Tag Archives: temptation

No Reason for Envy

Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long. – Proverbs 23:17

Testimonies

I love to hear stories of how God has changed people’s lives. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thrills to hear how the Lord can take a dreadful, hell-bound sinner and turn him into a saint in all respects.

But sometimes testimonies can turn into a glorification of past sin. Sometimes a well-meaning story of God’s grace can make the average person wish they’d taken a chance at being bad.

Like,

“I once was a drug dealer and had everything money could buy. I woke up with champagne and girls, drove fast all day, and then partied all night until I passed out in the arms of another supermodel. Then Jesus saved me.”

Sorta makes becoming a believer a little anti-climactic, doesn’t it?

The Truth

What we need more of is the truth – not just the truth about the consequences of sin, but the literal joys of following Christ and honoring the Father.

So often we are bombarded by images of those who are doing everything the Bible condemns and having fun while they’re doing it. All of us want to have fun and enjoy life, don’t we? Therefore, these images tend to make a lot of us envious.

But if we had more stories of the joy, peace, and awestruck wonder that accompanies the one who walks in the fear of the Lord, the fleeting pleasures of sin wouldn’t even be worth talking about.

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Defiled From Within

Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death. -Proverbs 7:25‭-‬27, KJV

Proverbs chapter seven, as we have abundantly discussed lately, is a warning against an immoral woman.

As Anthony pointed out, women are just as guilty as men as regards aggressively pursuing physical satisfaction. And as Dawn reminded us, we need a lot of reminding of the dangers.

Hence, the New Testament did so, too, reminding us as usual that it goes farther than just sex:

  • And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.
    2 Peter 2:2, ESV
  • They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
    Ephesians 4:18‭-‬19, ESV
  • Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
    Galatians 5:19‭-‬21, ESV
  • For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
    Mark 7:21‭-‬23, ESV

I highlighted one word in particular: sensuality.

Why?

Our western culture is so steeped in sensuality that we barely notice it, but Peter, Paul, and even the Lord Jesus warned us that (outside of marriage) it is a dangerous tempter straight out of and that leads straight to hell.

And sensuality (and other things) lives in us.

This is why we need so many reminders.


Heeding the Warning

And now, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
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.”

Proverbs 5:7-14 ESV

I look for the context when trying to understand any message better, so when I hear the warning summed up in verses 12-14 in this part of the proverbs, I look to the verses preceding it to understand why it is given.

The audience of this passage is being urged to listen to a particular bit of wisdom and not forget it: keep far away and do not come near (being unfaithful to God). I see this as a big, bold-lettered sign on the straight and narrow path saying “wrong way” or “danger, keep out”. This is a warning against things of the flesh, the ways of the world, or in other words, that which causes us to sin (to separate ourselves from God).

It can be rather easy to get caught up in our own designs, or so focused on following certain directions (like a figurative GPS) that we miss the warning right in front of us. Honoring others and putting our trust in false teachings or false teachers will lead away from the best path, no matter how good it sounds or in line with current thinking. Yet, if we adhere to the truth and “do not depart” from it, we will be able to see the unfamiliar territory and turn away.

Giving our years to the merciless, those who do not have our best interests at heart will lead to wasted time and possible destruction. For when we follow someone else’s plan, as opposed to Gods, many wrong turns and necessary U-turns will be sure to follow. Yet again, if we adhere to the truth and “do not depart” from it, we will be able to see the wrong turns ahead and continue on the straight and narrow path instead.

As much as any journey is to be enjoyed, wrong turns and wasted time can be exhausting. And when the purpose of the journey is for anyone or anything against God’s glory, it is worthless, for “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36) Instead, adhere now to God’s wisdom and see the danger in being unfaithful to Him, lest you find yourself on the path to utter ruin.

 

 


In Defense of Chapter Five

rose-2539951_1920When I was asked to be a part of Proverbial Thought, I felt honored not only because some level of esteem was ascribed to my writing, but also from a gender perspective—they wanted a “woman’s point of view” (whatever that is in the 21st century…)

Which means I’m having a hey-day with this week’s chapter of Proverbs, challenging my beloved brethren to not mince any words.  (Giggle.)  Just let it rip, guys.  I’m not touchin’ it.

On the other hand, there is another point worth mentioning (from a woman’s point of view, mind you.)  For reference, the whole of chapter five is emphatic with warnings to men against prostitution and other illicit sexual encounters and, by implication, pornography.  (The medical evidence alone concerning the personal and societal effects of porn is enough to convict said “freedoms of speech”, but another post perhaps.)

But the chapter here implies, for the attentive reader, that there also exist the same emphatic warnings for women.  No, a woman’s typical physical and emotional wiring doesn’t tend to offer much temptation in the area of seeking out pornography or prostitution.  Fairly safe to say that, for most women, sex is more about relationship, acceptance, and security, at least in some context, rather than mere physical pleasure.  (Which is also not a bad thing, just sayin…)

So, just how does Proverbs chapter five relate to women? 

Just ask companies like Harlequin Romance that proliferate on new and used bookstore shelves.  Even the Christian genre has jumped on the wagon!  Then there are the “soap operas” that came out not long after TV made its own nefarious debut, and women began to refer to their faves as “my stories”. 

Ever wonder why these are so popular? Hollywood isn’t stupid; they know how to make money, and they know sex sells for men, and relationship sells for women.

The reality of it is this: both of these were created by God, and He calls everything He made “good”.  The issue is that, as John Eldredge puts it, we tanked the whole project by the third chapter of Genesis. 

And it’s been a struggle for clarity and satisfaction ever since.

It’s about intimacy, and how we (both men and women) tend to look for it in all the wrong places; how the broken places of our hearts no longer care and maybe have stopped even caring to try to care.  Even the “immoral woman” spoken of in this chapter still had a soul, albeit a wounded one—there was some reason that she went in that direction.  Even in that culture, if given a choice, I doubt prostitution would have been her first one.

Jesus knew that.  Our sexuality doesn’t intimidate Him, even our fragmented sexuality.  That’s only a sign of our broken intimacy, just another thing He is able to mend.

I’ll let the guys talk about the finer points of Proverbs chapter five.  Here’s my verse:

The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
    that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
     and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

That goes for men and women alike!

Luke 4:17-21 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Pernicious Lust

Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord , and he ponders all his paths. The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
Proverbs 5:20‭-‬22, ESV

This passage reminds us of three things:

  1. Sex is supposed to be reserved for marriage (yes, one man and one woman);
  2. God knows and judges even our thoughts;
  3. Sin is pernicious, touching every area of life and holding on fast.

Firstly, think about society today, throughout most of the world, and how fixated are on sex. The more we stray from God, the more we seem to crave and then celebrate sin. Just look at the variety of “gay pride” parades and festivals, websites for “personal pleasure” and even affairs, and the use of sex in advertising and popular entertainment.

Secondly, we tend to live either as atheists or as though God is not omniscient nor hates sin. How? In the way we think, convincing ourselves that “it’s okay to look” and “no one else is getting hurt.” Yet, Jesus reminds us that lust is adultery (Matthew 5:28) and that God even judges our thoughts.

And finally, those songs and thoughts do affect everything else, especially the more one dwells on and/or lives out sins. Ask the adulterer or the couple whose marriage fell apart who started by “only looking at porn.” Look at how many people are defined by who they are attracted to or what they look like on the outside. And remember: the urge to look does not go away just because you “put a ring on it.” Lust becomes a habit.

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:13 ESV


Is Shallow and Stagnant THAT Attractive?

Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. – Proverbs 5:15

It never fails to amaze me how many men and women leave their spouses after years of being married. Yet, that is exactly what happens when husbands and wives are more attracted to the shallow wells of new relationships and the stagnant streams of painted beauty.

I can attest that after nearly 25 years of marriage, I would not trade the depth of my relationship with my wife for a puddle, one that is likely to dry up in the heat of the next drought.

The refreshing and renewing qualities of our relationship could never be replaced by the single-issue sameness of surface-beauty expectations.

The natural appeal of illicit relationships is just that – natural. Fortunately for my wife and me, our relationship is based on more than natural affections; it is strengthened by spiritual connections that only years of life together can forge.

Yes, there are temptations which we all must deal with, but how much easier it is to rebuff them when you realize what you’ve really got.

Are shallow wells and stagnant water that attractive to you? Why not take the time to lower your bucket a little deeper? The water’s much better there.

My wife and I while visiting our daughter and son-in-law in Charleston, S.C.


Sleeping In the Pit

Pro 22:14
“The mouth of strange women [is] a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.”

Chinhoyi Caves

Not long ago I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe. There I got to preach in several churches and see many come to know Jesus Christ as Savior! Hallelujah!

But I did a little sight-seeing, too!

Walking down to the Sleeping Pool

Walking down to the Sleeping Pool

Months before I went to Zimbabwe (Africa) I did a little research. What I found out was that there was a particular cave in Chinhoyi which was known for it’s beautiful, naturally-lit blue (318 feet deep) pool at the bottom – the “Sleeping Pool.”

The Sleeping Pool could be accessed by one of two ways; either walk down a bunch of steps through a tunnel in the ground, or be thrown to one’s death from the top, just like what happened to many people hundreds of years ago.

We chose to walk down the steps.

The Mouth

The mouth of the Chinhoyi cave is a huge opening in the ground. It was through this opening that the unfortunate enemies of some ancient warlords would be thrown … and “sleep” forever.

The “mouth” of a strange woman is a deadly pit, also. And as beautiful as it may seem, the fall to the bottom of this pit is just as deadly as the one in Zimbabwe. It is into this alluring pit that God will allow the fool – the one who despises wisdom – to be cast.

The Pit

Solomon describes the mouth of a strange woman as a deep pit. Why is that? Could it be because there is always this sense of intrigue and danger that draws men to take risks? They flirt with what they know could kill them as they peer over the edge, seeing just how far they can go. Men will flirt with sin, too.

image

The pits of adultery and illicit love are deep, dark, and deadly; few men survive the fall. But would a man listen to Wisdom, he would flee far from the edge. It’s to the fool that God says, “You chose your pit, now fall into it.”

Sorta gives new meaning to “sleeping around,” doesn’t it?

 

*For additional info on the caves, click HERE and HERE.