The chapter divisions of the Bible are useful for reference, but in this case, the author is continuing to make his case against sexual sin which he began in chapter 5 (the writer did not know we would add chapter divisions for ease of reference). My morning devotions took me through 6-7 and there’s plenty of warnings here to reflect on. That’s what I want to focus on this morning.
This section contains stark, very practical, but also spiritual warnings against adultery. At one point the teacher illustrates his point with an aimless, reckless young man who puts himself in the path of a seductive woman who invites him to “come, take our fill of love till morning.”
Obviously the teacher/father here takes adultery very seriously. He devotes a lot of attention to it and often zooms in on it at length. All the other moral failures are given their due attention, but notice the length at which he warns about adultery.
I think the young man illustrated in chapter 7 is an example of someone aimless, someone crooked, someone who does not seek to do what is right. His heart is perverted and crooked, and therefore he is not afraid of committing this sin. There are no warning bells when he passes along the street near the corner of the seductive woman’s house. There is no sense of moral danger. He doesn’t care.
Now for the warning themselves:
in a moment he will be broken beyond healing
He who commits adultery lacks sense;
he who does it destroys himself.
He will get wounds and dishonour,
and his disgrace will not be wiped out.
Unfortunately we live in a permissive morally laissez-faire culture that doesn’t recognize the cost of sexual sin and the consequences of moral failure. So sometimes there’s no social or community “consequence” to your sin (unless you’re a Christian who belongs to a solid church). But that’s not entirely true. Even in our lax moral atmosphere, most people despise adultery. The writer actually means “wounds and dishonour” and social “disgrace.” But there’s also the personal spiritual cost: you destroy yourself. You also help destroy another person; those with whom you mess around.
with much seductive speech she persuades him;
with her smooth talk she compels him.
All at once he follows her,
as an ox goes to the slaughter,
or as a stag is caught fast
till an arrow pierces its liver;
as a bird rushes into a snare;
he does not know that it will cost him his life.
Let not your heart turn aside to her ways;
do not stray into her paths,
for many a victim has she laid low,
and all her slain are a mighty throng.
Her house is the way to Sheol,
going down to the chambers of death.
How to do battle?
The fight begins now. You cannot wait until you find yourself walking down that dark alley looking for “God-knows-what”… The father reminds his son to arm himself with the Word of God and puts it this way:
For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light,
and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,
to preserve you from the evil woman,
from the smooth tongue of the adulteress.
In other words, walk with God. Walk in the fear of God. Walk in accountability. Allow yourself to be reproved not merely privately, but publicly. Are you part of a “real” church, a community devoted to Christ and to His Word? Will someone warn you? Have you submitted to the kind of authority that will discipline and reprove you?
They say the best kind of defence is a good offence. Very true. Arm yourself with truth. You’ve got the Bible. You’ve got incredible resources (I’m not talking about cheesy self-help, but gospel-centered counsel on how to live a pure life for the Lord.)
If you want to keep away from the seductive “voice” of sexual sin, whether that’s an actual person, or the seductive lure of pornography (also an actual person!), consider this: keep God’s word, bind it, treasure it and you’ve got the best armour to ward off the smooth words of sexual sin.
My son, keep my words
and treasure up my commandments with you;
keep my commandments and live;
keep my teaching as the apple of your eye;
bind them on your fingers;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
and call insight your intimate friend,
to keep you from the forbidden woman,
from the adulteress with her smooth words.
If you keep God’s Word, it will keep you. Better yet, He will keep you.