I can’t begin to tell you how instrumental this 5th proverb has been in my 17 years of pastoral ministry. One of the very real temptations of our flesh is lust for the things God created instead of honor for these things. Our selfish flesh wants to consume and have what it selfishly wants, many times with no regard for what or who it hurts or betrays. We are flooded with imagery and constant temptation to adulterate our eyes or body. God’s word tells us to “FLEE from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18) for its consequences are greater than any other to the body God has given us. Whether you are a man or a woman, everyone is susceptible to the lust of the eyes and/or sexual immorality with our bodies. We must arm ourselves with right thinking and daily godly practices that keep us from these temptations. This week’s proverb goes straight to the heart of this fight. I pray you are not just hearers, but doers after reading today’s study. Do whatever is needed to make war with any sin you are caught up in or susceptible to. The name of Jesus, the purity of our minds and souls, the protection of our marriages and families is all on the line.
Proverbs 5:1-2 My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding,
2 that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge.
Here, Solomon is driving home the need to be attentive to the counsel he is about to give. Lean in, son! Don’t miss this. You will surely need this.
The topic is brought forth in verse 3. “For the lips of a forbidden woman”. What I have come to see in practical life is that the “lips of a forbidden woman” here can be any sexual temptation that is outside of God’s will for your life. It could be any person who is not your spouse (this applies to single people too). If they are not your spouse, then you have no business engaging the temptation before you. It also can be any image or scene in a movie, or picture, or person walking by. It can surely be pornography. I have sat with many men and women over the years in pastoral counsel to look to this proverb as a great help in their need to wage war on addiction to porn. So, as you read the rest of this counsel consider that “the lips of a forbidden woman” can be any of these sexual immoral things you may struggle with.
Solomon goes on to clarify how seductive sexually immoral things are. They “drip honey” & “her speech is smoother than oil”.
In that culture, honey was the sweetest thing you could enjoy so it was very desirable. One who is smooth in speech is also very seductive and enticing. He is saying be alert and aware how entrapping her presentation is.
In verse 4 & 5, we are given insight into the reality of what she actually brings, “but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol;”.
This is no casual consequence. The division that a two-edged sword brings is very real. The road she takes you to is death and suffering. This is the con of all cons. You think you are getting pleasure and comfort, but you are really getting bitterness, breakdown in life, and consequences that lead to death and great suffering.
In verses 7 & 8 he says listen up again.
“And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house”. LISTEN TO ME… do not depart from this counsel or it will wreck your life. Stay far away from such temptation. Do not allow it near. Do not wander into places where this kind of temptation resides. This gets very practical for us.
What conversations are you having or relationships are you flirting with that are set in a foundation of innocent intentions but are really on the door step of great blunder? He says stay away. To practice this in life and ministry I have found that we should not engage the opposite sex in any unaccountable space. I don’t care how long you have known them or how much they love the Lord. One on one time together, phone calls, text or email messages can all have the greatest intentions and might practically be helpful, but are often the doorway to greater intimacy to be formed. It is worth it to take steps to keep these kinds of interactions in accountable space where others can see and keep accountability really happening.
Another application of this is where is sexual immorality accessible? Do you have cable in your home, internet access on your computer or phone where sexual temptation is present and a click away? In order to stay far away, as the counsel is given, it can be wise to remove such access. Block certain channels on your cable (let someone else set the code), have accountability software on your computer or phone whereby a trusted person can see what you are seeing. XXX Church and Covenant Eyes are both great resources for such software. I have many brothers who simply don’t have a personal computer or smart phone simply for the fact that they don’t want the temptress on their door step at all times. Now, you might be telling yourself, that would greatly affect my life to not have such access. I get it. But I would also ask, how much your life would be affected if you don’t take the steps to prevent sexual immorality from manifesting itself in your life and marriage? That is the point of Solomon’s next words.
In verses 9-11, he says, “lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless, lest strangers take their fill of your strength, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner, and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed”. He is saying here, that the consequence of the fall out that comes with this kind of sinful engagement will steal your life away. To give your honor and respect to others opens the door for them to:
-“take your strength” – this is what addiction does to your life. You lose your ability to say no. You become weak and at the mercy of the master you have succumb to.
-“ your labors go to the house of a foreigner”- this is the sad reality of marriages that fall apart and families that are destroyed as a result of addiction or adultery. All you have worked for in life is stripped away.
In verse 12 & 13, the reality of the fallout is finally understood. The problem is that it is too late. The destruction has happened and the consequences have taken their toll. The listener is remorseful as he says, “How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors.”
This is the gift of good counsel ahead of time. Hopefully, you don’t have to be the one who says, “WHY DIDN’T I LISTEN? WHY DID I MAKE EXCUSES AND DO WHAT I WANTED?” This is the gift of this proverb. Hopefully, you take it seriously! Even if you are already engaging in forbidden things. STOP. REPENT NOW. Before you delve in deeper. Humble yourself to ask for accountability from a brother who is close to you and can walk with you. Don’t wait until it’s too late and be the one saying, “Why didn’t I listen to godly counsel when I could?”
In verses 18-20, Solomon turns to bring encouragement to enjoy the provisions God has given in marriage. Marriage is worth investing in. Even if you have come to a dry place in your marriage, it is worth whatever it takes to reboot your intimacy and enjoy what God has given as good and right.
The holy Lord of glory is our audience in all things!
Finally, in verse 21, Solomon reminds us to never forget that God is always with us and everything we do is before his eyes.
“For a man's ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths.” Let us look to honor Him above all else in these things when alone or just in our own thoughts. God is with us and we are to honor him in even the most private moments of this life. He is worthy of our praise and fight for righteous living.
I am praying for you as you fight this fight. It must be fought. Sin must be overcome. Bring what is in the dark into the light. Get the accountably that is needed to overcome these things. God is able to restore and heal and sanctify. Trust in him. Listen to his word and let us glorify him with the days he entrust to us under the sun.