When we think of Samson, the first thing that probably comes to mind is his incredible strength. He is one of the most interesting and controversial guys that God ever put His hand on — a man with incredible potential that he largely wasted.

Samson could have been one of the greatest leaders in the history of Israel, but instead, his life tragically became an example of how not to live. His life was one of squandered resources and wasted potential and ability. He threw it all away because he made some subtle but serious mistakes.

His story stands as a warning of what not to do, but it is also a story that speaks of second chances.

As is typical of someone trapped in sin, Samson ignored the warnings of those around him, believing that no one understood — until he woke up one day, and it was too late. The Bible tells us, “The Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison” (Judges 16:21 nkjv).

That is what sin does. It blinds you. It finds you. And then it grinds you.

First of all, it blinds you. Sin causes people to do completely irrational things. We all know the story: men and women leave loving spouses and precious children to go have their so-called fling. Then they come to regret it one day. I’ve seen it so many times.

Don’t be deceived by sin. If it comes knocking on your door, don’t answer. It is a lie. You’re being blinded.

Next, sin finds you. There might be an almost euphoric excitement the first time you cross the line, whether it’s that first sexual encounter, the first time you steal that item, the first time you get away with that lie, the first time you have that drink, the first time you try that drug, and so on. You take the bait and then think you’re getting away with it.

But the Bible says, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23 nkjv). Sin is going to find you.

And then sin grinds you. You eventually pay the miserable price. Your marriage is broken. A trust is betrayed. Your witness is damaged. Your reputation goes down the tubes. Your children are devastated — carrying deep wounds, most likely, for the rest of their lives. Perhaps there is the diagnosis of AIDS or a sexually transmitted disease. Depending upon what you have done, there even may be jail time.

Don’t be blinded by sin. It will blind you. It will find you. And it will grind you. If you don’t believe me, just look at Samson. Once a man of superhuman strength, taking out Philistines like there was no tomorrow, he became entertainment for the Philistines as he was grinding away.

But there is hope, because we serve a God of second chances. The Bible tells us that “the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaven” (Judges 16:22 nkjv). As Samson’s hair began to grow, his strength began to return.

One night, as the Philistines were having a drunken feast to their false god, Dagon, someone came up with the idea of dragging out the sightless Samson so they could make fun of him. Samson was guided by a servant to the foundational pillars of the temple. In a final act of vengeance, he asked for strength from God and pushed the pillars apart. The temple collapsed, and Samson killed more Philistines in one moment than he had killed in his entire lifetime.

You may think, “Way to go, Samson!” Yes, Samson did have the last word, so to speak, but he also died with his enemies.

Did God give him a second chance? Yes. Was it a sad ending? Yes. Could it have been better? Yes — much better.

But thank God that He still pardons us when we sin. That doesn’t mean we won’t reap the consequences of what we have done. After all, Samson did.

Still, God gives second chances. We all will have our failures and sins. But the question is, can we learn from our mistakes? Can we “fail forward” and not fall into the same trap again?

Are you squandering your life right now on someone or something that has a spiritually destructive effect on you? Are you flirting with sin?

Watch out, and learn the lesson of Samson.