Proverbs 7 Sermon Beware Seduction's Scheme and Snare (Rev. Erik Veerman)
Beware Seduction's Scheme and Snare
Our sermon text is Proverbs 7. You can find that on page 630 in the pew Bible under the chair in front of you. We are down to our last three wisdom lessons. Next week, we’ll cover chapter 8. The week after, we’ll consider chapter 9, which is Solomon’s last opening lesson on wisdom.
The timing’s worked out pretty well because after chapter 9, we’ll take a break for Advent.
Then in the new year, we’ll begin a thematic study of Proverbs. There are about 25 themes that we’ll be working through.
If you look at the bulletin, you’ll see that this morning, we’re covering all of chapter 7 plus 4 additional verses from chapter 22 and 23. We’ve printed them on the back of the hymn sheet.
So, let’s now come to God’s Word.
Proverbs 7; 22:14; 23:26-28
A friend of mine was visiting church last Sunday. After the service, he shared an amusing story about Proverbs.
This was a years ago. His church was reading through Proverbs chapter by chapter. One chapter every day. Sort of like we did a few months ago.
Well, when they got to chapter 7, his daughter went upstairs to do her reading. By the way, she was about 10 years old at the time. Pretty soon after, she came running down the stairs and declared “not another day of adultery!” And then she added, “I just don’t struggle with adultery.”
Maybe you’re ready to move on, too.
When I was thinking about preaching through Proverbs, in the back of my mind, I was worried the most about these three chapters (5, 6, and 7). Part of my fear was the sensitivity of the topic.
· For one, as you know, there’s a growing divide between the Biblical ethic and our society’s beliefs. And it’s not just an intellectual discussion, but it deals with the most intimate aspects of who we are.
· The other concern I’ve had is knowing some of your painful history and your current and past struggles. I’m sure there’s much more than I’m aware.
In fact, before we get into chapter 7, I want to clarify something I said last week and ask for your forgiveness. One of the emphases of chapter 6 is our lustful desires. We worked through that including the pervasiveness and sinfulness of pornography.
In my last point on how we fight these struggles, I spent most of our time emphasizing the heart side of our lust but I was dismissive of some practical help. Specifically, I downplayed accountability and putting up fences to guard our actions. I want to correct that and say that those can be very helpful, especially with porn addictions. Having someone to walk alongside you… or using technology tools that block access to sites are often effective in moments of temptation. In fact, today, we’re going to see how Solomon warns his son to guard his actions.
What I should have said is that while our heart issues should be our main emphasis, we should also bring to bear other resources and one another in the church to help.
An example may help. I know a few counsellors who help with sexual addictions. One of them had himself struggled with pornography in the past. He shared with me that he reads through the New Testament three times every year. He says that constantly filling his mind with God’s Word, has been transformative on his desires. By doing that he says it reminds him over and over of (1) God’s love and forgiveness in Christ, (2) the work of the Holy Spirit in him, and (3) God’s call to obedience and purity. When you talk with him, his words are so saturated with Scripture. But to be sure, his full-time job is helping men through these kinds of addictions. A large part of his counselling has a Gospel heart emphasis – he believes that’s the primary need, but he also organizes accountability and recovery groups, and he helps men with other strategies and tools to help break the cycle.
What I was trying to say is that fences and accountability are not the answer in and of themselves. They can be tremendously beneficial as we walk with one another through these struggles. I hope that’s a helpful clarification.
And as I mentioned, it’s not unrelated to chapter 7. A big part of Solomon’s desire in this chapter is to warn his son about the trap of sexual sin. That includes being on guard against temptations and even staying away from temptations. Really, In both chapters, 6 and 7, Solomon’s desire is to protect his son. We saw that last week, and we see that again here in chapter 7. In verse 5, he writes that his desire is “to keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words.”
In chapter 6, Solomon emphasized his son’s heart and the consequences if he were to go down the path of adultery. Here in chapter 7, Solomon turns his attention to the other side - the strategy of the adulteress. He doesn’t want his son to be naive about sexual temptation. No, rather, he wants to prepare him.
As I was reading verse 6, I was picturing in my mind King David’s palace. Remember, King David built the royal palace; his son, King Solomon built the temple. So, Solomon was living in the royal residence as he described looking out his window.
To give you a little sense of this, the palace was set on a hill in what was known as the City of David. It overlooked much of the region. From Solomon’s vantage point he could see the temple mount on the north. Perhaps at the time he wrote this, the temple was being built. He could see the Kidron valley on the east with various home lining either side up of the valley up to the Mount of Olives. On the west, he would see more buildings and homes as the landscape slowly rose to the base of mount Zion. On the south, more homes near a spring fed pool. He could see it all and he could observe the comings and goings of those in his kingdom.
And he says to his son, I see through the lattice of my window “a young man lacking sense.”
He goes where he should not go. He believes what he should not believe, and in the end, he is trapped by that which should not ensnare him.
Do you see Solmon’s strategy here? He’s giving his son a play-by-play analysis of their enemy. “Son, here are her tactics. Here’s what she will say and do, and there’s where she will lead you.”
It’s sort of like a coach showing film of the opposing team. He wants to prepare his team for the big game… so the coach walk them through play-by-play footage. He’ll show them their offensive strategy. He’ll rewind the play, analyze it from different angles. Do you see that offensive formation? 50% of the time their fullback runs left up the middle. Or do you see when the quarterback rolls right with his lead rusher running to the flats? Watch for the short pass. Defensive backs, don’t be caught off guard by fake handoffs like this.
Solomon is saying, see that young man on the film? Watch the play-by-play of how he falls into her trap. Don’t make the same mistakes as he does.
From verses 8 to 20, I count six temptations. Six. And so, let’s look at them one-by-one and analyze how they can be avoided.
The first temptation – verses 8-9. Solomon is saying, notice how this all begins. Let me read it. He’s “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.”
You see, he begins by putting himself in compromising situations. He’s tempting himself. He goes near her home at night. By the way, did you notice how this whole chapter has lots of references to locations and times? It’s a warning. You should ask yourself two questions: (1) Where am I? and (2) what time is it? In other words, are you putting yourself in tempting situations and at times when you’re susceptible to acting upon your lust? Not always, but often we’re most susceptible at night. Plus, there’s a metaphorical use of night in Scripture to represent darkness, secrecy, and the vulnerability of sin.
And the thing is, in this young man’s heart, he’s already committed adultery with her. He didn’t just randomly show up on her street at night. This is why I think chapter 6 is before chapter 7. If you are putting yourself in tempting situations, then you have to recognize that your lustful heart is already leading you down the path. Part of your response is to do those things we talked about earlier and last week. Reminding yourself of the Gospel of Christ. Replacing those heart desires with a desire for God and His word. Shoreing up your faith. And looking to God and all his glory.
On a more practical level, we should be surrounding ourselves with brothers and sisters in Christ. Seeking help from the community. And spending more time in prayer and in the Word. Those are all things that will help you avoid temptations and remain faithful to the call.
Ok, Solomon moves on to the next action in the film.
And let me say, temptations two through six focus on the enemy’s strategy. But be reminded, one of the enemies is your sin, my sin. We are fighting against tempters out there as well as temptations in here.
This next one is verses 10-12. Let me call this seductive enticement. It’s the attempt to lure you by appealing to your lust. Solomon is saying, “son, do you see what she’s doing? She’s dressing and acting in ways that are enticing to your sinful desires. She’s dressed like a “prostitute,” “wiley of heart,” She’s loud and she’s aggressive in all of this. And notice in verses 11 and 12, she’s everywhere. She’s flaunting herself in order to prey upon you.
We live in a highly sexualized culture. It’s everywhere and it’s in your face. Everyday shows, film, fashion, social media. Add to that, the porn industry is aggressive. And it’s especially targeting young men - click this, watch that.
Our response should be to see this temptation for what it is. It’s a perversion of truth and of true beauty. You see, God created the universe with amazing wonder and splendor. Part of the amazement of God’s creation is the beauty of sexuality. As we’ve talked about before, it’s a gift of God but one reserved for husband and wife in an intimate setting. But this beautiful gift has been perverted. Our culture desecrates it today by commodifying it and objectifying it. It’s seen as a pleasure to be enjoyed at anytime with anyone. Solomon is warning his son: Do not be caught up in the seductive enticement of sexual immorality. It’s full of promises that may sound good and may appeal to your desires, but which pervert the beauty and goodness of God. Be aware.
Next: Temptation 3. The false claim of piety – of appearing religious. Verses 13 and 14 say, “with bold face she says to him, ‘I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows.’” Solomon is pointing out that she’ll even use religious language to appear spiritual. She’ll try to alleviate any concerns you have about the morality of your intimacy. Or convince you that she’s added enough to the “good” side of the scale to offset the bad
Some have suggested that this is Canaanite language of temple prostitution. That’s possible. But I think whether it is or not, what she’s essentially saying is that according to her religion, she’s blameless and free to live out her sexuality.
Isn’t that the argument of the world today? Morality is flipped around. Holding exclusively to the Biblical patterns of marriage (which we talked about in chapter 5) is claimed to be oppressive. On the other hand, the cultural norm of sexual autonomy is claimed to be liberating. Right is wrong and wrong is right.
But something we’ve seen over and over in Proverbs is that true wisdom comes from God. True wisdom is not a wisdom we come up with in our hearts and minds, but one that is lived out in righteousness according to God’s commands. True religion, therefore, is one that conforms to God and his holiness.
One thing that we’ve been considering all along is how the wisdom of this book, Proverbs, is fulfilled in Christ. We see that here.
The adulteress says, “I had to offer sacrifices.” True religion says that none of our sacrifices make us righteous or holy. No, rather it’s the sacrifice of Christ for us that makes us righteous – not our righteousness but his.
The adulteress says, “today, I have paid my vows.” But there’s only one vow that makes one righteous in the kingdom of God: that is the vow of faith in Christ. And the result of our faith in Christ’s sacrifice is a life devoted to pleasing and honoring God. We seek to do that in our thoughts, our words, and deeds, which, of course, includes our sexuality.
Let me summarize temptation 3 this way: We’re tempted to conform our religion to our sexual desires, but true religion seeks to conform our sexual desires to God’s pattern of sexuality.
This next one, number 4, hits very close to home in our culture. It’s the appeal to “you.” The appeal to your desires and your pride and your vanity.
She says in verse 15, “so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you.”
Solomon says to his son, “do you hear how she’s enticing him? She’s going right to the heart of his sin.” His selfishness – His self-idolatry. One of the lies of sexual temptation is that you will be satisfied. You deserve the forbidden pleasure of the adulteress or whatever sexual desires. But that is the heart of lust. I covet. I want. I have to have it. Me, me, me.
I’ve mentioned this phrase before - philosophers call it “expressive individualism.” It’s our culture’s obsession with self-expression and fulfillment. In the area of sexuality, our culture places a huge emphasis on individual autonomy and individual identity and the pursuit of our desires, whatever those desires may be.
But beloved in Christ, your identity is in him. You are a new creation in him. You are a child of the king. Who you are is who God made you to be and your redemption in Christ. You are beautiful and beloved. And that understanding gives us a deep humility and deep gratitude for God’s grace in Christ. The tempter wants you to exalt yourself and make you think that you are what it’s all about – especially in the area of sexuality. But faith in Christ turns that upside down. It’s not about you. It’s about God and it’s about us together in him.
Temptation 5. This one is the lie that lust equals love. In this next play-by-play analysis, Solomon points out… “Do you see how she’s appealing directly to his heart adultery?” She says, ‘Come let’s have our fill of love ‘til morning,’ verse 18. On my bed are expensive Egyptian linens and perfumes… including cinnamon! Actually, I’m not sure I get the cinnamon thing. I like cinnamon in my hot chocolate or cinnamon sugar on my toast ... not sure about it as a fragrance! But apparently it was an exotic imported spice at the time.
Solomon was saying to his son, she will promise you love and intimacy, she will promise you everything but it is all empty and fleeting. There’s no commitment or promise. In fact, all that’s there is broken promises and commitments. In verse 19, we find out she’s actually married. So you see, it’s lies and false promises and broken commitments.
None of it, my son, is true love. True love denies oneself. It is patient and kind and committed. True love finds fulfillment in a faithful marriage covenant. It overlooks wrongs. It is not resentful. It rejoices in truth.
Everything about her words strikes at the heart of true love. We confuse true love for fleeting passions that have no lasting commitment. It’s coveting and lust outside of the bounds of what is good and right in the eyes of God.
And that brings us to the last temptation. #6. The temptation to deny the consequences. Verses 19 and 20. “For my husband is not at home; he’s gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home.”
In other words, you have nothing to worry about. No one will know. I promise to keep this a secret. This is just between you and me. Or in the case of pornography, it’s just me and the screen. It doesn’t hurt anyone, therefore, why not?
But this final lie rejects our faith in Christ in a couple of ways. For one, we believe in a God who knows and sees all! Nothing is hidden from his sight, including all our sin – our thoughts, words, and deeds. It’s believing a lie to think that no one knows or will know. God knows.
Second, it’s a sin against Christ, to whom we are united. If you are a believer in Christ, you have been grafted into him through the Holy Spirit. When you sin in the body, you are sinning against Christ.
We read from 1 Corinthians 6 earlier in the service. The apostle Paul’s language is pretty pointed. He writes, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!” He’s saying, all sin is sin against Christ, but especially sexual immorality. Why? Because we are joined to Christ. As he puts it, our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit. Let us glorify God in our bodies.
There are no secret sins nor sins without consequence. No, God knows and sees all.
Well, the game film has revealed a blowout game so far. And as the fourth quarter winds down, Solomon shows his son one last thing - The end of the game.
And it’s tragic. Every step of the way, the naive young man fell for the trap. She led him like the pied piper to his demise. As Solomon put it, like an ox to the slaughter. Or a stag in a trap. Or a bird in a snare. All of it, unsuspecting… and as he put it, “he does not know that it will cost him his life.”
It’s a grave warning.
Maybe in the back of your mind, you are asking, “why has Solomon, why has God through Solomon, spent so much time on adultery and sexual sin?”
A few years ago, I heard a pastor describe multiple conversations with young adults who had grown up in the church but who had walked away from their faith. Here’s the question he would ask them: “who are you sleeping with?” In every case it wasn’t an intellectual disagreement, it was the path they wanted to go down – this path.
You see, Solomon knows the temptations his sons will face. He knows the heart of man and he knows that of all the paths that lead away from the wisdom of God, it is this path, the path of sexual sins, which most often leads people away from truth and life. That’s why he concludes, “Let not your heart turn aside to her ways…” Why? He concludes, “Her house is the way to Sheol (the grave), going down to the chamber of death.” It is the path that leads to death.
Well, as we wrap up these personal and sensitive matters, I don’t want to leave you with such a downer. Instead, let me leave you with some encouraging reminders from these three chapters.
· First, there’s a better way. The pattern of marriage that God has established from creation is beautiful and it is one of commitment. It’s even the pattern that reflects the relationship that God has with his people, the church.
· Second, the forgiveness and love of God in Christ is for any and all sin. That, of course, includes this personal area in life. Speaking of “going down to the chamber of death” Jesus is the one who has taken that path for you. Our God redeems and restores when we come to him by faith.
· Third, he gives us new hearts. In him and through his Spirit, we can fill our hearts and minds with the Gospel instead of our lustful desires. As we consider God in all his glory and grace, he’s at work sanctifying us… as we look to him.
· And last, we have one another to help us through our struggles and temptations. Together, we can build each other up, remind one another of these truths, and walk side by side on our journey of faith.
May God call to mind all these things as we walk the path of wisdom in our sexuality. Amen.