Reid Ferguson

Proverbs: Warnings Against Unfaithfulness (III)

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

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[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 5″]

1 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.
3 For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil,
4 but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two- edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps follow the path to Sheol;
6 she does not ponder the path of life;
her ways wander, and she does not know it.
7 And now, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
8 Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
9 lest you give your honor to others
and your years to the merciless,
10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
11 and at the end of your life you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
12 and you say, “How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
14 I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.”
15 Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
16 Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
17 Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.
20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
21 For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord,
and he ponders all his paths.
22 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
23 He dies for lack of discipline,
and because of his great folly he is led astray
(Proverbs 5:1-23 ESV)

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 Solomon does not sugar coat harsh realities.

Proverbs 5:3–6 “For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, 4 but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. 5 Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; 6 she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.”

 

We have noted that Proverbs uses the imagery of the “forbidden woman” as a type of all temptation to sin. The picture is especially poignant for a young man, but we do not want to lose the impact of it for both men and women in all sorts of temptation. The idea is, that it is alluring and appeals to the natural appetites, but contains the element of drawing us toward what is not rightfully ours.

The 6th verse contains a massively important insight.  Temptation always includes this element of failure to consider the end of what it is proposing.

The first part of that diversion is found in that It offers “an” end – some pleasure, some satisfaction, to supply something which we imagine is missing and “ought” to be ours – but not THE end. It obscures, distracts us from seeing the ultimate end of succumbing – death.

Here is why the appeals of sin and temptation have such an apparent sincerity to their claims – they are deceived themselves. The arguments they use are plausible and seemingly filled with good will. But the deception of blindness is there. And we must bring the Light to it to understand. We must bring Christ into the situation. We must ask: How does what we are contemplating accord with Who He is and what He is about in the world? This is the question which must ever be in our hearts and minds.

We must also ask – as Believers – How does what we are contemplating accord with who WE are IN Christ? With how our mission as His ambassadors in the world fits with this act, or attitude, or pursuit?

This theme of considering what is fitting given who Christ is and who we are in Him is found throughout Scripture – and it brings us back to think about ultimate ends versus immediate ends. If I have planned a trip to California as a final destination where my family is and my job is and all the things I truly love are, but someone has said if I go to New York City I will be really happy for a day – I have to ask myself, can going east get me west? No. Obviously not.

Can any sin move me closer to Heaven? No.
Can any sin move me closer to the image of Christ? No.
Can any temporary pleasure which will be immediately followed with days or even years of guilt, shame, regret and the ruinous impact on other’s lives if not my own really be worth it? No! And yet that is the very decision we often make. No wonder one old wag said that “sin is the divorce of reason from the will.” In it, we will what is in the final analysis unreasonable.

So the Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5:2–3

“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.”

We don’t want to overstate this, but more important than asking “does the Bible say this is sin or that is OK?” is asking – how does this fit with who I am as God’s image-bearer? Is it “proper” among the saints? Does it fit? Will it take me where I am supposed to be going?

~ Reid

Next week: Chapter Six

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Reid Ferguson

Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.

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