February 11th, 2008
THE SAMSON COMPLEX
We are pleased to introduce from time to time articles from authors whose passion for the Body of Christ is uncompromised and genuinely, from our limited perspective, benefit the preparation of the Bride of Christ. In keeping with this dictum, we are excited to share the insights and exhortations of Ron and Karen Schwartz. The “dissipation” of the Church’s witness is at stake in this article – and Samson’s example of that devolution presents a prescient warning to her testimony if she persists in flirting with compromise—especially is that compromise exaggerated by an institutionalized Church awaiting “judgment must begin at the House of God” first. Her power extinguished, she weds herself to the world around her until enslaved by her captors, and blinded by her enemy, she is placed in ever greater restriction – thus is her prophetic message exhausted and she is finally driven to desperation where God in His mercy purifies her original calling. Thus, we have placed this article in our TESTIMONY section – because this is the essence of what is presented by Ron and Karen – may the Lord use these insights to bestir us to be salt and light in the midst of an ever-encroaching corruption and darkness abounding on all sides – that “the light of the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ should shine unto them!”
If Samson Could Warn Us…
February 11, 2008
By Ron and Karen Schwartz
Every Christian has, at one time or another, asked the question, “What has happened to Christianity?” It’s impossible to spend any length of time reading the New Testament and not wonder why Christianity is no longer resembles that as practiced by Christ and His followers. It’s a sad revelation that all Christians must eventually reconcile in their own minds.
Most Christian leaders would have us believe that current state of the institutional church is of “divine design” – that God prefers today’s intellectual-social Christianity over the Holy Spirit-empowered and Spirit-guided church with miracles, signs, and wonders that existed in the First Century. By comparison, Christianity of the New Testament was passionate, grew through discipleship, and depended on the manifest presence of God and the Holy Spirit’s leadership, whereas today’s institutional Christianity is academic, bureaucratic, and intellectual. In First Century Christianity, Christian leaders were empowered by the Holy Spirit and thus tended to impart spiritual gifts upon those whom they mentored, while today’s Christian leaders are intellectuals and thus tend to impart intellect alone upon those whom they mentor.
Most Christians have come to accept that Christianity has changed into a form of worship that is an intellectual experience where Christians gather to listen to leaders who pontificate on high-minded ideals. In institutional Christianity, Christian leaders are measured not by their spiritual endowment (as was once seen throughout the New Testament) but by their education, their intellectual prowess, and their ability to articulate their knowledge.
Jesus and His apostles taught that miracles through faith and the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit were the approval of God (Hebrews 2:4) and that those who strive to know God through their intellectual prowess are fools. But today, just the opposite is true. It is a complete reversal of fortune. The wise and educated have once again stolen center stage, claiming that they who believe in miracles or practice spiritual gifts are fools. They claim that God has simply changed His mind. He now requires an education, and He is not in the least bit interested in the spiritual gifts – the kind for which Christ was known, the kind that He bestowed upon those who followed Him. Even so, every Christian who truly loves God knows in his heart that the cold and powerless form of Christianity practiced in our Western institutional churches is not what God intended. They just don’t understand, nor can they explain, why Christianity has changed. They rationalize that it is a change in culture, that the Western culture is intellectual and affluent, so Christianity has simply adapted to a new audience. But in the midst of all the rationalization and compromise, the voice of the Holy Spirit is whispering ever so softly to the church to return to true Christianity which places Jesus as the king.
Instead of rationalizing apathy, compromise, and sin, let us ask instead, “Why is the Christianity of the past no longer relevant today?” If the contemporary teaching that “Christianity has changed” is actually a fabrication of modern academia, then just where does this leave modern Christianity? It leaves Christian leaders with no excuse for the apathetic, backslidden, carnal condition of the churches for which they are responsible. So, then, why is modern Christianity so different from Jesus’ teachings? The answer to this contradiction is found in a passage from the Gospel according to Luke: Jesus actually told us it would happen.
King James Version:
And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.
For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
New International Version:
"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.“
Most of the older translations use the word “surfeiting,” while most modern versions use the word “dissipation.” The Greek word found here is “kraipale” which signifies "the giddiness and headache resulting from excessive wine-bibbing, a drunken nausea." This word is considered by some to be a medical term. It is noteworthy that the word is not referring to the act of becoming drunk but to the degraded state and the effect it has upon those who indulge in it (i.e., headache, nausea, hangover, dizziness, stupor, etc.) and thus “dissipation.”
According to the dictionary, “dissipation” means:
· Breaking up and scattering by dispersion; "the dissipation of the mist"
· A wasting by misuse, expenditure, or consumption
· Useless or profitless activity; using or expending or consuming thoughtlessly or carelessly
· Mental distraction; amusement; diversion
· Dissolute indulgence in sensual pleasure, especially excessive drinking of liquor or intemperance
· An amusement, or a diversion
In physics, dissipation is “the loss of energy from a physical system, most often in the form of heat.” But perhaps the best example of what Jesus had in mind is found in hydrology. In hydrology, “dissipation is the process of converting mechanical energy of downward flowing water into thermal and acoustical energy. Various devices are designed in streambeds to reduce the kinetic energy of flowing waters to reduce their erosive potential on banks and river bottoms. Very often these devices look like small waterfalls or cascades, where water flows vertically or over riprap to lose some of its kinetic force.” In other words, “dissipation” is a process that causes an energy source to waste its energy (i.e., from the dictionary: “useless or profitless activity; using or expending or consuming thoughtlessly or carelessly”).
Jesus is warning His disciples that in the last days God’s people would be found wasting the energy of God’s Spirit on useless and profitless activities.
If you were a General facing an army that has unlimited resources, what would you do? How would you go about defeating such an enemy? If you were Satan, how would you attempt to defeat First Century Christianity, an army with unlimited power and resources? Wouldn’t you attempt to first drain it of its power? That’s dissipation! We find numerous examples of it in the scripture.
Echoes from the Past
Samson was a man who seemed to possess unlimited power and strength. His enemies were at a complete loss at how to deal with him. At first, they took him on directly: their strength against his strength. Their loss was unimaginable.
Judges 15:13-15 NIV
So they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from the rock. As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.
Judges 16:1-3 NIV
One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. The people of Gaza were told, "Samson is here!" So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, "At dawn we'll kill him." But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.
The Philistines were faced with the impossible task of destroying a man who was gifted by God with unimaginable strength and power. They quickly concluded that Samson was no ordinary man. Certainly no weapon formed against him would prosper. They had to find another way of defeating him other than through all-out warfare.
Samson’s strength was due largely to his discipleship. He was given the vow of a Nazarite (Numbers 6:2-21) when he was a child. As long as he kept this vow, he would retain his power. This wasn’t something that was known to the Philistines. To them, his strength was a great mystery. However, they soon came up with a plan. If they could not destroy him, why not allow him to destroy himself?
Samson had a weakness, a weakness that his enemies determined to exploit. He fell in love (or lust) with a woman named Delilah. So “the Philistines went to her and said, ‘See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver (Judges 16:5).’” We all know how the story went. She used his desire for her to get him to expose his own weakness. In the end, Samson was destroyed because he loved the things of this life more than he valued his commitment to God.
It seems foolish that a man would trade his miraculous power for a few moments of pleasure. But we find the same thing in the story of Esau. Esau traded his birthright for a bowl of bean soup (lintels). Lintels were considered pauper’s food. They were grown to feed animals. Adam and Eve traded the Garden of Eden and their fellowship with God in anticipation of wisdom (i.e., “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it (Genesis 3:6).”
Each of these examples has one thing in common: the gift bestowed upon them was not earned. It was their heritage, and gift was not the result of their own decision. Samson’s parents were the ones who heard from the angel that he was to be a Nazarite (Judges 13:2-5), Esau was to receive the birthright simply because he was the firstborn, and Adam and Eve were created in the Garden. None of the people in these examples earned their heritage. As a result, they did not fully appreciate the value of their heritage until it was lost.
Like Samson, modern Christians have a birthright, and, just like Samson, they have not had to earn it. It was the apostles and the first generation of believers who spent time with the Lord. It was they who received and practiced the words of Christ and passed them down to us, just as Samson’s parents passed along the angel’s words to Samson.
Contemporary Christians have stayed true to Bible pattern and dismissed their birthright for a bowl of pauper’s soup. They have traded the manifest presence and power of God for intellectual ramblings. They are found, like Samson, stripped of their power, in bed with a harlot, and at the mercy of their enemies.
God is speaking a warning to His church today. He is calling to His people to consider Samson and separate themselves from the harlot institutional church system that works to strip Christians of their power and place them at the mercy of their enemy. The voice of God is calling to the church: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes (Revelation 18:4-5).”
Most Christians will not heed this message. Why? Because they, like Esau, place so little value on their heritage. They are comfortable with the institutional church and how little it requires of them. They value comfort and pleasure over the discipleship of the past. So instead of insisting that Christianity stay true to its heritage, they simply rationalize away their birthright of power for the bean soup of contemporary academia.
Like Samson, whose power came from his head (the locks of his hair), God’s church receives its power from its head: Christ. As long as the head of the church was Christ, as it was with the First Century believers, the church was endued with power. However, over the course of time, the harlot institutional church system has worked to cut lock after lock off the head of the church, stripping away Christ’s power and leaving it at the mercy of its enemies, the exact state of the institutional church today.
But unlike Samson, there is still hope for us. We must arise from our sleep, flee the harlot system, and turn our hearts to God. We must allow our head (Christ) to once again grow its locks and endue us with His power.
“Useless or Profitless Activity”
Like Samson, modern Christianity is asleep while the harlot church system cuts away its strength. Modern Christians don’t know that they are asleep because they are living in a “dream” that seems so real that they actually believe they are awake. This is the modern “dissipation” that the enemy has used to lull the almighty church to sleep.
Dissipation is not the lack of activity but “useless or profitless activity.” All Christians are spiritually born with the knowledge that they “must be about their Father’s business.” They intuitively know that to be non-active for Christ is the same as hiding the treasure that God has given them to invest (Matthew 25:14-25). The enemy knows this about Christians. So, as a harlot, they have seduced modern Christians and lulled them into a dream-like sleep where they delude themselves into believing they are doing great things for Christ while in reality accomplishing very little or nothing at all.
Like Samson, the institutional church’s lust for the harlot system has cost it its power. The loss of power is not a result of a “divine design” but of its own love for the harlot institutional church system. Today’s institutional churches have sacrificed discipleship for their love of comfort, intellect, and entertainment. There is no room for the power of God and the operation of His Spirit while lying in the embrace of the harlot system. So, stripped of its strength, it is no longer the bastion of strength, hope, power, and transformation that it once was but rather the sarcophagi of the dead who now dwell within it. The contemporary institutional church is simply another organization that depends on the world for financial support in order to exist. Let’s face it. What we call “churches” today are not the real thing but social clubs where members pay dues to support their social pleasures.
The church was never intended to become an organization and a building. It was intended to be a people. Although Christian leaders acknowledge with their lips that the church is God’s people, undefined by denominations and geography, they nevertheless exert vast energies into creating and expanding their buildings and territorial control. What is this? It’s call dissipation: “useless and profitless activity.” The reason why today’s Christian leaders no longer see the miracles and wonders like the First Century Christians is not because God has changed but because Christian leaders have. If God moved among Christian leaders like He did in the past, today’s Christian leaders would use it as an endorsement of their “churches” and denominations. They would interpret it to mean that they are right and every other “church” is wrong.
Their preoccupation with “their ministry,” “their work,” and “their church” is dissipation. They work very hard, but they are working for the expansion of their own ministry and the size of their “church,” not for God’s kingdom. Their true purpose is to draw Christians away from other institutional churches rather than to evangelize the community. It is a waste of energy - energy that, if allowed to flow as God intended, would both draw the lost to Christ and would bring back the miracles and wonders for which Christianity was once known.
Unlike First Century Christianity, today’s Christian leaders are no longer known by the power of God manifest among them. Their pursuit is for credentials, degrees, intellect, and the ability to articulate. So God has stripped these people of His approval and made them devoid of His power. He is tired of His people rallying around leaders and leaders encouraging such activity. God wants His people to return to Him and allow His locks to grow, to rally around the name of Jesus as they once did.
Jesus told us:
"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a [snare, KVJ]. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.”
Jesus called dissipation (the “useless and profitless activity” of modern Christianity) a snare. A snare is designed to trap its prey around the neck and squeeze away the life between the head and its body. The harder the prey works to get away, the tighter the snare becomes, and the more quickly the prey dies.
Initially, we asked a few questions: “If you were a General facing an army that has unlimited resources, what would you do? How would you go about defeating such an enemy? If you were Satan, how would you attempt to defeat First Century Christianity, an army with unlimited power and resources? Wouldn’t you attempt to first drain it of its power?” Such an effort is taking place today as the enemy seeks to separate the Body of Christ from the source of its strength: Christ, its head.
As leaders set themselves in positions of control and authority over God’s people, they separate the head from the body. They essentially become the snare. They turn the people of God to pursue “useless and profitless” things that fulfill their personal ministries and their personal goals but contribute next to nothing to the kingdom of God. Many house churches that are made up of Christians trying to flee the harlot system have simply recreated the harlot system within their own groups.
It is acceptable to have men as mentors to young people and new Christians, but they cannot continue in such a capacity as the young Christians mature. Any group that has one priest/pastor for years on end will experience division, fighting, and conflict as the mature Christians are choked from the life of their “true” head: Christ. Every Christian we know who attends any “church” that is structured after the harlot system can describe countless conflicts within their organizations. These conflicts within each institutional church organization and between institutional church organizations are snares that choke life out of Christians.
There is no greater waste of eternal energy than in Western institutional churches. Those of you who read these notes, who are part of churches in developing countries: stop looking to Western Christianity as something to which to aspire, as representing the pinnacle of God’s people. It is a delusion. You are being lulled to sleep by the harlot system. Western Christianity is not the creation of God (it has few, if any, characteristics of God) but a tribute to the men (and women) who idolize themselves and have built their own towers to heaven.
Western Christianity wastes billions of dollars (over $100 billion a year) on “useless and profitless activity.” They spend billions on the “tombs” that they call sanctuaries where all the spiritually dead and dying can congregate. It is in these tombs where the harlot clutches the neck of the Body of Christ, choking it into lifelessness as the power of God falls away like the locks of hair from Samson’s head. Listen to the Spirit of God while His voice still sounds as He cries, “Come out of her my people.”
The Personal Snare
From a personal point of view, we must be careful not to fall into the snare of dissipation. As previously defined, in hydrology, dissipation is “the process of expending the energy created from downward flowing water. It uses various devices like small waterfalls or cascades to force water to flow vertically or over riprap to lose its force.” True Christians are fountains that pour forth rivers of life; at least, they are supposed to be. The river of life is like a fast-moving natural river that carves through hills and carries away obstacles, only it flows against spiritual obstacles and carves away hearts. True Christians, those whose rivers of life flow free, affect the people they meet. This is true, of course, as long as the Christian does not lose his river to dissipation. Satan desires to see the energy of God’s Spirit lost in pointless endeavors.
The Rightness Syndrome
Remember, dissipation is when energy is wasted on profitless activity. Often, passionate Christians find themselves lost in “The Rightness Syndrome.” This Syndrome is defined by a person’s desire for everyone to be their version of “right.” It is by far the most common way for passionate Christians to waste their energy in “useless or profitless activity.” You find Christians arguing about their doctrines and values in forums and e-mail. You hear them arguing their views on the radio and other media. Churches split as a result of it. It separates friends and relatives. And it can be spiritually devastating when parents force their rightness on adult or young adult children.
This Syndrome isn’t just lost on parents and passionate Christians. It exists in pandemic proportions within churches and among Christian leaders. Let’s be honest. The reason why institutional churches in any community operate independently, more or less in isolation, is a result of “The Rightness Syndrome.” They insist that other Christians be in their version of right or they cannot work together. When you find yourself frustrated with others or fighting with others over who is right, you are probably lost in dissipation. Is there really a point to it? Jesus gave this counsel concerning the dead: “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead (Matthew 8:22).” In other words, don’t argue with the spiritually dead. It is just “useless and profitless activity.”
Most Christian leaders want to focus their attention on over-indulgence and “the cares of this life,” and these are also a form of dissipation. However, these things are something that is within the power of all Christians to control. There are other things which are not. For instance, there are the “pseudo-Christian” values.
Pseudo-Christian values are values that are often attributed to Christianity but in reality have little or nothing to do with Christianity. In many respects, these values may actually be contrary and counterproductive to true Christianity. The simplest place to see this dynamic at work is in institutional churches.
Like barriers in a fast running stream that dissipate the energy created from the water, today’s institutional church system creates unimaginable barriers to cause Christians to waste their energy. Meeting after meeting, committees, tithing, lectures, and classes surrounded by control, manipulation, and conformity slowly sap Christians of their spiritual strength. Church meetings are not designed to encourage participation and spiritual gifts but to repress them. Like Samson, the more time they spend “at church,” the more strength they lose.
In addition, spiritually gifted Christians find it nearly impossible to use their gifts because institutional churches do not allow it. They present insurmountable obstacles that prevent spiritual individuals from being effective. This is because institutional churches stand as barriers to rivers of life. They obstruct the flow and the energy of the river of life at every opportunity. The truly anointed and gifted find it impossible to have any effect at all.
The clerical leadership, the emphasis on personal fulfillment and social benefits, the financial requirements, the preoccupation with comfort and appeal, the exclusion of the spiritually gifted, and the lack of participation all stand as barriers that waste the energy of God’s Spirit. All these things that institutional churches value are nothing more than “pseudo-Christian” values. They are tools of the enemy, not of God, designed to drain God’s army of its strength, and they have been greatly effective. They are dissipation.
It is interesting that caged wild animals will often lose their instinct to mate. Then their species simply dies out and vanishes away, with only documents left to prove that they ever existed. Similarly, we have only ancient and few documents to provide us with information as to what Christianity once was. Christianity is nearly extinct. Christians have live within the cages of institution for so long that they have lost almost every characteristic of which they once was. Slowly Christianity is dying out and vanishing away. Reading about Christianity, as taught and exampled by Jesus and practiced by His disciples, is like reading about the ancient Mayan civilization. The people who live in the territory of that civilization today no longer resemble the greatness of that kingdom. Compared to what they once were, the people who live there today are poor and lowly.
Today’s Christians live in the spiritual territory where spiritual giants once walked. However, today’s Christians are, by their standards, “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked (Revelation 3:17).” Like caged animals that have lost their instinct to mate, contemporary Western Christianity has been gutted of the desire for spiritual procreation, and as a result, it has become spiritually impotent.
If Samson could step out of time and speak a warning to us today, just what would he say? We believe he would tell us: “Beware, brothers and sisters, lest these words describe you. Flee the harlot system, for as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.”
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