The Power of “No”

by APC on February 19, 2015

“The Power of No” is the third segment in a study of Judges, which centers around the story of Samson. Samson is a character that emulates the rise and fall in Israel’s spiritual relationship with God throughout the entire book of Judges.

Samson was anointed by God, but was very much after the things of this world. His largest problem was that he couldn’t say, “no.” In our walk with God, if we are going to be successful, we need to tell ourselves, “no,” and more importantly, to allow God to tell us, “no.”

Samson’s Blessings

Judges 15:20 says, “And [Samson] judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years” (KJV). God didn’t give Samson victory over the Philistines one time and have him move on—He wanted to continue to bless Samson with victory each day. If we do not have consistency in life, we will not have victory in our spiritual life. The real miracle that God wants to give us, like Samson, is a day-by-day victory. He wants His people to be successful on a regular basis and not have “peaks and valleys” like the rest of the Judges in Scripture.

Scripture teaches us that God would move on Samson at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol (Judges 13:25). Because of Samson’s inconsistency, God was only able to move on him and use him in a ministry only at specific times. Romans 21:1 tells us to be a living sacrifice unto God; to live a life of sacrifice and dedication to the one who saved us. Our sacrifice needs to be offered again and again, which will allow God to receive our sacrifice and use us on a consistent basis.

The Lord also blessed Samson with supernatural strength. Samson tore a lion apart with his bare hands (Judges 14:5–6), he broke cords that bound him (Judges 15:14), he slew 1,000 men with the jawbone of a donkey (Judges 15:15), and he carried the gates of a city nine miles away (Judges 16:2–3). In all of these accomplishments, the Spirit of the Lord was always the catalyst. The Lord would move on Samson and he would have victory.

Samson’s Downfall

Samson had many great testimonies, but these great accomplishments were born out of a commitment in his life. When an angel told Samson’s parents they would have a child, they were told he would be a Nazarite from his birth (Judges 13:5). The Nazarite vow, outlined in Numbers 6:2–6, had three requirements: (1) Do not drink wine/alcohol or eat grapes or raisins, (2) Do not touch anything that’s dead, and (3) Do not cut your hair. Men throughout scripture would fulfill this vow for a space of time and then return to their regular lifestyle. Samson was called to live a life of a Nazarite—he was to follow these rules all the days of his life.

In the course of his life, Samson violated every one of the Nazarite requirements. Because he continued to violate this lifestyle (vow to God), he put himself in a place of vulnerability that eventually took his life.

Violation #1

When Samson killed the lion (Judges 14:5–6), he returned down the same path at a later time to find a honeycomb inside the carcass of the lion. He reached into the carcass to retrieve the honey, ate it, and then gave it to his father and mother to eat (Judges 14:8–9). Per the Nazarite vow, he was not to touch anything dead with his hands.

Violation #2

After eating the honeycomb out of the lion, Samson participated in a feast as the young men did during the time (Judges 14:10). The word feast in this context of scripture is mishteh (Hebrew), which means to drink alcohol and eat and be merry. By consuming alcohol, and possibly grapes, Samson violated a section rule of the Nazarite vow.

Violation #3

Samson’s wife, Delilah, was a approached by the Philistines and asked her to entice Samson to reveal where he received his strength (Judges 16:5). She came to Samson and asked him, “Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee” (Judges 16:6, KJV). Delilah didn’t try to conceal why she wanted to know what strengthened Samson—she wanted to know how to bind him. Samson thought this was a game, and told Delilah three different ways to bind him that were lies (Judges 16:7, 11, 13).

But, finally he gave into her questions, and told 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” (Judges 16:17, KJV). While Samson was sleeping, Delilah shaved his head, and therein, Samson violated the third part of the Nazarite vow.

Us vs. Samson

Like Samson, many times we have encountered circumstances that alert us up-front that danger is ahead. We may know in our hearts that what we want to do isn’t in accordance with God’s Word and instruction. But, instead of running away, like Samson, we toy with the danger. We stay around it too long until it eventually overcomes us. Delilah bothered Samson to the extent that he became “vexed unto death” (Judges 16:16). In a moment of frustration, Samson revealed how he could be defeated. We need to stop and think about how to overcome and tell ourselves, “no” when our body wants to do something that our heart knows is wrong.

Overcoming Samson’s Failures

We, like Samson, get caught up in three different attitudes that keep God from moving in our life. But, we need to and can overcome these attitudes. Much of our triumph will come from listening to God, setting boundaries in our life, and telling ourselves, “no.”

I Want It

Our flesh drives us to desire things that God does not want us to partake in. An I Want It mindset comes from an attitude of lust. Instead of saying, “I want it,” we should say, “I want God.” We can turn our passion for worldly things into a passion for the things of God.

II Corinthians 10:4–5 tells us that we can turn our thoughts into the obedience of Christ. We have the power in our minds to think on good things and to desire the things of the Spirit instead the things of the flesh. We can put on a new mindset in Christ.

I Deserve It

Our flesh also makes us feel like we deserve things. But, an I Deserve It mindset comes from an attitude of entitlement. Instead of saying, “I deserve it,” we should say, “I deserve death.” Romans 6:23 tells us that the wage of sin is death. We were all born into sin and deserve nothing but death, but God in His grace extends mercy to us so we can rise above our sinful state—the gift of God is eternal through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I Can Handle It

We forget too many times that God created us and gives us the ability and resources to do everything in life. We can’t have an I Can Handle It mindset. Instead of thinking this, we need to turn our thoughts to, “I can’t do anything without God.” John 15:5 says, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (KJV). On our own, we are failures, but with God all things are possible!

We need to tell ourselves, “no” and turn our minds to Christ and the things of His Kingdom. God wants to set boundaries in our life to protect us. Part of the battle in overcoming our attitudes is realizing our problem areas, setting the boundaries, and abiding by them. We need to learn to draw a line!

Blessings in a “No”

Because Samson violated the Nazarite vow and continued to fail in his walk with the Lord, the Philistines overcame him, put out his eyes, and made him grind at the mill like an animal (Judges 16:21). During his imprisonment, the Philistines tied Samson to two pillars during a sacrifice celebration to their god, Dagon.

It was here Samson cried 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” (Judges 16:28, KJV). God heard his prayer, and he was able to pull down the pillars, and the house fell on the people that were there. In his death he killed more than all he had killed in his entire life (Judges 16:30).

Samson could have done so much more for the Lord, but because he went after his flesh and didn’t say, “no,” he wound up a prisoner. His work could have been greater than his “last standing,” but he settled for just doing “something” for God instead of doing something great for God and His Kingdom.

God knows the thoughts He has toward us (Jeremiah 29:11)—He has a plan for our life. The worst thing we can do is revel in the greatness of God’s power to fall to the depths of our own humanity like Samson. We can’t slip into the three attitudes Samson displayed in his life. We need to tell ourselves, “no.” If we’re honest and transparent about our spiritual maturity, God will help us to set those boundaries and see the blessings in the “no.”

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on February 18, 2015