible, doing incredible, impossible things, and in unusual ways. Wielding jawbones of asses, setting fire to fox tails, ripping lions to pieces with bare hands … Samson’s story is incredible. But Samson is often thought of in negative terms. We look down at Samson from our high place of self righteousness, thinking that we would never fail so epicly like he did. We think we would never squander such an amazing opportunity that God gave Samson like he did… Samson, the strong weak man. However, when we look honestly at ourselves, and our lives, we see that we, on our best day, are just like Samson was. If you are saved, you can be a Samson, and perhaps God willing not fail in the areas he did as we have his life to learn from. We are all Samson’s, because we have immeasurable strength and deliverance through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us by faith… but also immeasurable weakness, our flesh, our flesh nature which wars against the Spirit, as we are pulled in two different directions in the testing arena of this world.

One thing I admire from Samson’s life is the audacious, almost arrogant faith he had in God. He demanded, and God delivered. He expected, and God delivered. He obtained the promises, the deliverances of God by faith… something that we can learn from today. Despite everything, we can by faith obtain the promises, as Hebrews records that Samson did. Put yourself in Samson’s shoes for a second. The Philistines were out to get him, and yet he was comfortably strolling into their strongholds. He didn’t bring an army, he didn’t bring mighty weapons, we are not told that his strength had anything to do with his physical attributes. He had immense faith in that God would deliver him when required.  He had no assurances of victory as he strolled through Philistine country. He had no physical assurances, his strength did not lie in huge muscles or anything physical, his strength came form the Spirit of the Lord coming upon him, enabling him… at the time required. Think of the faith required. How much are we able to trust God with? We struggle to let even the smallest parts of our life go to God, Samson placed his life in God’s hands. He trusted God with his life. But he became contemptuous of God’s amazing grace upon him, he turned God’s grace into lasciviousness, he took deliverance as license to sin, as a license to gratify his flesh, as a license to enter Philistine strongholds and fraternize with Philistine women. Samson had much more incredible faith in God then we give him credit for, it is no wonder Samson gets in Hebrews 11 alongside names like Abraham. The other judges like Gideon had Israeli armies with them, but Samson was rejected by his own people, he fought a one man war against the Philistines.

Samson had great victories, but then the next verse or chapter he was sinning. How often after victories or the Spirit’s moving, we can then experience defeat. How often we can lapse back into the same old sin. Like Samson, we can be both strong and weak! As Jesus said, our spirit is willing but our flesh is weak. And that leads to what my blog today is more specifically about… Samson, sin that bugged him, sin that he couldn’t quite shake off. Because we cannot shake it off ourselves as Samson tried to do. Shake it off. This phrase can offhandedly be used today to refer to a person “shaking” off words, or things, or events. A New Ager may “shake it off” when shaking off negative thoughts, or bad events. Shaking off refers to getting rid of something, freeing yourself from something.

But we all have things we can’t quite shake off. We cannot shake off our sin ourselves, we can try, we can attempt to shake it off for a long time, but eventually sin catches up to you, as it did with Samson. We can lapse into comfortable sins, that we are used to, that historically we have always been fine with doing, but as Moses said, Be sure your sin will find you out. That is a promise from God. Sin finds us out. We have all been bitten by the snake of sin, and we have sin’s poison flowing through us. We have all sinned, we all sin. What is sin? Sin is the transgression of the law, it is disobeying God, it separates us from God, from a relationship and fellowship with God, who is holy above all else. When Jesus prayed he called God, Holy Father. It is God who is holy, we are unholy, we need the holiness, the righteousness, the perfection of the Lord Jesus Christ which he imputes to us by faith (his faith to us, which we receive by faith!). The Lord Jesus Christ is the solution to our sin, past, present, future. He forgives us when we confess our sins to him, he gives us his righteousness, he gives eternal life to all who believe on him. Jesus alone can free you from sin that bugs us, as sin bugged Samson. Jesus sets us free, Jesus gives abundant life.

Like Samson with Delilah, the cords of sin will seek to bind us up, and will continue doing so, to the point where we are bound hand and foot, helpless, hopeless, ruined. Our enemy seeks to destroy us. Yet nothing can hold us when we are right toward God, when we are in fellowship with God, as nothing could hold Samson the first three times. But what was different when his head was shaved? The hair on his head symbolized something crucial between him and God. Because it was the basis of a vow. A vow that God initiated. But Samson broke the  vow. He had broken the vow already, showing humanity’s worthlessness at keeping “their side of the deal”. But the shaving of a Nazarite’s head symbolized the end of the separation, the consecration unto God. That’s where Samson had got to. He despised God. He rejected God. He forsook God. He gave up the Lord Jesus Christ as his Head. In Colossians, Jesus is called the Head. When will we learn that it is all about the Lord Jesus Christ, he must increase, I must decrease, he is above all, before all, and by him all things consist.

Samson rejected God, and forfeited the power of God in the process. Because our deliverance is God’s deliverance. Our victory is God’s victory. Samson, like us, only amounted to anything in the world while he had God, and was on God’s side. But Samson forsook God for the harlot love of a strange woman. He forfeited eternal worth for temporary fleeting pleasure. Something that many Christians are doing today. Cuddling up to the strange woman of false religion, strange Bibles, strange words, strange spirits, offering strange fire, strange worship, strange sacrifices, going after strange flesh. The Bible warns us against being seduced by the strange woman, against being enticed away from truth, from God’s infallible, inerrant, incorruptible, pure, preserve, holy word, the light to our footsteps in the darkness of this world, the sure word. When Proverbs warns us of the strange woman, it’s not only speaking in a physical, but in a spiritual sense. The strange woman is much more than a woman who physically makes you commit adultery, fornication. Satan will seek to seduce us with the strong woman of false religion, Satan wants us to commit spiritual adultery, to stray to “greener” pastures which allure the eye, which seem good to us, which stroke our pride, our ego, our lust, our  desires. Samson could not shake off the cords once his hair was gone, and we cannot shake our sin without the Lord, because of the Lord, by the Lord. If Samson failed, how do we have hope?

But there is hope, in the New Testament, we see sin shaken off. Sin that could not be shaken off, can now be shaken off. What could not be shaken in the Old Testament, can be shaken in the New Testament. When Paul was bitten by a venomous snake, he shook it off… and the poison did not affect him. What’s different? The Lord Jesus Christ. God in the flesh, God with us, who lived a sinless life, who died for us on the cross, who defeated sin, death, the devil, who said, it is finished. Because it’s already over, there is nothing to do, Jesus did it all. All we have to do is believe him, receive what he has already done for us. Because of the Lord Jesus Christ, the indwelling of his Spirit, the enduement with power from on High, power which is his both in heaven and in earth, which swings open that seemingly impossible iron gate of imprisonment of sin and darkness. The New Covenant based on his blood, what he has done, doing what the Old Covenant could never do as we are hopeless and helpless in our sins. Under the law, we are done, but under grace, we have life.

The Bible has a lot more to say about shaking, not only do we try shaking things off, but God shakes us, he allows our lives to be shaken, so that the things that cannot be shaken can remain as the Word of God says. Because when we are shaken, the reality of our faith is tested. The question then is, what cannot be shaken in your life? Is your house built upon the solid rock or upon the uncertain, unsure sand… when the floods come what happens? The only thing that cannot be shaken is Christ. In the same way, the only reason the burning bush in the desert that Moses saw did not burn was because the Lord was in it. What things need shaking in off in your life? And what will remain when you are shaken? What is for sure, is that in this life here on earth, shaking happens. We shake, can you shake it off by faith, or will you shake in vain and wake to find yourself blinded and grinding corn in the Philistine prison house  God shakes. What will remain? The results of the shaking are directly proportional the the existence, the reality of a relationship and fellowship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Are you saved? The Bible says the fear of the  Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Moses said he exceedingly feared and shook when he saw God on the mount. Belshazzar was shaken to the core when he saw the handwriting pronouncing his doom on the wall as he was feasting away with the undetected enemy at his very gates in Babylon. The Bible says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fearing God will sort out all problems in our life. Fearing God is the wisest thing you can do. By fearing God you will get saved, depart from evil, get life in perspective.

Samson had sin, we have sin, sin bugged him, sin bugs us. We can try to shake it off, we can try to shake off sin’s effects, but we cannot do it in our own strength. Our sin comes back to bite us. Samson tried dealing with, tried controlling his sin. It got him. We cannot control the beast of sin. Samson could not shake off the lust of his eyes and the lust of his flesh. You may not even be struggling to shake off sin… you may love your sin, you may instead be trying to shake off God! God is longsuffering, merciful, gracious towards us while we despise, deny, refuse, and try our best to spite him in return. Don’t mistake the longsuffering and mercy as God overlooking, as God winking at your sin and rejection and snuffing at his word. Shaking happens in our lives. We shake ourselves, God shakes us. Do you have a certain sin dogging you that you cannot shake off? Hebrews has the answer for us, the verses quoted below follow directly after Hebrews 11, the chapter of faith, the chapter where Samson gets mentioned!

Hebrews 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,

Hebrews 12: 2 – Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Look unto Jesus. He is the author and finisher of our faith. Our solution to sin, to our life, to our existence is the Lord Jesus Christ. Because of him, by him, we can just lay it aside, just lay aside that sin that is bogging you down. Sin is tiring, sin destroys us, sin is harmful, sin always ends in bitterness, regret, remorse. Spread out Satan’s fiery propaganda in your soul and spirit before the Lord, as king Hezekiah of Judah spread out Syrian king Sennacherib’s fierce threats as his all conquering army marched up to besiege the walls of Jerusalem. The enemy can be at our doors, but we have the victory. In Psalm 23, we read that God prepares a table for us… in the presence of our enemies! When our lives are shaken, and God allows our lives to be shaken, the Lord Jesus Christ will remain, God allows us to be shaken to help purge, cleanse, free us. So what is at the core of your existence? What will remain? Because as life goes on, each one of us will be shaken, the reality of our heart and soul will be found out, profession will be tested, the sheep will be sorted from the goats. Get saved today, get right with God today. If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness – 1 John! That’s the gospel news. Shake it off? Or can’t quite shake it off?

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