When You Are Your Own Worst Enemy

Samson  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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A sermon about a gifted leader -- Samson -- who engaged in self-defeating behavior.


Judges 16:1-31

Have you ever noticed that some of the most gifted individuals in our society have the greatest character defects?
Have you ever noticed that the devil seems to send greater temptations to those who are the most gifted?
Not only does great potential lead to great temptations, but great potential also creates great enemies.
The more you have going for you, the more the world comes against you.
The most gifted experience the greatest temptations.
Those with great potential have great enemies.
But it is often not by the hand of the enemies or the devil's temptation that causes leaders' fall. Some individuals fall because they are their own worst enemies.
It was not an enemy that brought down one of the greatest NBA basketball players ever -- Kobe Bryant.
It was not his enemies that brought down Jimmy Swaggart (television evangelist)
It was not enemies that brought low a successful congressman, Gary Condit
It was not Monica Lewinsky who brought down one of the most effective presidents of the United States of America
It was not enemies that caused the fall of brilliant businessmen Andrew Fastow, Ken Lay, and Jeff Skilling (ex-CFO and CEOs of Enron)
The demise of Mark Swartz (Tyco’s ex-CFO)
The corruption of Bernie Ebbers (CEO of WorldCom)
The humiliation of Paul Patton (Kentucky Governor)
It was not Eve that brought down Adam, the first man to roam the earth
It was not Bathsheba that brought down David, King of Israel
And it was not Delilah, his Timnite Wife, or the Harlot of Gaza that brought down Sampson.
It was the fact that Samson and each of these great men proved to be their own worst enemies.
But leaders are just some of the ones with great potential.
Within every one of us lies a great, God-given potential. A potential to be used by God to accomplish great things in this brief time we are here on earth.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Despite all of our God-given potential, some people never live up to their potential through no one’s fault but their own.
Have you ever known someone like that? Someone endowed with great potential, but who is “their own worst enemy?”
Samson had the potential for true greatness.
And he would have fulfilled it had it not been for one thing: SAMSON WAS HIS WORST ENEMY!
First, Samson was his worst enemy because he was notorious for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The CHAPTER begins:
"Then Samson went to Gaza, and saw there a harlot, and went unto her" (v. 1).
You’ve heard the expression that success is sometimes the result of being in the right place at the right time.
Sometimes failure results from being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Gaza was the wrong place.
You are bound to see the wrong thing when you hang out in the wrong place.
It was in Gaza, the wrong place, that he saw a harlot, the wrong thing.
And when you hang out in the wrong place and see the wrong thing, you are tempted to do the wrong thing.
According to our text, when he saw her in Gaza, in went in unto her.
God called Samson to serve others.
But this chapter begins with him pleasing himself.
Gaza was the wrong place.
It was the enemies’ territory.
If he was interested in fighting the enemy, then Gaza was the place to be.
But Samson was not interested in fighting the Philistines.
He was only interested in flirting with their women.
He didn’t go to Gaza to serve God.
He went to Gaza to please himself.
Not only was Gaza the enemy's territory, but it was also not a morally healthy place to be.
In going to Gaza, Samson exposed himself to the evils of a very heathen city.
In going to Gaza, Samson put himself amid his greatest weakness.
It greatly affects where you spend your time and with whom you associate.
You will see the wrong thing if you spend your time in the wrong place.
And if you see the wrong thing, you may end up doing the wrong thing.
When Potiphar's wife was alone with Joseph – in the wrong place – the bible says she "cast her eyes upon Joseph." She saw the wrong thing and was tempted to do the wrong thing.
Samson was his own worst enemy.
He was notorious for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, seeing the wrong thing, and eventually doing the wrong thing.
With leadership comes responsibility.
Samson was called to the highest position of leadership. He could kill thousands of enemies but couldn’t conquer his only flesh.
With leadership comes responsibility.
When called to divine service, you must focus on the divine agenda rather than getting sidetracked by personal adventures.
Samson offers the scripture readers one of the best examples of “Thy kingdom come” being replaced by “my kingdom come.”
Leadership in the hands of the wrong person is a dangerous thing.
With leadership comes power.
With leadership comes popularity.
With leadership comes visibility.
These things in the hands of a spiritually immature individual are a dangerous combination.
Samson was his worst enemy because he was notorious for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Samson was also his worst enemy because he did not learn from his mistakes.
Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.
After going unto the harlot, while in Gaza, the enemies’ territory, Samson saw another Philistine woman named Delilah and fell in love.
Samson had been in this position once before.
While in Timnath, the enemy's territory, he saw and fell in love with his first wife, a Philistine.
He fell in love with his first wife when he saw her.
He decided to marry her because he saw her.
He didn’t pray about it.
He didn’t ask his parents about it.
He didn’t fast about it.
He married her because he saw her.
Everything that looks good to you is not necessarily good for you.
His first wife tricked him into finding out his secrets.
When Samson would not tell her, she played him like a well-tuned fiddle. She cried for seven days and accused him of not loving her.
But he didn’t learn from his mistakes.
His mistake was that he married the wrong woman.
His mistake was that he told her his secrets.
His mistake was that to gratify his flesh; he forsook his God.
And here we are 20 years later.
This means that Samson was not a young buck at this point.
He was a mature man but still made the same mistake.
When he married Delilah, he made the same mistake.
He fell in love with what he saw.
She was a member of the enemy's camp.
To find out his secrets, she played him like a fiddle.
Samson was his own worst enemy. He was notorious for being in the wrong place and doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.
There is no shame in making mistakes.
Mistakes are the stuff that creates miracles.
God can take your mistakes and use them to perform miracles.
The biggest mistake is one from which we learn nothing.
He didn’t learn from his mistakes.
Samson was his own worst enemy.
He was notorious for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
He didn’t learn from his mistakes.
But his biggest mistake was that he lost his connection with God.
When Delilah told his secret, the Philistines bound him.
His secret was that his strength was in his vow to God to serve him, never cut his hair, stay away from unclean things, and drink strong drinks.
Samson did not lose his strength because he got a bad haircut.
He lost his strength because he lost his connection with God.
And when he lost his connection with God, Samson assumed he could do business as usual. But there was a problem.
He had lost his connection with God.
He had lost his strength.
Have you ever been there?
You are swinging the axe but not cutting wood.
You are serving God, but there is no power.
You are praying but not getting an answer.
You have lost your cutting edge.
The source of your power is not your leadership position. The source of your power is your position in God.
One of the greatest pitfalls for a church, for leadership, for an individual is neglecting your prayer life.
Time spent with God is a prerequisite for experiencing his power.
It is in God’s presence that you find direction. That’s why I don’t understand how church leaders do not see the need for Bible study, prayer service, or Sunday School.
Samson was His Own Worst Enemy
He made mistakes, and God forgave him.
But even though God forgives your mistakes, you still have to live with the consequences of your mistakes.
Recall that Samson’s eyes had been his problem.
He saw the wrong thing and acted on what he saw.
But in the end, he lost his eyes. The Philistines blinded him.
Samson was jokerster. At times when he was supposed to defeat his enemies, he was making jokes and riddles about them.
In the end, when he lost his sight, they made jokes about him.
But herein lies the lesson.
Samson was able to see better when he was physically blind.
As a result of the loss of his ministry and his witness, he rediscovers the grace of God.
Samson was better broken.
In blindness, he sees things that he never saw.
He sees how he failed his God.
He sees the consequences of his actions and his mistakes.
He sees what his life should have been and what he called him to do.
In blindness, he sees better.
In prison, bound by chains, he has more freedom than ever.
At times God has to lower us before he can raise us.
There is a purpose in our pain.
Sometimes God allows us to be broken to help us become better.
A broken heart is an open heart.
A broken heart is a heart that is willing to let God in.
It was in prison that he reconsidered his need for God.
When we get down to nothing, God is up to something.
Brokenness is a spiritual condition that allows God to reenter our lives.
Look at our text.
In the end, Samson kills himself and his enemies.
He killed more Philistines when he died than when he was alive.
Samson was better broken.
In his brokenness, he realized he did not have strength; it was God’s strength.
He discovered God's ability when he was no longer confident in his abilities.
We are better when we have had enough of ourselves and want more of God.
It took brokenness for Samson to acknowledge that God is sovereign.
But there is good news.
Look at God.
When you are your worst enemy, God becomes your best friend.
Notice that a servant was standing at his side, and the servant honored Samson’s request to move his hands on the pillar to pull down the building.
When you are down to nothing, God is up to something.
Notice, according to our text, his hair began to grow back.
The Philistines made a mistake. They cut his hair, but they didn’t continue cutting his hair.
His hair began to grow back.
This old world may cause you to cry, but your tears will dry up. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning light.
We live in a mean world. It may knock you down today, but you will get up tomorrow.
They cut his hair, but it grew back.
There is a problem with how the Samson story ends.
Have you ever watched a good movie or film that had a bad ending?
The Samson story does not end right.
There is no happily ever after.
The hero does not save the day.
The villain does not get his.
Samson does not give his life to Jesus and comes to the altar.
He dies, seeking to avenge himself.
He prays not for forgiveness or repentance.
He prays to regain his strength to pay back his enemies.
The account of Samson is a good story with a bad ending.
A good story surprise ending.
But the Samson story must be considered in light of the bigger story.
Samson is only one chapter in the book.
It is only part of the story.
The story of Samson is not about Samson.
It is about a God who still gets the glory despite Samson.
It is about a God whose plan is derailed.
When God cannot work through Samson, He works around Samson.
Samson was his worst enemy, but he failed to realize God was his best ally.
Samson failed to realize that God was still up to something when he was down to nothing.
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