One of the difficult problems that we must face is the temptation of sexual sins. The Proverbs are filled with instructions about why one should avoid sexual sins and what one can do to avoid falling into the trap. As we read the proverbs concerning sexual sins, many translations speak of the woman as the “adulteress” or the “adulteress woman.” I don’t want that translation to cause you to think that we are only talking about adultery because the Hebrew word simply means “strange.” The KJV and ASV in fact translate this person as “strange woman.” This translation, of course, has its own difficulties because the word “strange” does not indicate how she is strange. When Solomon tells his son to be on guard against the strange woman, what he means is a woman that is not his spouse. In that sense, this woman is a foreign woman, in that she is not his woman as a spouse. Therefore, Solomon is not simply discussing the problem of adultery, though the sin of adultery is included. Rather, Solomon is dealing with all sexual immorality. Solomon is instructing his son concerning any dealing sexual with another woman who is not his spouse. In this lesson I will use the HCSB and the ESV translations because they read “the forbidden woman,” which communicates the idea of the attraction to the woman who is not one’s wife.
The Snare of Sexual Sins
Solomon begins by telling his son that he understands that the lips of the forbidden woman are enticing. “For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil” (5:3). She will speak words of flattery that will catch your attention. This is the first aspect of the temptation that all men and women must beware. Someone will pay you a complement and offer some flattering words and it really catches your attention.
Not only will her words catch your attention, but she will be pleasing to the eye. “Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes” (6:25). Be warned: the forbidden woman is going to do things to attempt to draw attention to their physical beauty. These are useful descriptions that we must recognize to be the truth about sexual sin. Sexual sins will appeal to our desires and we ought not suggest to one another for a moment that sexual sin is not attractive. If this immorality was not attractive, people would not be engaging in these sins. So Solomon is teaching his son that the pull of sexual immorality will be strong. In fact, the temptation can be very strong.
“Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love. For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home.” With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him” (Proverbs 7:18-21). Another enticement is the seduction that a person will not be caught. No one is going to know about this. Fill up on your sexual desires because you can do these things in secret. Every sexual temptation speaks these words leading us to believe that we will be able to get away with what we are doing and no one will know.
Transition: Solomon points out the attractiveness of sexual sins. Now he is going to give some warnings concerning these sins, consequences for committing sexual sins, and then offer ways to avoid sexual sins.
General Warnings Concerning Sexual Sins
1. The end result is bitter (5:4-6). “Though the lips of the forbidden woman drip honey and her words area smoother than oil, in the end she’s as bitter as wormwood and as sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps head straight for Sheol. She doesn’t consider the path of life; she doesn’t know that her ways are unstable” (Proverbs 5:3-6).
Solomon says that everything sounds great when the sexual temptation arises. But “she doesn’t consider the path of life.” Meaning, no one is thinking about the end results of sexual sin. The movies glorify fornication and adultery. Yet no one depicts the bitterness that is caused from engaging in sexual sins. You will fill your life full of regret and sorrow. With adultery, no one is thinking about dealing with the consequences of going home to spouse and children. With fornication, no one is thinking about pregnancy and disease. No one is thinking about the emotional damage that comes from unlawful sexual relations. And, certainly no one is thinking about the impact of these actions on their relationship with God. “Her steps head straight for Sheol.”
2. You are going to hurt yourself (6:27-29). “Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished” (6:27-29).
These are great rhetorical questions that Solomon asks his son. Of course a person would be absolutely insane to think that one can carry fire next to his chest and not be burned or walk on hot coals and not be scorched. Why would we think that we can engage in sexual sins and not pay the consequences? It is the same foolishness as thinking that you can carry fire without being hurt. “He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it will destroy himself” (Proverbs 6:32).
3. The young are more susceptible to sexual temptations (7:6-10). “For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness. And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.”
Particularly vulnerable to the seductive woman are young men. Satan has targets on their heads to use sexual temptations to draw them away from the Lord. We need to be aware of this and be people who encourage each other to maintain purity and to instruct them in what we found success and failures so they can succeed against these traps. We cannot throw our young into the world unprepared for the onslaught they will endure.
Specific Consequences From Sexual Sins
1. Destruction of reputation (6:33). “Wounds and dishonor will he get, and his disgrace will not be wiped away.” Any reputation and respect that one has built for oneself will be immediately wiped out and not be regained when we commit sexual sins.
2. Loss of wealth (5:10). “Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your best strength to others and your years to one who is cruel, lest strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich another man’s house” (5:8-10). This is an interesting insight by Solomon. He tells his son that if he engages in sexual sins, all of his labor, toil, and wealth will simply go to another person. This is true in many ways, from the cost of divorce because of our sinful acts, to the dividing of possessions, to alimony and child support.
3. Destruction of self (6:32). In these three chapters Solomon repeatedly tells his son that you are simply destroying yourself when you engage in sexual sins. “He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself” (6:32). “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” (5:13-14). Further, the spiritual damage is so great it cannot be calculated. “The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him and he is held fast in the cords of sin. He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray” (5:22-23). Solomon is suggesting that one’s soul is nearly unrecoverable after committing sexual sins. It is also the destruction of the life we had planned to lead. “With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life” (7:21-23). These acts will forever change your life in ways that you cannot imagine. Sexual sins seem innocent and harmless but your life will change for the worse.
Preventing Sexual Sins
1. Do not put yourself in tempting circumstances (7:6-9). My father always told me that nothing good ever happens after midnight. Well, he got that saying from the Proverbs. In Proverbs 7:6-9 Solomon says that he looks through the window and sees the young men putting themselves in situations where they will be tempted to commit sin. In verse 9 we see that it is during the time of night and darkness. What is this young man doing wandering the streets in the middle of the night? You will find nothing but trouble. Good rules that Solomon expresses to his son:
Rule 1: Never be alone with a person of the opposite gender. Does not matter if the person is a Christian or not, it is simply unwise to be alone with another. I do not go to bible studies with people of the opposite gender without someone going with me. Preachers fall to temptation by not keeping to this very important rule.
Rule 2: If it cannot be helped and you are alone with another, be in broad daylight in public places. In Proverbs 7 we see the folly of this person going into this woman’s house alone in the night. My father told me when I was in school if I ever came home with a date and for some reason they were not there, do not go in the house. Go to a public place, or, at the very least, sit on the curb until they return.
Rule 3: Remain accountable: Why is this young man taking the road next to her house (7:8)? He does not want to be seen and does not want anyone to know what he is doing. We need to be openly accountable to each other, if we are not married, and openly accountable to our spouse if we are married. Young people, there is no reason for your parents to not know where you are. This accountability protects from this danger. Married people, there is no reason why your spouse should not know where you are and be able to get in touch with you at anytime. This is accountability that maintains trust and protects us from danger. We all need this kind of accountability to fight sexual temptations.
2. Run away! (5:8). Joseph is an excellent example of simply running away from a tempting situation. We cannot allow ourselves to try to hold the fire close to our chests. We would like to think that we are strong enough to endure any such temptation. But why put ourselves to the test? Further, as my father said to me, it is not that I do not trust you but I do not trust others. This is true. Just because your intentions are pure and honorable does not mean that other people’s intentions are the same. Thus, Solomon says: “Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house” (5:8).
3. Sexual desires are to be fulfilled in marriage (5:15-20). “Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?” I believe the point here is very straightforward with this graphic language. Sexual desires are to be reserved for marriage and fulfilled by the spouse. When we are not consciously working to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of our spouse, then we will be open to temptation from the forbidden woman. To ignore the needs of our spouse is a recipe for disaster. If you are not married, then you are commanded by God to exercise self-control until marriage. We do not want to talk about these things but the Bible is very explicit in these commands (also read 1 Corinthians 7).
We cannot allow ourselves to be deceived by sexual temptations. We must think about the overwhelming consequences from sexual immorality. The married destroy themselves, the children’s lives, their spouse’s trust, and cause great amounts of emotional pain. It is so strong that God said that is severs the marriage relationship. The unmarried hurt themselves, lose their reputation, and cause dramatic changes in their lives and greatly destroy their relationship with God.