Samson was strong! It was he who slew a lion single handed; it was he who carried the gates of Gaza to the crest of its hill; it was he who pulled a beam from out of the house by the very locks of his head and be rent new ropes as if they had been scorched jute. It was also Samson who pulled the pillars from under the Dagon theatre, killing thousands of Philistines with one stroke.
Samson was strong.
Yet he was very weak. He fell an easy prey to the wiles of his ungodly wife, Delilah. Samson could slay a thousand Philistines, but when the peculiar temptation struck, he fell as one who had no power at all.
For our strength lies not in muscles.
The strength of the young man. Men wanted to know wherein Samson’s great strength lay and his history shows us plainly that it lay not in the build of his body or the tension power of his muscles, nor in his hair, but lay in the faith of God. The moment he betrayed his holy secret which he had with God, to the buxom that tempted him with her wiles, his power was gone. Already in Samson’s days we see the truth of that word which says that our enemy is not one of flesh and blood merely, for had the enemy been one of flesh and blood, Samson could have matched his power easily; but his enemy was the tempter and Samson fell before him.
We all envy the young man who with his robust body and broad shoulders steps out before the crowds. Strong, healthy and hale, with muscles fit for almost any task and endurance that amazes. With ease he lifts heavy weights and with equal ease he carries them wherever he will. He can handle a day’s work and scarcely be tired when night falls. Give him the sledge and he will ring the bell every time. Fifty pound dumbbells he lifts above his head with ease. The young man is strong. It is a gift of God, peculiar to the young man, for God has called him to work and has given him the physique thereunto fitted. The Army wants young men such as these and thousands of them pass thru the gates on their way to the induction camps.
But the young man must not deceive himself to think that because he tips the scales for weigh: and can chin himself a hundred times, more or less, that he can rely upon this strength to see him through the spiritual warfare which every Covenant youth has to wage. The young woman often deceives herself to think that her beauty lies in the comeliness of her face, the color of her hair or in her general outward appearance. Likewise the young man is tempted to deceive himself by thinking that his strength lies in the physical things. We saw in Samson that his physical strength availed nothing at all when he was put to the test, in fact his bodily strength was a liability rather than an asset, come the right temptation. Many of our young men go off to war concerning whom the reports later indicate that they were positively weak, not able to endure the slightest temptation.
Let the young man cultivate a strong body and develops his muscles, let him rejoice in the energy his God has given him; but let him remember that true strength does not lie in his muscular ability.
Shall we ask then, what IS the strength of the young man?
InJohn writes, “I have written you young men, because ye are strong.” John writes about the young man who is really strong. In this same connection he writes, “Ye are strong. . . . and ye have overcome the wicked one.” Our strength therefore is determined by that question: Can you meet the wicked one, and stand? The young men of whom John writes, have come back from the battle field, they have overcome the wicked one and therefore John says of them, “Ye are strong.” The enemy of us all and especially also of our young men, is the Wicked One the Evil One, the Devil, the murderer from the beginning. God hath raised him up as the “no” of God’s “yes” and bringeth us face to face with him in order that as it pleased God to say “no” to all that denies Him, so we should do likewise. Our “yes” is and must invariably be “no,” as we say yes to and in confession of God, we say no to all that is of darkness and sin. But this means spiritual warfare, battle and struggle, in which warfare it is required that we be strong, very strong. Paul also assures us that our warfare is not against flesh and blood, but against powers and spiritual wickednesses. If our warfare were against flesh and blood the young man’s muscles would stand him in good stead, but now all the muscle power in the world is of no avail. For the fight is spiritual and the enemy is spiritual, that is, he belongs to another world than ours of flesh and blood, muscle and brawn cannot reach him or ward him off. Our Belgic Confession, when speaking of the Church and God’s preservation of it, says that God preserves that Church “against the rage of the whole world.’’ That is the position of the Church and that is the position also of you and me as young men in that Church of God. Life is not a rendezvous, playground, or a circus, but a battle-field where God has put us in order that we should confess His Name and partake of the victory which Christ Jesus has gained for us. But all this only in the way of carnage and warfare.
Our enemy is sin, the lust of sin and its temptation. Sin is an awful power. Witness how even the holiest have fallen before its power, such men as Noah, Abraham, Jehoshaphat and Uzziah and countless others.
When the movie industry entices you to enter its doors and enjoy her silver screen, you are faced with a temptation against which your muscle is of no avail whatever. When the card table, pool-hall or gambling den invites you in, you are at grips with a power against which your robust body can do nothing. When your very energy induces you to engage in immoral relationships you are in grips with a power against which the sturdy muscles you possess are no match.
Hence the young man is strong if he have the ability to crown his “yes” of the confession of God with the “no” of opposition to all that is contrary thereto. To these believing young men the holy apostle John says, “Ye are strong.”
Again, in I John 2:14 John says “Ye are strong” and then adds, “And the Word of God abideth in you.” Here we have the principle of the young man’s strength the Word of God abiding in him. God Himself is the eternal content of His own Word, for God speaks about Himself and unto Himself. God says, I Am God. That is the Word of God. But God also speaks concerning Himself unto us so that we hear Him speak. God does this through Jesus Christ and His Spirit and carries this Word unto us through the divine and infallible revelation of the Bible. That Word of God enters into our hearts, our wills and our desires, so that even as God says I am God, we also begin to say: God is God. We say, Thou art God. Then we have the Word of God abiding in us. And even as God hath raised »up the devil in order to destroy Him with the infinite power of His Word, so likewise when that Word by grace dwells in our hearts there can no devil or Satan successfully stand before us. But our power is ever and only the Word of God, as He Himself speaks it, and as we by faith speak it in Him.
Our Savior was strong. He said, “It is written” and He could say “get thou behind me Satan.” Jesus IS the Word of God, in Him that strength was perfect. Elsewhere we read, “Resist the devil and he will flee from thee” and again, “And the God of peace, shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” Not as if in this life we shall realize the complete victory, hem it will be endless combat, but, as Scripture says elsewhere, he shall not overcome us. For the Word of God abideth in our hearts and that Word IS the victory.
Let the Word of God therefore abide in you, young men, and ye shall be strong. Grow up in Christ, says Paul. You have the Word among you, you carry it with you to the battlefield perhaps. Absorb that Word with an believing heart, have it in your mind, your memory, your wills. It is not enough to carry that Word in your pocket, but in your head and heart and will. Read it often, confess it, practice confessing it. With that Word in your hearts you will know evil when you see it, you will begin to cry out your “no” as soon as the tempter presents his wicked wiles. Not as if we attain perfection in this either, nay, but this also is a constant battle, it being much easier to yield and oftentimes it seems more profitable to change your yes to no and no to yes. But says Paul, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of HIS might.” How? Put on the armor of faith and take that sword which is the Word of God. When the tempter hurls his words at you, rise up and say, “It is written.” Say with Joseph, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” Make use of the admonitions your parents give you, the catechism you receive and listen attentively to the Word of God as it is preached, arm yourself with it. Then you shall be strong.
But keep on saying “I am weak”. Do not tempt the Lord and boast that you can overcome the enemies. Nay, our strength is in the Lord and in His Christ, through the Spirit. God give us that strength always.