This week we continue our study of the illusion of sexual freedom.
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,
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,
And you say, “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.
I am at the brink of utter ruin
In the assembled congregation” (Prov 5:7-14, ESV).
Notice that the command to listen is repeated once again (Prov 5:7). Don’t let its familiarity cause you to hurry past it. Let it remind you of your need for help from outside yourself. Ask any recovering addict: You will not win this battle on your own.
Avoid immorality at all costs (Prov 5:8). Otherwise it will cause you to:
- Lose your best years (Prov 5:9). The springtime of life could be spent on serving the Lord and growing his kingdom. Don’t give that up.
- Squander your strength and the fruit of your labor (Prov 5:10). You’ll spend all your energy coping with your sin. Wouldn’t you rather have something else to look back on as your life’s work?
- Regret all the waste and its wreckage (Prov 5:11). The night before I graduated from college, a hall mate asked if I had any regrets. I looked back over those four years, and with full honesty said, “No.” I hadn’t done everything perfectly, but the Lord had given me rest in him and in his work in my life. That night, I committed to living the rest of my life with the end in mind. I don’t regret that choice one bit.
- Stagger from all of the guilt (Prov 5:12). You’ll finally identify the foolishness in your heart and the damaging behavior it led to. The weight of it will sink in.
- Cower beneath all the shame (Prov 5:13). You’ll realize the problem wasn’t that you didn’t have enough information, but that you didn’t have enough conviction.
- Despair at the public disgrace (Prov 5:14). You could be “that guy who ran off with the girl” back at your home church. I regret many indiscretions of my teen years. One particular incident came to light just before my high school graduation and crushed the respect a younger sister in Christ had for me. Her parting words – “How could you?” – remain etched in my memory.
I want to make two things very clear. First, we must not minimize the consequences of our sin. Consider: Is it worth it? Decide now, not when temptation happens. We also must not buffer others from the consequences of their sin. God saves sinners – I am foremost! – by breaking all their hope to pieces, leaving none but Jesus (Mat 21:42-44, Rom 7:7-12). Don’t hinder any work of God by boxing out the truth.
Second, if this passage has discouraged you, please remember Proverbs 4: There is always hope that we can grow. Solomon depicts the end of immorality on purpose. He does it so we might change course before the end arrives. If you’re reading Solomon, it’s not too late for you. Just do nothing, and you’ll ruin all. Fear the Lord, and anything can change.
Share your struggles with pastors or wise leaders. Ask them to help you figure out what you desire (since what we do is always a result of what we desire). Many people turn to sexual immorality out of a desire for control (when life feels out of control), escape (when things are difficult), or acceptance (when they feel rejected by those they care about most). Identify what God desires for you instead (that you know him and find long life, peace, pleasantness, etc.), and ask him to help you change. Then turn from your sinful desires and grasp new, godly desires. Once wisdom changes who you are, it will flow into everything you do.