Believers often say something like, “God doesn’t use someone who isn’t dedicated to him.” Or, “God doesn’t use someone with sin in his life.” I’m sure I have said much the same thing myself. And there is absolute scriptural support for such claims. Texts like Matthew 16:24 suggest that thought. “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” But in another sense, it may well be said that God uses everyone. Psalm 76:10 declares that “the wrath of man shall praise You.” In other words, everything that happens is useful for God’s purpose. But it is one thing to be used of God as a “vessel of honor” and altogether another thing to be used as a “vessel of dishonor.” “Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things [i.e., wickedness, v. 19], he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” (II Tim. 2:20, 21). We must be wary, then, to distinguish between honorable and dishonorable use in our lives. It is quite possible to mistake the fact that God has used us for the evidence that we are clean and honorable vessels in His sight. May I remind you of a well-known dishonorable vessel used by the Lord.
Samson. Samson was the thirteenth judge of Israel, the last in a series of judges identified in the book bearing the same name. As with the other individuals holding this office, Samson was a man specifically chosen by God and personally empowered by the Spirit of God to help deliver Israel from the oppression of their inveterate enemy, the Philistines. The biblical record is unequivocal; on four specific occasions we are told that God was working in and through Samson. First, we read that Samson “grew up and the Lord blessed him. And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him” (Jud. 13:24b, 25a). Later, we read that “the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily, so that he tore him [“a young lion”] as one tears a young goat though he had nothing in his hand” (14:6). In a third instance, “the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily, and he [Samson] went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty” Philistines (14:19). On another occasion we read that “the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily” (15:14) enabling him to snap the ropes the Philistines had bound around his arms, snatch up the jawbone of a donkey, and slaughter a thousand Philistines. From these citations, we may properly deduce that all of Samson’s acts of strength in defeating and destroying the Philistines were done under the direction and in the power of the Spirit of God. Yet, we read not one word about any good character or godly spirit in Samson. He was inveterately lustful, immoral, petty, vengeful, selfish, presumptuous, and proud. He took sole credit for his victories, and when he addressed God it was with a petulant spirit or a desire for revenge (e.g., 15:16-18; 16:28). There was neither any expression nor, apparently, any sense of thankfulness to God for using him, protecting him, or providing for him.
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