You don’t grow stronger by accident. You grow stronger spiritually by intentionally walking with God, the Holy Spirit.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” Ephesians 3:16 NIV
Let’s look at the life of Samson, who was known as the strongest man in the Bible, but had glaring weaknesses. You find the accounts of Samson in the book of Judges Chapters 13 through 16.
Physically, Samson was a Dwayne The Rock Johnson. But spiritually, he was a Pee-wee Herman. He had everything going for him and started off great, but he fell hard and he became a failure. His physical talents and abilities were lost because he grew weak, spiritually.
Samson fell into three traps that weakened his spirit and we need to avoid these traps in our life as well.
Three Attitudes That Weaken Your Spirit
1. Self-indulgence weakens your spirit
We find an example of this in Chapter 14 of the book of Judges, verses 1 through 20. Samson lived a very self-indulgent life. He lived only for his feelings and his biggest weakness was women.
In fact, in three chapters he falls for three different women. He keeps running into and out of relationships. The Bible tells us in Chapter 14, the first three verses, he sees woman and says, “She looked good.” He says, “She pleases me.” He says, “Get her.” She wasn’t even the right woman that God had chosen for him, but that didn’t matter.
Let’s just be honest here. Sex is God’s idea. There’s nothing wrong with sex. But the point is that even good things can become harmful if they are out of control. Food, money, sex, sleep, anything out of control will weaken you. So the first trap that weakens your spirit is when you make decisions based on pleasure rather than principle.
Often for us the excuse we make to be self-indulgent is to say, “Just this once.” We say, “It won’t hurt that much if it’s just this once.” But if you took a boat out to sea and at the beginning of the journey someone punched a hole in the bottom, would the excuse “just this once” make any difference? No, a hole in the boat is a hole in the boat. A leak is a leak. And a small leak will sink the ship, just like a large leak will, it just takes a little bit more time.
Another excuse that comes with this one is “I owe it to myself.” What do you know in your life is wrong but you just keep saying, “I owe it to myself… Just this once… It’s okay.”
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7-8 NIV
The point is this: any area that you’re undisciplined in is going to weaken your spirit. And any area that you’re undisciplined in will eventually catch up with you. You sow what you reap. To be strong in spirit you must discipline your desires. Just because you want something doesn’t mean you should have it.
2. Resentment weakens your spirit
Resentment will weaken you spiritually because resentment is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit of God. It opposes the Spirit’s work in us. We find this in the next chapter, Judges 15.
Samson lived his entire life in a continual state of disappointment, anger, resentment, and bitterness. He was a very angry man who felt misunderstood and disappointed and reacted violently to everything. His primary motivation in life was to get even. He had a victim mentality. One time Samson actually killed thirty men just to get even on a bet.
In Judges 15 you find his excuse is this: they hurt me first. But, we have to let go of old hurts. Holding on to hurts will shrink your ship and shrivel your spirit. Resentment is always self defeating. It always hurts you more than it hurts the other person.
“Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple.” Job 5:2 NIV
Samson lost his spiritual and physical strength because he never managed his anger. He let other people control his emotions. He never learned to let it go. To be strong in spirit you must control your reactions. The Bible says the person who learns to control his reaction is stronger than a walled city. And the person who doesn’t know how to control their reactions is as defenseless as a city without walls.
3. Carelessness weakens your spirit
Carelessness will sap your spiritual strength. We see this in the next chapter, Judges 16:1-20. Samson had amazing strength and his strength was actually a gift from God as a result of a commitment that he’d made. Samson made what was called a Nazarite vow, a a vow to live holy before God. As a symbol of that vow there were a number of things he was not to do. He had to be dedicated to God 100%. He could not have alcohol. He had to eat a special diet. He also was to never cut his hair as a symbol of his commitment to God.
People made the Nazarite vow as a way of saying that God’s servant is to live differently than the rest of the culture. However, Samson was careless with his vow. He continually compromised his commitment when it wasn’t convenient for him. He toyed with temptation. His attitude was not, “How close to God can I get?” His attitude was, “How close to the fire can I get and not get burned?”
In Chapter 16 we have the story of Delilah. Delilah is hired by Samson’s enemies. Samson is an enemy to them because he represents the strength of God. The people who hated God wanted to destroy Samson, so they hired Delilah to find his secret of strength.
Samson knows exactly what’s going on, but he toys with her and teases her, getting closer and closer to the line. In Judges 16:15-16, he’s careless once too often. He finally tells her. He says, “If you cut my hair then I’ll lose my strength.” He finally gives in and his lifestyle had become so weakened from compromise after compromise after compromise.
He made this excuse: “It will be different for me.” Nobody ever plans to fail spiritually. Nobody ever plans to have their marriage fail, their life fail, their business fail, their health fail, their finances fail. But it’s one little decision after another and all of a sudden they’ve lost their credibility and they’ve lost their reputation, or ministry, or finances.
You are only as strong as what you’re committed to. If you’re chipping away at that commitment you’re getting weaker and weaker every day.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV
What is your character conforming to? The pattern of this world? Or Christ? To be strong spiritually I must develop good habits. You are the sum total of your habits. Your character is your habits.
Three Habits that Strengthen Your Spirit
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV
Every man or woman of God who has been used in history has developed these three habits that will help to strengthen your spirit. They learned that you have a part in building your strength, and God has a part. If you will develop these habits you will strengthen your spirit.
God says you build up your strength by being in union with Christ. Then he puts his power in you.
1. Get time with God every day.
“Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.” Psalm 25:4 NLT
You need this daily time for guidance. You’re going your own way, your own path, at your own pace, in your own direction because you’re not getting daily guidance from God.
“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16
Do you think Samson’s life would have been different if he did what Jesus did? What Daniel did? You get in a place where you can be alone with God and you worship him. You pray, read the Bible, sing.
2. Get in fellowship with other believers weekly
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV
There are going to be times when you need somebody else to be there for you. Do you have that safety net in place? The crisis, the rogue winds, the terrible storm – those are going to come into your life and you need some people in your life who you’ve already made contact with when that happens. Who in your life would show up right now if you had a disaster? Who would you show up for if they had a disaster? Does anybody know they can count on you?
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25
Notice the habit of meeting together. It’s like a fire. The coals are hot. If I were to take one of the coals out of the fire and set it off by itself, it would grow cold and it would lose its heat. But if I take that coal and put it back in the fire it gets hot again.
This is what fellowship does. By yourself, you’re going to grow cold and weak. You’re not going to have the spiritual strength that you need. You need a daily time with God and you need a weekly team for God.
3. Give to God before anyone or anything else
Give a tithe to God every weekend. Tithing is the habit of returning the first ten percent of my income back to God. It’s a symbol to say He’s really first.
Our culture worships money. We’ll give God everything else, but hold it back. If you don’t want to conform to the pattern of the world and you want to be renewed, give the first back to God.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21
Habitually giving regularly to God will get you results in getting closer to God and strengthen your spirit.
Here’s the question: Which of the three weaknesses are you most likely to fall into? And which of the three habits do you need to start? Spiritual strength is not accidental. It’s the result of choices we make and habits we develop.
Check back on your discussion from last week, “Why Must I Keep Praying Persistently?” How have you demonstrated persistence in prayer this past week?
Hear the Word
Samson was the strongest man in the Bible, but that strength meant nothing after he became spiritually weak. This weekend we’ll look at three attitudes that weaken our spirit, as exhibited in Samson’s life, and three habits that will strengthen our spirit, making our relationship with God stronger. Read the story of Samson in Judges 13, 14, 15, and 16. If you do not have time for all that… read the passages referenced on your outline: Judges 14:1-20, Judges 15:1-17, Judges 16:1-20.
1. “A man will always reap just the kind of crop he sows! If he sows to please his own wrong desires, he will be planting seeds of evil and will surely reap a harvest of spiritual decay and death.” Galatians 6:7-8 LB Perhaps you struggle with self-indulgence. There are so many ways our culture tells us it’s okay to do what feels good and there won’t be any consequences. Share an area of struggle you would like to have victory over. Invite others to speak encouragement to you and pray for your victory in this area.
2. “Show me the path where I should go, O Lord; point out the right road for me to walk.” Psalm 25:4 NIV Why do you think it is so difficult for most people to develop a quiet time habit? Which one of these reasons is the most difficult for you? What positive differences have you noted in your life when you have developed the habit of a consistent, rich quite time?
3. “Let us not give up the habit of meeting together… Instead, let us encourage each other…” Hebrews 10:25 NIV How has your small group helped you stay a red hot Christian? Take a few moments to thank anyone in your group who has helped you mature in Christ. Are there any new habits your group can cultivate to continue the work of encouraging each other and growing mature believers?
4. “The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first in your life.” Deuteronomy 14:23 LB Why do you think tithing is important to developing a strong spirit? How have you experienced God’s faithfulness to you especially in the area of finances when you have been faithful to tithe? What steps can you take in 2020 to give control of your finances to God?
5. “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” Proverbs 29:11 NIV It can be hard to leave past hurts in the past. What resentment might you be carrying? Can you identify how it is hurting your present? Pray to forgive those who hurt you and start this new day fresh.
Tell Someone Else
With whom could you share this message of this series? Pray and ask God for the boldness to share.