Rise Up and Shake Yourself, as though Nothing Has Changed

DSC03293Oh Samson rises up and shakes himself as of old, “not knowing that the Lord had departed from him” (Judges 16:20). Saddest words! Oh saddest words! May it never be said of one!!

And what a sight he is, this confident, strong man. He loves this game! “The Philistines upon me? What again??” I see him laughing as he rises up and shakes himself. This is the guy who snaps ropes off his arms like a thread. He takes this stuff for granted. “He woke from his sleep and said, ‘I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.'” He did not know that he had a new shaved look up top, and his dome was visible for the first time! He did not know that everything had changed.  He did not realize that when the Lord departs, you are finished.

Much like Samson, Israel also woke up one morning, shook it’s army into gear and marched off for the promised land (Num 14:20) — even though they too had insulted the spirit of grace. They too were finished — at least for the present. An entire generation was now doomed to die in the wilderness.  Strange that they would treat their offence so lightly!  Like Samson, they assume that nothing has changed: “Here we are… we will go up…” (40). As though being now ready to obey is sufficient. As though there was no penalty for their rebellion. “Up we go…” Moses warns them against this presumption: “Why are you transgressing… that will not succeed… Do not go up, for the Lord is not among you.” Oh, saddest words again! When the Lord has departed, you are finished, washed up.

Then there is Esau who, in a wave of contempt, “sold his birthright for a single meal.” He too assumed that nothing changed. Yet later, “when he desired to inherit the blessing he was rejected, for he found not chance to repent, though he sought it carefully with tears” (Heb 12:17). Such a man is called “profane,” “godless.” Such people treat their sacred calling lightly, and then presume to carry on as though nothing has changed.

Such characters remind us of how we may keep “outraging” the spirit of grace (Heb 10:29). Samson’s pathetic end, his blind grinding in the Philistine prison, of all places, him the freest of all spirits — what a reminder that it is “a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (v. 31).  To “outrage” the Holy Spirit, to do “despite” to the spirit of grace… “enhubristo” — to treat with contempt or “to insult.”  To disregard his wooing and warnings? To treat his presence as less than most precious? To flagrantly walk in our own way and ignore the implications…. This is the worst of fates.

(1) Hence the warning: “do not grieve the Holy Spirit…” (Eph 4:30). Lypeo… sorrow, to be grieved… to offend, insult, distress, inflict emotional pain.  The same word is used in Romans for not offending a weaker brother over some morally neutral thing like food. “If your brother is distressed by what you eat, no longer acting in love” (14:15). Sensitivity is the thing. This we are called to in relation to the Holy Spirit.

(2) Again, Paul speaks to the Corinthians about “Not another painful visit to you” Enough pain already. “For if I grieve you… who is left to make me glad but you whom I have grieved?”  Similarly, with the Holy Spirit. Offend Him, and who is there to really impart that wonderful joy? You think your productivity will be down for a day? Think about losing that precious gladness forever — when it is really all that matters, when it is your very life, your most precious possession!  As David the psalmist prayed, “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me!”

(3)  Paul uses the word lypeo again: “If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much greived me as he has grieved all of you” (II Cor 2:2,5). This reminds us that we do not live unto ourselves. At any moment we should be open to inspection by anyone… not just our words, but what passes through our minds. Grieving the Spirit — as other people — affects everyone.

(4) But there is some comfort in this biblical word, “grieve.” When we are grieved because we have grieved the Spirit, it is like a call to our hearts.  This is a special moment.  Now is not the time to move forward presumptuously, to shake ourselves into action with the arrogance of the great Samson.  No, when we have grieved the Spirit, our sorrow leads us to repentance (II Cor 2)

This is the proper stance: sorrow that leads to repentance.  Rather than a presumptuous forward motion, as though nothing hs changed, it is time to stop and repent.  And let it be thorough: Godly sorrow (lupe kata theon) brings repentance metanoia… a “change of mind, as one repents of a purpose formed or a deed done.”

This is our only recourse, when we have grieved the Holy Spirit.  Rising up and shaking, as in old times, will not cut it. Here is the only thing that holds great promise: godly sorrow “leads to salvation, and leaves no regret.”

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