The lure of sexual sin is prominent and persistent in our world today, just as it was in Solomon’s time. The answer to such temptation has not changed. We need to take God’s warnings seriously, be always alert, take steps to guard ourselves, and lean on the Lord and His strength.
On a Collision Course with Sin
Proverbs 5:1-23; 6:20–7:27
Some time ago I read the news report of three young men driving home from a bowling alley in Tampa, Florida. Even though it was dark, they thought they had the right of way as they drove through an intersection. But the stop sign that should have been there had been stolen by thieves. A large truck slammed into the car, and all three young men were instantly killed.
Numerous articles indicate that stealing traffic signs is all too common and that the favorite sign to steal is the stop sign. When I read that, I couldn’t help but think that there is another kind of “stop sign” that is being removed, and the casualties are everywhere. Our world has removed the stop signs whenever and wherever sexual issues are encountered.
It seems to me that the stop signs are being replaced with “Speed Up” signs. Our world has even connected the word safe to sex outside of marriage. That is like some official going to the beach where sharks have been sighted and hammering up a sign that says “Safe Swimming” or someone posting a sign at a drainage ditch next to an industrial plant that says “Safe Drinking Water.” Beloved, there is no such thing as safe sin.
Solomon devotes more than two chapters in the book of Proverbs to this subject of sexual sin. He delivers a strong warning for us all—a warning that, sadly, he himself will fail to heed. Beloved, let this study in our Wisdom Journey be a powerful reminder to you of the need to faithfully obey God’s stop signs.
Now in broad terms, the biblical word most often used for sexual immorality is fornication. The Greek word is porneia, which gives us our English word pornography. It broadly refers to any and all forbidden sexual activity.
And let me tell you, what the Bible says on this subject has nothing to do with how you feel, or what you desire, or what your culture considers legal. This is the Word of God.
Today we are here in Proverbs 5. This entire chapter, much of chapter 6, and all of chapter 7 are devoted to the matter of sexual sin.
Solomon is going to take us to the scene of a collision, but he begins by telling us that sexual sin starts out by promising something delightful. He writes to his son in Proverbs 5:3, “The lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil.” This temptation sounds so right—so fulfilling.
Over in chapter 7, Solomon plays out this scene in detail as he watches a man heading toward a moral collision. He writes, “[He was] passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness” (verses 8-9).
Then he records that the woman says to him, “I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; so now I have come out to meet you . . . and I have found you” (verses 14-15). In other words, she is saying, “I’m a religious girl, and I have been looking for a great guy like you.”
It all sounds so sweet, but what begins here with sweetness and honey and flattery is going to quickly turn sour and harmful. It begins with delight, but delight turns to disgust.
Back in chapter 5, Solomon fast-forwards the tape and says in verses 3-4, “Her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood.” Wormwood is a small, flowering bush in Palestine from which a bitter drink was made for digestive problems and liver disease. It was even used to increase sweating in an attempt to rid the body of disease. So, look what this jar of honey turned out to be—a bitter-tasting cup of wormwood.
Delight turns to disgust, and then note the digression here: disgust turns into dishonor.
In chapter 6, Solomon writes this warning in verse 27: “ Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?” Verse 33 adds, “He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away.”
Although forgiveness is available for the person who repents, the consequences of sexual sin might last a lifetime. They certainly did for King David. David’s polygamy and adultery set the table for a divided family—for murder and intrigue and jealousy and strife; in fact, it gave his son Solomon every excuse to go even farther in sexual sin, which he certainly did.
Ironically, though, at this point in his life, Solomon is warning his son that you cannot carry fire around and expect to get away with it. In more familiar terms, “You play with fire and you are going to get burned.”
Delight turns to disgust; disgust turns into dishonor; and now, dishonor leads to disaster.
Back again in chapter 5, Solomon writes in verse 11, “And at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed.” He is describing the physical effects of sexually transmitted diseases. The Center for Disease Control recently recorded that 26 million new sexually transmitted infections were diagnosed in just one year. That is almost fifty every minute! In spite of penicillin and other drugs, millions of people are contracting new generations of infections that are turning out to be incurable.
Why do we not hear about this pandemic? I’ll tell you why: it is because we live in a world that is eagerly taking down God’s stop signs in order to enjoy sin for a season.
Solomon ends his warning here in chapter 7 with these words:
And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. (verses 24-26)
Now all the blame is not on the woman presenting the temptation—it takes two people to walk into sexual sin.
So, the question is this: What do we do about this danger, especially in a world where the stop signs have been replaced with “Speed Up” signs? Let me give you four practical precautions you can take.
First, don’t justify little compromises as innocent. Beloved, immorality does not begin in a hotel room; it begins in a boardroom, a classroom, at the local market—it begins in the mind long before it ever involves the body.
Second, don’t wait till it reaches a danger point to start fighting the temptation. The best place to put on the brakes is before you reach the intersection. Stop it at the first glance, the first invitation, the first moment you realize it is inappropriate.
Third, don’t assume you are stronger than temptation. Never allow yourself to say, “That will never happen to me; that is not a problem for me.” You are not immune to any temptation.
Never fool yourself into believing it is not all that wrong or that you can stop anytime you want. I have had people who are engaged in something the Bible forbids tell me they are not hurting anybody. Yes, they are. They are in the process of destroying their own lives. As the old saying goes, sin is going to cost you more than you ever want to pay, and it’s going to keep you longer than you ever want to stay.
With that, let me give you a fourth practical precaution: When temptation knocks—and it will knock—ask the Lord to go and answer the door. Call on the Lord immediately for His strength and help.
In the meantime, don’t take the stop signs down where God has put them up! He put them there for your protection, your integrity, your purity, and your good. Leave them right where they are.