This sermon was preached at Peace Hill Christian Fellowship on May 23rd, 2004. There is no audio available for this sermon.
PROVERBS 5 — INSTRUCTION FOR A WANDERING HEART
DO NOT LET YOUR HEART WANDER THOUGHTLESSLY INTO DANGER.
Pay Attention: My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. Note that, again, this set of proverbs begins with this call to attention. This time, the Father is calling the son to pay attention to a danger in the path. We live in a world that loves and displays immorality, that twists sexuality into a game that is played on reality shows, into a lure to advertise everything from soap to cars, into a conquest that to show our own beauty, into a service or entertainment to be paid for. In fact, sexuality is one of the controlling passions of our culture.
We cannot afford to be thoughtless, to be unaware of the dangers, or to presume to be above the dangers of temptation and passion. This passage speaks of the adulteress, but the wise man will recognize that, in our day, the adulteress comes in many forms. She presents herself on tv, on the magazine racks of supermarkets and bookstores, in novels, in the inappropriate dress of immodest women, on the internet, in fact, almost anywhere we can go, the temptation and seductions of the adulteress are present.
My goal this morning, for men, is obvious: I want to warn you against that which will damage your marriages, which can become an addiction and a trap – whether you are single or married. Women, I want you to be aware of the pressures that men face, of the dangers and temptations, and to encourage you not to become part of that temptation through the way you dress or behave. Married couples, there are some things here about how to practice watchful, disciplined marriage.
That Which Seems Smooth and Sweet Turns to Poison and Devours: “For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.” The speech, the look, the message of the adulteress is not grating. Note that this is where the warning begins. The adulteress does not approach us in a form that we will instantly reject – her lips drip honey – something that is sweet, but which, if dabbled with, sticks to you. We do not think of ourselves as being susceptible to the charms of an adulteress, because we know how wrong that is. But the adulteress is smoother than we know.
Adultery does not begin with the act of sexual unfaithfulness, the adulteress begins with words – subtly (like Satan did in the Garden). Words like, “Your wife, or husband, doesn’t really understand you” – or – “Your wife, or husband doesn’t really meet your needs.” Adultery begins in our attitudes and thoughts long before it begins in our actions. Our whole culture feeds the notion that men are simplistic morons running around feeding their appetites – that women are dispassionate control freaks, bent on enslaving men. These attitudes are the voice of the adulteress.
Her Thoughtless Path Leads Deceptively to Destruction: “Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths are crooked, but she knows it not.
As we unthinkingly accept the message that marriage is unfulfilling, that faithfulness is boring, that our spouse is not capable of fulfilling or understanding us, and that such unfaithful thoughts are natural – that we begin to follow the steps of the adulteress. Long before we succumb to illicit passions, these thoughts lead to death and distance in our marriages. Men are prone to seek excitement – women to seek other companionship and emotional fulfillment. Please believe that such attitudes are a path – a path that will lead elsewhere – down to death. And many a young man who never intended to be ensnared has become addicted to pornography. Many a young woman, or married woman, who never intended to, has been seduced. The adulteress pays not thought to her attitudes and ways – but the wise son and daughter must pay attention.
THE PATH OF A WANDERING HEART LEADS TO RUIN.
Strength is Spent for Nothing: “Now then, my sons…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.” Human beings have a limited capacity for passion. God has given us gifts and abilities and interests on which to spend our passions to his glory. But the man who thoughtlessly wanders into the ways of the adulteress, spends his energy and strength (increasingly) in the pursuit of lust – a pursuit which gives no return except shame and enslavement, which becomes a cruel slave driver. The pornography and entertainment industries, prostitutes, and others who make money off of sexual entertainment, pull in millions of dollars every day, from those who have become enslaved to sex.
Life Ends in Groaning and Deep Regret: “At the end of your life you will groan when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, “How I hated discipline!” The Lie of the adulteress is that she is a passing pleasure, a temporary and non-binding allurement. However, the man who follows her path finds that his appetite increases, rather than being filled. At the end of his life he can see what he has done, but he cannot get free of the path he has taken. His strength has been spent on nothing but lust and he groans at the emptiness of what he has done.
Particularly for those who are enslaved and who do not turn from their enslavement to the adulteress, there is guilt. Satan will numb us to the conviction and guilt of sin up front, only to accuse us and keep our souls in a sad, mournful and doubting state later. His lie will be that presumptuous sins cannot be forgiven, and it is a powerful lie.
Ultimately Unfaithfulness is Exposed: “ I have come to the brink of utter ruin in the midst of the whole assembly.” Not only is the life of unfaithfulness spent on nothing, not only does it end in deep regret, but also it comes to be exposed. Whether the adulterer is dragged into court by the offended husband, or whether the offense has come to be known in the whole community, unfaithfulness does not stay hidden – but comes to light.
BE DISCIPLINED AND ENJOY THE BLESSINGS OF FAITHFUL MARRIAGE.
Faithful Marriage Refreshes the Soul: “Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers.” The marriage relationship and intimacy between man and wife, was intended by God to bring streams of refreshment to the soul – to revitalize our spirits and to invigorate our lives. As opposed to the oil or honey of the prostitute that turns to sour poison in the stomach, the lovemaking of the husband and wife is like sweet water – a spring of water – (one of the well-springs that the Father had in mind to feed the heart in Prov.4:23), that refreshes the soul.
This is because the sexual relationship between husband and wife both reflects and feeds their closeness in the rest of the home. It is the place where each partner is cherished, cared for, understood, accepted and fully embraced. No other act between two people has such potential to reflect such openness and acceptance – nor such rejection and selfishness. Consequently sexual relations must be guarded, practiced thoughtfully in order to restore and rebuild and refresh, rather than to tear down or alienate. Nor should the sexual relationship be wasted in the streets with others.
~ Rejoice in Your Wife: “May your fountain be blessed and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.”
The husband and the wife should rejoice in one another. Note that this is a command – not something that happens automatically. To rejoice means to take joy in – to enjoy. The discipline of enjoying one another in marriage guards the man and the woman from a wandering heart, unfed by intimacy.
Be Satisfied with Your Wife’s Body: “may her breasts satisfy you always…” Satisfaction with the wife’s body is a protection for the husband (to keep his eyes from looking elsewhere) and for the wife, who needs her husband to desire her. This also is an issue of faithfulness. Dissatisfaction with one’s wife is the fruit of comparison – it is unfaithful on the part of the husband.
Be Captivated by Your Wife: “…may you ever be captivated by her love.” The husband is to be captivated, (Lit. carried away), by the love of his wife. Husband and wife are commanded to give themselves over fully to one another in love – without reservation.
Faithful Marriage Reflects Our Relationship to Christ: Not only are these disciplines a protection, a well-spring for both husband and wife, but they also become a picture of the love and passion of Christ for his people. Christ rejoices over the salvation of his people from sin and death. Christ has made satisfaction, so that the Father is satisfied and content towards us – accepting us as we are – seeing us in the beauty and righteousness of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is captivated by our worship – he fills it and translates it and makes it alive and acceptable.
To experience the complete love and acceptance of marriage, is to anticipate and foreshadow the love of God for us as the bride of Christ at the wedding feast of the Lamb. We will be loved and embraced and accepted beyond what any marriage is able to reflect.
BEWARE OF THOUGHTLESS WANDERING THAT LEADS TO DESTRUCTION.
God Will Judge the Wandering, Unfaithful Heart: “For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all his paths.” We may be prone to being thoughtless, but God sees and examines the ways and the heart of all men. The Father calls us to recognize that our wandering is not hidden from God. We are to guard our hearts because the Holy God is watching, examining, and calling us to repentance.
Sin Will Trap the Wandering, Unfaithful Heart: “The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.” Finally, we are to beware of wandering because it is a trap. Thoughtless wandering leads to entangling sin. Lack of discipline leads to death and destruction. A little folly leads us down the wrong path and astray. Be awake! Be watchful..
Those who have fallen into sin and folly, whose marriages have suffered damage, whose hearts have become ensnared, come to the cross this morning. Bring that burden of sin, that entanglement to the Lord. Find forgiveness and grace to turn from the ways of the adulteress.