This is part three of a four-part study in the early chapters of Proverbs. Each post has study and discussion questions for personal or group use. Since the early chapters of proverbs are words from a father to a son, these lessons are especially helpful for parents who desire to lead their children in the way of wisdom. The study will be based on four main points.
3. Abstain from Sexual temptation
In Proverbs 2:16-19, Solomon introduced his son to another voice of temptation — the voice of the adulteress or wayward wife. Her words are not overtly perverse like those of the wicked men. Instead, she uses “seductive words” and “flatters with her words.” Three chapters are devoted to this warning (Proverbs 5,6,7).
In Proverbs 2:16, the primary concern is the “adulteress” (NIV); or “strange woman” (NASB). Some translations refer to her as a “foreigner” or “loose woman” (loose meaning outside the family). In Proverbs 5:3, again concerns the “adulteress”. Proverbs 6:24-32 uses a variety of identifications:
- “the immoral woman”
- “the wayward wife”
- “the prostitute”
- “the adulteress”
Proverbs 6:29 and 32 refer to the man who “sleeps with another man’s wife” and who “commits adultery.”
Summarizing the various terms, the woman is “strange” or “foreign” — not necessarily in the sense that she is from a strange land and different ethnic group than Israel. Instead, she appears to be an Israelite woman: “who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God” (Proverbs 2:17).
Reference to the “covenant she made before God” implies an Israelite woman. Therefore, her “strangeness” or “foreignness” which the terms clearly imply has more to do with her deliberate act of violating the covenant and standards of her people. She has cut herself off and distanced herself through her immorality.
Along these same lines, one commentator suggested that, “By betraying her covenant of marriage, this woman looses herself from the covenant community and turn her back on the covenant of God.”
We should assume that Solomon is very concerned about the danger she presents since he devotes a significant amount of space to the warning about her to the warning about her. Next to wisdom, no other theme is given more attention than warnings about sexual temptation (See: 2:6-19; 5:1-23; 6:20-35; 7:1-27; 9:8-18).
There is a tone of urgency and deep concern in Solomon’s warnings. “Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. 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” (Proverbs 5:7-9).
Think about it
The intent of these passages is to communicate that, “nothing in life so clouds our judgment and makes stupid fools out of the wisest of us as succumbing to illicit passion. All our useful energies are drained off to defend or conceal that behavior. The colossal compromise of adultery colors all our other value judgments and causes us to stagger along life’s road half tipsy. To the teachers it was worth every possible effort to prevent their young people from falling into this bottle-dungeon of perverted sexuality whose walls sloped inward to the top and make escape only a fantasy “ (David A. Hubbard, p. 88, C. C. Proverbs).
The larger area of concern here is the reality of sexual temptation— which is not limited to any one culture or period of history. Therefore, as we consider the context of this text, we need to be careful to relate the larger concern of sexual temptation to other scriptures and to our lives.
We face an even greater challenge when addressing this subject — the challenge of living in a culture that has lost its connection with any clear sense of standards for sexual conduct. More than that, as Tim Stafford has written,
“The old consensus about how we should live sexually has shattered, and we have not yet arrived at whatever will replace it. We have only arrived at chaos, and with it great pain and confusion. Families shatter. Children grow up with a series of unfamiliar men. They move from home to home, experiencing dizzyingly different level of poverty and affluence. The old ways of courtship, marriage and family are shaky. We didn’t go looking for chaos. On the contrary, chaos is the end result of an unprecedented push for pleasure. Americans have never known so much about their sexuality, talked so much about their sexuality or tried so hard for happiness in the sexual realm. Magazines and books and TV shows endlessly discuss how to find sexual delight. But the results have been disastrous on every level . . . we have come perilously close to embracing lust as a fundamental human characteristic — if not a right.”
A word from God
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality: that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit” (I Thess. 4:3-8).
Questions for Discussion:
- How would you describe your handling of with sexual temptation?
Victorious, struggling, defeated, overwhelmed, good days and bad days, ____________________.
2. Identify your primary sources of struggle with sexual temptation: TV, internet, movies, magazines, books, relationships, etc…
3. How does the following teaching of Jesus relate?
Matthew 5:27-30 – “You have heard that it was said, `Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
John Stott explains: “If your eye causes you to sin because temptation comes to you through your eyes (objects you see), then pluck out your eyes. That is, don’t look! Behave as if you had actually plucked out your eyes and flung them away, and were now blind and so could not see the objects which previously caused you to sin. Again, if your hand or foot causes you to sin, because temptation comes to you through your hands (things you do) or your feet (places you visit), then cut them off. That is: don’t do it! Don’t go! Behave as if you had actually cut off your hands and feet and flung them away, and were now crippled and so could not do the things or visit the places which previously caused you to sin” (Sermon on the Mount, p. 89).
4. What do I find most helpful for overcoming sexual temptation? (Recommendation: Memorize all the serves on the previous page)
5. Read and discuss the following
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18). What level of pride is required to believe that sexual sin could overtake Lot, Samson, David (“a man after God’s own heart”), Solomon, the Corinthians and a host of modern Christian leaders, but not me? Paul’s warnings deserve a prominent place on our dashboards, desks and computers: “But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (Gal 6:1); “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
God does not want us to be presumptuous, but nor does He want us to be paranoid. We do not have to live each day teetering on the edge of immorality or paralyzed by the fear of sudden fall. In the specific context of seeking to be sexually pure and resisting sexual temptation, the wise man says this to his son:
“My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared” (Pr. 3:21-26).
If we walk daily with Christ, being alert to what’s happening in our minds and implementing steps of righteousness and wisdom, then we can go our way “in safety” and “not be afraid.” (From: Sexual Temptation: How Christian Workers Can Win the Battle, Randy C. Alcorn )
6. Relate I Corinthians 7:2-5 to the concern of sexual temptation.
“But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (I Corinthians 7:2-5, NLT)
Scripture dealing with sexual temptation:
- Ephesians 5:3-5 “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
- 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body n in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; …”
- Hebrews 13:4 “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”
- Proverbs 6:32 “But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself.”
- Proverbs 28:13,14 “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.”
- Psalm 32:1-2,5 “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’– and you forgave the guilt of my sin”
- 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
- Romans 13:14 “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
- 1 Peter 2:11-12 “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”