Identity: Positive or Negative?

The way in which we identify ourselves is pivotal in the thinking process of various choices we make concerning our behavior and the focus of our thought lives.  This week I was reading When Good Men are Tempted by Bill Perkins, and in his introduction he suggests that the core issue of a man with sexual sin is not his behavior, rather it is how he identifies himself.

I want to suggest that the way we indentify ourselves directly contributes toward our behavior and life choices.  We have heard the statement “once and alcoholic, always an alcoholic,” and though I understand what is meant here is that a person who has developed a dependence or addiction to the abuse of alcohol can never drink alcohol again or he may ruin his sobriety; if one thinks of himself as an “alcoholic” his thinking and behavior can contribute to relapse.  If one were to think of himself as a “sex addict,” even if in recovery, his thoughts and behaviors are that of a sex addict.  In both of these examples the person identifies with the negative behavior.

Consider if we change our identification from the behavior toward something more positive, for instance, instead of identifying with “sex addiction,” we identify with being a “man of God with sexual integrity.”  Now when we encounter life situations instead of the struggle through the thought process of a sex addict, we think “how does a man of God with sexual integrity think in a situation as this?” or “What would a man of God with sexual integrity do in a situation like this?

Our identification becomes a positive one instead of a negative one.  Our identification contributes to a decrease in relapse and an increase in sobriety.  It is my hope that when people see the Clean Heart for Men logo, they think, “those are men of God with sexual integrity,” not those are the sex addicts or any other negative connotation.  It is my hope that men can wear the Clean Heart logo with pride and not hide it with shame.   It is my hope that when a single woman see’s a single man wearing the Clean Heart for Men logo, she thinks “that is the type of man I would like to get to know,” when women see one of their friend’s husband wearing the Clean Heart for Men logo, they think, “she is one blessed woman.”

You see, when we come to know Christ, we no longer identify ourselves with sin but with Jesus.  We pattern our lives and thoughts after Jesus Christ.  When we become part of Clean Heart for Men, we pattern our lives and thoughts after a man of God with sexual integrity.  What do you identify with?

Made Strong out of Weakness

Since I was a child in Sunday school, I’ve heard about Samson (Judges 13 – 16).  The main thing I’ve always heard was the part of his life with Delilah when the Spirit of Lord left him and he didn’t even know it; then he was captured by the Philistines, had his eyes gouged out, and asked God for one more act of super strength to destroy the Philistines false god’s temple and he died in the destruction of the temple… “in disgrace.”  The question is raised, “did Samson fail to fulfill God’s purpose for his life, due to his repeated sin of lust?”

Samson’s story intrigues me.  His birth is foretold by an angel and the angel communicates to his parents, the purpose of his life; “He shall begin to save Israel from the Philistines (Judges 13:5).”   So part of our task, the Angel helps us by telling us his purpose.  All we have to do is answer the question, but most seem to focus on his sin and never get past it.  So first let’s start by looking at his recurring sin of lust.

In chapter 14:1-2, we are told how Samson’s “eye” was caught by a Philistine woman whom he insisted on marrying.  His parents tried to discourage him but he would not listen.  The important part of this section of the story is not that his parents didn’t want him to marry this woman simply because she was of a different race, culture, or even had a different skin tone; it was because she and her culture worshipped a god that was not the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob.   But he was focused on what caught his “eye,” and was not even going to consider his parent’s advice.  And as this section goes on, he leaves his wife and she is given in marriage to Samson’s best man.

Later we are told how Samson went to a Philistine town and spent the night with a prostitute.  Some commentaries try to suggest that the prostitute ran a motel of some sort and suggest he just rented a room for the night.  It is amazing how sometimes people’s intelligence gets in the way of common sense.

Then we come to the part of his life that involves Delilah.  This was not a one night stand or even a week long romance.  We see how Delilah asked him three times about the secret of his strength and each time he tells her something, she does that exact thing to see if he told the truth.  Judges 16:16 tells us that she nagged him day after day for the secret.  Now we all have viewed suspense movies and when a character repeatedly asks about someone’s “secret,” we know they are to something not good.  It is at this point many think Samson fits the dumb jock stereotype.  I think he was so arrogant and so consumed with his lust for Delilah that he just gave in and didn’t think through the consequences of his behavior.

It is at this point that he is caught and his eyes are gouged out.  It is ironic that a man whose “eye” is caught by women in a lustful sense has his “eyes” removed.

Here he is, a great man of Faith, a man who had his heart stirred by God, A man whose birth was foretold by an Angel is now the laugh stock of all of the Philistines.  But did he fulfill his life’s purpose?

Yes he did.  His purpose was to “begin to save Israel from the Philistines (Judges 13:5).”  As that Temple fell, the Bible tells us, “all” of the Philistine leaders were in the building and died in the crumble of it.

This event started Israel on a path of deliverance from the Philistines and we next hear about Samson in Hebrews 11:32 in the section commonly known as the “Hall of Faith.”  Here we are told how he was made strong out of his weakness.

 Yes Samson fulfilled his life’s purpose.  My question for you is, do you have to get to such a low point in life to get your focus right to fulfill your God given purpose in life?

And finally, I want to offer you hope through the story of Samson and invite you to be made strong out of your weakness.