Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday Devotional: The Devastating Results of Sin

“But he did not know that the LORD had left him.”—Judges 16:20

My heart sank when I read this verse regarding Samson. Not because I had never read the book of Judges before, and not because I was surprised at the outcome of the story. Samson was a big deal in my house growing up. I grew up with three brothers who often times would refer to Samson when talking about their desires to be strong. Popeye and the Hulk were great, but Samson was the pinnacle of strength in the Tarter household.

This verse struck me because of the force of it. Very often when I read my Bible I breeze over phrases, trying to get all of my reading done in a short amount of time. But if you stop and think about a phrase like “he did not know the LORD had left him” you realize the devastating effects of such a verse. God is gone.

God was the source of Samson’s strength, and when He left there was no longer any power or protection surrounding Samson. He was alone. But God did not leave without reason. Notice the events leading up to God’s departing from Samson. Samson liked women, and his desire for ungodly women ensnared him even to the point of being manipulated by Delilah (Judges 16).

This is not the only reference in the Bible to God leaving a person, 1 Samuel 16:14 tells us the heart-breaking story of King Saul: “Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.” Saul, like Samson, had created a path of deception, hatred, and self-promotion that eventually left him abandoned by the sovereign Creator.

It is easy to read these biblical accounts and disassociate ourselves from the tragic choices and consequences, but we must remember that we too are of the same stock as Samson and Saul—and even Judas Iscariot. The root of all these tragic stories is sin, and none of us is exempt from that truth. After reading the book of Judges for the first time I asked my dad how God could keep saving the Israelites. I mean, after all, they never obeyed. They always went back to sinning. It really frustrated me. His gentle rebuke guides me every time I read this book—“Courtney, doesn’t God keep forgiving you?” You see, the fact that I was appalled at the Israelites really showed that I didn’t understand sin.

We are all that depraved, and if we are not vigilant about fighting sin in our own lives, we too will find ourselves left alone to drown in our wickedness. The people the Apostle Paul is talking about in Romans 1 probably didn’t even realize that God had given them over to the “lusts of their flesh.” We should never become comfortable with the language of the Bible, especially with regards to our sin. It should make us weep, but most importantly it should make us tremble. It should make us introspective, asking God to reveal to us the areas in our lives that we are “exchanging His glory for a lie”. Samson was exchanging God’s glory for a lie—the lie of one night with a deceptive woman.

But the story does not end there. Though Samson willingly relinquished his power into the hands of Delilah—and thus was abandoned by God, God is merciful. When God takes His hand off and gives us over to our depraved minds, He does so in order to bring glory to Himself and repentance to us. God may depart from you, but just as the Prodigal’s father welcomed back his wayward child after years of debauchery, so God restores His children who cry out to Him for mercy in their pig sty.

This is not a license to sin, but it does offer great hope for you today. The Bible does not end with Judges, and the very next book after it is Ruth—a great picture of the keeping power of God. In the darkness of Judges, God foreshadows the coming Messiah.

So, as you go about your weekend love your Old Testament. Love the hard books that are rarely talked about—our Christ is on every page. And fight sin, dear Christian. Don’t play with the kindness of God. He will not tolerate sin forever—and it is a very despairing life for the one who has lost the hand of God, and doesn’t even recognize it.

1 comment:

debt said...

I have always shuddered at the thought of being blind; not knowing that I was out of God's fellowship. Mind you, I know that it would be a result of my own sin and going away from Him, but it is something that I fear(in a good sense). Hence, it leads me to pray that God would keep me(as He does) and keep my heart tender and soft. I agree, we must be aware of our own sinful tendencies and when we are not, ask the Lord to always stay close revealing to us our sin(as our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked). In a day when we are always being told that we are being too hard on ourselves, I find it refreshing and encouraging to know that their are still men and women who tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love against the backdrop of our sin and depravity. Is that not why He came? Who needs a Saviour when He thinks He's not that bad? Thanks, Courtney! May your tribe increase! ...and yes, I agree, let's not abandon our OT, as some have in evangelicalism. God's Word is eternal and all of it is "for our learning and instruction that we would not crave evil things". Keep on in the battle!!