Stay Far Away

May 27, 2018 Preacher: Luis A. Cardenas Series: Proverbs

Topic: English Passage: Proverbs 5:1-14

Sermon Text: PROVERBS 5:1-14

Proverbs was written by a dad who was hoping to instruct his son, and his future generations, in the way of the Lord. The theme of the book—which is stated in chapter 1, verse 7—is the fear of the Lord. And that phrase gets repeated throughout the book. The fear of the Lord is a life of reverence and obedience to God.

That’s a serious topic, but the tone of the book is not simply a list of prohibitions. This is not a dad intending to restrict or shame or condemn his son. This is a father who wants the best for his son. He wants him to be spared the consequences of sin. He wants him to be wise, not foolish—not stupid with his life. A life of disobedience toward is not only sinful, it is foolish. It brings disaster, both in this life, and ultimately, in eternity.

And so Proverbs give us a very comprehensive foundation for life. It discusses many, many aspects of a wise life—a life that honors God and invites His blessing. It’s not an easy life, but it will be a blessed life.

The first thing this dad wants to do in the book, is not teach a specific lesson, but get his son’s attention. That’s important. What good is it to give your child wisdom, if he’s not even listening, right?

So for the first four chapters of the book, the main goal is helping the son learn to learn. He needs to learn how to listen. How to pay attention. He needs to hear that wisdom has benefits and foolishness has consequences. These are not unimportant lessons. These are vital for a successful life. Son, don’t ignore my teachings. Hear me out. Embrace wisdom. Seek it out.

Well, once that foundation is laid, chapter 5 is the first more specific lesson we get, and it has to do with sex.

In one of my preaching classes in seminary, we were told that a good introduction will get people’s attention. Well, that’s easy to do today, because we’re talking about sex.

And at the outset, before we even get into this passage, I should say that one application from this passage is that you parents need to talk to your children about sex. And if you want to do that well, or rightly, then you want to follow the pattern of Scripture.

The first thing this father does, which we’ve already seen in Proverbs, is make sure he has his son’s attention. VERSES 1-2.

What you’ve got there is four synonyms for wisdom and righteousness. Wisdom, understanding, discretion, and knowledge. [sabiduría, inteligencia, consejo, ciencia]. That’s not just talking about intellectual knowledge. It’s talking about the application of God’s truth in your life. That’s what this dad wants his son to seek and listen to.

And then, verse 2, to protect and to guard it in his life. And to pass it on to others. It’s not just about keeping this knowledge for yourself; it’s about your lips safeguarding this truth and passing it on to the next generation. Every generation needs wisdom about sexuality.

And the wisdom here in chapter 5 really has two sides to it. On the negative side, there is the warning of immorality. And on the positive side, there is the encouragement to fidelity. Part one is: Avoid the allure of the forbidden woman. And part two is: be joyfully united with your wife.

For today, we’re going to be looking only at the first half. And we’ll look at the second half next week, Lord willing.

Part one is a warning against sexual immorality. And before I get much farther, I think it’s helpful for me to define it. What does immorality mean? What does it mean to be sexually immoral?

Well, there are many examples of immorality, but a broad answer is that sexual immorality is sexuality (or even the seeking of sexual satisfaction or intimacy) in any way outside of God’s design. It’s a generic term that can be used for any form of sexual sin, that is, sexual activity (in body or mind) outside of God’s design.

Well, that just begs the second question: What is God’s design for sexuality? That’s the important question. What is God’s design? The first answer to that question come in Genesis chapter 2, when God creates the woman.

We’ll probably talk more about this next week, but God brings her to the man, and there is a covenant between them. God unites them. And this sets the pattern for God’s design.

Genesis 2:24 says: Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. [el hombre dejará a su padre y a su madre y se unirá a su mujer, y serán una sola carne. Ambos estaban desnudos, el hombre y su mujer, pero no se avergonzaban]

That is God’s design: one man and one woman committed to one another in a covenant, with a promise. That is a one-flesh union. And part of that unity includes the mutual satisfaction of sexual intimacy. That’s the divine context for sexual intimacy. That’s the purpose: to unite a man and his wife. To bring them together physically and spiritually.

You have to understand this: sex is a subcategory of marriage. It’s not supposed to exist in a category all by itself.

It’s like a wedding cake. You only have a wedding cake because you have a wedding, right? Otherwise, it’s just a cake. You can’t rip that out of context and say: “I baked a beautiful wedding cake today for my family.” Someone will ask: “Oh, who’s getting married?” Because that’s what a wedding cake is for.

To continue the analogy a little bit, some people have like the tradition of freezing the top layer of a wedding cake and then enjoying it on their one-year anniversary. My wife and I didn’t care about that. But let’s say we did. Let’s say there was a special piece of cake in our freezer that we agreed we were saving to eat together.

Would it be wrong for me to invite someone else over and eat the cake with them? Yes! It would. It’s a breach of trust. That cake was specially for me and my wife! What if I didn’t invite anybody over? What if I just ate it all by myself without my wife? Would that be wrong too? Yes, it would. Because that purpose of that cake was to be something special between me and my wife. Do you get that?

In the same way, the purpose of sexual intimacy is to unite a husband and wife. Sex is not intended to exist all by itself outside the context of marriage. But that’s exactly what the culture has done to it. Satan and the culture have ripped it out of its context and out of God’s design. And once you do that, you actually don’t really have sex, you have a cheap imitation.

If you’ve ever read through Leviticus, you probably remember all the laws against sinful sexual practices. Why are those there? Because that’s what the culture was doing. Homosexuality, adultery, fornication, bestiality, rape, incest—they’re all examples of sexual immorality because they are not between a man and a woman in a committed relationship to one another. The culture stripped sex out of its God-given context.

Well, once you get to the New Testament, you realize the cultural attacks didn’t change. They never went away. In First Corinthians 5 and 6, you can see how incest and prostitution and sexual immorality was even affecting the church. And so Paul needed to address it. And when he does, he doesn’t appeal to God’s laws given at Mount Sinai. He points them to God’s words at creation. “The two will become one flesh.” [Los dos serán una sola carne].

Now, to some Christians, especially if you grew up in the faith, the definition of sexuality might seem unnecessary, but it is desperately needed in every generation. And you parents and grandparents need to be able to teach your children about it.

For the youngest children, like 2 and 3 and 4 years old, they should, at a minimum be told that mom and a dad are to enjoy a special relationship that God created just for them. That’s marriage. That’s God’s design. The intimacy of marriage is not to be experienced outside of that relationship.

We see the importance of that even in the qualification for an elder. He is to be a “one-woman men” or a “husband of one wife.” That means he’s faithful to his wife. That is absolutely essential. Why?

Why is marital fidelity so important? Why does it need to be protected? Because Ephesians tells us that, ultimately, what God created in Genesis 2, was an illustration, or a living picture, of the love between Christ and the Church. That’s the ultimate design of marriage—to glorify God by putting Christ on display for the world.

And I think it is precisely because of this exalted purpose of marriage, that Satan attacks it so relentlessly. Marriage is continuously under attack in every culture, and we are not exempt. We are buried in sexual immorality. Our culture is flooded with it.

Those of us who were born on this side of the Sexual Revolution in the 60s and 70s, don’t always see it as clearly. And that’s because of how much we’ve been affected by it. The American Sexual Revolution was a turning point for our nation.

Before then, Lucy and Ricki Ricardo slept in separate beds on TV. Elvis Presley, at one point, was filmed only from the hips up. Our culture had boundaries. But now, those boundaries have shifted, or almost disappeared. By “modern” standards, showing a couple in bed together or depicting suggestive dancing is no longer scandalous. It’s the norm. It’s how you get ratings and sales.  And so, by and large, we can be numb to it.

My main concern though, isn’t the culture. The culture as a whole isn’t going to change. My concern is the church. It’s us. It’s our children. It’s those who have surrendered to Christ. We need to see this world for what it is. How do you do that? How do you step outside of the culture and see it for what it really is?

The only way to do that is to go back to God’s word. Romans 12 calls it being transformed by the renewing of your mind [ser transformado por medio de la renovación del entendimiento]. That’s what this father is trying to do to his son. Teach him God’s wisdom about sexuality. Give him some instruction.

And the first lesson is this: Recognize the seduction. That’s lesson number 1: Recognize the seduction. [Reconozca la seducción] VERSES 3.

What is this talking about? It’s talking about allure. It’s talking about desire and pleasure. One day, this boy is going to grow up, and he’ll be married, and he will find another woman who is alluring and attractive. ESV calls her “the forbidden woman.” Other translations say the “adulteress.”

The Hebrew word actually means a “strange woman.” Not in the sense that she’s awkward or weird, but in the sense that she doesn’t belong. She’s not part of that intimate circle. She’s a stranger, an outsider. This is a woman who is an outsider to your marriage. She’s not your wife.

Possessing godly wisdom means being prepared for this. In chapter 2 of Proverbs it describes this woman as the one who forsakes her companion and forgets the covenant of God. She doesn’t about promises. She cares about fun. And so she comes to a man who is not hers.

Now sometimes when you meet someone new or unfamiliar to you, there’s a detraction from that. Most kids get shy around new people. But at other times, meeting someone new or different brings an attraction. And that’s what’s happening here.

This adulteress, this outsider, this forbidden woman comes with enticing words (that’s the idea of her lips and mouth). Back in verse 2, lips are for guarding wisdom. But here, lips are for abandoning it. This woman comes with an attractiveness. And the allure here is described as honey.

There are about 4 different terms for honey in the Old Testament, but the word used here is the word for raw or virgin honey which would flow from the honeycomb. It was the sweetest and best kind of honey. Getting it straight from a hive meant it was at its freshest and it was uncontaminated.

Keep in mind, back then people didn’t have candy the way we do today. Honey was their candy. So if you came across a fresh honeycomb, it was a treat. It was attractive, like the flowing chocolate you might see in Hershey’s commercial.

This woman is alluring and desirable and pleasurable like honey, like candy. And her attraction is also described as being smooth like oil [blando (suave) como el aceite]. That word “smooth” was used for words of flattery. Words that make people feel good.

So what’s the point here? The point here is that you need to recognize that sexual immorality is seductive. It’s appealing. It’s attractive. It makes you feel good. It looks promising.

Sometimes, in our arrogance or ignorance, we think that if something was bad for us, we’d know it right away. We couldn’t be fooled. But that’s just not true. Sin feels good. Sin is attractive. Sin is alluring. And we just need to be honest and say that. Sin is pleasurable. Especially sexual sin. It’s appealing. Hebrews 11:25 speaks of the pleasure of sin.

There’s a promise of satisfaction. “This is good. This will feel good. This will make you happy.” And your curiosity and your love of pleasure wants to reach out and take it.

So if you want to honor God in the area of sexuality, then you can start by recognizing the seduction. It’s going to be alluring.

Even back in Genesis 6, which I believe is talking about demons, it says that they saw that the daughters of men were attractive. So, even fallen angels recognize the beauty of a woman.

And then we have the story of Samson. He’s not a very spiritual guy to start with. But you realize that despite all his strength he couldn’t resist women. He gave-in to the forbidden honeycomb, literally and figuratively. He fell victim to the seduction.

Before we continue here, we need to remember the words of Jesus regarding adultery. This is from Matthew 5:27—“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” [Ustedes han oído que fue dicho: “No cometerás adulterio”. Pero yo les digo que cualquiera que mira a una mujer para codiciarla (con deseos), ya adulteró con ella en su corazón.]

Jesus reminds us that it’s not just about external action. God is looking at the mind, at the heart. So do not let yourself hear Proverbs 5 and apply it only to adultery or unfaithfulness in marriage. We can extend it to every single kind of sexual immorality, even at the thought level.

The word our Bibles typically use for sinful desire is “lust” [concupisciencia], and all it means is a strong desire. So even if you’re not married, this passage applies to you. It applies to singles. It applies to a dating couple. It applies to pornography. It applies to lust at every level. X-rated, R-rated, PG-13, PG-lust. You need to understand that.

Part of the struggle I think we have in fighting for sexual purity at times is that we fight at the wrong level. God doesn’t just call us to fight against the most extreme forms of sexual sin. He calls us to fight against all of it. And we can start by recognizing that it’s alluring. It’s attractive.

But the allurement is a sham. And the pleasure is fleeting. It’s only temporary. Look at VERSE 4.

Wormwood is a shrub that’s known for its strong bitter taste. In the Bible, it’s often equated with poison. I learned this week that wormwood actually has a pleasant savory smell. But, it’s more bitter that sugarless cocoa. More bitter than a raw coffee bean. More bitter than black licorice. In fact, it’s so bitter, the flavor can’t be mellowed out with other flavors. The bitterness stays with you.

So, what a contrast! The seduction started sweet like honey, but it ends with bitterness. It started smooth like oil. Pleasant to the touch. But it ends like a sharp sword. It ends in pain and possibly death.

That’s what sexual sin is like. Passing, momentary pleasure followed by bitterness and pain.

Lesson one was: Recognize the seduction, lesson two is: Understand the destruction. [Entienda la destrucción] Understand the destruction. Sexual sin brings consequences. It destroys.

We’ll look more specifically at some of the damages later in our section, but for now, this dad wants his son to know that this enticing and seductive woman is like bait on a hook. It’s a trap. Look at verse 5.

Death and Sheol are synonyms. Sheol was the Jewish term for the grave, or the place of the dead. Follow this woman, and you will die. If either partner in a sexual relationship is already married to someone else, then that’s called adultery. And the Jewish punishment for adultery was death—death by stoning.

And even if this doesn’t lead to physical death, the dad wants his son to know that if he goes after this woman, his life will be a disaster.

This woman doesn’t care about you. This woman can offer you nothing. She’s completely lost. She has no idea where this is all heading. VERSE 6.

It’s like the dad is asking his son rhetorically: “Is that what you want, son? Do you want to wander in life? Do you want to be clueless and cursed, like Cain? Like Israel in the wilderness? If that’s what you want, then go with that woman. If you go with her, you don’t have a future.” Recognize the seduction, and understand the destruction.

Now, up to this point, you might notice, there hasn’t been an actual command. This is all information, and the command has been implied. But now, in verses 7 and 8, we get to the command of this section. This is what dad wants his son to do. And it’s lesson number 3: Flee the temptation. [Huya de la tentación] Flee the temptation. Let’s read it. VERSE 7.

Notice it switches the plural now, sons, because it’s intended to be passed down to every generation. Listen to me. Don’t stray from this. VERSE 8.

That’s the command we all need to hear. Keep your distance. Stay away. Flee.

Earlier, I quoted Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 about lust. It’s adultery in the heart. But listen to what Jesus said next: “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it’s better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members that than your whole body go into hell.” [Por tanto, si tu ojo derecho te hace caer en pecado, sácatelo y deshazte de él; es mejor que se pierda uno de tus miembros, y no que todo tu cuerpo sea echado al infierno. Y si tu mano derecha te hace caer en pecado, córtatela y deshazte de ella; es mejor que se pierda uno de tus miembros, y no que todo tu cuerpo sea echado al infierno.]

What’s Jesus saying? Well, we know He’s talking figuratively [figuradamente] here because He says when you cut off an eye or a hand, throw it away. If He was talking literally, you wouldn’t need to do that, it’s already useless. But what Jesus is saying here is: Get as far away as you can from lust. Be radical in your fight against it. Do whatever it takes. Because sexual sin will take you to hell.

First Thessalonians 4:3 says “this is the will of God:, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.” [ésta es la voluntad de Dios: su santificación; que se abstengan de inmoralidad sexual;] Stay away from it. Stay away from the causes. Stay away from it physically. Stay away from it mentally. Do whatever you need to do.

Second Timothy 2:22 says: “Flee youthful passions, pursue righteousness, and call on the Lord from a pure heart.” [Huye de las pasiones juveniles y sigue la justicia. Invoca al Señor con un corazón puro.] Get away!

Don’t try and talk sense into this woman. Don’t try and rationalize with her. Verse 8 again: Keep your way FAR from her. Don’t go NEAR her house. Don’t put yourself in that kind of dangerous situation.

Romans 13:14 says it like this: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh.” [vístanse del Señor Jesucristo, y no provean para los deseos de la carne.] In other words: Flee the temptation.

The standard Old Testament example is Joseph in Genesis 39. Potiphar’s wife caught him alone in the house and grabbed him by the coat and said “Lie with me.” And Joseph left his coat there and ran outside. He fled. And we need to do the same.

Now, what does that mean practically in your own life? I can’t give you all the answers, since there’s so many of them. But you need to think about that. And you should discuss it with some trusted Christian friends.

What are the boundaries you should have in place—whether single or dating or married? What can you do to protect yourself from sexual sin?

In Song of Solomon it says: “Don’t stir up or awaken love until it pleases.” [No levanten or despierten al amor hasta que quiera] Don’t flirt with sin. Don’t play with this fire. You need to be honest with yourself and with others, and you need to get very practical. Talk to one another. Know what boundaries you need. It’s for your protection.

For you younger ones, if your parents enforce rules about your relationships, it’s not because they hate you, it’s because they love you. They want to protect you. Protect you from what? From the consequences of your sin.

This is where our section for today ends. Earlier in verses 4-6 we had a general idea of the destruction that sexual sin will bring. But now the father gets specific. Again, the lesson was understand the destruction. Or, consider the consequences. Why should you stay away from sexual sin? Verses 9-14 tells us the consequences, and the first consequence is economical. That’s VERSES 9-10.

Your vigor, your honor, your years, your strength, and your labors—that speaks both of your personal abilities and of the benefits of your work. And what this dad is saying is that rather than have your energy and your work got your own family, it will go somewhere else. It’ll be wasted.

It’s possible that adultery would lead to blackmail by the adulteress. You had to pay her off to stay quiet.

Another possibility is that the young man’s obsession with sex leads to an enslavement to prostitution, and that would cost him money as well.

We also have evidence that in ancient times if a man caught you fooling around with his wife, if he didn’t put you to death, he could make you his slave. So you would pay him for the rest of your life.

But even apart from those possibilities, even in our culture today sexual immorality has financial consequences. Spousal support, child support—these kinds of things drain a family.

And then you’ve got legal fees. We see that even the high profile people who are being accused of sexual misconduct. They have to pay. It costs them. That’s the trade-off. A few moments of pleasure cost them a fortune.

We might also add to that any medical fees if you get some kind of disease. It will waste your life.

So you’ve got the economical consequences. And second, there are the emotional consequences. It will lead to a life filled with regret and shame [remordimiento, lastima, venrgüenza]. VERSES 11-13.

This is not just an financially wasted life, it’s an emotionally and physically wasted life. The grief can almost seem unbearable.

By the way “the end of life” doesn’t have to mean when he’s near death. It could be when the consequences of his sin catch up to him. At that point, life, as he knew it, is over.

“Why didn’t I listen?! Why did I do this?! Why didn’t I walk in the ways of the Lord?! It’s nobody else’s fault by my own.” This is the attack of the conscience. And it can’t be drowned out by anything of this world.

The final consequences are the social consequences. This kind of decision doesn’t just affect you. It affects your family. It affects your social reputation. VERSE 14.

This is a public catastrophe. It’s a P.R. nightmare. There’s a stigma to sexual sin that doesn’t get erased easily. Just think again of the high profile people who get taken to court. The assembled congregation is not a church service in this context. More than likely, it’s a court case. This man has wasted his reputation. Any hopes of social advancements are gone.

Sexual immorality, left unchecked, leads to a wasted life, wasted finances, and a wasted reputation. Don’t go down that path.

Now, as we wrap up, I want to make some things very clear. This message is primarily aimed at preventing sexual sin. That’s the goal. Stop it before it leads to ruin. And that’s a warning all of us should be giving to one another. Don’t flirt with sin. It can be disastrous.

But I can’t leave a message like this and not address those of us who have already sinned in this way. Because that includes some of us gathered here. What if it’s too late? What if you’ve already made this kind of mistake? What now? You can’t change the past. So what do you do?

First, I want to reassure you that we’re all in the same boat. No one in this room is better than you. No one here has perfectly kept God’s standard of sexual purity. Because the standard starts in the mind. We have all fallen short in this regard.

So what do we do? We run to Jesus. If you’re still pursuing this kind of life, you stop, and you bow before Jesus and beg Him for mercy. You repent of your sin, and you call out for forgiveness.

You may not be able to undo some of the temporal consequences of your sin, but you can have the eternal consequences undone. There is only one thing in the world that can erase the stain of all sin. And that’s the sacrifice of Jesus o the cross and the power of His resurrection.

Jesus Christ, who never sinned, took sin upon Himself. And then He took the punishment of that sin upon Himself as well. He suffered the wrath of God in the place of sinners. He died, and then on the third day He rose again. He is the Son of God who will come again to judge the world.

But if you repent of your sin, and place your trust in Him and call out for forgiveness, He will forgive you. He will wipe away the stain of sin, and He will give you a new heart.

Isaiah 1:18—Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. [Aunque sus pecados sean como la grana, Como la nieve serán emblanquecidos. Aunque sean rojos como el carmesí, Como blanca lana quedarán]

And chapter 43 says: “I am he who blots out your transgression for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” [yo soy el que borro tus rebeliones por amor de mí mismo, y no me acordaré de tus pecados]

That’s the heart we want to have in this church. We’re not any better than any other sinner. We are all guilty of breaking God’s law. But we have found forgiveness and restoration in Jesus Christ. And we’re here, not to condemn, but to bear one another’s burdens. Everyone who confesses and repents of sin and trusts in Christ is part of our family. And we welcome you with open arms.

Let’s pray.

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