Embracing Sexual Purity in an Impure World
October 04, 2009 | Andrew Davis
The Siege of Malta
So 11 years ago, actually a little before 11 years ago, as I was beginning my ministry here, I had a friend in Louisville, Kentucky, named Sean, a good friend of mine. It's good to have brothers that will ask you questions and pray for you and encourage you. And as I was going off, he said, "What are you most afraid of as you go off to minister at First Baptist Church in Durham?" And I knew that I was taking on the responsibility of being a senior pastor in a church much larger than I had been a pastor of before, and there I had only been a pastor for 15 months, a really short time, and it was just a small congregation up there in Massachusetts, and then we went on the mission field and the church was even smaller. Our growing family made up a third of the assembly on Sunday mornings. That's when the two little ones we're sitting with us. When they were going off into the other room, then the number went down. And then I just got my degree at Southern, but I didn't feel ready to take on this responsibility, so there were a lot of contestants for that throne of what..
What would cause me the most fear as I came here. But there was one that came immediately to my mind. And I said, "Sean, I guess it's said in some number of years from now... I don't know the number, I don't really care. I'll have to tell you that I committed some kind of sexual sin and I had to resign my ministry. That's probably my number one fear, Sean. So would you pray for me that I would be pure and holy?" And like I said, it doesn't matter to me... Wouldn't matter to me if it were 11 weeks, 11 months, 11 years or 11 decades. That's just a scene I don't wanna play. I don't wanna stand up here and have to confess that kind of sin and resign, and I don't want to ever have to explain to anybody that I committed adultery, I just don't wanna do that. And so I live in a kind of a helpful fear of that. I think it's helpful. I don't think it's incompatible with the grace of God shown me in Christ to be afraid of sexual sin. And so because I believe that, I think that's probably my goal for you today, that you would be more afraid of sexual sin at the end of this sermon than you are now.
And that that would be a holy fear, and it would keep you from harm and damage. So it's not a sermon that I'm necessarily excited to preach, it's a warning sermon, it's a sermon that brings us into uncomfortable territory, a sermon which... There are different ways to hear it wrongly and take... At times when I'm being gracious for those that need the grace of Christ, to work backwards and cover over shame and guilt, that some having not committed certain sins will hear that and apply it so that they can go off free of charge and commit those same sins. And then conversely, when I'm warning people not to do that very thing and they are already crushed and burdened and wonder if Jesus could ever forgive them, that they hear that and think, "There's no forgiveness, no possibility. I'm lost forever." And that's just the cross kind of purposes that can't happen, you just have to hear me clearly as I preach, because the grace of God does both of that; the grace of God covers and restores and renews and assures and comforts, and the grace of God also warns us and teaches us to say no to ungodliness and wickedness and lead upright and self-controlled lives, grace does all of that, friends. And both of those, we are hopefully gonna go on in this message today.
So my prayer as I preach on Proverbs 5, 6 and 7 on embracing sexual purity in an impure world is that you will take what you need from this. God alone knows what that is, I don't know your struggles. I know that no temptation has seized us, except what is common to man. And so we're all facing the same kinds of things our brothers in Christ are facing, undergoing the same kinds of trials all over the world. And so we all need this kind of thing. Some time ago, I read an account of probably the most exciting account I've ever read in military history of a defense of the Island of Malta in the 16th century. In 1565, a small island of Malta was besieged by Islamic forces, Turkish forces commanded or sent by Suleiman the Magnificent. And the defenders of the fortress were outnumbered eight to one, and they were valiant. And it was just an amazing account because there just kept being just pulses and waves and waves of assaults on the walls, and it was just a terrifying time.
And at one key moment during that whole assault, the attackers opened a breach in the wall. Just an opening in the wall. Some stones had fallen away and they were pouring toward that breach. And the commander of the knights that were defending the island jumped down into the breach and stood there with a sword and just defended it until more knights came and defended, and they plugged it with their bodies in effect, to keep the enemy from flowing in. About 100 years after that, John Bunyan wrote an allegory of the Christians' fight against sin. He entitled it 'The Holy War', and he likened the human being to a walled fortress. He called it Mansoul. And I picture that as I preach today, that we're like fortresses and there's this breach in the walls, and that breach proven throughout church history throughout time is the issue of sex, of sexual purity. It's just a breach in the wall, it's a weak area for all of us. And my desire is that we would shore it up. I picture almost at this point Jesus jumping down with his sword, the sword of the Word, and standing in the breach and helping you to fight so that you would be holy as he is holy. That's the picture I have for this sermon today.
Now, this breach is clearly established right from the very beginning. In Genesis 2:25, it says the man and his wife were both naked and they felt no shame. Frankly, if you'd asked them, "Do you feel any shame?", they would not have known what the word was. What is shame? That word was written by Moses after he knew what was shame, because it wasn't long after that, it says in Genesis 3:7, after they ate the fruit, then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. And shortly after that, Adam, terrified, hid from God in the garden. When God is calling out, "Adam, where are you?" He said, "I was afraid because I heard you in the garden. I was naked, so I hid." "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from that tree I commanded you not to eat from?" Clearly, sin immediately did something to the minds of the people, of Adam and Eve, immediately did something to their minds, so that they wanted to cover their naked bodies.
Sexuality, then, I think, is like a breach in the wall of Mansoul. And without incredible courage, and without wisdom from the Word of God, without the valor of our captain and commander, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, we will fail, the enemy will flood in like a river, and we will go down. Now, one commentator on the Ten Commandments said this, this could never be proven mathematically, but I just found it helpful, and I think it's true. About half of all human misery in this world is caused by the violation of the seventh commandment: Thou shalt not commit adultery. How can you know? But I just sense that it's probably true, especially when Jesus extended it to the issue of lust. So many have already fallen, there are bodies all around us. If you live long enough, you'll hear tales and perhaps even experience first-hand, I hope and pray not, but experience first-hand the immense tragedy of sexual immorality. I was personally first hit by this when my first protestant pastor, he was a pastor of Grace Chapel in Lexington, a godly man, wrote books on marriage and all that.
Christy and I, we knew each other at that point, and he had to confess to the world that he had committed sexual immorality, adultery, and I was stunned. And the two of us talked on the phone, I remembered about that conversation, I said, "You know, I don't know what to do about the future. I mean, I don't think I'm likely to commit adultery today, but how do I know I'm not gonna commit it in 20 years?" And the only thing that I could do as Jesus said, each day has enough trouble of its own, is, be faithful today. Right now, fully faithful in the Lord. Immerse myself in the Word, learn how to obey him, costly obedience today, it's all I can do. I can't get to the future, all I can do is build up good habits today.
So it's not just this one pastor, friends, it's lots of pastors, lots of leaders in the so-called evangelical world that have fallen into sexual sin. You know their names, I won't recite them here. And it's not just in the evangelical world, so many in the general population have fallen, too. I mean, it's like how many weeks in between you hear the stories of a politician, candidate for a high office, a famous coach, an entertainer, a movie star, or somebody has to confess to adultery, and all of the damage that comes. And they're in some way humiliated and they lose as a result of it. Add to this the incredible increase of sexual temptation through the availability of internet pornography and other things that just assault the human soul, and it's just incredibly tough time for us.
And the issue at root is lust. That's really what we're talking about here. Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery, but I say to you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." James said, "Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. And then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin. And when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death." How can we survive? How can we endure? This raging animal inside us. Paul says, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, and what I hate, I do." And then later he says, "So I find this law at work, when I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For my inner being, I delight in God's law, but I see another law at work in the members of my body waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am. Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Thanks be to God. But we're left with a fight, dear friends. The Word of God and the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, and the indwelling Spirit are sufficient for us to win. They're enough. And frankly, in Christ, they will win. It's not a doubtful thing, the outcome is not doubtful. We, who are in Christ, we will win. We will live to see lust dead at our feet. So while I preach a convicting sermon of warning, don't forget that, because frankly, I think that gives you strength to fight, to know you're gonna win some day. Someday you'll be 100% free of lust. Oh, that gives you power to fight, doesn't it? So meditate on that. But we need help. And so the Book of Proverbs gives us three extended treatments on sexual purity, and we're not going to be able to go through all of them in any careful way.
Basically, what I'm gonna do is touch lightly on Proverbs 5 and urge you to read it, I'm gonna touch lightly on Proverbs 6 and urge you to read it, and I'm going to give an extended treatment of Proverbs 7, and urge you to read it. Okay. That's my strategy for preaching today. And though we don't find Christ crucified in Proverbs 5, 6 and 7, I find Christ crucified in the Bible. So I'm going to be referring to Christ crucified, and the power of the Word of God, and the indwelling Spirit as the answer to this struggle. Now, all three of these chapters are couched in terms of a father's advice to his almost fully grown son. He's giving advice to his son, or sons, to get his son ready for battle as a man.
Proverbs 5: The Folly of Adultery and the Wisdom of Marriage
And so he gives extended treatment of the danger of sexual immorality. Though the language is, in terms of gender, one-sided, a warning of a son against the wiles of an adulterous woman, yet the lessons are applicable for both men and women. It's not a stretch in the mind to try to find out how. For men, it's clear. Guard your hearts against lusting after women. That's very plain and clear. Start there. And for your part, I don't think it's wrong to turn around and say, "Don't be a seducer yourself. Don't seduce other women, don't be an adulterer yourself." Though that theme isn't really developed here, it's true. Mirror image.
And for women, guard your hearts against such a predator, guard your hearts against that kind of an assault, who seeks to woo you and win you and entice you from sincere and pure devotion to Christ, but who in the end will destroy you. And for yourself, please do not allure a man into lust and into sexual immorality. And so there's the balanced treatment across the genders. So let's begin with Proverbs 5. And again, I'm just gonna lightly touch on it. You heard Richard read it, and basically, if I could sum up Proverbs 5, the whole chapter, verses 1-23, it's a twin message. The folly, the danger of adultery, and the wisdom and joy and blessing of marriage. That's really what we have here. The basic concepts are, the father is giving loving advice, and that is, keep away from the adulteress and embrace your wife instead. The adulteress is described here as a deceptive enemy. Initially, sweet as honey, smooth as oil, but in the end, bitter as gall and sharp like a double-edged sword.
In the end, he says, she leads to death. The remedy is to understand that, know where that road leads. Think about it often. Imagine it often and say, "I just don't wanna go there, and thanks be to God, I haven't yet." So just imagine where that road leads, and don't go down that road, keep to a path far from her, he says. Instead, embrace your wife fully as a gift from God. She's not dangerous, she's not seeking your very life, she's not a predator, she's not gonna ruin your world. She loves you, she's a gift of God for you. God joined you together, so embrace her and love her. Verse 15, drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Verses 18-20 get very specific. It's talking about sex. May your fountain be blessed. May you rejoice in the wife of your youth, a loving doe, a graceful deer. May her breasts satisfy you always.
May you ever be captivated by her love. Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man's wife? So it just gives you each other, that's what you have, a gift of each other. And it ends by saying, don't forget, and we'll talk much more about this in Proverbs 7, but don't forget that a man's full... His life is in full view of the Lord. All of his ways are open constantly before God. I just think that that would become vivid and intense and real for you as part of my job as a pastor and a preacher of the Word. That just by faith, you just know you're living in the presence of God all the time. So there's no secret part to your life. That's chapter 5.
Proverbs 6: The Severe, Inevitable, Unending Penalty of Adultery
Chapter 6 speaks about, I think, the severe, inevitable and unending penalty of adultery. And it gets you to focus on the penalty, what it's gonna feel like if you actually commit this sin. What will your life be like? Again, starts with that idea of the father giving wisdom to the son. Take heed to my warning, dear son, about the immoral woman and the wayward wife. Verse 24, her weapons are her smooth tongue, verse 24, her physical beauty, verse 25, and her alluring eyes.
The smooth tongue refers to her speech, which usually panders to the male ego. That's not hard to do, I can assure you as a male. But it just panders to that male ego. We'll talk more about that in Proverbs 7 in a moment. But it also involves a sultry tone of voice, an alluring tone of voice, just the use of the voice. And then there's the physical beauty, including hair and make-up and figure, skilfully, alluringly packaged with clothing that shows just the right amount of skin, all of that. Alluring eyes, captivating him with a little glance, doesn't mention it, but a smile, something like that, a look. These are the weapons that she uses to reduce the man to a pile of rubble. And they've been effective for millennia, and they're still effective today. So the father says, be aware of the danger of lust. Look at verse 25, do not lust in your heart after her beauty. Don't let her captivate you with her eyes. And realize what she's doing.
The prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life. Frankly, all sexual immorality is a reduction of the people involved, just like drunkenness is dissipation or debauchery. So this is reduction at least, it's many more things than that, but it reduces you. Pornography reduces a person to a bunch of body parts, there's no relationship at all, there's no personality, nothing, no conversation. Just body parts. This prostitute reduces a man to a meal, a loaf of bread, that's all you are to her. The adulteress is even worse. She seeks your very life, she wants to be part of your life, a long-term relationship, to destroy you.
Now, the point of the whole chapter here, I think, is that punishment is inevitable, it is severe, and it is unending, and that, dear friends, is only talking about the horizontal earthly punishments. You have to read the fuller account in the Bible to find out the rest, because there is eternity in hell to look after as well and to fear. But just at the horizontal level, punishment is inevitable. Verses 27 to 29, Proverbs 6:27-29, "Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man's wife. No one who touches her will go unpunished." It is Satan who says, "Yes, except you in this case." That's what Satan says, "Except you in this case. You will not surely die." Punishment is inevitable.
Secondly, punishment is severe. 30-33, "Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he's starving. Yet if he's caught, he must pay seven-fold, though it cost him all the wealth of his house. But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment. Whoever does so destroys himself. Blows and disgrace are his lot and his shame will never be wiped away." Again, that's at that horizontal level in life, life under the sun, in the Book of Ecclesiastes. It's severe. And he compares the thief with the adulterer. He says, we understand the thief. He's starving and he steals. I get it. I understand. I might do the same thing if I were in the situation. Doesn't make it right though, it doesn't make it right, and he still needs to pay seven-fold, there's still a penalty. But this man, the adulterer, there's no understanding for him. There's no understanding.
And so in verses 33-35, it says, "His shame will never be wiped away, for jealousy arouses a husband's fury and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge. He will not accept any compensation. He will refuse the bribe, however great it is." Now, friends, those are just the earthly consequences. How much more are the eternal consequences beyond this world? You know, I was thinking about the earthly consequences, which are bad enough. When we were serving overseas in Japan, we got news that was very surprising to us, one of the elders in our church had suddenly resigned his ministry, so he wasn't gonna continue as an elder. I thought that was so strange. My wife kinda knew right away what had happened. It took me longer to figure it out. That's the way it is with men, just kind of dense. But he had been involved in a counseling relationship with another woman in our church, and they just got too close. And looking back, I could see it. I remember seeing the two of them in the front seat of a car, she was crying, he was talking to her, counseling her and all that. And I just...
Nowadays, I would have gone right up to the car, knocked on the window and said, "Hey, how are you doing? Can I pray with you guys? Can I help you out? Is there something?" No way I would walk by that car. To my shame, I did. It was an Easter sunrise service and trouble came down the road. But anyway, I was sitting with this man, a friend of mine, and he was obviously... He was crying. He was... This is a good way after now. This is about 15 months later, but I'd just come back from the mission field. We were face-to-face. He said, "You know what it's like? It's like a big rock got thrown in the middle of a lake, and the ripples just move across the lake, and they just hit the shore line at different times. So now they're hitting the shore with you now. My kids are still too young to understand what I've done, and so in the future, I'll have to sit down with them and explain it all over again. It never ends, it never ends.
Read what happened to the life of David. What kind of man he was before Bathsheba and after Bathsheba. Just two different men. He was strong, he was a leader, he was courageous, he was virtuous, he suffered well, he went through all of these things, he was a man of prayer. Afterwards, he just seems like a shell of his former self. Now, again, this is one of those moments where I can preach too hard so that then you forget the other balancing side. There is grace and mercy and forgiveness at the cross, please know that. That's our Gospel. The shame does get taken away, Jesus takes all of our shame. And if you know that you've committed sexual immorality, adultery, and you just don't know what to do, then flee to Christ. He is the only way you can be saved from that shame. And you will be blameless and unashamed on Judgment Day, which frankly, in the end, is the only day that really matters.
But still, this Proverbs 6 is talking about some great, great sufferings that happens in this world, and Jesus himself linked lust to hell. "You've heard that it was said you shall not commit adultery, but I say to you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, then gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, then cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to burn in hell." So Jesus links lust with hell. It's not bad exegesis, it's not like he didn't understand justification by faith. Oh, he did, he bought it with his blood, but he's still giving us a warning. That kind of life leads to hell.
Proverbs 7: A Seduction Observed and Analyzed
Alright, Proverbs 5 and Proverbs 6 we've looked at briefly. Now let's look at Proverbs 7. And here we see a seduction observed and analyzed. First in verse 1-5, it gives a warning to heed the words of wisdom. "My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live. Guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers, write them on the tablets of your heart. Say to wisdom, you are my sister and call understanding your kinsman, and they will keep you from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words." So it's a warning to heed the wisdom of the father. I think we should just hear that, not as Solomon to Rehoboam, yes, that's true, but as God, our Father, to us as his heavenly, or as his adopted sons and daughters. Let's take the advice from God as though he's speaking right to our hearts, because I think he is.
And then what happens? It's so interesting. Look at Verse 6, Proverbs 7:6. "At the window of my house, I looked out through the lattice." Again, picture Solomon, he's sitting up there in the palace, he has a good view of the streets down below, his house way up above, and he's looking down there. This is a seduction observed, but silently and secretly. The two people, the man and the woman, don't know they're being watched. The funny thing is, they always assume they're not, that no one can see what they do. But like I said, as a pastor, it's my job to make the fact that you're being watched really intensely real for you. There is someone looking down, not through a lattice, but perfectly, and seeing everything that's going on. There's no doubt about it. And so I think Solomon plays a somewhat divine role here as he looks down in the streets of Jerusalem to watch this whole thing. It also, at a lesser level, symbolizes just other human witnesses. I mean, eventually you're gonna have to tell somebody and a lot of somebodies. That's the very thing I told Sean, "I don't wanna tell you that."
So it's a seduction observed. I'll say more about that toward the end. So what does he see? Well, he sees a young man. Verse 7-9, "I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who lacked judgment." He's naive. He's not worldly wise, he doesn't know the ways of the world. He's going down the street near her corner. Walking along in the direction of her house at twilight as the day was fading, the dark of night setting in. So he's lacking judgment and he's just in the wrong place at the wrong time. He ought not to be there. Dangerous. So here she comes, the seductress. And her description of her whole approach, her whole strategy is what the focus is for the next... From verse 10-21. She's described, her approach is described.
First, it speaks about her weapons, her dress. It says that she's dressed like a prostitute. Dear friends, this is a crucial issue. The phrase "like a prostitute" means that her clothes communicate a desire for sex. And it must be that way because she can't ply her trade otherwise. She must dress in a certain way with certain symbols so that people know what she's about. And those symbols are gonna be different all over the world. I don't know what it meant in Solomon's day that she's dressed like a prostitute. Back in the Book of Genesis, when Judah saw his daughter-in-law, she had a veil around her in a certain way that let him know that she was a shrine or a temple prostitute. They just know. It's just got to do with how the dress goes.
But here is a wife who's dressed like a prostitute with crafty intent. The clothing might be alluring, they might show off some of her figure, it might be of a certain color. It's different in every culture, but it communicated her intention very clearly. Now, nowadays our popular culture is driving women's styles in that direction. I'm gonna say more about that at the end of the message. Pray for me as I do, because I don't have any desire to be offensive, I just wanna be a help, both to the brothers and the sisters. But that's the force I see, goes in that direction. But this particular woman has made it clear what she wants by how she dresses. And she has crafty intent. She's planned this whole thing out. He hasn't at all, his mind is empty of all this. She has baited the trap, the whole thing is set in this seduction. And so he's just walking and she comes out like a predator. She has the food ready, meat sacrifice to God, she wants to serve as part of the adulterous trap. So it's part of the whole thing. Meat, you get to eat some meat.
For us in the refrigeration age, that's no big deal, but back then, it only happened when there was a sacrifice offered. So it says, "I have fellowship offerings at home. Today I fulfilled my vows." She's got the bed ready with spices and soft fabrics and sensory allurements. She says in verse 16 and 17, "I've covered my bed with colored linens from Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh and aloes and cinnamon." She's thought the whole thing through. She, at core, is a rebel. She's got a rebellious attitude, she's wild at heart. Look at verse 11 and 12, "She's loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home. Now in the streets, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks." So in that spirit, she comes out and she's brazen and bold. And look what she does in verse 13, she took hold of him and kissed him and spoke to him with a brazen face. She's just taking the initiative here.
And we see the religious hypocrisy. I've been to the temple, I offered my sacrifices, and now I've got some meat. See, she's religious. Beware, Christian friends, beware Christian brother and Christian sister of the person who comes to you with their spirituality. They're part of the church, part of the youth group, part of the college fellowship, whatever, if they start to make this intention clear, you know what they are. They are predators. Male or female, it doesn't matter, but that's what... I mean, it doesn't matter that they're part of the fellowship. Run. But here's this woman and she comes out saying, "I was at the temple." And then she says this, she begins this flattery.
Look at verse 15, "I came out to meet you. I looked for you and now I've found you." He doesn't even know where he is. He's wandering in a bad place in town, and she's like, "I was looking for you." And this begins her real weapon. It's a stream of verbal assault similar to a siege cannon, pounding away at the walls of reserve, of resolve, just pounding away, pounding away. I found a website that just summarized all this. It says in verse 21, "With persuasive words she led him astray. She seduced him with her smooth talk." Well, there was this website that basically summarized it and bulleted. I couldn't do better, so I just wanna read it to you. This is about what she says to him, "I'm a really good girl, I'm no whore. Sleeping with me will not be sin." Verse 14, "I've made many preparations and I have lots of things for a great time." Verse 14, "My motives are very noble in wanting to share my good time with you." Verse 15, "I have waited a long time and dreamed often of finding a man like you." Verse 15, "I'm so glad I've found you because I don't wanna be with anyone else." Verse 15, "It's so wonderful to be alone with you and feel the passion between us." Verse 15, "I've wanted to meet you for a long time, and I've made preparations."
Verse 16, "I've arranged things for the ultimate perfect love-making between us." Verse 16, "I know special things that you will love that other boring women overlook." Verse 17, "I care about you more than any other woman. I go to greater efforts." Verse 17, "We surely have a love between us that no one else has ever had before." Verse 18, "Let us fully experience the depths of this unique and special love that we have." Verse 18, "No other woman has ever felt as strongly about any man as I feel for you." Verse 18, "Our love-making will exceed all the love-making there has ever been in the world's history." Verse 18, "The comfort and pleasure we find in each other will be wonderful." Verse 18, "Our love and our pleasure will last the whole night and all of our lives forever." Verse 18, "Don't worry about any risk, my husband's on a long business trip." Verse 19, "He loves business more than he loves me. I need your love and your body so much." Verse 19, "There's no risk of us getting caught, I've figured everything out for us."
Verse 20, "He has money, which he loves, but we have love, which his money cannot buy." Verse 20. And then like a hammer blow after this pounding, pounding, pounding, she says in verse 18, "Come, let's drink deep of love till morning. Let's enjoy ourselves with love." She doesn't mean love. You wanna read about love? Read about the cross of Christ. Read about 1 Corinthians 13. You wanna know about love? God demonstrates his love for us while we're still sinners, Christ died for us. That's love. This is love, not that we love God, but that he loved us and gave himself as a sacrifice for us. That's love. No, this is sex. This is lust. That is what it is. Well, what's he gonna do? Hanging in the balance. What's he gonna do? Verse 22 and 23, "All at once, all at once, he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into the noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life."
My whole desire this morning is to remove that statement in reference to you who hear me right now. You cannot say it. You cannot say, "Little knowing it will cost me my life." You can't say that anymore. I don't think you probably could have said it before you got here, you've heard these kinds of things before. Know it, know it. It will cost you your life. And so the father applies it lovingly. Verses 24 and following, "Now then, my sons, listen to me. Pay attention to what I say. Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. Many are the victims she's brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death." It's a highway to hell, as I've already shown you. The father speaks of a mighty throng that the adulteress has brought down. She's mightier than Samson. He killed a thousand men with a jawbone of a donkey, but he was brought down by the beauty of a woman. She's mightier than he is.
Themes and Applications
Alright, so what are some themes and applications we can draw out of this? First and foremost, there is a Savior from all of this. Dear friends, there is a Savior. Jesus wants to jump down into your life with his sword in hand and chase the lust away. Jesus wants to save you. And so the Word of God is your Savior, and the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross is your Savior, and the indwelling Holy Spirit is your Savior. Cling to these weapons. They are 100% effective. Because if you live by the Spirit, you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. So start there. And if you're feeling guilty right now, you're feeling ashamed, then just go to Jesus, confess your sins to him, trust in him, let him work forgiveness in your heart. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst."
Secondly, without heart preparation in the Word, you will lose. You'll lose. So listen to your father as he gives you advice, as he sits down with you, your Heavenly Father, and as he reasons with you and says, "Take these commands and hang them on your heart. Saturate your mind in the Word of God, be transformed by the renewing of your mind, and you won't do this." Protect yourself. Don't just "let go and let God". That doesn't work. That leads to sin. You have to fight. Romans 8 describes the fight. I don't even know where "Let Go and Let God" came from in terms of sanctification. That's not biblical truth. It's like letting go and letting God in a rushing river that's going to a waterfall. You go over. That's what happens. You've got to stand firm. Thirdly, understand the techniques of seduction and flee them, either when you confront them in another person or tempted to do them yourself.
So here I come to the issue of dress. And again, I've asked people to pray for me that I speak gently. I'm not judging your hearts, I'm asking you to judge your own hearts. Just go to your heart and say, "What is my purpose in wearing this? As I put this on, what am I trying for? What do I want?" Allow the Lord to search your hearts. There's nothing wrong with wearing beautiful clothes. Actually, there's everything right about it. I can find many Scriptures that talk about that. But there is something wrong with dressing to be noticed, so that you wear clothes so that people will notice your body and notice your figure. And how much worse then is it to dress seeking to allure sexually. Carolyn Mahaney has done the Church a good service by putting together a checklist. You can get it on the internet. We downloaded it and printed off 20 or 30 of them, they're in the north tower. And I would just urge that you... She gets specific in ways that I can't do. There's just some things that older women need to do for the younger women, talking about hemlines and blouses and buttons and all kinds of stuff. And look, go read it. Alright? I'm going to move on.
But at any rate. 1 Timothy 2 says, "I want women to dress modestly and decently, as is reasonable for godly women whose good works are gonna commend them to God." That's what you... Dress yourself with good works and with holiness. And if you're single, what kind of man will that attract? A godly man. Go for that. Dress yourself beautifully that way, so please look at that. And friends, just be careful with members of the opposite sex, just be careful of how close you get. It says in Titus 2 that young men should treat their sisters in Christ like sisters, with absolute purity. Have conversations, encourage one another, pray for each other, but be careful. No flirting. I've seen stuff in the workplace, it's just abominable. The close relationships, the business trips and all that, and it's just amazing to me. So be careful. And also consider the costs of where we're going. Cost. Set standards for yourself on what you'll look at with your eyes. Perhaps you would not spend the night with a prostitute, but would you watch one in a movie or on cable program, on the internet? And set before yourselves the incredible danger of playing with fire. Can you scoop live coals in your lap and not be burned? Can you be the one person who could do that? No.
I was reading recently, talk about the cost, about a man, he was a businessman, he was an executive, fast track, moving up, had a beautiful family, a wife nine months pregnant, and two sons. Some time before this story, he had hired a beautiful young woman as his secretary, and she began enticing him by her clothes and her conversation and her innuendo and laughter and flattery. She sat next to him in the cafeteria and attracted him with her attention and flirting. Well, the Christmas party came and he drank a little too much and the two of them went off to a hotel room and he ruined his world, just ruined his world for just a couple of moments of pleasure. When he got home that night, he noticed that his wife and his two sons had done some special Christmas decorations for him, for daddy and all that. And they were asleep in bed and it just crashed in on him what he had done. "What have I done?" But he couldn't undo it. When he saw the secretary the next work day, she was all over him, interested, open, taking privileges. And sadly, he actually liked that kind of attention, and they were with each other sexually a few more times.
She started texting him, emailing him, pursuing him, he tried to delete all of the electronic evidence, but the non-verbals at the office were obvious to anyone with eyes, and it became a scandal in the office. The wife finally found a very explicit email that she had sent and he hadn't been able to delete it, I guess, and she divorced him. She left him, took the two sons. He was forced to resign from his job because of the scandal. The access that he had to his sons was greatly curtailed. He lost his house to pay for the lawyer's fees, and he ended up homeless.
Now, I was thinking about that, and that's a ridiculous story, but it's utterly plausible. It's a true story. I don't wanna play that scene in my life. Do you? And friends, again, this is just the horizontal side. What about the vertical side? God sees everything we do. Does he not see my ways and count my every step? Joseph said to Potiphar's wife, "How could I do this and sin against God?" He was aware of God watching him. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed. Luke 12. There's nothing hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what was whispered in your ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.
So what is the remedy? Well, delight in your wife. Take her out to eat, bring her some flowers. Build that relationship. If it's not where it needs be in terms of marital relations, sexual relations, then fix it, heal it. Forgive one another. And wives, delight in the role you have as your husband's safe harbor and safe refuge. Delight in that role. That's a good role that God's given you. But what is the highest remedy of all?
Love, Not Fear, Will Ultimately Defeat Lust
Well, I have found that most of the persuasions that I've even been talking about here, Proverbs 5-7, are negative. Don't commit the sin or all these bad things will happen to you. You wanna know the greatest power to fight all this? It's love. And I mean, ultimately, love for God. Jesus gave it to us in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:8, he said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."
The biggest problem with lust, you can't see God. It blocks our vision of God. God is distant. Our hearts get hardened. We drift away. Can't you say in Psalm 63, "Oh God, you are my God. Earnestly, I desire you. I long for you as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Because your love is better than life, I'll pursue you and love you." Let that love drive out lust and be safe. Close with me in prayer.