SAMSON & MALE SEXUALITY
by Rev. Dr. Jerry Schmoyer, Christian Training Organization © 1997
1. UNDERSTANDING SEXUAL COMPULSION ⇑
We live in a world that turns everything backwards from the way God wants it to be. couples live together before getting married. Women get pregnant then decide if they want a baby. Lust precedes love. Youth is valued over the wisdom and experience of age. External things are worshipped and internal qualities and values denigrated. Self control, gentleness, submission and kindness are seen as weaknesses while assertiveness, self-centeredness and rudeness is valued. We admire physical strength, even worship it, but moral strength is neglected, mocked and ridiculed. What a time to live! What an immature age it is. Yet unfortunately there have been other times like this in history. Samson lived in one such time.
In a time of national weakness and turning from their spiritual roots, God sent an angel to a family in Israel to tell them that He was sending a deliverer to turn them from bondage to victory and from serving self and sin to serving God (Judges 13:1-23). Unfortunately the deliverer himself ended up in bondage, too — and that is our story, the story of a man named Samson. Samson was a man strong physically but weak morally. Instead of learning from his conquest, we must learn from his defeat. Still, many lessons are there to be learned for Samson was a man very much like men today and he lived in a time very much like today.
SAMSON’S YOUTH Samson grew up ‘different’ from other boys his age. For one thing, he was the only child of parents who had not been able to have children (thus we can assume they were older – Judges 13:3). In addition, he was raised by different standards, Nazarite standards of special devotion and consecration (13:7, 13-14). Even his appearance would have been different from other boys his age for his hair was never to be cut. He seems to have been spoiled, indulged, used to getting his own way (14:2, 3b). Even though they asked God how to raise him (13:8), it doesn’t seem they taught him control. Self-control and discipline weren’t built into him, perhaps because his shy, fearful ( 13:22 ) parents gave in to his wants knowing he was special. Add to that a special physical ability and strength (IF he had it even to some degree then) and we see that Samson didn’t have a typical childhood.
Reading between the lines seems to allow us to say Samson was sheltered, shy and self-conscious. He obviously had a problem with responding in anger and revenge. He seems to have had lots of time on his hands without work or friends to occupy him.
He did develop a personal relationship with God and accepted His gift of salvation, for we read that God’s Spirit started to “stir” him to free his people from Philistine oppression when he was a youth ( 13:25 ). He would have gone through bar mitzvah at about 13 years of age. I’m sure he was sincere in his faith, but a combination of personality traits and upbringing set him up for a severe test when he reached manhood.
SAMSON’S DECISION TO MARRY Samson grew up in a good Jewish town, sheltered from the awful sinfulness of the pagan Philistines who lived nearby. There was no boundary between Israel and Palestine in that area, cities of each were interspersed throughout the region. Pious Jews kept strictly to themselves, though. As a Nazarite Samson grew up in a culture where women were very modest, quiet and withdrawn. There was very little contact between unmarried men and women. Perhaps plans had even been made for Samson to wed a local village girl. Then everything changed.
For some reason (and we have no idea what it was) Samson went to a nearby Philistine town named Timnah (14:1). Why he went to his mortal enemies no one knows. Why was he attracted to that which God was stirring in him to destroy? Why have anything to do with that which was under God’s judgment?
In a very influential time in life, when he as a male was quite open and susceptible, Samson was hit with pagan sensuality in a very ripe form. Tall, blond, brazen Philistines girls would come up to him and openly flirt. Their extreme immodesty and gross immorality probably both attracted and repelled young Samson. Perhaps his elderly parents had not properly prepared him for such things. Anyway, Samson found he had a real weakness of the flesh for sexual things, a weakness that he would never learn to control and which would eventually kill him. Instead of turning and fleeing, as Joseph did from Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:12) and we are told to do when his with temptation (I Corinthians 10:13 ), he gave in.
Immediately he wanted to marry a girl from there (14:2; 3b). He mistook lust for love. He didn’t know her well as a person (as later developments will show) but was just taken by her outer appearance. Satan used one of his favorite temptations on Samson at a vulnerable time in life and he fell fast and hard — as have many men since. This wrong start led to a life of misery and defeat because of lack of sexual control. What a sad story, but how common today.
THE PROBLEM OF LUST TODAY It’s not hard for men today to identify with Samson. A 1993 Promise Keepers survey of 1,500 men showed that 51% struggle with masturbation; 51% fantasize about having sex with women other than their wife; 15% have been unfaithful to their wife and 33% regularly look at sexually oriented material (videos, magazines, etc.). Things today are sexually oriented.
It seems like life has few mysteries left. Science has an answer for everything. Man had turned from God and the supernatural, putting himself in its place. Still, something in man cries for a little transcendence. Sex seems to provide that. Its the only thing we can’t analyze under a microscope, can’t figure out, can’t bring under our power. There is almost something magical and mystical about its power. No wonder we even call our female models “goddesses”. This shows man thirsting for something greater than himself , something above and beyond everything else in life. This is a spiritual yearning that only God can fill, but man is trying to fill it with sex instead. When we fixate so much on naked bodies we are just showing a need to go even deeper, to lay out our souls naked before God. Our preoccupation with sex, which in many has become a compulsion, shows a deeper longing for something real and meaningful in life. Sex has become Satan’s substitute for God, an idol many now worship. But idols never satisfy, and we know what God says about idolatry.
In a day and age when addictions and compulsions seem to be abounding, we must recognize that sex is one of the leading bondages. Evangelists, church leaders, pastors and Christian men by the score are being defeated and destroyed by this. Even worse, most men deny the power that sexual compulsions have over them. “I can stop any time I want” is the lie they believe. They are heading down a greased sliding board, gaining speed and momentum, promising themselves they can and will stop. Even after they crash in flames at the bottom, they fail to see the real problem. Samson didn’t.
SEXUAL ADDICTION & COMPULSION TODAY Have you ever thought you needed help for your sexual thoughts or behavior? Do you ever feel that sex is controlling your thoughts or actions? Have you been fighting a losing battle to limit your sexual thoughts or actions which you know are wrong? Are you starting to feel helpless and doubt if you will ever change? Do you seem to fall into the same pattern of sin, always feeling guilt, remorse and depression afterwards? Do you promise that will be the last time, only to find yourself in it again? Do you fear the hurt and damage your sexual sin can cause the ones you love, but find yourself unable to stop and stay stopped? If these questions prick your conscious then you need to admit that, like Samson, something too powerful has a hold of you.
COMMON TRAITS IN ALL ADDICTIONS & COMPULSIONS There are some traits all compulsions & addictions have in common, be it gambling, drinking, drugs, sex or whatever. These include:
1. Using this to escape the root problem instead of working it through. They deaden the pain of rejection, loneliness, insecurity or anxiety. They mask the pain and provide a quick escape but never get to the cause of the pain.
2. The compulsion progresses, getting stronger instead of staying the same of weakening.
3. It takes greater levels or amounts of the stimulation to produce gratification. Tolerance to lower levels is built, like the alcoholic who can drink a lot without getting drunk.
4. Withdrawal symptoms occur when the ‘drug’ is unavailable.
5. Thoughts become so obsessive the person finds themselves doing things they didn’t want to do and promised they would never do again. The same pattern of seeking the ‘drug,’ obtaining it and using it follows like a ritual.
6. Shame and guilt result afterwards — blaming others, God or self. The anticipated relief is short-lived, if it comes at all. The person feels dumped, trashed, miserable .
THE COMPULSION OF SELF- STIMULATION Usually for men this starts with self-stimulation. Studies show that 62% of married men do this. Often it is justified, explained away as normal and all right. But it is sin. The wrong thoughts that accompany it are sinful (Matthew 5:28 ). It makes sex an end in itself (ones own physical joy) instead of a means to an end (show love to mate). Our bodies don’t belong to us to use for ourselves, but to our mates to use for their pleasure (I Cor . 7:4). Plus, anything not of faith is sin. Finally, it’s inconceivable to think of Jesus doing or approving this.
CAUSES OF ADDICTIONS & COMPULSIONS The cause starts in childhood, especially in abusive or dysfunctional families. When a person is unable to have real intimacy with another, to really give ones self without reservation, to overcome feelings of rejection or failure, sexual compulsions often compensate. Sex becomes a way of escaping pain and substituting reality with a fantasy world. Society conditions us to this, for everywhere around us we see lust replacing love and substituting for real closeness. Satan works with this, too. His demons magnify openings we give him and keep working on them, putting thoughts and desires into a person’s mind. Often this follows family lines, going from grandfather to father to son.
THE SOLUTION TO SEXUAL ADDICTION & COMPULSION The solution is in Jesus, and Jesus only.
1. Remember, sex itself is not sinful. There is nothing wrong with nudity (Genesis 2:22 -25) or sex in marriage (Heb. 13:4; Song of Sol. 7:1-11). Any and all sex outside of married love is wrong, though (Ex 20:14 ; Dt 5:10 ; Lev 20:10 ) but that doesn’t mean sex is innately wrong or sinful. It’s like money, its our attitude to it and use of it that makes it right or wrong.
2. Also, sex starts in the mind. Mental lust leads to adultery (James 1:13 -16), and in fact IS adultery already (Matthew 5:27 -28). It’s not the tempting thought or the unexpected sight that is sin, but what we do with it. Sin starts in the mind, so does victory over sin. It starts there, so it must stop there. What a person does with the first thoughts determines the whole direction of the sin pattern. That is the place for the whole ‘ritual’ to be broken. You can’t stop half way down a greased sliding board, you have to stop before going down it. The first rung of the ladder is our thought life — that’s where it must stop!
3. Take a stand for purity in thought and actions with Jesus’ help. Make sure you think only of what is noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable (Phil 4:8). Flee the desire to entertain sinful thoughts (I Cor 10:13 ) or commit sinful actions (Genesis 39:12-13). Resist (James 4:7) by running to Jesus in prayer. Use the Bible, memorize verses, sing Christian songs, call a friend to pray for you — do whatever is necessary when sinful thoughts hit.
4. Get to the root cause. Work through childhood pain which keeps you from intimacy. Ask God to show you what you need to realize and remember. It doesn’t have to be a childhood of overt abuse, any kind of rejection hurts! Forgive those in the past who have hurt you. Confess your bitterness and hate and ask God to remove it. Pray for God to heal you, forgive you and restore you from the results of past hurt. Learn to develop true intimacy with your mate and God. Allow others to get to know the real you and make an effort to get to know them better. Ask God for wisdom so you will see how your compulsion substitutes for real intimacy and so you can clearly see the difference between lust and love. Renew your mind by memorizing Scriptures such as Psalm 25:3-4; 101:2-3; 103:8-14; 119:9-11; Mt 4:4; 18:3-11; John 17:19; Eph 6:10-16; Heb 2:12; I Jn 3:8; 4:4 and others.
5. When you do fail and sin, confess the sin and accept God’s forgiveness. Confess ( I Jn 1:9) it when you entertain wrong thoughts, do wrong things, put your pleasure before your mate’s or withhold pleasure from your mate. Admit it as sin. Don’t blame, excuse, justify, punish yourself, etc. Then make sure you forgive yourself by accepting God’s forgiveness (Psalm 103:8-14).
6. It is very helpful to become accountable to a Godly person. The 12-step programs success is based on two things: admitting one has a problem they can’t beat alone and allowing themselves to be accountable to others for help in overcoming their addiction. This is successfully used by many Christian 12-step groups who deal with sexual addictions, too. Find a mature Christian of the same sex to hold you accountable by asking you the tough questions regularly and praying with you. Your mate can’t do this, you won’t be honest because you don’t want to hurt them. Find someone you can talk to, who will accept and love you no matter what. This is an important part of the healing process and of learning true intimacy with another person. Professional counseling is often necessary and very helpful.
This whole area of sexual compulsions and addictions is relatively new but just starting. There will be much more of it as we continue in the ‘last days’ (II Timothy 3:1-7). For the sake of those around us, for the sake of those in our family, for our own sake this is something we as Christians must stop ignoring and pretending doesn’t defeat fellow believers. We must be as open about and supportive of those fighting this sin as we are of any other sin. Satan is using it almost unhindered to defeat many of God’s people. We must be aware of it and of God’s solution to sin — the blood of Jesus!
2. UNDERSTANDING HOMOSEXUALITY ⇑
Several years ago God clearly led us to start a Bible study in New Hope, Pa. After much prayer and seeking God’s help we started. As we were to begin the first session a young man walked in and immediately asked if God could save someone who was gay. He was obviously speaking of himself, and also obviously under God’s strong conviction. Just a couple of minutes later he gave his heart to Jesus right there in the middle of the whole group. For awhile he was full of excitement grew spiritually, but it wasn’t long until he started to withdraw and before long broke all contact. He was back in his previous lifestyle. I don’t know what happened to him. I wish I could have done more. My understanding of homosexuality was so weak that I just didn’t know how to counsel or work with him. What are the causes of homosexuality? Is it normal? Does God make some people that like the same sex and others that like the opposite sex, like He makes some who like chocolate and others who like vanilla? Bible-centered information about this is now available. I’ll try to summarize what I’ve learned.
CAUSE OF HOMOSEXUALITY
We saw last time that Samson was deeply influenced by his parents. He was an only child of older parents who indulged him. This clearly impacted his whole life. His parents didn’t even do more than voice a mild concern when he wanted to marry a Gentile unbeliever whom he barely knew (Judges 14:1-6). Evidently he had a weak father.
Often when a child has a disappointing relationship with their same-sex parent they seek to have that need met through a sexual relationship with a person of the same sex. If a child doesn’t feel loved and secure, if they feel rejected, then often turn to a substitute to meet those needs. Statistics show that a high percentage of homosexuals come from an abusive family. When a female is sexually abused by a male she may so hate males that she totally rejects them and turns to females for sexual love instead. A boy who is sexually abused also feels the shame and guilt, but the pleasure that also comes (the physical climax) confuses him. Without a mature male showing him love in godly ways , he may find himself drawn to this since it is the only ‘love’ he has known. Satan’s demons take an experience like that and put thoughts, ideas and desires in his mind and opportunities in his path. This is especially true in a culture that has turned from God (Romans 1:24-26).
To make matters worse, the substitute love and acceptance gives temporary relief. Many find that an easier path than having to face the pain and hurt from the past and work them through. Also, the anger that masks the pain is often taken out on parents and the world in general by their turning against society and being homosexual.
Of course this doesn’t happen to all children who feel rejection from their same-sex parent. All current statistics show that only about 1% of the male population is exclusively gay. There aren’t nearly the numbers they claim.
We must remember that we all have a free will and, while some sins may be more easily overcome, there is no excuse to remain in any sin. The Bible does clearly call homosexuality a sin (Rom 1:26-27; Lev 18:22-23; 20:13-16; Dt 23:17, 27:21; Gen 19:5-8; Judg 19:22; etc.). If God says it is wrong, He must also provide a way out for those caught in its trap.
CURE FOR HOMOSEXUALITY
Much of what was said in the previous article about sexual addiction applies here.
First, it must be confessed as sin. There can be no excuse or justification, no blame or self-pity. It must be confessed (I John 1:9 – admit it is sin) and the person’s desire must be to not remain in that sin but we willing, with God’s help, to never commit it again. Also, God’s forgiveness must be accepted (Psalm 103:8-14). Accepting God’s forgiveness and forgiving ones self can be the hardest part!
Second, the person must depend on God’s strength to overcome the sin and change. Spiritual warfare praying when tempted, close contact with a prayer partner, regular fellowship with other Christians, meaningful daily devotions, memorization of Scripture — all of these are important factors. One must depend moment by moment on the power of the Holy Spirit to bring victory.
Third, understand the causes from the past that opened one up to the sin. Forgive the person(s) involved. Turn to your Father-God (“Abba”) and ask Him to heal you from that and meet your unmet needs.
Finally, learn right relationships to the same and opposite sexes. Reach out and open yourself up, trusting God and others to show acceptance and love. It takes time, but learn to rightly relate to others.
OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD HOMOSEXUALS
As with all in sin, we are to love and reclaim the person while rejecting the sin. While that is easier to say than to do, we must remember that sin is sin No sin is worse than any other. Jesus paid for every sin. God forgives and forgets, so must we. We are not to judge or condemn but to love. While humbly warning about the consequences of the sin of homosexuality (in this world and the next), we must show love and acceptance to the person themselves. More rejection is NOT what they need. God can and does forgive any sin. They are no worse than us and need the love of God as much as we do!
Ask God to help you have the right attitude to these people so that you can show God’s love to them. Then pray for opportunities to practice that and be sensitive to chances to reach out in love with the GOOD news of Jesus.
3. UNDERSTANDING MANIPULATIVE WOMEN ⇑
A recent “Sally Forth” cartoon starts with daughter Hillary saying to her mother: “I assume you let Dad play poker tonight instead of going out to dinner with you.” Sally replies, “It’s not a matter of LETTING, Hilary. We discussed it like adults. I recognized it was important to him to play, and he came to recognize that I was displaying remarkable understanding.” Next Hilary says, “So not you can extort whatever you want from him?” “That sounds so ugly,” Sally replies. “Let’s just say I’m in an advantageous bargaining position.”
We’ve all been in positions where the other person was in an ‘advantageous bargaining position’ over us. It makes us feel, well, MANIPULATED. No one likes being manipulated, but we all seem to be able to do it to others. Manipulation is a dishonest, sneaky way of getting control. Love, faith and trust are replaced by power, control and pressure. Manipulation can and will destroy relationships and marriages. That happened to Samson’s marriage.
THE MARRIAGE Samson wanted to marry an unbelieving Gentile woman in direct disobedience to God’s clear command. Still, he was head over heals in lust and no rational arguments could change his mind. On his way to the wedding (Judges 14:8) he passed by where he had earlier killed a lion that had attacked him (14:4-7). Knowing that, as a Nazarite , he wasn’t allowed to touch a dead body, he touched it anyway in getting honey from a bee hive that had developed within the carcass. He knew it was wrong (14:9) but did it anyway. Giving in to small lusts always precedes giving in to larger lusts, and Samson shows an inability to deny his fleshly lust for food. Indulging the fleshly lust for food (too much, too sweet, etc.) often preceded indulging the fleshly lust for sex. Thus fasting can really help overcome sexual lusts, for if one can learn to have victory over this basic desire of the flesh, then that self-control and be applied to the lust for sex. Try fasting to defeat sexual temptation, it works!
When he arrived at his wedding feast, Samson threw a customary drinking bash (v 10). There is no reason to assume he abstained from alcohol at his own wedding. This broke the second part of his vow, that to not drink fruit of the grape. After breaking the first vow, breaking the second was easier. The first sin opens the door and makes it easier to sin again.
At this wedding celebration thirty Philistine men were assigned to Samson as his companions there. Why not Jewish men? Well, godly Jews wouldn’t have anything to with a pagan love feast. More than that, though, it doesn’t seem Samson had male friends, Jewish or Gentile. He seems to be the kind of man who is comfortable among women but not men. That probably started because of his relationship to his more capable mother who had the predominate role in his childhood. She was the one who told him he was doing all right and made him feel like a man. He bonded with her, not his weaker, more distant father. Thus he wasn’t able to relate to men and grew up with a need for female approval. More about that later.
THE MANIPULATION During the wedding celebration, which lasted several days, Samson gave the Philistines a riddle with a wager of 30 sets of fine clothes (v. 12-14). Another lust is seen here: gambling. He wants something for nothing. One lust always opens the way for others. His weakness of character is also revealed in that it is evident Samson needs to be the center of attention, impress others, and feel superior and in control of others.
When they can’t get the answer and don’t want to pay up, the Philistines put pressure on Samson’s new wife to get the answer for them (v. 15). Instead of honestly telling her husband of the threat and doing the mature thing, calling off the bet, she uses manipulation to get Samson to tell her the answer so she can pass it on (16a). She uses typical female tools: guilt, tears, “If you really loved me…” Only children (like Samson) and extroverts (also like Samson) are more susceptible to pressure like this because of their need to be liked, but Samson holds out for a full seven days (16b-17).
Obviously their relationship is selfish, immature, and lacking the basics to make a marriage. She manipulates him (16a), he withholds from her (16b), she is disloyal to him (18) and he puts his parents before her (17, see Genesis 2:24 ). They are each just using each other. Finally she wears him down, though. While as a general rule men may be stronger than women physically, women develop tools to more than compensate. As little girls learning to control stronger boys their age they soon learn to manipulate. Often they see this exemplified in their mothers and other women. They soon discover that, while they can’t out-muscle a man, they can out-emotion a man, and that is what happens.
Rejection, criticism, disapproval, guilt, tears and other weapons become the arsenal of the ungodly woman, and sometimes godly women, too. Men need to feel like they are pleasing their women, like they are providing in an approved way, and like their women are proud of them. A man’s ego and basic needs are built on these. It’s even stronger when a man needs a woman’s approval to feel good about himself as a man. Thus any perceived rejection or criticism can be devastating.
Most men rally have a hard time with a woman who is angry at them. Not only does it bring back bad memories of their mother who would reject them when she got angry at them, men would rather avoid than face strong emotion. Therefore many men will give in to keep the peace, do most anything to avoid their wife’s anger. They learn this survival technique growing up with their mothers, and they see their father’s doing this same thing for the same reason.
To avoid this men fall back to a more passive role, ‘read’ their wives to see how to respond and what to do, and then say or do the safe thing. This undermines a good relationship, though. Women, if they realize it or not, need a man who is strong enough to take control in a gentle loving way, even (especially) when they are out of control. God leads the family through the man, not the woman, for a woman’s emotional nature can be easily misled as Eve was by Satan (I Tim 2:12 -15). Man is to lead.
Another way this passive role fails is in the sexual relationship of a husband and wife. For women sex is a romantic expression of their relationship. She needs the man to be the aggressor to be assured he loves and wants her. That is why she needs to hear “I love you” so often. For a woman sex breaks down walls and they need that. For men the emotional closeness of sex can be a threat, a danger of failure. Thus men tend to let women take the lead. This is really compounded when that mother-son gets carried over by the wife and husband. How can there be a mother-son pattern during the day and then that mother become a passionate lover at night? It is up to the man to take loving leadership and break those patterns by not being manipulated but taking the lead as God requires. Man must find his needs met in God, not by another woman, even his wife. To the extent a man is dependent on his wife, to that degree he won’t be free to carry out his God-given role as leader.
THE MURDER Anyway, back to Samson. Finally Samson gave in to her nagging to keep the peace (v 17b). The result was that their relationship, such as it was, was destroyed (20). Control, manipulation, giving in to keep the peace, these all destroy relationships. When the men told him the answer to his riddle (18) Samson knew she had been disloyal and cared more about herself than him. In childish, immature anger Samson storms out of the marriage, kills 30 Philistines to get their clothes and pay off his debt, and moved back home (19).
Watch out for manipulation. It destroys. Learn to recognize it and with God’s peace and power resist it. Find approval in God alone. There is no such thing as an advantageous bargaining position among married people who love each other and are committed to serving each other first.
4. UNDERSTANDING MALE SEXUALITY ⇑
Suppose you were traveling in another country and walking around some evening. As you walked you came to a building where people were lined up to enter so you got in line. They seemed excited as they seated themselves facing a stage. Everyone applauded and cheered as a man walked out with a large tray covered with a towel. Wild music started to play and lights flashed on and off. Slowly the man would lift one corner of the towel and then another, allowing the audience to catch a glimpse of what was under it. The people cheered louder and louder. Suddenly the towel was totally removed and everyone went wild as the lights dimmed. What you saw before all went dark was a nice, fresh pork shop! What would you think? Was their something wrong with their appetite? Suppose as you left you noticed a magazine stand with pictures of pork chops on the cover and inside. Pork chops were used to sell cars, mufflers, clothing — anything and everything. TV programs and movies were rated as to how much pork chop was shown. Jokes and general conversation often focused on pork chops. People carry them around to entice the opposite sex. What would you think of a culture like that? Have you caught my analogy yet? That is the way our country is about sex!
“It’s different,” you say. “Pork chop lust is weird, but sexual preoccupation is just a normal and natural thing.” Unfortunately that’s true of the time and place we live. Seeing it as normal is the result of growing up in 20th century western civilization. Sexual addiction is becoming more and more common and studies show that 70% of Christian men struggle with sexual sin of one kind or another. Something must be done. By looking at Samson’s life we can learn valuable lessons about this very defeating temptation.
SAMSON’S SEXUAL ADDICTION
We pick up the story of Samson some time after he left his wife in rage and hurt. After awhile his desire for her became stronger than his male ego so he returned to her (Judges 15:1). It seems lust is motivating him, not love. He is thinking of his needs, not hers. He isn’t interested in a relationship, just sexual gratification.
HOW TO SURVIVE AN AFFAIR To his surprise, though, Samson finds out she now has another husband and he is unwelcome (v. 2). What is one to do when they discover that their mate has been unfaithful? Revenge and bitterness is no option for the Christian. The hurt and pain must be taken to Jesus. It can’t be stuffed down inside nor let loose on the offending person. We must forgive as Jesus forgave us. We can’t forget, but we can give up any thoughts of revenge and handle our pain with Jesus’ help. Good counseling and the support of a few godly friends is important, too. Pray for healing for both of you, ask God to remove the thought of what happened and treat the other person as a restored person, as you’d need to be treated were it you. That’s what should be done, but that’s not what Samson did.
Instead he let his hurt turn to anger. His wounded male ego exploded on innocent animals and people (v. 3-5). In childish immaturity he catches 300 foxes, ties them together, and sets them on fire to run through dry grain fields, thus destroying many Philistine crops. That just brought revenge on him, and his ex wife and family were burned to death (v. 6). Samson then killed many Philistines (v. 8). He ended up killing a thousand Philistines (v. 9-17) with God’s strength, but then ended up whining like a spoiled child when he was thirsty from it all and couldn’t find any immediate source of drink (v. 18). God patiently provided (v. 19-20).
THE ADDICTION CYCLE Awhile later Samson repeated the same pattern, going to the Philistines for sexual gratification. This time it was to a prostitute (16:1-3), a practice that would ultimately cost him his life. Understand that not everyone who struggles with sexual sin is an addict, but just like with alcohol or smoking or drugs, when a person isn’t able to stop on their own they are addicted. Samson showed signs of a sexual addiction.
First there is a PREOCCUPATION WITH SEXUAL THOUGHTS. Thoughts start running through the mind, bringing a mild rush of adrenaline (James 1:13 -14). The adrenaline rush gets addictive, as does the escape from reality the thoughts bring. We assume acting on our thoughts will be the solution to our problems. This is where the cycle must stop. If we don’t bring our thoughts captive (II Cor 10:5) at this point it will be much harder later in the cycle.
The FIRST STEPS stage of the cycle is when one starts acting on their thoughts. This usually takes a similar pattern each time. For Samson it was going to Gaza , a Philistine town where prostitutes were readily available. For men today it may include surfing the net late at night, hanging around a certain magazine stand or book store, going to a video store when the wife is away, walking past a certain secretaries desk or many other things. Thoughts of sin are conceived (James 1:15a) and grow.
ACTING OUT usually follows the ritualization pattern. The sin is committed, in action or in mind. Then comes the GUILT & SHAME. As James says, sin gives birth to death (1:15b-16). Instead of life we get death. Instead of joy there is sorrow. Short-lived pleasure is replaced by a long time of pain. Emptiness fills us. We end up feeling trashed afterwards. We promise we’ll never do it again. But before long the cycle is repeated.
This addiction cycle must stop at the very start — what we do with the first thought (Matt. 5:28 ).
THE APPEAL OF A NAMED FEMALE Samson gave in when he saw a good-looking woman (Judges 15:1). Why do naked women look so good to men? Remember the first time you saw a naked woman? How did that affect you? Why is it such a big thing for a man to see a naked woman? Evolutionists say it is a natural way to keep the human race going, but the Bible says God made things that way (Gen 2:22-25; Prov 30:18-19). Naked animals are no big deal, and (until our recently very polluted days) women aren’t affected by naked men like men are by women.
I think God made it that way to reward man for his extra load as leader and so he’d be drawn to his wife to touch her (which a woman needs). Nakedness stands for intimacy. For a woman to show a man her naked body shows she trusts and needs him, she is responding to his masculinity (that’s the reason pornography is so appealing – but nudity in that way is a big lie). God wants men to enjoy their wife’s body (I Cor 7:4-5; Song of Sol 4:5-5:1; 7:1-8). Men have a hard time with emotional and spiritual intimacy, and often use physical intimacy as a substitute.
This would be fine if only ones naked wife was attractive, but other women are still appealing to men. We still have a sin nature and a free will choice to obey God or sin. It’s built into men today from little on up to ‘check out’ each woman as to her sex appeal. It becomes a habit, a bad pattern, and Satan’s forces keep putting such thoughts in a man’s mind to get the addiction cycle started. Also, we all have a thing about ‘forbidden fruit’ that makes other women sometimes seem more appealing. We know our wife’s imperfections and want to see only perfection, so are tempted to view pictures of other women. How would we feel if our wives compared our bodies or sexual abilities to other men?
Appreciating a naked women is natural and God-given, but it must only be ones own wife. To so look at or think of any other women in that way is adultery (Matthew 5:28 ). That’s what led Samson to sin, and King David as well (II Samuel 11). Joseph knew himself well enough that he knew he had to run from the sight of a naked woman not his wife (Genesis 39). God always provides that escape (I Cor 10:13 ) but we must take it. That’s the only place to stop the addiction cycle.
5. UNDERSTANDING HOW TO HAVE VICTORY ⇑
In 1985 hard core video rentals amounted to $75 million. In 1992 that figure rose to $490 million. By 1996 it was $8 billion, an amount larger than the revenue from all of Hollywood ’s movies as well as all rock and country western concerts. More money today is spent on strip clubs than Broadway, off-Broadway, theaters, opera, ballet, jazz and classical performances together. Some studies say that as many as 70% of all men, including Christian men, are caught in some form of sexual sin. There is an open availability of sexual images and activities. There are X-rated TV channels in motel rooms, cable TV brings pornography into the average American home. Anything can be easily found by anyone on the Internet. Respectable video stores and magazine and book stores carry that which a generation ago would have been unthinkable. What’s the solution for hooked Christian men ?
Unfortunately the church isn’t attacking the problem. Men are ashamed to admit this sin and ask for prayer. They don’t share with each other or go for counseling. It’s each one for himself , assuming he alone struggles with this monster. However there is a solution. There is help. There is a way out. His name is Jesus.
1. SEX ITSELF IS NOT SINFUL Just like money (I Tim 6:10 ), sex itself is not sinful. It is our attitude to it and use of it, the place it plays in our life. It, too, is a God-given gift to serve us, but nothing for us to serve. Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed, for sin hadn’t entered (Genesis 2:22 -25). Godly sex in marriage is pure and good (Heb 13:4; Song of Solomon 7:1-11) and God watches and approves of a husband-wife sexual relationship (Song of Solomon 5:1). Sex not with one’s mate is what is sinful (Ex 20:14 ; Dt 5:18 ; Lev 20:10; Prov 6:20-28).
2. SIN STARTS IN THE MIND Sexual thoughts of anyone other than one’s wife are wrong and forbidden. Entertaining them leads to adultery (James 1:13 -16) and in fact is itself adultery (Mt 5:27 -28). Once one starts down a greased sliding board stopping is almost impossible. Sexual sin must be defeated when the first thought enters (II Cor 10:5). Knowing when they usually hit helps, too. It may be after a fight with ones wife, completing a successful business deal, feeling alone, when anxiety strikes, etc. Knowing what triggers the thought pattern is very helpful.
3. SIN MUST BE ADMITTED TO AND CONFESSED Unlike Adam and Eve who blamed others for their sin, we must acknowledge and confess it (I John 1:9). We must accept the responsibility, not make excuses or blame others, not justify it explain it away. Ask God to clearly show you your sin (Psalm 139:23-24). Confession should include taking back any access the sin has given to Satan’s forces in ones life. Then comes the hard part — accepting God’s forgiveness (Psalm 103) and forgiving ourselves.
4. DEVELOP A CLOSE, SOLID RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD Without the wisdom and power of God’s Spirit we cannot understand and defeat sin. Only a intimate relationship with God can meet our needs so we don’t have the same pull to meet them with a substitute like sexual sin. Jesus was tempted in all ways we are and overcame by depending on God (Heb 4:15 ).
5. ADMIT YOU CAN’T OVERCOME SIN ON YOUR OWN As in all 12-Step programs, one must admit his own inability to conquer his thoughts or actions by his own strength. How can the flesh subdue the flesh (Romans 7:18 -19)? If we think we can we are stronger than Samson, godlier than David, purer than Joseph and wiser than Solomon.
6. BE WILLING TO PAY THE PRICE TO GET AND STAY FREE It’s not easy to get free from sexual sin, and to honest it usually is just the shame that it brings that we regret, not the sin itself. We don’t have a real disgust for the sin itself, it continues to have great appeal. The sin does, to some extent, meet some legitimate needs (but in an illegitimate way). It is a great mental escape, a momentary high from the adrenaline that the anticipation brings and the pleasure of the act itself. There is also the thrill of the chase, the appeal of the forbidden fruit, and the challenge of the hunt. It’s only natural to take the path of least resistance, and breaking a pattern of sexual sin is not that! One usually stops only when the pain of continuing is greater than the pain of stopping. It takes a strong commitment to be willing to pay the price to get free! Getting into the sinful pattern/addiction happened over time, and so does getting free. You must be willing to endure emotional pain or anxiety instead of escaping or deadening it with sex. You must be willing to do without intimacy instead of substituting for it with sex. You must live with unmet needs, unmasked pain, boredom, and intense cravings for your sexual substitute. Freedom comes, but only when one is willing to pay the price (Matthew 5:29 -30).
7. BELIEVE YOU CAN HAVE VICTORY IN GOD Many men stay defeated because they don’t believe they can ever have victory over their sin. In their own strength they can’t. God doesn’t remove our lust but He gives us power to overcome it. We are a new creation (Rom 6:1-7) and have a power greater than sin within us to help us (Romans 6:8-14) if we let him. That is our free will choice. In order to have victory, though, often demonic footholds must be broken. They can come from sexual sins our fathers or grandfathers committed (Exodus 20:5), or from sexual unions we formed in the past (I Cor 6:16 ). In either case those openings must be put under the blood of Jesus.
8. TAKE A STAND FOR PURITY IN YOUR THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS Starting in our mind we must make sure all our thoughts are pure (Phil 4:8-9). We must commit ourselves to keep these things out (Job 31:1). We can’t just remove what is wrong, we must replace it with what is right. Pure thoughts must replace impure. Listen to Christian music or tapes of the Bible. Memorize scripture verses ( Ps. 25:3-4; 101:2-3; 119:9-11; Mt. 4:4; 18:3-11; Jn . 17:19; Eph. 6:10-16; Heb. 2:12; I Jn . 3:8; 4:4). In order to really purify our thoughts it is often necessary to get to the root cause and work through the childhood pain which keeps us from real intimacy so we need the false intimacy that sexual sin seems to provide. Ask God to show you what you need to remember. Get insight into how that affects you today. Forgive those in the past who have hurt you. Pray for god to heal, forgive and restore.
9. LEARN TO DEVELOP TRUE INTIMACY WITH YOUR WIFE By developing true intimacy the need for the false substitute will lessen. This takes total openness and honesty, being vulnerable to hurt and rejection. Accept your wife as she is and ask for God’s love for her. Pray that your sexual needs would be met with her ( Prov 5:15 -19). Enjoy her body as God intended it (see article 4 in this series). Spend lots of good time with her, relating and loving her as God wants you to do. Learn from her how to be intimate emotionally and spiritually.
10. BECOME ACCOUNTABLE TO A GODLY MAN While we have all kinds of blocks against this, finding a godly man to support, encourage and hold us accountable is very important (James 5:16). Our fear of exposure and rejection, male pride and ego which tells us we don’t need any help and ignorance of intimacy combine to keep us from reaching out to someone else. Our mate can’t do this. She won’t ask the tough questions and we won’t always be honest. If I can help anyone in this area please contact me and I’ll gladly do what I can.
There is freedom from sexual sin, despite what the enemy might be telling you! It isn’t easy, but it is available. Putting it off won’t make it any easier. Resources are available (God, the Bible, others), but it is up to each one to be willing to pay the price. Are you now willing? If not, what will it take?
6. UNDERSTANDING SEXUAL SAFEGUARDS ⇑
Years ago there was a movie in which some shipwrecked men were left drifting aimlessly on the ocean in a lifeboat. As the days past under the hot sun their food and fresh water gave out and they grew deliriously thirsty. One night, while others were asleep, one man ignored all previous warnings and gulped down some salt water. He quickly died. You see, ocean water contains seven times more salt than the human body can safely ingest. When a person drinks it he dehydrates because the kidneys demand extra water to flush the overload of salt. The more salt water someone drinks, the thirstier he gets. He actually dies of thirst.
Lust works the same way. Many men thirst desperately for something that looks like what we want. We don’t realize, however, that it is precisely the opposite of what we really need. In fact, it can kill us. It killed Samson.
SAMSON & DELILAH Unable or unwilling to stay away, Samson continued to hang around the loose Philistine women of the area. He “fell in love with” (Judges 16:4) Delilah. Actually, they were both using each other for their own needs, which can hardly be called real ‘love.’ He used her for sex, but never trusted her. She used him for power and financial gain. Each were thinking only of themselves. Despite knowing she was trying to get his secret and destroy him, he continued to play with danger and keep going back to her, getting closer and closer to telling her the secret of his strength. (Judges 16:5-15). Five times she betrayed him, five times he lied to her, but the sex continued. Finally, in pride and self-confidence, and to stop her nagging, he told her his secret (v. 16-17). When slept after sex his hair was cut, breaking the third Nazarite vow (no juice form grapes and no touching a dead animal) and taking his strength so he was easily overpowered and arrested (v. 18021). He was blinded and forced to push a beam in a circle all day, grinding grain for the Philistines as oxen did. What a sorry way for a prophet of God, a judge of God’s people, to end his life. His was literally and physically blinded by lust until he hit bottom. What a picture this is of reaping what you sow. First sin blinds (II Peter 1:9), then it binds (II Peter 2:19) and finally it grinds (II Peter 2:22). This did cause Samson to take a good, honest look at his life and where he had gotten himself.
SAMSON & DEATH God used that time in Samson’s life to work. When his strength was gone he had to turn to God for strength and help. He hit bottom, with no place to look but up. Satan, who had inflamed his lust for so many years, now trashed him. He felt the full weight of his sin and guilt. It was obvious his life had been wasted. Something started happening in Samson during this time. God used his suffering to begin to mature him, and for the first time we see him praying, asking God for help and putting God’s will before his own (v. 28). His faith grew (Heb. 11:32). When taken to be mocked by the nation, God returned Samson’s strength one final time, allowing him to kill many Philistines (v. 22-31). Unfortunately the Jews didn’t repent and follow up on this opportunity for deliverance, but all clearly saw God as the sovereign and just ruler of nations and people.
Samson’s life was, in effect, wasted. He had no control over lust and sex. Satan used that to defeat David, Lot, Solomon and many others. He successfully destroys many Christian men today the same way. Unless we are all very careful watchful and alert, he will get us, too.
Be careful when the world, the flesh or the devil try feeding you some salt water. It may seem initially invigorating and refreshing, but it leads to death. Control your thirst for sexual things. Drink of the water God has provided ( Prov 5:15-19) and don’t even think about any other. Make that commitment now. Job says “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl” (31:1). Let’s all make and keep that same commitment ourselves. Let’s not wait until it is too late, like Samson. Lets do it NOW.
7. UNDERSTANDING SEXUAL OPPRESSION ⇑
(From the life of John Newton)
John Newton was a tremendous man of God, greatly used by Him to spread His message of grace and salvation. John’s life wasn’t always that way, though. He himself is a prime example of God’s grace. He’s best known for writing the hymn “Amazing Grace.” John, however, had much trouble with sexual temptation and sin. It was only by God’s grace that he was delivered. That grace is available for us today, too.
JOHN’S EARLY LIFE John was born July 24, 1725 , in London , England . He had a godly mother who taught him the Bible and prayed for him. In fact, she wanted him to be trained as a preacher, but she was sickly and died when he was 7. His father was away a lot for he was a sea captain. He remarried and started taking John to sea with him when John was 11. John quickly fell into gross sin. Several times he tried to reform his life but failed.
Although he spent much time at sea, his heart wasn’t in being a seaman for he had a girl, Polly, whom he wanted to marry and spend time with. Irresponsibility and carelessness caused him to end up on a British Naval vessel fighting France . He worked his way up to being an officer but lost it when he went AWOL to see Polly. He was flogged and put on a ship going on a 5-year tour of duty. John was sure Polly would be married by the time he returned. He was such a detriment to the ship that they traded him to a slave ship for another sailor.
SEXUAL BONDAGE BEGINS At 19 years of age John had free access to any slave woman he wanted. He went wild! “I rejoiced that I now might be as abandoned as I pleased, without any restraint. I not only sinned with a high hand myself but made it my study to tempt and seduce others upon every occasion.” As a sailor he was so bad that the slave ship wanted to trade him back to the British Navy and John didn’t want that. As soon as he could, he left the ship to manage a slave warehouse in Africa .
As manager of the slave warehouse, John had unlimited access to the women there. However he became so sick he almost died and ended up in slavery himself. He had a terrible master who caused him much suffering, but before too long was traded to a new owner who liked him. Again he was able to constantly sleep with African women. He was so engrossed in his sinful life style that he didn’t want to leave Africa . It was only the thought of Polly that pulled him home.
SALVATION BY GRACE Again John was unwelcome on the ship that took him home because of his filthy language, awful morals, drunkenness, and anti-Christian attacks. He constantly mocked the gospel and Jesus. He had a reputation as one of the most vulgar and blasphemous of men, worse than most of the pirates he associated with. Then it all changed.
On March 21, 1748 , at 22 years of age, John turned his life over to Jesus. The day before he had been reading Thomas A Kempis’s Imitation of Christ and read “Life is short and uncertain. Today a man is vigorous and tomorrow he is cut down, withered and gone.” He came under deep conviction. That same night a terrible storm hit the ship and it seemed they would sink. The ship was severely damaged and only barely managed to stay afloat. John found himself calling out to God for mercy — if such a sinner as he could find mercy! Only Bible verses about judgment came to mind, but he humbled himself and found God’s mercy. “I see no reason why the Lord singled me out for mercy, unless it was to show, by one astonishing instance, that with Him ‘nothing is impossible.’”
SEXUAL STRUGGLES CONTINUE John apologized to his father and stepped up his courtship of Polly. His whole life changed and he reveled in his new-found forgiveness and peace. Spiritually he was on fire and grew as a Christian. He got a job as first mate of a slave ship, though, and a few weeks after sailing found he was as bad as ever before. He stopped reading his Bible and praying and had no Christian fellowship. He was unable to resist the sexual temptations and sunk right into sexual sin again. “I was almost as bad as before. The enemy prepared a train of temptations and I became his easy prey. For about a month, he lulled me asleep in a course of evil, of which a few months before I could not have supposed myself any longer capable.” Although he tried resisting, he was helpless to have any victory. “I was fast bound in chains; I had little desire and no power to free myself.” He had first choice of the women on the slave ship. Today we would say he was addicted to sex. “If I attempted to struggle, it was in vain.” How many men can identify with that bondage and misery!
GOD’S GRACE BRINGS DELIVERANCE Again John got so sick he almost died. He had no hope of mercy or forgiveness. He realized he could not change and was helpless in his sin. He stopped making promises or commitments about “next time” and “never again.” He threw himself upon God’s mercy, a broken and totally defeated man. “I made no more resolves, but cast myself upon the Lord to do with me as He should please.” With that came forgiveness, and peace returned. In fact, he never sunk to those same depths again. “Though I have often grieved His Spirit and foolishly wandered from him since (when, alas, shall I be more wise?), His powerful grace has preserved me from such black declensions as this I have last recorded.”
Eventually he got out of the slave trade entirely and entered the ministry. God used him in a small town to faithfully spread His message. As John’s own testimony spread, so did his influence. Many found hope and deliverance through John’s message of grace.
LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF JOHN NEWTON What lessons can we learn from John? First and foremost, victory over any sin only comes by God’s grace. Sometimes He removes the temptation at salvation, but often it just seems to get worse. Dormant for periods of time, it again and again raises its ugly head to bring sing, guilt and misery. It was only when John realized that he couldn’t defeat it, no matter how hard he tried, that he was able to see God’s victory in his life. There is no program, no strategy, no magic formula to bring victory — it is only by God’s grace. Any pride in ourselves or our ability to change ( Prov . 16:18 ). God did discipline him when he sinned to get his attention: twice he was so sick he almost died. By his own admission, a fine wife to honor and be worthy of was also a help to keep him from slipping back into sexual sin. On a later voyage he wrote to Polly: “I was once no less eager after their pleasures than they (the crew members) are now. But you have so refined my taste since, that nothing short of yourself can thoroughly please me.” That should be our prayer, too.
It’s all by grace, nothing we can do or deserve. Falling on God’s mercy is our only recourse. Promises of change, punishing ourselves for past failures, trying our hardest, all these fail for the flesh (sin nature) cannot control the flesh. Only the Spirit can control the flesh, and only when we 100% come to the end of our rope and throw ourselves upon His mercy. Have you don that, or are you still struggling on your own? Learn from John Newton. It’s only by God’s grace and mercy that victory comes. That’s no excuse to sin, but it does give us hope no matter how bad things are. It also shows us our total need of Him — which is something we all, like John Newton, need to learn.
8. UNDERSTANDING SEXUAL SIN (David) ⇑
Sin can ruin your life. No one ever plans for that to happen, still that is always the result unless God in His mercy intervenes. Sin is a free will choice. The consequences are inevitable. God’s principle still stands: reap what you sow (Gal. 6:8). It usually always starts small and seems ‘innocent,’ but the results are disastrous. Warning signals are ignored and destruction is inevitable. That happened to the Titanic and it will happen to us, too. Examples of this are myriad. Although he is often used as an example of this, there are still many lessons we can learn from David.
DAVID’S WEAKNESS FOR WOMEN God had clearly said that His kings were to only have one wife (Deut. 17:17). When David disobeyed that, the end result was inevitable. That passage also said the king wasn’t to build up a large army and depend on his own military might but to trust in God (Deut. 17:14-16) and David was able to obey this part and trust in God. If only he would have obeyed and trusted in the second area, too. As big a temptation as trusting in pride and power are for men today, lust is even a bigger one.
David’s first wife was Michal , the daughter Saul gave him for killing Goliath. When Saul turned against David he took her back and married her to another man. David then married Ahinoam , Abigail, Maacah , Haggith , Ablital , Egal and Bathsheba. He later got Michal back as a wife, too. In addition to these eight wives David had at least ten concubines. By his wives David had twenty-one sons and one daughter. David had a very large, messed-up family and suffered many negative consequences of his actions.
A lust for women was the crack in David’s armor, and he passed this on to his son Solomon who had 700 wives and 300 concubines. They turned his heart from God (I Kings 11:3). That is what God’s warning in Deut. 17 said would happen . Solomon broke the first prohibition, too, for he built up the army and started putting his faith in it instead of God.
POLYGAMY TODAY Do you have a weakness for women? Be honest with yourself. Most men, even good Christian men, are susceptible to lust and sexual sin. What about you? How many wives do you have? Many Christian men have more than one wife. They have the women they are married to. Then they have a second wife: sexual fantasies. A third wife may be pornography. From there it gets even worse. We might not see them as other wives, but that’s what they are. They steal our affections and sexual desires, leaving our first wife short-changed or her due. They substitute. They steal our hearts. They take our time and money. They alienate our affection. They are ‘other wives.’
David couldn’t buy a pornographic magazine or watch cable TV or a video. He married another wife. That was his centerfold. Today we don’t have to marry another woman, we can seemingly get them ‘free’ in a magazine or on TV. You can even download another wife off the Internet! Men, just how many ‘other wives’ do you really have?
And remember, these wives have children, too. Their names are “shame,” “guilt,” “defeat,” and “misery.” They can even be “poverty,” “divorce,” “disease,” and “death.” Who needs wives and children like these? Who needs to take away from the woman God provided?
DAVID DIDN’T EXPECT TO PAY All David wanted was some entertainment to fill a dull, boring evening (when he should have been at work for God leading God’s army). Instead he ended up in deception, murder and adultery. Before long his family was split over this and by the next generation the direct results were a split in the nation. David, his family and the entire nation all went downhill from there. That wasn’t David’s plan when he saw Bathsheba from the roof! David thought he could have some fun without any serious consequences. He played with fire and got badly burnt. David never thought that, just because he let that first lustful thought grow into an action, he’d have such a steep price to pay. Satan never whispers that part of things into our heart. He talks only of the present, never of the future. But the present is fleeting and the future always comes.
This sin with Bathsheba was the first domino in a row that included the death of his infant son, his oldest son Amnon raping his daughter Tamar, Absalom killing Amnon to avenge the rape, Absalom’s almost-successful attempt to overthrow David’s kingdom, and Absalom’s death. What a price to pay for letting an innocent lustful thought grow to where it became an action! By the way, when is the best time to stop a lustful thought? When is the best time to stop a fire that has started in your house?
Other consequences continued. Ahithopel , David’s close friend and trusted advisor for decades, sided with Absalom in his rebellion (which is why it was almost successful). Why would he do this? Bathsheba was his granddaughter. See how sin works?
Remember, this wasn’t a one-time slip David made. He’s been stretching and burning his conscience for years. If he hadn’t given into his lust when he took his second and then third wife, he would have better been able to resist that first impulse to sin with Bathsheba. A man who gives into his lust when young has a much harder time controlling it when older.
It may be that David never did get over his ‘thing’ for women, even after paying this bitter price. When he was old and his circulation was bad, a young virgin was brought in to sleep with him and keep him warm (I Kings 1:1-4). Granted, nothing sexual happened, but why not one of the women he already had? Why a new one, a young one, a virgin? More than likely he was just repeating his life-long pattern. When David had a need, he compromised and looked for some new sensual stimulation to meet that need. Is that what you do?
WHAT ABOUT YOU? What more can I say? The story speaks for itself. Sin can ruin your life. No one ever plans for that to happen, still that is the way sin works. The only antidote is the blood of Jesus: accepting God’s free gift of salvation, coming back for cleansing each time one sins, and depending on God’s strength for victory over all sin. First, though, the sin must be admitted. Unless we admit to ourselves that we have a problem we will never strive for a solution. Admit your helplessness to have victory over sexual sin, be it a thought pattern or action. It’s no different than any other sin. Victory is available in Jesus. For some it means a mental choice to stop lust before it grows in the mind, for others is may be a change in daily patterns (where you go, what you watch, etc.), for others it still means getting counsel or finding a friend to hold one accountable. Whatever it is for you — do it! Sin can ruin your life!
9. UNDERSTANDING SEXUAL TEMPTATION (Joseph) ⇑
The Lewis and Clark expedition had a great impact on this nation as well as on many individual lives. One such man was John Colter . He traveled west as part of Lewis and Clark’s party, but didn’t return with them because he wanted to stay and explore more of the fabulous land he had been exposed to. He was the first white man to witness the geysers of Yellowstone and many other wonders of the west. For many years he survived despite constant danger. Then one day he was surrounded and captured by some Blackfeet Indians. Instead of killing him on the spot they decided to make a game of it. They stripped him naked, gave him a 300 yard head start, and then started chasing him. The ground was rough rock and prickly cactus, and soon his feet were cut and bleeding. He ran for his life, though. Blood streamed from his nose and mouth from the exertion but he couldn’t slow down. He’d be dead if he did. One Indian almost caught up with him, but he was able to turn, surprise the Indian, and kill him first. After running six miles he found a river. He hid for hours in icy cold water under a raft while the Indians searched for him. Under cover of dark he went upstream, exhausted, half-frozen and nearly delirious from exposure and loss of blood. He knew of a trading post 150 miles away and headed in that direction. Seven days later he walked, naked, bleeding and hungry into the Bighorn compound. In that moment he became a living legend. Stripped of everything and against the worst odds imaginable, John Colter outran pursuing Blackfeet for 156 miles.
RUN! What an example he is to us of running for our lives, our spiritual lives. Oh that we would put that much effort into running from temptation and sin! If we see the deadly danger behind temptation and sin we would turn and run for our lives. That is the only appropriate response to that which would pollute our soul and kill our holiness.
JOSEPH THE RUNNER Joseph in the Old Testament is a perfect example of this. I won’t go into the whole story of his life because you can read it for yourself in the Bible starting in Genesis 37. Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and became a slave in a very well-to-do household. God blessed all he did and before long he was put in charge of the entire household. Since his master was often gone, he was in the top position. His master was a fine man, but the master’s wife was an immoral woman. She tried to do everything she could to seduce Joseph (Genesis 39:7-20). When nothing worked and he fled from her physical attack, she accused him of rape and his master threw him into prison! What a reward for virtue.
Instead of quickly passing over the temptation Joseph faced, lets see what we can learn from it. Joseph was young, probably good looking and well built, and good at whatever he did. Thus Potiphar’s wife was challenged by him. It must have been her own ego that made her want him. She was trying to use him for her emotional pride and physical pleasure. It isn’t hard to see Satan behind this. He doesn’t know all God knows, but it wouldn’t have been too hard to piece together some of the clues (brothers and father to one day bow down to Joseph, etc.) and see that God has something special for Joseph in the future. It was obvious Joseph was a man God was using and would use even more in the future. Therefore Satan hit as soon as he could. He didn’t play around, he went for the kill right from the start. He used one of his first stringers ( Potiphar’s immoral and self-centered wife) who no doubt was very beautiful and appealing (why would Satan use ugly bait?). She was always there, always inviting, always displaying her wares, always available. Joseph was like any normal young man with normal desires and hormones. It must have been a real temptation!
WHY DID JOSEPH RUN? Why would Joseph resist? If she was willing and he was naturally curious, and no one would find out — why not? That’s the way it is seen today. If no one gets hurt, so what? No doubt her husband knew of her ways and chose to overlook them and pretend the gossip he heard wasn’t true. If it wasn’t Joseph it would be someone else. Joseph’s resistance had nothing to do with his loyalty for his master. He had a great loyalty to consider: his loyalty to God (Genesis 39:9). He considered this a “great evil” and “sin against God.” Each man must choose his own moral standards. What we are when no one is looking is what we really are. No one was looking at Joseph, no one would know, no one but God. That was enough. Joseph lived his life knowing God was always watching. Do you?
That’s why Joseph ran. He ran from her, but I think he also ran from himself. Inside he knew if he didn’t move fast he’d be lost! It wasn’t that she was about to physically overcome and force him, it was that he found himself very tempted and attracted. What scared him was how easy it would have been to give in! Does that ever scare you? It should. Joseph ran from himself more than he ran from her. God didn’t remove the source of temptation, but God did leave an open door for him to run through. Today, too, God always gives us a “way of escape” (I Cor . 10:13) for us to run through. RUN — not walk. If we don’t run we won’t make it.
LESSONS IN RUNNING TODAY John Colter ran for his life. He was trapped and was a goner if he didn’t put distance between him and his enemies. He had nothing but his free will, and he used that to escape the danger. Why aren’t we as serious about escaping sexual temptation and sin? Is it because we really don’t see it as the evil danger it is? Is it because we are intrigued and, while we don’t want to get caught and destroyed, we want to hang around a bit and ‘enjoy’ the temptation or sin a little longer. An Indian with a spear is an obvious danger, a friendly smile from a girl in a short shirt doesn’t seem as dangerous. Believe me, it is. You don’t have to believe me, down inside you know that yourself. Act on what you know. Don’t flirt with destruction. Satan uses the same traps and bait today as he did with Joseph.
Leave your coat and run, as Joseph did. Cancel your cable. Throw away your video store card. Drive home a different way. Avoid going past that secretary. Go the opposite of that book store at lunch. Completely cut off that ‘innocent’ flirtatious relationship. Fire that seductive employee. Quit your job if necessary and get another.
Sin always has a price, and that is especially true of sexual sin. It makes no difference if it’s an action or ‘just’ a thought. Sin is sin. Sin always costs, and it costs more than anyone wanted to pay. That is especially true of sexual sin. Ask David. Ask Samson. Remember John Colton. Remember Joseph. We have two choices: run or sin. It’s your choice. Make the right one!