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 Sermon Date: Feb. 13, 2011

Sermon Title: Financial Burn

Sermon Text: Prov. 6:27-28, Prov. 5, Judges 13-16

Small Group Text: Judges 13-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 Question of the Day: Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? Proverbs 6:27-28 The answer is obvious: Of course not! Given the context of Proverbs, chapters 5-7, we know that the fire and the scorching to which Solomon refers are metaphors for sexual immorality/sin – the idea being that what a literal fire does to one’s clothes is what sexual immorality does to one’s personal life – it has the capacity to burn you and reduce your life to ashes! This is the imagery God’s word uses to describe the destructive power of sexual immorality and in this lesson, God is serving us a “burn notice.” Count on it: Sexual immorality will burn you! And probably the burn will look something like this: Sexual sin will… 1. Take you farther than you intended to go. 2. Make you stay longer than you intended to stay. 3. Make you pay more than you intended to pay. It’s common to hear people say that sexual ethics are “relativistic,” i.e., that each individual gets to determine their own sexual conduct. “It’s a private thing between consenting adults.” But God has something quite different to say about our sexual behavior and every believer has to decide who ultimately gets to determine their sexual ethics. And how we answer this question will determine the trajectory of our lives. Because the thing about our choices is that after we’ve made them; they make us! This might be called the “law of consequences.” Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Galatians 6:7

Generally speaking, sexual immorality, from the Biblical perspective, refers to any sexual behavior that destabilizes or threatens to weaken the intimacy God intended for the sexual union between a husband and wife in a committed marriage relationship. But what we’re witnessing today is the disintegration of intimacy from sexual activity as unmarried people engage in casual, impersonal sexual activity – making it a point to remain disengaged emotionally. This is historically typical of every culture that jettisons God from the question of sexual ethics. In fact, this is exactly what was happening during the period of the Judges in Israel’s history. The Bible depicts this period as a time of religious apostasy accompanied by social and moral depravity. “In those days…everyone did whatever they pleased.” Judges 21:25

Case in point: Samson, Judges 13-16 Samson’s life is one of the most tragic examples of a man with the greatest potential but whose life was “scorched” – burned – shriveled up by the fire of his sexual appetite. 


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Set apart from birth to be God’s man of the hour to deliver Israel from their enemies, Samson was endowed with some of the most enviable gifts and strengths a man could want. But because of his lust for women – his life was a series of disappointments and proved to be an utter failure as a man, a leader and as a deliverer of God’s people. How could a man who started so well end so poorly? The words of Solomon again come to mind: (Keep away) from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife. [25] Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes, [26] for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life. Proverbs 6:20-26

The Birth of Samson - Judges 13:1-25 The angel of the Lord appeared to the wife of Manoah and announced that she would bear a son. Her son would be a Nazirite from birth, with the special mission to deliver Israel from the Philistines. A Nazirite was a person who took a vow to be set apart for God’s service. Samson could not cut his hair, touch a dead body, or drink anything containing alcohol. But Samson consistently ignored his Nazirite vow – doing only what his passions dictated. Sexual sin will take you father than you intended to go I want what I want Vv 14:1-4 Samson was attracted to a pagan Philistine girl. His parents had issues with this: 1) It was against God’s law (Exodus 34:15-17; Deut. 7:1-4). 2) The Philistines were Israel’s greatest enemies against whom Samson was to fight. 3) Marriage to a pagan Philistine would compromise his Nazirite vow. But in keeping with the spirit of his day, Samson insisted: “Get her for me. She is the one I want” (14:3). This was typical of Samson’s attitude throughout his life, giving into his sexual lust without thought given to his relationship to God or God’s people. Sexual sin is always selfish! Vv 14:5-5:20 At his wedding feast, Samson told a riddle having to do with a lion he had killed months earlier and wagered that none of the Philistine guests could solve it. The Philistines threatened to burn the bride’s father’s house if she could did not glean the answer from him. Samson relented after days of her tearful appeals and she, in turn, informed the guests. Angered by this betrayal, Samson killed 30 men, stripped the corpses of clothes to pay off his riddle wager. Meanwhile, his father-in-law gave his bride to the best man – assuming Samson had discarded her. Enraged, Samson burned the ripened harvest fields and vineyards of the Philistines – who, in retaliation burned to death Samson’s wife and her father. In a spirit of vengeance, Samson killed even more Philistines. His rationale: “I merely did to them what they did to me.” (15:11) The Philistines sent a battalion of soldiers into Judah to arrest Samson. The men of Judah – not up to a fight with the superior forces of the Philistines, persuaded Samson to let them bind him and hand him over. But Samson broke free and killed 1,000 more Philistines. Arrogant and out of control morally, Samson negated God’s help in the victory and boasted only of his own strength. “With a donkey’s jawbone I have killed a thousand men.” Sexual sin will make you stay longer than you intended to stay The law of diminishing returns One would think that, by this time, Samson would have learned his lesson and stayed away from the pagan Philistine women – that he would have stayed in the regions of his own people – Israel, and found a nice Jewish girl with whom he could marry, settle down and start doing what God had called him to do. In the words of wise Solomon:

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Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? [17] Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. [18] May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. [19] A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. [20] Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man's wife? Proverbs 5:16-20

But there’s something about an out of control sexual compulsion that is difficult to resist. And it cues into the law of diminishing returns: In order to experience the sensual/sexual pleasure and excitement he desired, Samson needed to increase the risk; so that over time, he found himself doing things sexually he never imagined he’d ever do earlier on. Arrogance and a sense of entitlement seem to have set in so that he could easily rationalize his next sexual exploit: I deserve this: see what I have accomplished. I will reward myself. Vv 16:1-3 Once again, Samson leaves his region to scope out the sensual Philistine women and this time seeks out a prostitute. The Philistines again tried to capture him by locking the city gates, but Samson ripped up the entire gate structure and carried it almost 40 miles away – up hill. Think about it: Never, ever, when he first began to flirt with sexual sin, did Samson imagine his life so out of control: spending so much time with godless Philistine women; betrayal, murder, more lust, consorting with prostitutes, rage, revenge, etc. This was to be God’s man of the hour, set apart to help God’s people achieve victory over their oppressors. The truth remains: Sexual sin will take you farther than you every intended to go and make you stay longer than you ever intended to stay. Sexual sin will make you pay more than you intended to pay Vv 16:4-22 Again Samson is seduced by a pagan woman, Delilah. Some commentaries say, a prostitute. This is deduced from the facts that her name can be associated with ritual prostitution at the Philistine temple of Dagon and she seemed accustomed to dishing out favors to rich and powerful men for money. Rulers of five Philistine cities went to her and said, "See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver." Judges 16:5 When Delilah asked Samson the secret of his strength, Samson carelessly turned her inquiry into a game. But eventually, wearied by her persistence, he divulged the truth: He was a Nazirite and his hair, the symbol of his being separated out for God’s special purposes, had never been cut. Delilah used the information, cut his hair, and turned over a weakened Samson to the Philistines. Now the mighty warrior became a slave. Rather than kill him, the Philistines preferred to humiliate him by gouging out his eyes and making him grind grain. All his physical strength, his gifts, talents, leadership and skill could not stand up to his major weakness: lack of self-control in the area of his sex life; and he paid a great price. Vv 16:23-31 But God, in His grace, was not finished with Samson yet. When the Philistines gathered to honor their god, Dagon, they brought out the blinded Samson to entertain them. Positioning himself between two supporting pillars, he prayed for one last demonstration of strength and pulled the building down upon himself and all who were present. Though believers today do not take a Nazirite vow like Samson, every Christian has been called by God – sanctified, set apart to play a role/part in His great plan to redeem this world back to Himself – to overcome the “oppressor” and liberate people from the sin that hold them captive. And yet often, even good, gifted, Christian men and women become distracted or even derailed from this calling by sexual immorality/sin. It’s a common reality – the end of which is anguish greater than the pleasures of the sin. 


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But how? How can we keep our desire for love and sexual pleasure from deceiving or controlling us? This seems to be the Apostle Paul’s concern for the church when he writes… It is God's will that you keep away from sexual sin as a mark of your devotion to him [7] God didn't call us to be sexually immoral but to be holy. [8] Therefore, whoever rejects this {order} is not rejecting human authority but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. 1 Thess. 4:3, 7-8 (GW)

We cannot separate our sexuality from our commitment to Jesus Christ Don't be immoral in matters of sex. That is a sin against your own body in a way that no other sin is. [19] You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives. The Spirit is in you and is a gift from God. You are no longer your own. [20] God paid a great price for you. So use your body to honor God. 1 Cor. 6:1820 (CEV)

We need to agree that God sets our moral agenda Samson did not resolve (commit) to conform to God’s design for sexual fulfillment We need to manage our minds! (Philip. 4:8) Samson became vulnerable through the eye gate and the ear gate. Exercise vigilance at the two gates – being very discriminating as to what gets in. Psalm 101:3 & Matthew 6:22-23

We need to minimize opportunities for temptation Samson was attracted like a magnet to tempting situations but took no precautions. Know your own weaknesses Flee (literally, run) from the very appearance of sexual evil (1 Thess. 5:22) We need to think of the potential consequences Samson was pathologically impulsive. Think! Magnify the consequences… • Of giving in – drawing out to logical ends the potential scenarios Temptations usually speak to the here and now Satan will maximize the short-term payoff! Move your thinking toward the possible consequences • Of not giving in God’s promise of blessing Holding shame, loss, and personal suffering at bay We need to incorporate the spiritual practices into our lives There is no record of Samson reflecting on God’s word; and the only two prayers he prayed were both self-referential prayers Spend time daily in prayer Spend time daily in Bible reflection (Josh. 1:8; Psa. 1; Psa. 119:9) Practice the discipline of fasting: it offsets the sexual appetite (Gal. 5:16) We should never go it alone! Samson was a loner: at his wedding feast, he had no personal friends. The Philistines had to come up with his guest list. Personal accountability is healthy and growth inducing Be willing to “go deep” with trusted friends Be willing to serve others: This will be a remarkable distraction to sexual sin Contact one of your pastors

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02.13.11 Comm