Copyright © 2009 1
- And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem:
- When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.
- Isaiah 4:3-4
- Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.
- And it was told the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.
- And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.
- And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.
- And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.
- And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.
- And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.
- Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green withs which had not been dried, and she bound him with them.
- Now there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber. And she said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire. So his strength was not known.
- And Delilah said unto Samson, Behold, thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: now tell me, I pray thee, wherewith thou mightest be bound.
- And he said unto her, If they bind me fast with new ropes that never were occupied, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.
- Delilah therefore took new ropes, and bound him therewith, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And there were liers in wait abiding in the chamber. And he brake them from off his arms like a thread.
- And Delilah said unto Samson, Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: tell me wherewith thou mightest be bound. And he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web.
- And she fastened it with the pin, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awaked out of his sleep, and went away with the pin of the beam, and with the web.
- And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth.
- And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death;
- That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.
- And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand.
- And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him. 20 And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.
- But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.
- Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven.
- Judges 16:1-22 KJV
Pure Hearts, Free from Sin
We have spoken about the question of the pure heart. I have shown you that the nature of the human heart, as the Word says, “is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) And the answer to that question is: God knows the heart! He is the only one Who can know the twists and turns of the heart in which there still dwells that carnality which the Bible calls the carnal mind (Romans 8:7).
There is a difference between the carnal mind and the self, and it’s an all-important difference. So often the Church gets the two completely mixed up. They confuse the self with carnality, and the Bible never does! Carnality, in its nature, is utterly opposite to God and can never be subject to Him, so God doesn’t try to subject it to Himself. “It is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). It is the quintessence of wickedness and sin which has infected every one of us. So God never tries to subject it to Himself. The idea that you take up your cross, and the Lord Jesus disciplines you so that the carnal mind will be kept under, is completely untrue, because the carnal mind is not subject to the law of God. Thus the idea of subjection will never, ever work with the carnal mind.
The Lord Jesus came to do away with the carnal mind. Under the Old Covenant, sin was merely covered; but under the New Covenant, it’s taken away! God is not so much concerned with the sins that you’ve committed, for they can be blotted out in an instant of time. He is far more deeply concerned about sin that dwells in you and me. He is concerned about the sin nature in human beings. That is what Jesus has come to take away!
I sometimes ask people, “Why is Jesus called Jesus?” And after they have thought for a bit, they usually come up with this answer: “Because He’s the Savior of the world.” But that answer misses the mark. Yes, Christ, the Son of God, is called “the Savior of the world,” twice in the New Testament (John 4:42; 1 John 4:14); but that’s not why He is called Jesus. “You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Yes, the Lord Jesus saves us from our sins; but He is an almighty Savior Who “is able also to save to the uttermost”—completely, thoroughly—“those who come to God by Him” (Hebrews 7:25). That is to say, Jesus not only saves from sins; He saves from sin, that is, the sin nature, giving you a truly clean heart. And God will testify to it:
God, Who knows the heart, bore them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did to us at the beginning; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
That is the witness, the testimony, of the Living God—pure hearts, free from sin!
The nature of “the sin nature” is that it hates God, or, as the King James puts it, it is “enmity against God”—utterly, irrevocably opposed to Him. Yet we keep confusing the issue, and teach that God disciplines us to get sin out of our hearts. But sin is not subject to the law of God, so all the discipline doesn’t work. We’re purified only by faith in the precious blood of Jesus. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). This is done by the operation of the Holy Spirit. He does it! We believe it. Because the blood of Jesus was shed to cleanse our hearts from sin, God will take out of your heart—when you ask Him to—that nature of sin which is antagonistic to Him Then you will be grieved when you hear Christians say that they know they have in their heart the carnal nature which hates God, which is antagonistic to God, but they are fighting it. You know that that’s an impossibility; you can’t fight that nature. God must cast it out. And what a dreadful thing it is when Christians honorably and honestly have to own up to the fact that there’s still in them something that is in opposition to the law of God and the will of God, something that won’t do God’s will just because it is God’s will! Now that’s the nature of sin! It hates God’s will just because it is God’s will.
Well, what happens after we receive a pure heart? When I have trusted the Lord to give me a pure heart, then comes in this great discipline of the self. Adam, in the Garden of Eden, didn’t fall into sin because he had an unclean heart; no, he had a pure one. Adam sinned and fell because of the nature of the self, which being human is weak, and because of free will, which can operate one way or another.
The Sad Example of Samson
Let’s look at the example of Samson, for in his life God gives an example of a man who had the Holy Spirit on him, and yet so failed that the Philistines put his eyes out, and he had to grind in the prison house. Quite a number of Christians who once were baptized in the Holy Ghost are now grinding in the prison house with their eyes put out.
Ah, but you say, “That’s an impossibility.” Oh, no! It’s a very real possibility. It’s not inevitable, thank God, but it is a possibility, and the Bible warns us about it all the way through. The question is not “Have I been baptized in the Holy Ghost?” but “Am I walking in the Holy Ghost?” Oh, that’s the difference! So many testimonies are about “what I once received.” But the true testimony is what I am now receiving, and what I am now walking in. That’s the good testimony, that I am walking in the Spirit to the best of my ability. And that’s all God wants.
When we think of Samson, we usually think of his great strength; but Samson was a man of weakness, and in that way he was very much like us. His weakness was a special weakness, which may or may not afflict you; it was a special weakness, brethren, for women. It seems you could always find Samson hanging around a woman somewhere. He just couldn’t get away from them. And all the time that weakness kept trapping him and bringing him down further and further. “Well,” you say, “What should Samson have done?” Samson should have gotten married! That’s a simple remedy, isn’t it? And whom should he have married? Not a Philistine woman, the ones he was always hankering after, the women of this world. As an Israelite, and even more as a Nazarite, he should have married a woman of Israel. He was a Nazarite from his mother’s womb—a special child, ordained by God.
The Elect and the “Whosoever”
Samson was not brought into the world haphazardly. He was one of God’s elect ones. There are elect ones, and there are the general “whosoever.” The elect ones are those who were brought into this world with a special purpose, like John the Baptist. God said before John was born that He was going to produce a John the Baptist. And before he was born, his parents were told, even though they were past age, like Sarah and Abraham, that they were going to have a child. It was another miraculous birth. That’s election.
But don’t imagine that those of us who are saved have been brought into the world expressly to be saved, and that the rest of the world has been brought into the world expressly to be damned. That’s the error of Calvinism, and it’s completely untrue! God hasn’t brought all these millions of people into the world, with only a few elected to be saved and the rest elected to be damned. Only a monster would do a thing like that! God, the great God, the loving Father, would never dream of producing people solely for the purpose of having them everlasting tormented. The devil would, but not God. That’s an error of Calvinism, which I trust you don’t hold. But God has an election. And the election is not the “whosoever.” Whosoever will may come! (Revelation 22:17)
But, as Paul makes clear, there is an election according to grace2—those who have been brought into this world for the special divine purpose of taking the gospel out to the “whosoever.” If God hadn’t produced an election, in order that they should go out and teach the world the gospel, the “whosoever will may come” would never have heard of it, would they? We wouldn’t have said, “Please, Lord, let me preach the gospel.” We never said, “Oh, God, would you please invent a gospel?” It is God Who brought in the gospel! And it is God Who produced His servants to preach it! It is God Who gives them the word in their mouth, “Whosoever will may come!” God means that; don’t twist His words. “Whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely.” For God would “have all men to be saved, and all to come unto knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). You can go to any human being on the earth, the foulest and the vilest, and you can say to them of a truth, “God loves you!” “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). But God will raise up people for a special purpose, like Jeremiah, of whom He said, “Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).
That’s not you; that’s Jeremiah! You are saved because you are a part of the “whosoever.” Jeremiah was brought into existence for the high purposes of God, for God is the Sovereign Lord. And God brought Samson into existence for a very special purpose. One purpose was that he should be a judge of Israel and deliver them from the Philistines. And another purpose was that you should be instructed through his life, for God teaches us, through Samson, about the nature of the evil one.
The Enemy’s Two Strategies
Have you ever learned how the devil works? It’s very simple! Paul says, “We are not ignorant of Satan’s devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11). You don’t have to write a book about Satan, nor do you need to study him. God forbid! But you’re won’t be ignorant of Satan’s devices if you understand that he works according to very simple methods. One is “Operation Roaring Lion.” The other is “Operation Angel of Light.” That’s what the Scripture tells us. “Satan goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Also, the devil manifests himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). He appears as an angel. These are both his two characters and his two strategies; when he tries one and it doesn’t work, he reverts to the other, and it usually does.
Operation “Roaring Lion”
Here is God’s example in the life of Samson. Samson, in his early days, went down “to the vineyards of Timnath; and, behold, a young lion roared against him. And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent the lion as he would have rent a kid” (Judges 14:5-6). That was by the Spirit of the Lord. The young lion was the attempt of the enemy to destroy Samson, because Samson was marked as being in the high purpose of God. In the same way, the enemy will seek to destroy you. He seeks to destroy every work of God. He is also depicted as a dragon, standing by to devour God’s work. He’s always there, waiting for the man-child to be born, that he may devour it (Revelation 12:4-5). If you have undertaken a work for God, if there’s any church that’s doing a work for God, the dragon is always waiting to devour that newborn child. It’s always the same. That’s the “Operation Roaring Lion.” But when we rely on the Spirit of the Lord and He comes upon us, the devil always fails. If God intends to do a thing, nothing can prevent Him from doing it! Let that get right into your hearts. If only we will learn what God wants us to do and attempt to do it, that work shall be done and no one can hinder it!
Operation “Angel of Light”
This passage in Judges 16 shows us something about Satan operating in the other sphere: Operation Angel of Light. And isn’t it surprising that, what the lion could not do, Satan as a subtle angel of light, did do—through Delilah. As we have said, Samson’s weakness was women, foreign women; yet God could and would have delivered him. God is showing you something—not that your weakness is women, but that your weakness can be a perfectly legitimate appetite gone wrong. This is the nature of the self. The nature of the self is not one of rebellion against God; that, as we saw, was the characteristic of the sin nature, the carnal mind. The nature of the self is one of personal indulgence of perfectly legitimate appetites that are allowed at last to control. Samson was not really wrong in falling in love with a beautiful woman; he was wrong in falling in love with one after the other, and not sticking to one. He was very wrong in going down to the Philistines and preferring the foreign beauty of the Philistines to the natural pure beauty of his own fair daughters of Israel. When it was a case of a “roaring lion,” he could conquer it and “rend it as he would have rent a little kid of the goats.” But when it came to an “angel of light,” he was trapped, and eventually his eyes were put out; his strength was gone; and he ground in the prison house of the enemies of Israel—a ghastly and awful tragedy.
But that’s how Satan works in your life. When you’ve been delivered from some Operation Roaring Lion attack, you come to God’s house and quite rightly give testimony to it; but you forget that the next step will be “Operation Angel of Light,” and that’s where most of us fall down. If only we’d learn and not be ignorant of Satan’s devices!
Examples from History
Have you ever considered the early Church? In the first centuries of the Church, Satan devised a Roaring Lion attack upon it. Usually in Church history, teachers mark out ten special persecutions of the Church. Those persecutions ended just after the time of Diocletian,3 when Constantine came to the throne. But there were over three hundred years of dire persecution by that awful Roman Empire, that great Iron Beast of Daniel, against the infant Church. That was Satan as a roaring lion against the Church! But that tactic didn’t work, for the Church got stronger and stronger, and larger and larger. The Church’s enemies found that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”4 For every Christian they put to death, ten would spring up in the place of that one!
That is always so! The church of Russia is stronger now than it ever used to be. The church in China is stronger than ever it used to be. When Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in order to subject it and make it a part of an Italian Empire, he put out all the Evangelicals. Crowds of Roman Catholic priests went over immediately after the Italian soldiers had won, and they took over the churches of Ethiopia. They suppressed the Coptic Church (the Ethiopian church), and they deported every Protestant missionary. It was Operation Roaring Lion. Of course, the Protestant missionaries who worked in Ethiopia, some of whom I knew personally, were sent back to their homelands in England, America, and other places. They mourned over the collapse of the church in Ethiopia. Then, at the end of the war, when Ethiopia was again restored to its rightful ruler, Emperor Haile Selassie I, the Protestant missionaries went back because the emperor threw the doors wide open for them to return. When they returned, to their utter amazement they found that the church was ten times bigger than it had been before! It had suffered dreadful persecutions. The priests had terribly persecuted the Evangelicals. They were hurt and killed. But to the missionaries’ great surprise a mighty, blazing revival had burst out. Wonderful miracles had taken place, glorious miracles! People had been let out of prison by angels. It’s a marvelous record how God’s fire burned in Ethiopia under the persecutions.
Satan finds that his attack on the church only makes the church stronger; and so it was with Samson. So the enemy shifted to a more subtle attack through Delilah, his “Operation Angel of Light” against God’s man. We can see the same thing in early Church history, too. What Satan could not do by persecuting and suppressing the Church, he managed to do when he got into the Church as an “Angel of Light”. Only a few hundred years after the persecutions, the Church had become worldly, sacerdotal, priest-ridden, and ritualistic. The glorious, wonderful days of its early fervor had passed away. Soon that very Church which had escaped from the roaring lion’s clutches was acting like a roaring lion itself against those who differed from it, those who were better Christians than they were. The church itself became the chief persecutor of the true church of God. Satan seems to have won that round.
But remember, an “Angel of Light” attack is not done on the lines of antagonism to God; it’s done subtly, on the lines of some good appetite that becomes stronger and stronger until at last it dominates and is now in control. That can happen in many, many ways. Anything that chains me is of the devil, so if any physical appetite chains me, if I’m bound by it, it’s of the evil one.
Little by Little
Men have asked how they can get deliverance from appetite, especially sexual appetite, when they are bound by it. The answer is this: Little by little. Allow me to explain. Little by little is how you have allowed yourself to be trapped. It is the tiny bondages that do it. Let me point out to you how the Word indicates it. In our Scripture passage we find old Samson deceiving Delilah. The poor man was quite obviously deceived himself. He said to Delilah, “If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried…” (Judges 16:7) The “with” to which he refers is a bow string, the sinew of animal, and it is terrifically strong. You just could not break that. Thus Samson says, “If you’ll bind me with seven bow strings that have never been dried, I won’t be able to break them.” That seems obvious. If your wrists were tied with the sinews of an animal, such as were used for bow strings, you’d never be able to break them! But Samson snapped them off. Did you notice how? “And he broke the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it touches the fire.” What is “a thread of tow?” A thread of tow is a thread of hemp. Have you ever looked closely at those silky strands of hemp? Why, even a baby can break one! Hemp, of course, is a plant. After the hemp plant is dried, the fibers are removed, and those fibers are then spun into threads and strings and ropes, using every individual fiber. The individual fibers are so fine that a child can break them! Samson snapped off those bow strings as a thread of tow, a thread of hemp, that’s been touched by the fire.
Have you ever taken a thread of cotton and put it in a candle flame? It’s gone! If you took a thread of hemp and put a match to it, it would be gone, too! All right, use the word that’s mentioned here—a string of tow that’s touched by the fire. A string of hemp is strong. If I bind something with it, I can’t break it. But suppose I apply a match in the middle of that string. It’s gone! Suppose I bind several strings together and make a rope that’s an inch in diameter. How strong that is! Yet a candle flame will burn that as effectively as it would burn a string. Well, then, let’s go a bit larger and consider a ship’s hawser. What is a hawser? Hawser is a nautical term for the massive ropes that are used dockside. We’re not talking about the anchor chain, but, rather, those large ropes, several inches in diameter, which are used to secure great ships to the bollards on the dock. A ship’s hawser is also made of hemp. So despite the hawser’s great size, despite the fact that its strength can bind a great cruise ship or oil tanker or battleship to the dock, do you realize that if you apply a flame to a hawser, that the residue is so soft that if a fly walks on it the fly would fall through?
“A thread of tow is broken when it touches the fire.” God is telling us that the greatest chains, the greatest bondages that we’ve ever had, will all go by the fire of the Holy Ghost. “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire” (Matthew 3:10). The comforting message, brothers and sisters, is that though you have made the tremendous error of building up, little by little, hemp fiber by hemp fiber, the strength of that spiritual hawser which now binds you, God can burn it away! You repeatedly added one tiny thread to another. And in the early days you could have laughed at it and snapped it; but now it grips you. How many young men and women take up smoking just because all the others do! And they feel that anytime they can quit. Then there’s the alcoholic, who is always convinced that he can stop any time he likes, and he will tell you so! But these addictions and bondages have been built up, little by little, into such a chain, that only God can deal with them! Only God can at last deal with an appetite that has been built up into a great ship’s hawser that binds you to the dock and won’t let you launch away into God’s great, glorious deeps of truth and love.
How did you come into such bondage? Little by little, fiber by fiber, thread by thread. I have asked men who have come to me for advice on these very things, “What do you look at on television? What items of the newspapers do you read? And when no Christians are there, and there’s a Playboy magazine around, do you look at it or not?” There is your building up! There is the building up of the rope that will bind you. And only a glorious infilling of the Holy Ghost, the fire of the Holy Ghost, can burn through that rope which binds you, that hawser. God is willing to deliver you from the chains of self and from these bondages. But, oh, Satan has come in like an angel of light, little by little, largely on legitimate lines, like the appetite of eating. Eating can at last bind you so much that even though you know you are killing yourself, you will still go on doing it, because you’ve built up the bondage, little by little. What should have been under your control is now your master. All our appetites are good, every one of them—as servants. It’s when those appetites become masters that the problem comes in. The Lord, your true Master, wants you to understand that, just as the Holy Ghost came upon Samson and snatched those fetters, snapped those ropes, and broke those bow strings as if they were a thread of tow touched by the fire, He will do the same for you!
Have you ever read Gulliver’s Travels? If so, perhaps you’ll recall that Gulliver was shipwrecked and cast up onto the shores of Lilliput. Weary, he struggled up through the waves onto the shore, where, completely exhausted, he fell down and went to sleep. After many hours, when he came out of that sleep of exhaustion and tried to move, he found he couldn’t budge even a fraction of an inch. He had landed on the shores of Lilliput, where the Lilliputians, the people of Lilliput, were only about two or three inches high. While the shipwrecked and bedraggled Gulliver slept, the Lilliputians found this great Quinbus Flestrin (Man Mountain), as they called him, on the shore, and realizing what a tremendous menace he would be, they had bound him. They brought their thickest ropes, which (compared to Gulliver) were only the thickness of fine silk; but they had bound him with so many ten thousands of them, that the great giant could not move at all. That’s how the devil ensnares us—little by little, little by little. Conversely, the Holy Ghost delivers us and strengthens us, and if we obey Him, we become free indeed. Oh, how few men and women there are who are free indeed! We talk about it, but we’re not free indeed. And yet the Lord Jesus has come to set us free and to make us free indeed (John 8:36).
Poor Samson! He told foolish lies to Delilah, but he was so enamored of her he couldn’t see through her. Every time he told her a lie, she had him bound, and then said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And then she would say to him, “How can you say you love me, when you tell me lies?” It makes you wish you could have boxed Samson’s ears and said “Wake up, man! Wake up! Why don’t you say to her, ‘How can you say you love me, and yet all the time you’re getting me trapped?’” But at last Samson gave in to her and revealed the true secret of his strength.
The Cost of Disobedience
Delilah seems to have mesmerized Samson. Now, some of you think that hypnosis is all right. I’m not saying it’s of the devil; but I am saying you’re rather foolish to allow yourself to be hypnotized. It’s a purely human device. It’s a part of those “latent” abilities that we have in the mind. Some have learned how to manipulate the minds of others so that those people come in complete subjection to them. So Delilah seems to have done; she hypnotized Samson. She made him sleep on her knees so that he could only be woken up when she woke him up. So she hypnotized him, and while he was under hypnosis, in came a barber and cut off all his hair. Do you see, brothers and sisters, what God is saying? There is deliverance for you until you disobey God!
Samson disobeyed God. “He gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him” (Acts 5:32). Please remember that truth, because it is true for all time, not just in order to get baptized in the Holy Spirit. If your attitude is, “I’ll obey God in everything,” it applies as much after you have received the Holy Ghost as before. If you disobey God and persist in disobeying Him, He will remove that blessed Spirit from you. Your relationship with God is not mechanical. God does nothing mechanically. God’s truth always is that today is the day of salvation. You’re not saved today merely because you were saved yesterday. You are saved—I’m glad to tell you—because you are saved today! God is the “I AM,” the God of the present. He’s not the God of the past, because there is no past with God, and no future. He does not dwell in Time, nor is He limited by it. Past and future are only elements of time in eternity. To Him there is no past and future, only the present. That’s why He calls Himself—and is the only One Who can call Himself—I AM! I can’t say, “I am,” and do you know why? It’s because as soon as I speak those two simple, English words in the present, they have retreated into the past. I cannot say, “I am,” because I’m living in the hope of the future, but never know whether I’m going to arrive there or not. The next second is still in the future. So it is that we are always living on the borderland of past and future, calling it present. But God lives in no borderland. God speaks of the future and says, “Behold, it is come, and it is done. This is the day of which I have spoken” (Ezekiel 39:8). Because for God there is neither past nor future, He is always the great I AM. That present-moment experience must also be true of salvation, so don’t start relying on the past! You are to experience and glory in salvation and the infilling of the Holy Spirit in the present. Today is the day of salvation! That is why one who is bound can come to God and say, “Lord, today is the day of salvation! Lord, please set me free, now!” God operates in the present. And our obedience must be in the present.
Samson was disobedient to God, and we learn from his sad example. He revealed the secret of how and why he was filled with the Holy Ghost for God’s special purposes. In his case, because he was a Nazarite, he partook of nothing having to do with the vine—neither grapes, nor raisins, nor wine; and also he was to let his hair grow. He gave up his glorious privilege of walking with God as a Nazarite when he told Delilah the secret. “He gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him.” And once Samson disobeyed he lost the glory of the infilling and anointing of the Holy Ghost. Then he “was like any other man” (Judges 16:17).
I want to say to you, brothers and sisters filled with the Holy Ghost: You are not “like any other man.” You have the almighty power of God in you! You have the almighty anointing of God upon you. Did you realize that you have such privileges? Because the Spirit of truth has come, He witnesses to your spirit that you’re a child of God. Jesus said, “When He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). He doesn’t lead people into error. Do you ever get astonished at the way some people have gotten led into error since they were baptized by the Holy Ghost? How is this possible? Well, either they’ve got the wrong kind of baptism, or they’ve stopped obeying the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised the Spirit would lead you into truth, not into error. The stamp and mark of Holy Ghost-baptized children of God is that they walk in the light, in the truth; and He will keep you walking in the truth. Now if you start getting dogmatic and telling everybody that you’ve got the truth, and they haven’t, it is manifest that you are in error. If you’re walking in the truth, there’s no boasting or pride or conceit. Instead, there’s great humility, for you’re walking in Jesus, and He’s the humble One.
So we see that Samson lost his glorious anointing because he was disobedient to the Holy Ghost and became “like any other man.” He revealed the secret of why he was different. He was different because he was a man under special disciplines. For instance, he was disciplined by appearing different; as a Nazarite from birth, his hair had never been cut and his beard had never been trimmed. He was disciplined because he was not allowed to eat and drink certain legitimate food that others partake of, for as a Nazarite, nothing from the grapevine was ever to pass through his lips.
Individual Children: Specialized Disciplines
Some of us are total abstainers from alcohol. Why? Because we see what happens to the people of this world, and some Christians, too, who get under the awful power of alcohol. So for their sake, we don’t touch it. We have liberty, and we will touch it for medicine, for health’s sake, but not as a beverage, because we see what has happened to so many others. And as Paul said: “If meat causes my brother to stumble, I won’t eat it” (1 Corinthians 8:13); so we do these things for others. That means that we have liberty to do things, but we won’t do them; we discipline ourselves. You will find—every one of you—that there are others who can do things that God won’t let you do. That’s the discipline of the Holy Ghost. And you’re not to match your life according to me, or the pastor, or anyone else. You are to walk with God as He leads you.
One of the great perils of some modern teaching is that you must obey the pastor in everything, which means that we all become like little peas in a pod. The result of this teaching is that instead of God having individual children, He has a collection of people who do everything that the others do. So, if the pastor feels that it’s right to drink, oh well, Pastor’s done it, so we can drink. If the pastor takes up smoking, then we can take up smoking. If Pastor spends two hours a day on television, then we can spend two hours a day on television. If Pastor teaches error, it’s quite right for us to believe it. How utterly wrong that is! What God seeks to have is individual children, all entirely different from each other. There are no two of you alike. You are individually and directly cared for by the Father! You are responsible to Him alone. He gives you special disciplines, because He knows your own state of mind, your weaknesses, and your inheritances! Because God knows our particular weaknesses, and disciplines and shapes us, He’s a Father to the individual. He’s not a collective Father; He’s an individual Father! He’s my Father as if I were the only child He had in the world, and He lavishes His love on me love as if I were an “only child”! As has been wisely said, He gives you all of His attention, as if you were the only person; and because He is God, He can give millions and millions of people individual attention, and look after them, every one of them, as if they were the sole focus of His attention. Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t that lovely of the Lord? That’s exactly what the Lord does for you!
God will allow you to do things He won’t allow other people to do. He will allow them to do what He won’t let you do. Others may, you may not. That’s God’s tender loving care. He will allow someone else to be in a job that he won’t allow you to be in. So please don’t follow one another! Don’t compare yourself with anyone else. Get it directly from the Lord! That’s the secret concerning Samson. He had to walk with God on his own, and when he gave that up, that’s when the enemy came in! It was the indulgence of self—self pleasing.
In conclusion, I’m glad to tell you that the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of burning. He’s willing to burn up all those threads of tow that have become the rope binding you. He is willing to do it instantaneously. Isaiah 10:27 says that there is an anointing which breaks the yoke. The Holy Spirit Himself is the anointing that breaks the yoke! And once the “withs” which bind you are broken “as a thread of tow is broken when it touches the fire” of the Spirit of burning, then you won’t allow yourself to be entangled again. “Don’t be entangled again in the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). As He sets you free, then stay free by heeding the individual, little, gentle words of the Lord.
Beware the Pendulum Swing
As you listen for those gentle leadings, keep in mind that one of the great dangers then becomes introspection. You can become bound in a new way, jumping from the left to the extreme right, only to become bound by law. And what a problem that will be! Let me remind you then, that everything that the Lord Jesus requires you to do will come to you in love. The Lord never comes with a whip in His hand. He never tells you, “Unless you do this, then you’re in for it!” He never comes with that horrid, awful, commanding, harsh visage that the devil uses when he pretends that he is Jesus. The devil will always come with a driving whip when you come under his law! When Jesus comes, He always seems to say, “Please. Would you mind? I’d be so grateful.” I’ve often heard people give testimonies in which they said, “The Lord told me, ‘Well, if you do this, I’ll do that to you!’ And at last, I gave in to the Lord!” And I’ve thought, “Well, what kind of ‘Lord’ do they have? He’s a different Lord than the One I know.” In all of my life, I have never, ever known the Lord Jesus to command me to do anything, ever! He always says, “Please.” So He leaves it to me to be a delight to Him by obedient, loving service. He makes us “to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). He’s not a harsh, commanding God! He’s a tender, loving, foot-washing Savior, who loves to bear the heaviest end of the cross; He only lets me bear the lightest end of it. He’s the gentle Savior. He says, “Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart. My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:29,30). Do you believe that?
When you know how sweet and tender and loving the Lord is, you’ll notice the difference between Him and that commanding, awful, evil attitude of the devil that masquerades in righteousness to get you under bondage. The Lord Jesus has come to loose the captive, and let the oppressed go free, and He’s just as willing to loose you as He is to loose anybody else!
Oh, brothers and sisters, remember dear Samson, that at last the Lord Jesus restored him, because his hair began to grow again. He got back into obedience, but he had to grind in the prison house. His eyes were put out, and they were never restored again. I’m glad to say that Samson is in heaven now, and he’s restored fully, there. But the tragedy needn’t have happened if only he had walked in obedience!
One of the loveliest things that Jesus ever said on earth was this: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed Me…to preach deliverance to the captives” (Luke 4:18). Jesus was quoting from Isaiah 61:1, which also adds, “To proclaim the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” If in anything you’re bound, you need only come to the Lord Jesus and say, “Lord Jesus, You’ve promised to deliver the captive and open the prison house. You’ve promised to burn up these things that bind me, like a thread of tow touched by the fire; and I believe You. Give me, Lord, a new infilling of the Holy Spirit, that I may be free indeed. For whom the Son sets free, is free indeed!
Dear Father, Thank you for your Fatherhood. You see every sparrow. You know every blade of grass. There’s no thought in my heart but that you know it altogether. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. And the thoughts that You think toward me are more than can be numbered.
Thou thinkest, Lord, of me.
Thou thinkest, Lord, of me.
Why should I fear, since He is near,
And thinkest, too, of me?5
We bring ourselves to you, Lord Jesus. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit. Let the well that you’ve put into us—that up-gushing spring—spring-up now in our hearts and fill us. And, Lord, burn—almighty Spirit—oh, burn! You wash us with the water of the Spirit, but you burn with the fire of the Spirit. And, Lord, burn up the dross in me, in my brothers, in my sisters—we pray for each other. Burn up our dross! Lord, burn up those ropes that bind us. Make us like Samson, free indeed. And, Lord, keep us from being entangled again in the yoke of bondage. For Jesus Christ’s sake, Amen.
(Many thanks to an anonymous California friend
for the original transcription.)
- Copyright held by Finest of the Wheat Teaching Fellowship, Inc. Edited and annotated by Jim Kerwin. Co-edited by Denise Kerwin. ↩
- This near-quote is from Romans 11:5. ↩
- Diocletian was the Roman Emperor from 284 to 305 a.d. ↩
- This is a quote from an early Church leader, Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, better known as Tertullian (c. 160-220 a.d.), from his work Apologeticum. ↩
- From the hymn Thou Thinkest, Lord, of Me ↩