************ Sermon on Proverbs 6:20-36 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on October 9, 2016

Proverbs 5, 6:20-7:27
Proverbs 6:20-36
"Wisdom Warns Against Adultery"

Proverbs sure has a lot to say about adultery -- the better part of three chapters are devoted to this subject. I suspect that if Proverbs was written today, Solomon would devote five or six chapters instead. I have a couple of reasons for saying this. First, the media bombards us today with sexually oriented material. Second, the opportunity to commit adultery today is limitless. Third, we live in a culture that accommodates itself to adultery. And fourth, we have the internet and online dating services that actually encourage adultery.

Make no mistake about this: we are at war today against lust. We battle for purity from the moment we open our eyes in the morning until we turn out the light at night. The opportunity to stumble morally arises every time we turn on the TV, sit down at the computer, or open a magazine. The battleground is our mind, and the stakes could not be higher.

Solomon is speaking from experience. He is older and has learned a thing or two. Having 700 wives and 300 concubines, he knew all about lust. He also learned from David, his father. David, if you remember, had suffered the consequences of yielding to adultery many years earlier. Although David's adultery happened before Solomon's birth, this sin and its consequences hung like a big shadow over the entire family -- including Solomon.

I The Word and the Gospel
A Solomon's grounds what he says in the Word of God. Listen to what he says in verse 23:
(Prov 6:23) For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life ...
When we hear "lamp" and "light" we all should think immediately of Psalm 119:105 which says "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." God's perfect and Holy Word is always the place to find one's standard of behavior. Not the media. Not public opinion. Not other people's opinions. Not self-help books. Not culture. Not even our own conscience. The "lamp" of God's Word and the "light" of His teaching provide us with unfailing direction and correction.

B We can ask why God's Word concerns itself with adultery and sexuality? Because romance comes from God. Because romance reveals something of Who God is. The message of the Gospel is that God loves us. God loves us not with a brotherly love but with a romantic love. God's love for us is not chilly indifference but hot passion.

Marriage and romance mirror the love of Christ for His church. He is the bridegroom, she is the bride. He sacrifices for her. He prepares a place for her. He protects her and watches over her. He gives her His heart and wins her love. God created the universe for the purpose of telling this love story.

II Plan for Purity
A Do you remember the talk? When dad talked to you as boys and mom talked to you as girls about romance and marriage; I hope today's parents have the talk with their teenagers. In our Bible reading we hear Solomon having the talk with his sons:
(Prov 6:20) My son, keep your father's commands and do not forsake your mother's teaching.
We hear the same kind of language in Proverbs 5:
(Prov 5:1) My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight,
"My son," says Solomon, "it's time we had a talk." And Solomon proceeds to talk about sexual temptation.

This wise father is saying to his son, "You're walking and living in a world of sexual immorality. So, you are going to face sexual temptation." Chapter 5 compares adultery to honey. Honey, as you know, is sweet. Honey looks attractive. And it tastes attractive. "Likewise," says Solomon, "you will be tempted by adultery."

Why is God our Father having this talk with us today? Because we too are vulnerable. Do not think for a moment, my brothers and sisters, that you are above sexual folly. Do not think you are above the enticements of the world. Do not think you cannot be enslaved by the porn industry. Do not think you are too strong to fall!

So what does Solomon teach us as we face the lure of a lustful lifestyle? Solomon offers three specific guidelines to avoid the sexual immorality of the world. Solomon offer us his plan for purity; because Proverbs is the inspired Word of God, we know it is God's plan for purity. Now, Solomon originally wrote these guidelines for his son, so he pictures temptation as a woman. But we know temptation doesn't discriminate; it afflicts men and women alike.

B Guideline one: keep away from temptation. Verse 24 mentions "keeping you from the immoral woman." Chapter 5 says the same thing:
(Prov 5:8) Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house ...
This is so simple and so basic: Keep away from temptation. Keep away from pornography. Keep away from prostitutes. Keep away from the person who wants an affair. Don't tell yourself that a little pornography won't hurt, that a little sex outside marriage is okay. Don't tell yourself you can get involved just a little. "Keep to a path far from her."

We need to physically distance ourselves from temptation. And, we need to spiritually distance ourselves from temptation as well. That's why Solomon mentions God's Word as a lamp and as a light (Prov 6:23). Let God's Word fill your mind instead of temptation.

C Guideline two: guard against the smooth tongue and seductive eyes that invites you in. Verse 24 mentions "the smooth tongue of the wayward wife." Chapter 7 puts it this way:
(Prov 7:21) With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk.
Chapter 5 is even more descriptive:
(Prov 5:3) For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil;
The tempter or temptress uses flattery. "You are so great, so handsome, so beautiful, so talented, so smart." Who doesn't like to hear words like these? Who can resist such a come-on?

Part of the flattery involves the eyes. "Do not let her captivate you with her eyes" says verse 24. A seductive man and woman knows how to signal desire with their eyes.

Beware the charming man who is not your husband or the attentive woman who is not your wife.

D The first two instructions for purity focus on the external: keep away from temptation, guard against the smooth tongue and seductive eyes. But Solomon knows there is also an internal component to temptation. Solomon knows that part of the problem of temptation lies deep within.

Solomon addresses the inner problem in verse 25. This is guideline three: "Do not lust in your heart after her beauty" (Prov 6:25). Solomon and his sons didn't have to look far for a couple of examples. He could have pointed to his father David who lusted after Bathsheba. He could have pointed to his half-brother Amnon who lusted after Tamar. "Do not lust in your heart after her beauty" (Prov 6:25).

Beauty and charm are hard to ignore. TV, movies, advertisements, dating sites, pornography, and romance novels train our minds to factor physical beauty into almost every decision. Attractive people convince us to buy certain products. The better-looking political candidate usually enjoys an advantage at the polls. Beautiful women stare alluringly from magazine covers, telling us what food we should eat. Even newscasters are beautiful or handsome.

We need to learn that beauty is only skin deep. We must train ourselves to look beyond the physical appearance. Our focus is not to be on outward beauty but on inner character: whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (cf Phil 4:8).

Keep away from temptation. Guard against the smooth tongue and seductive eyes. Do not lust after beauty. These words of wisdom are God's wisdom. God wants to be your ally against sexual sin. God wants to strengthen you and protect you against sexual folly. Will you listen to Him? Will you follow His wisdom?

III The Danger of Adultery
A As I said, Solomon compares adultery to honey. He tells us it starts off sweet but it ends up bitter. Listen to how he puts this in chapter 5:
(Prov 5:3-4) For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; (4) but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.
Don't be fooled. Adultery looks like honey and for a while might taste like honey but eventually it will turn bitter. A good example of this is what happened with Amnon and Tamar. This is not a pretty story; but, then, the Bible tells it like it is. Turn with me to 2 Samuel 13:
(2 Sam 13:1-15) In the course of time, Amnon son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David. (2) Amnon became frustrated to the point of illness on account of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her. (3) Now Amnon had a friend named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David's brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man. (4) He asked Amnon, "Why do you, the king's son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won't you tell me?" Amnon said to him, "I'm in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister." (5) "Go to bed and pretend to be ill," Jonadab said. "When your father comes to see you, say to him, 'I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.'" (6) So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, "I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so I may eat from her hand." (7) David sent word to Tamar at the palace: "Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him." (8) So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it. (9) Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat. "Send everyone out of here," Amnon said. So everyone left him. (10) Then Amnon said to Tamar, "Bring the food here into my bedroom so I may eat from your hand." And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. (11) But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, "Come to bed with me, my sister." (12) "Don't, my brother!" she said to him. "Don't force me. Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don't do this wicked thing. (13) What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you." (14) But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her. [NOW, TAKE NOTE OF WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.] (15) Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, "Get up and get out!"
Honey turned to bitterness. That's what we see.

B We know that King David repented of his adultery and lust, received God's forgiveness and grace, and became Israel's greatest king until Jesus. But, as I already mentioned, the dark and devastating consequences of his lustful actions never left his home. Let me list the consequences of David's sin. First, his sons -- including Solomon -- followed in his footsteps, carrying on his legacy of sexual impurity. Second, was the death of David's first son by Bathsheba. Third, is the rape of Tamar. Fourth, is the death of Amnon. Fifth, Absalom had to flee from Israel and, at that point, was lost to his father. The one who yields to lustful temptations will suffer, and so will his or her children.

C Solomon, in Proverbs 6, has all of this in mind and more when he warns us of the consequences of sexual immorality:
(Prov 6:27-29) Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? (28) Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? (29) So is he who sleeps with another man's wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished.
Adultery, sexual folly, is compared to fire. People who play with fire will eventually get burned. Fire can only burn. I have never heard someone say to me, "Pastor, my adultery is the best thing I have ever done." Rather, there is always regret and shame and pain.

Proverbs 5 is just as bleak in describing the consequences of sexual folly:
(Prov 5:9-11) lest you give your best strength to others and your years to one who is cruel, (10) lest strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich another man's house. (11) At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent.
Proverbs 5 tells us that sexual folly depletes a man financially in cover-ups, alimony, and lawsuits; it depletes a man's reputation; it depletes a man's conscience; and, of course, it hurts his marriage. Do not think you can play with sin!

This is the truth about sexual sin. But is this the warning we hear from TV and the internet and movies and magazines? God is the only one Who levels with us. God is the only one Who is honest with us.

All of us are sexual sinners at some level. We all know the slavery of it, the shame that comes with it. Sin touches everything we are. None of us are perfect. None of us are strong. Statistics tells us that 85% of people today have premarital sex. About 25% of married people commit adultery. About half of all men and over a third of all women look at internet porn once a month. A tsunami of sexual destruction is slamming our culture today. Listen to what Proverbs says about this:
(Prov 6:32-33) But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself. (33) Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away;
Do you hear what Proverbs is saying? Proverbs is saying we are a nation of sexual fools.

We are a nation of sexual fools even though everyone can see how dumb and foolish and hurtful and destructive it can be. Why? What are we looking for? We are all looking for love. We all want to love and be loved.

There is only one true Friend for sexual fools. There is only one Who gives us the love we so desperately want and need. His name is Jesus. It is He Who washes you and cleanses you and forgives you. Run to Christ and be forgiven. Run to Christ and be loved. Run to Christ and be pure.
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