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Samson: A Tragic Holiness

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On Sunday, July 2, 2017, John Maulella continued our sermon series on Holiness by talking about the story of Samson in Judges 13 to 17.

God wants to break chains.  Samson gives us examples of living in holiness and not living in holiness.

The refrain in Judges is "everyone did what was right in his own eyes."

1)  The Pick  Judges 13

Holiness, or set-apart-ness, begins with being chosen.

Numbers 6:1-21 tells about the Nazarite vow.  They were to let their hair grow, drink no wine, and touch nothing dead.

Ephesians 1:3-4 -- Don't fight God picking you.

2)  The Power  Judges 14

Holiness sets us up to be used powerfully by God.

There was a major conflict between Samson's appetites and his identity.

God used Samson's flaws, mistakes and sins for His own purposes.

God will use anything to pry his people away from idols.

The Spirit of the Lord comes on Samson - in this way, he is a prototype of the church.  He had power to do what he couldn't normally do.

Distinguish between the Holy Spirit's gifts and the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  It's possible to have one without the other.  What if we were a church who said:  We want both!

3)  The Pitfall  Judges 16

Pitfalls to holiness rob us of our strength.

Samson didn't see the danger - he'd never lost.

Be careful where you lay your head!  He got tired. 

"But he did not know that the Lord had left him."  He was blind before anyone touched his eyes.  He was bound before anyone put him in chains.

Note of hope:  His hair began to grow again.  Even if you've failed, the story isn't finished.

God's promise was that he would be a Nazarite until the day of his death.

Judges 16:28 - At the end of his life, Samson finally gets it.  He realizes his strength came from God.

How do we live picked and powerful lives and avoid pitfalls?

1)  Watch your eyes.

Every problem Samson had began with something he saw.  For discerning true value, our eyes are worthless.

2)  Cultivate an appetite for God.

Fight appetites with a greater one.  We catch appetites from other people.  Catch an appetite for God from others.

3)  Kill the beetles!

Japanese beetles love to eat roses.  What are the beetles in your life?  They may take really small bites.  Samson got worn down.  Romans 6 - Put to death sin in our lives.  Disrupt the rhythm of sin in your life.

4)  Let your hair grow!

Do you have a physical sign of your apartness?  What's a reminder that you are different?

Why study Samson?

We're a church full of Samsons. 

We're gifted and we're called by God.  Our sign of God's gift is our new building.  But some of us use our gifts for ourselves.

Samson points us to a better Samson.

The leaders of Israel ultimately failed, except Jesus.  Samson is mentioned in Hebrews 11 for his faith - "whose weakness was turned to strength."  He was never more powerful than at the end.

Our weakness leaves room for God.

Holiness

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Last Sunday, June 25, 2017, Pastor Ed Allen preached a third sermon in his series on Holiness.  This is fitting in with one of our church's seven habits:  Uplift God's Character.

First, we reviewed the first two sermons in the series, our motivation for holiness and Why we want to be holy.

Then we looked at Romans 6 to see How to be Holy.  How do we do our part?

1)  Identify with Christ!  (Romans 6:1-4)

Find our identity in Jesus.  We're dead to sin. 

When we're baptized, that's when we let our freak flag fly!

We're identified with His death and resurrection.  We can be good people without identifying with Christ, but it's the beginning of holiness, a whole new way of thinking.

Identifying with Christ is the beginning of the process of holiness for us.  We are essentially Christ's.

2)  Live with the end in mind!  Romans 6:5-7

We are looking forward to the Resurrection.  This is the context of our lives.  So believing this truth gives meaning to our lives and aids our holiness.

In northern Virginia, we like our lives, we just want them a little better.  That's not a deal Jesus makes.

3)  Create distance between ourselves and known sin patterns!  Romans 6:8-11

Think of yourselves as dead to sin.  That old way of looking at things is dead.  Refuse to follow the rhythms of sin.

Alcoholics know not to hang out in bars.  You can't go near your sin pattern.

Often, we continue to sin because we want to.  Think what to do to separate yourself from that pattern.

Practice rhythms of righteousness.

It's not easy, but it's not complicated.  "Offer yourselves to God."

We don't control this process, but we can cultivate it.

4)  Know the Scriptures, especially the teaching of Jesus and His followers!  Romans 6:15-18

You're not ever completely in control.  You're either a slave to sin or to obedience.  Obedience leads to freedom from sin's slavery.

Romans 6:18-23 - "The benefit you reap leads to holiness."

Why are we not growing in holiness?  Step in!

The battle is worth waging!

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