Heb 11:32 Do I need to give you more examples? I don't have enough time to tell you about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets.
Heb 11:33 All of them had great faith. And with that faith they defeated kingdoms. They did what was right, and God helped them in the ways he promised. With their faith some people closed the mouths of lions.
Heb 11:34 And some were able to stop blazing fires. Others escaped from being killed with swords. Some who were weak were made strong. They became powerful in battle and defeated other armies.
If you read the first part of this article: JESUS, A FRIEND OF SINNERS, you might be thinking that I wrote some pretty outrageous statements. One of those statements was that somebody who committed suicide could be forgiven by God.
Suicide cannot be forgiven right? You need to ask for forgiveness, and that would be impossible if you committed suicide right? Jesus didn’t say we needed to ask for forgiveness. Jesus mentions only ONE unforgivable sin. Suicide is not listed as an unforgivable sin. EVERY SIN SHALL BE FORGIVEN!
Why did I say that?
There are two examples that especially stand out of men who committed suicide in the Bible, Samson and Judas. I will use these two men to illustrate something very, very important. Breaking the law WILL condemn us, but having FAITH in God’s mercy and grace WILL save us from the condemnation of the law.
Our first example, Samson, was a Judge in Israel during the time of the Judges. If we read his story from his birth in the Book of Judges 13:24 to his death in Judges 16:30, we recognize a flawed human being (like all of us), who was greatly used by God to deliver his people from the oppression of the Philistines. Samson is an important illustration of SANCTIFICATION.
SANCTIFY: H6942, qâdash
1) to consecrate, sanctify, prepare, dedicate, be hallowed, be holy, be sanctified, be separate
1a1) to be set apart, be consecrated
1a2) to be hallowed
1a3) consecrated, tabooed
Jdg 13:7 But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.
NAZARITE: H5139, nâzı̂yr, nâzir, naw-zeer', naw-zeer'
From H5144; separate, that is, consecrated (as prince, a Nazirite); hence (figuratively from the latter) an unpruned vine (like an unshorn Nazirite). (The translation, Nazarite, is by a false alliteration with Nazareth.): - Nazarite [by a false alliteration with Nazareth], separate (-d), vine undressed.
I believe that the NAZARITE vow is an allegory for MATURE Christians. First, the NAZARITE vow was completely VOLUNTARY. The NAZARITE took a vow that they would SEPARATE themselves unto God’s service for a certain amount of time. When they separated themselves to God’s service, they were expected to NOT cut their hair, they were expected to NOT drink alcohol, and they were expected to live morally exemplary lives. Also, they could NOT touch a dead body for the duration of the vow, even if the body was a close relative.
The two NAZARITES that we know about in the Old Testament were Samson, a Judge of Israel, from the tribe of Dan, and Samuel, a Prophet and Judge of Israel from the tribe of Levi. However, the Old Testament does indicate that there were other NAZARITES during the history of Israel and Judah.
Amo 2:11 And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for NAZARITES. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith the LORD.
Amo 2:12 But ye gave the NAZARITES wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not.
The Prophet Amos, and frankly the whole Bible, tells us that God’s people are usually not appreciated by the people around them, neither will they receive any honor from mankind in general. However, Jesus made it plain that if we are wise, we will seek praise from God alone.
Joh 5:44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
I believe the Apostle Paul gives us deep insight into the NAZARITE vow. In the twenty-first Chapter of the Book of Acts, we are told that Paul arrives in Jerusalem and gives an account to the Church elders of his ministry among the Gentiles. The elders in Jerusalem ask Paul to participate with four other men in a NAZARITE ceremony in the temple.
Act 21:20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
Act 21:21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
Although the Jewish elders of the Church expressly exempted Gentile believers from following the Law of Moses, it appears that they held Jewish believers to a different standard, and the Apostle Paul complied with their request.
Act 21:23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
Act 21:24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
Act 21:25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
This course of action by Paul was a radical departure from his own teaching of the gospel to Gentile believers. However, it can probably be explained by his fervent desire to convert both Jew and Gentile to a sincere FAITH in the perfect and finished work of Jesus Christ.
1Co 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
1Co 9:20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
1Co 9:21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
There is so much confusion and controversy about the Law versus Grace. I dare say that even the most Orthodox Jewish believers realize that it is impossible to keep all the rituals, ceremonies, and sacrifices required under the Law of Moses. If you don’t believe me, take a few years and really study the Book of Leviticus.
Most people will probably agree that nobody can perfectly keep the many rituals, ceremonies, and sacrifices, as laid out in the Book of Leviticus, but there are a great many people who still believe that everybody can, and that everybody must, keep the Ten Commandments:
Exo 20:3 Do not worship any god except me.
Exo 20:4 Do not make idols that look like anything in the sky or on earth or in the ocean under the earth.
Exo 20:5 Don't bow down and worship idols. I am the LORD your God, and I demand all your love. If you reject me, I will punish your families for three or four generations.
Exo 20:6 But if you love me and obey my laws, I will be kind to your families for thousands of generations.
Exo 20:7 Do not misuse my name. I am the LORD your God, and I will punish anyone who misuses my name.
Exo 20:8 Remember that the Sabbath Day belongs to me.
Exo 20:9 You have six days when you can do your work,
Exo 20:10 but the seventh day of each week belongs to me, your God. No one is to work on that day--not you, your children, your slaves, your animals, or the foreigners who live in your towns.
Exo 20:11 In six days I made the sky, the earth, the oceans, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That's why I made the Sabbath a special day that belongs to me.
Exo 20:12 Respect your father and your mother, and you will live a long time in the land I am giving you.
Exo 20:13 Do not murder.
Exo 20:14 Be faithful in marriage.
Exo 20:15 Do not steal.
Exo 20:16 Do not tell lies about others.
Exo 20:17 Do not want anything that belongs to someone else. Don't want anyone's house, wife or husband, slaves, oxen, donkeys or anything else.
However, if we study the New Testament, it is obvious that the author of the Ten Commandments (JESUS CHRIST), holds people to a much higher standard than even the most hardnosed Pharisee:
Mat 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
Hey, how about this little gem?
Mat 5:27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
Mat 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Maybe this next statement by Jesus will get your attention:
Mat 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
Are you beginning to understand that if you believe people can be saved, and make it into heaven, by following the Ten Commandments…that maybe you are mistaken?
My main point is that Samson was not a Hero of Faith because he did many mighty and miraculous works; although, God did use him mightily despite all his flaws and weaknesses. Samson was a Hero of Faith because in the end…He had FAITH in God!
Jdg 16:28 And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.
Jdg 16:29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left.
Jdg 16:30 And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.
We must recognize that no matter how strong Samson was in his flesh, there is no possible way that he could have pushed over those two middle pillars without the might and power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, he killed himself and all the Philistines in the house while under the power and inspiration of God! I do not know where all the Philistines ended up, but I am confident that Samson is in heaven, despite all his human flaws and weaknesses. Samson did not make it to heaven because he kept the Ten Commandments, Samson went to heaven because in the end of his life, even though he killed himself, he had FAITH in God.
In the end, we are “sanctified” not because of who we are or what we do, but because we have made a covenant with God, and He will use us for His divine purposes, whether His purposes are agreeable to us or not. Of course, I am not saying that it is just fine and dandy to be a reprobate sinner, it is not. As you can see from Samson’s story, and from King David’s story, and from the stories of many other saints in the Bible, our sins tend to come back and haunt us later in life. However, neither our salvation, nor our sanctification, hinges upon our perfectly keeping the Ten Commandments…God will form us into instruments fit for his purposes despite our having faults and weaknesses, and God’s purposes will not be thwarted!
1Co 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
1Co 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
The Lord willing, in my next article, I will talk about Judas Iscariot. I believe he is currently in hell, NOT because he betrayed Christ, but because at the end of his life, he did NOT have faith in God!
2Co 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
2Co 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.