Date: June 13, 1999
Bible Text: Judges 16:4 | Roger Voegtlin
Series: Transcribed Sermons
I want to preach a message on Samson. It’s a message I believe Christians need as much as any I’ve ever preached. Sin, and what it does to us. Sin. The longer I’m in the ministry, the more I see how people are blinded by sin. The outline of this message is so simple: sin blinds, sin binds, sin grinds.
Over and over again, I say, “That person is completely blind. He doesn’t even see. . . .” And in some cases, everybody but him sees the problem of his sin. Most people don’t see it, but people are blinded by their pride or blinded by their sin. Judges chapter 16 verse 4 reads, “And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.” Then down to verse 16, “And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death; That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man. And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand. And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him. And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.”
Those are some of the saddest words that you’ll ever find in the Bible, “. . . and he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.” The problem is he played with sin one time too many. It seems as though Christians just play here, and play there, and at first it scares them, and then they are convinced they can get by with it; but all of a sudden, it is over. This is a story of sin and what it does with men who play with it. It’s a story of how Satan used Delilah to make a strong man, not only strong physically but strong in the Lord, weak and worthless.
But I’d like to review in our minds how it all started. Samson was miracle born, just like Samuel. Samuel’s mother was barren and an angel came and said, “You’re going to bear a child out of season.” That’s the same way Samson was announced. Secondly, he was a Nazarite. Like John the Baptist, he was set apart for God. He was never to drink the fruit of the vine, he was never to have his hair cut. He was supposed to be separate from sin completely.
Now, we know the stories of Samson. We know how he tore the lion apart, and we know how he took the gate of Gaza and lifted it up on his back, post and all, and carried it away. We know how he slew a thousand Philistines with just the jaw of a donkey. But the thing that we remember most about Samson concerns Delilah. The story of how a great man learned too late the penalty for playing with sin. If you’re familiar with the details of the story, it started seemingly very innocently, talking about ropes and things like this; but before you know it, sin had conquered him.
I pray that each one of you might understand that sin will conquer you. As your pastor, sometimes I watch your life get dull. I’m not going to come and knock on your door and say, “Okay, what sin do you have?” I know there’s sin. I’ve pastored long enough, I’m old enough to know it. There’s sin in your life, and that sin will destroy you if you play with it too much.
So the first lesson here is that sin blinds. We read the Philistines took him and put out his eyes. But now listen to me and listen to me closely. Before the hot iron touched his sensitive sockets, he had fallen to a worse state. His sensitive spiritual vision was ruined. He was blind toward sin. In Judges chapter 14:1 and 2 it says, “And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife." The Philistines were God’s enemies. In our terminology, they were not saved. And that was his first mistake. He wanted to date a girl who was not saved. If you date somebody who is not saved or not right with God, you’re heading for real trouble. That was his first step toward sin.
We skip over years and get to Judges 16:1, “Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.” You see, there was a woman in Timnath, an unsaved girl, and then there was a harlot in Gaza, and then there was a woman from the valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. And before you know it, he was blinking blood because his eyes were physically scorched out.
You see, sin always blinds you. Always. Sin will make a fool out of you every time. Listen to me, you’ll “come to” someday. It never fails, and I guess one of the saddest times of my life as a pastor is dealing with people when they “come to.” All of a sudden the devil like a magician pulls the cape away and says, “Wa-lah! You fool! Wa-lah! Did I make a fool out of you! I ruined you! I ruined your testimony! I ruined your relationship with your mate! I ruined your relationship with your kids! I hurt your Christian friends. Wa-lah! Ha-ha!” And old Satan is there just laughing, and howling, and hooting. He has just made a fool out of you.
Christians say, “That can’t happen.” Yes, it can. If there is anything that I know as a pastor, it’s that sin blinds you just as much as those Philistines took a hot iron and scorched his eyeballs. Just as much and more so than that, Satan scorches our spiritual sight to the place where he makes fools out of us. I see the dullness come into your life. I see the deadness. It’s like you’re walking through your spiritual life completely blind.
I’m sure the devil tells people, “Pastor Voegtlin and the preachers love to catch people in sin.” No, I don’t. I’m human enough that I’d rather just turn my head the other way. I don’t even want to know about it. I’d rather not know about it. And when it happens, I don’t want to deal with it. I think pastors go haywire because they get tired of dealing with sin.
I heard a story years ago about a fellow who was swimming and screaming and yelling for help, only he was swimming away from the shore instead of toward the shore in Lake Michigan. So the lifeguard thought, “Well, he’s just messing around; he’s just playing games.” So he just ignored him. But the boy went down. He drowned. After they pulled his body out, they found out he was blind. That’s why he was swimming away from shore—he didn’t even know where the shore was. And that’s the problem with most unsaved people, especially in the day and age we live now.
We have such a callous-type of society, and people are just blind. Just completely blind to their need. But I’m not preaching mainly to unsaved this morning, I’m preaching to those who are saved. Sin blinds you also. The first good Bible (when I say good, I mean a good leather-covered Bible) I ever had was the one my aunt gave to me when I went off to college. And in the flyleaf she wrote, “This Book will keep you from sin, but sin will keep you from this Book.” Now I’ve heard that often, and it’s true. This Book, if you keep on reading it, will keep you from sin. In other words, if you read God’s Word and apply God’s Word to your life, and you pray, and you make sure you’re walking with God, you won’t fall into sin because you’ve got the light of God’s Word. But if you do sin, it will keep you from the Book. No living Christian can ever lustfully look upon sin and then search the scriptures and understand them. Never.
The way the devil works is that he gets one sin—I don’t know which one—but the devil will get that one sin that “doth so easily beset us.” It may start with pride, or the love of money, or lust, or gossip, hate—it could be anything. But the devil gets that one sin, and it blinds us. It makes us stupid. And then we do so many dumb, dumb things—it makes us prayerless, it makes us powerless. There are women in this church, teenage girls in this church, who this summer have put on their swimming suits and gone down to the beach. And in their minds they’ve said, “What’s wrong with that? Everybody does it.” Any Christian who is just half-way right with God wouldn’t do that because they know that the Bible says a woman is to adorn herself in modest apparel.
People will argue, “Why can’t men have long hair?” Well, for one thing I Corinthians 11:14 says, “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” The idea I’m trying to get across is that the Bible is very clear. I used those two things, but we could go into anything. People argue, “Why should I go soulwinning? Look in the Bible. Or, tithing. “I don’t know why we have to give.” People always say, “Yeah, these Baptist churches—all they talk about is money.” These new churches don’t talk about money. In fact, they don’t even call them churches. I don’t what they call them, but the point I’m getting at is there are so many simple things that Christians seemingly don’t understand. The Bible teaches how we’re supposed to give. The Bible teaches how we are supposed to dress. The Bible teaches what relationship we should have within the family.
I was in a church recently where the pastor preached that the people shouldn’t vote for Clinton because he was pro-abortion and pro-homosexual. This was an independent, fundamental, Baptist church. He told me at least 100 of his people were gone because he had said they shouldn’t vote for a guy who was pro-abortion and pro-homosexual. They got mad. I don’t know if they quit his church permanently, but they at least boycotted that night. You say, “Why were they mad?” Because they were Democrats. You say, “Are you a Republican?” No, not in particular. But I’m not going to vote for someone who is pro-abortion. And I’m not going to vote for somebody who is pro-homosexual. Here are people who say they’re saved and because they’re Democrats they are going to vote for a guy who is pro-queer. Why? They’re blind—just as much as people are blind in child rearing, just as much as they are blind in modesty. Did you go soulwinning this week? Did you actively try to win souls to the Lord? If not, you’ve sinned, because the Bible teaches we are supposed to. If you don’t do it, you’re blind. Sin blinds us.
Then again in Judges 16:21, it says, “But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass. . . .” Now Samson was not born to walk a cell. He wasn’t born to be tied to a ball and chain. Can you imagine how he felt when they took those fetters of brass and put them on? I don’t think they were very nice in the way they put them on. As he saw the blood trickle off, he thought that before he was even born, God predestined him to conquer armies. God had created him to command the armies and to come home a hero. He would fight the Philistine armies single-handedly. But instead, he was in prison. Instead, he was humbled and he was mocked by his enemies. Now again, who would think that would happen?
If Samson had known he would end up with his eyes scorched out and tied with brass fetters, do you think he would have said, “Oh, yeah, I’m going to go out and play with sin.” He was a spiritual leader of Israel. He was the judge of Israel. He knew what the Bible said; he knew what God said. And there are people in this room who know the Bible and know the Bible says be sure your sin will find you out, and they just go their merry way. Why do preachers fall into sin? Why do missionaries fall into sin? Why do deacons fall into sin? Why? Why do people fall into sin? Because they believe Satan’s lies, and they don’t believe the Bible when it says be sure your sin will find you out. You can preach it and not believe it.
Be sure your sin will find you out. Listen, it ought to wake us up. Think of the times I have had to bring a man up in this pulpit and have him confess. How many people said, “I never thought he would do something like that!” Well, who do you think he is? And who do you think you are? You sit there and say, “Well I think he could, but I couldn’t.” This church will be 29 years old this fall. I was a member of the church I grew up in for 20 years. There’s a great advantage of being in one church for a long time. One advantage is you see the truth of, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” You can play with it, but it will find you out.
I’ve told you about the fellow who led me Christ. It’s not easy for me to preach on these things. He was a brilliant man; a man born and raised of missionary parents in China. He knew several Chinese dialects. He knew personally Chiang Kai-shek, the head of the free Chinese people, the one who fought the communist Chinese as they came in. When they went to Formosa, this man went there also. Chiang Kai-shek was a Christian, and his wife was a good Christian. I’ve got pictures of my ex-pastor preaching to thousands there. All the soldiers of the free Chinese army were marched before him, and he was to preach the gospel to them under orders of General Chiang Kai-shek. He was able to see thousands saved. I have pictures of them laid out prostrate, praying and accepting Christ as their Savior. This man was greatly used of God. Then he started what was called the “Hundred Nations Crusade,” a missionary operation to reach 100 nations. He’s dead now, but before he died he divorced his wife and married a young Chinese woman.
Now, I say that to point out it doesn’t matter who anybody is. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve been used of God in the past. Sin can blind anybody, and sin can bind anybody. I’ve used as illustrations the leaders of the church I was raised in. I don’t say that because I hate them; but I can speak more openly of people who aren’t members of this church. I can remember our youth leaders were too “cozy” with the girls and too loose with their tongues. I don’t think I ever said anything, but years went by and all of a sudden it was found out that both of them fell into sin. Today you see they’re 65 or 70 years old. The last time I saw one was in a hospital in Chicago when I visited their son. Their son was a strapping athlete named Donald Roger (named after my brother and myself). He had a brain tumor and now is dead. I don’t know positively that that boy died because of his father’s sin, but I believe with all my heart he did. Here were two youth leaders who were respected in the church, both just too loose with the opposite sex, especially the teenage girls, and today they’re both in their upper sixties and they are just miserable. Can you imagine yourself at 65 or 70 years old just living for the world and you have no relationship with your Christian kids—just hippies out there doing nothing.
I remember the junior high leader, he used to like to play with Ouija boards. That’s not right. But we were told, “You’re a bunch of Pharisees.” I’ve been called a Pharisee all my life. You’re always a Pharisee when you’re trying to do what’s right. “You’re a bunch of Pharisees. There’s nothing wrong; all it is is a game.” I’ll never forget when I was sleeping at home at about 18 or 20 years old and I heard wailing and screaming outside. Here was this guy—a raving maniac. The last time I heard about him, he was still in the mental institution. Just a game? No, it’s not just a game. It’s giving yourself to Satan. I watched all that as a kid, as a teenager in a church—a fundamental, independent Baptist church. They were too loose with sin.
You say, “Well, everybody sins.” Yes, everybody sins. If you say you don’t have sin, you’re a liar and you make God a liar. Everybody sins. But the thing I’m preaching about is, if you have sin, you go to God and ask forgiveness. If you fail, you go to God and ask for forgiveness. What happens, though, is that people play with it a little bit, and the devil says, “Hey, you can get by with it.” And so you play with it a little bit more. “You can get by with it. See that? You got this far. Well, you can play with it a little bit more.” And you go a little bit further and a little bit further until your life is destroyed.
If you have a sin that is tantalizing you or if you have a sin that you’re playing with and the devil is saying, “You can get by with it,” call him a liar! Praise God for His mercy and run to God and say, “God, forgive me! I’m going to hate this sin. I’m going to turn from this sin. If I have to fight it the rest of my life, I’m going to fight this sin. I’m not going to let it destroy me.”
There are physical laws. The law of centrifugal force. You drive a car around a corner too fast, and you’re going to roll that car. You jump off a building, you’re going to go down. You’re not going to fly. Just as much as there are physical laws, there are spiritual laws. Numbers 32:23 reads, “. . . be sure your sin will find you out.” Galatians 6:7-8, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”
You see for a while Samson could play with sin. First it was seven green withs, then new rope. . . you play with Satan for a while. But finally we read in Judges 16:16 and 17, “And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death; That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” And that was the end.
The key to what I’m saying is, yes, everybody sins. I don’t understand God’s mercy. I don’t understand it completely, but, yes, you’ll get by with sin for awhile. God is merciful. But I do understand his justice. You keep playing with sin, and your life will be destroyed. And from practice, I see how it works. From 20 years at one church and 29 years in this church, and from 50 years of being saved, I see how it works. People play with sin. They defend themselves by saying, “Oh, it’s not sin. It used to be sin, but it’s not sin now that I have it. No, I can get by with it, or I’ll just play with it a little bit and then I’ll get rid of it.” No, it will destroy you.
Some boys lived near a stream and wanted to get the ducks in it. Whenever they would get close to the ducks, the ducks would fly away. So they took pumpkins and let them float down the stream; and when the pumpkins would get close to the ducks, at first they would fly away. Then they let the pumpkins get a little closer and a little closer until finally they just let the pumpkins come and bounce into them. It didn’t mean anything to them. At that time, the boys hollowed out the pumpkins and put them over their heads and swam to the ducks. The ducks saw the pumpkins coming, but they thought, “Well it’s nothing. They have been bouncing into us for days.” But this time when the pumpkins got close to them, the boys grabbed them by the legs, and that was it. That’s how Satan works. That’s exactly how Satan works. Right when we think we can get by with it, it will destroy us.
Lesson number three is that sin grinds its victim. Samson had never lost a battle in 20 years. He fought the enemy’s army single-handedly in the past. However, in verse 21 we read, “But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.” I feel so sorry for people when this comes to them—when I see them broken completely in tears, when the reality hits them that they have ruined their life. They have ruined their chances of really being used of God, they have ruined their family, they have ruined their reputation, and they have hurt their Christian friends. You look at a pastor and say, “Boy, that’s really tremendous to be able to get in the pulpit and preach.” But sit in the living room with a person at that point, and you’ll know why I preach the way I do and why I beg the way I beg.
Can you imagine Samson? Look at verse 25, “And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.” Here was Samson. I want to remind you again, they quaked at his name before that. He was the hero of the Israelite people before that. He was the judge of Israel. He could take that jawbone of a donkey and slay a thousand, but now he was the clown. Now he was the joker in the circus, the freak in the sideshow. I can’t think of anything sadder. Just think how he felt. Now I can hear them say, “Ha-ha-ha! Oh, the God of Israel is no different than any other god! Ha-ha-ha, look at him!”
You see, they weren’t just laughing at Samson, they were laughing at God. And every time something like that happens, they laugh at God. Every time a Christian falls, this community laughs at God. And this nation laughs at God and laughs at your family, and laughs at your church. Just think how that made him feel. These fish-worshipping heathens. Laughing at God. That’s the thing that bothers me when a Christian goes to the devil. That’s the thing that bothers me when college students come from outside, get a job, and fall into sin in this community because the world says, “Ha-ha-ha!” When you go out and work as a waitress, or in a grocery store, wherever you work as a college student, do you understand that every one of those unsaved people wants you to fall in the mud so they can laugh and say, “Ha-ha-ha! There’s no difference between their God and my god!”? I don’t know anything much sadder than that. To be a freak in the sideshow of the devil and let the world laugh. But that’s how it always works out.
I can remember as a young person going to the rescue mission in Chicago, and being told by one of the bums, “I remember when I was just like you,” or, “I’ve got a boy at home just like you.” Do you think all those guys on skid row were bums all their life? There was a time when none of them were. Some said with credibility, “I was a doctor.” “I was a businessman.” “I was a lawyer.” They took their first drink, and they couldn’t handle it. Here’s a doctor, a surgeon. He used to operate on people. Now he’s drinking antifreeze in the winter time and sleeping under garbage and vomiting all over himself. Don’t think all those guys down there on skid row were bums all their life. Again, think with me, every single one of them was once a mother’s sweet little baby. Every one of them was somebody’s lovely toddler. And many of them grew up into adulthood and went to college and even graduate school, but sin blinds, sin binds, and sin grinds—every single time.
What did Samson do? He killed himself, didn’t he? I’m not going to read it, but verse 25 says they set him between the pillars and you know the rest. He put his hands on those pillars, pushed them out, and killed himself. He killed the Philistines that were in there; he got some revenge—God was good to him in that way, but he killed himself. He committed suicide. That’s how sin grinds.
Think about O.J. Simpson—Heisman trophy winner. Hall of Fame notoriety. Millionaire. Movie star. O.J. Simpson had everything? No, O.J. Simpson had nothing. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, it doesn’t matter how much fame you have, it doesn’t matter what you have—sin blinds, sin binds, and sin grinds to the place where many commit suicide.
If you’re here and you’re a Christian and you’re toying with sin, whether it be gossip or whatever, it will destroy you. Lust, griping, the love of money, pride. God doesn’t put more emphasis on any two sins than on pride and the love of money. And yet, Christians will hang on to them pretending that everything is fine. Sins such as the love of money or pride blind you in the first place so that you destroy your life with sins that we may think are worse. I don’t care what the sin is, it will destroy your life. I John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Pride says, “I don’t need to make a decision. I never need to walk an aisle.” Verse 9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Now that doesn’t mean you just say, “God, forgive me; I’m a sinner.” But, “God, I’m a sinner. I’m guilty of this sin right here. And I’ll hate that sin, and I want Your strength to turn my back on that sin.” God will forgive you. You’ll never become sinless, but again, that’s what the devil uses on us. He says, “Oh, you’re always going to sin.” Yes, but you’re not going to have a sin have you, if you understand the difference.
Do you want to know your spiritual temperature? Are you saying right now, “God, please show me. Oh, God, show me if there is any sin.” If you’re not doing that after a sermon like this, then you’re pretty dead. If you can listen to a sermon like this and you’re not at this point saying, “God, show me any sin. I want to know,” you’re the type of Christian whom the devil has blinded already, and you’re able to just push it aside. That sin will destroy you. If you’re a Christian, come to God, and take that sin, point it out, ask God’s forgiveness, and hate it. If you’re here and you’re not saved, come to God. Because not only will that sin destroy you here on this earth, but you’ll go to hell for it. If you’re here and you don’t know you’re saved, the Bible says we’re all sinners, and the wages of that sin is death and hell. But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. He came and died for us. Turn to Christ.