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TEXT: Proverbs 7
SUBJECT: Proverbs #7: Immorality
We come this evening, by God's grace, to the sixth sermon in our contining study of the Book of Proverbs. The subject tonight, as you no doubt would surmise is Immorality.
The problem of immorality is beyond exaggeration. The society in which we live is "sex-crazed". It is impossible to watch an evening of television without viewing fornication. You cannnot read a family newspaper without observing lewd advertisements. Nor can you browse through a rack of magazines without fear of infection. And an "innocent day at the beach" has all but become a contradiction in terms.
But you should not think that immorality is a problem unique to modern society, for it boasts a very long history. It is, for example, first mentioned in Genesis 4:19, which tersely records, "Then Lamech took for himself two wives..." This ugly practice evidently "caught on" for it became the norm by the time of Noah, for then "The sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose". Even the awful judments from on high could not dissuade men from these evil habits, for shortly after the flood, we read of such cities as Sodom and Gomorrah, which have become by-words for sexual perversion of every sort. The Amorite nations became so morally nauseating that the very land "Vomited them up". You needn't spend much time studying the ancient peoples of East or West to discover that they were all marked by unspeakable iniquity, be they the sophicated Greeks or the barbarian Mayans.
But most tragically, even godly men are susceptible to this plague. No rope could hold Samson's arms, but the cords of lust bound his soul. David is "The man after God's own heart" and yet we find him in the bosom of another man's wife. Indeed, Solomon was the master of every subject, but in the end he is mastered by the power of sexual desire. When we come to the New Testament, we find its awful force unabated. Hence, the constant warning "Flee fornication". The relevence of this study, therefore, becomes obvious. Having thus introduced the subject, observe:
THE MEANING OF IMMORALITY.
I use the word in a generic sense, to denote every kind of sexual impurity. The variety of such behavior, of course, is only limited by the depraved imagination of men. Our text however, identifies four categories:
Unlawful sexual intecourse. This, of course, is anticipated in 7:16-18, "I have spread my bed with tapestry...I have perfumed my bed with myrrh...come, let us take our fill of love...Let us delight ourselves with love..." Included herein are sins such as adultery, fornication, whoremongering, sodomy, incest, and so forth.
Immodest dress. This woman is immoral and therefore dresses accordingly. Thus, in v.10, she is clad, "In the attire of a harlot. She so dressed for an obvious reason, to attract the attention of and excite lust the within men. Thus, "modesty" can be defined. But not by the arbitrary laws enacted by the Pharisees and their descendents. Rather, modesty is determined by the general impression your clothing makes upon those who see you. You don't have to be a fashion consultant to know that "clothes say something". If your manner of dress `says', "I'm available, I'm interested, or even look at me", then you can rest assured that it is immodest, and therefore, immoral.
Provocative speech. The woman not only acts and looks immoral, she also talks that way. Hence in 7:21, we read, "With her enticing speech, she casued him to yield, with her flattering lips she seduced him." This woman was rather obvious. Like Potipher's wife of old, she said, "Come lie with me". But lewd speech is often much more subtle. It includes ribald jokes, double entendres, and sometimes general conversation. I have heard, for example, Christians discuss, with glee, the filthy details of a movie or television program. Others, have laughed about the latest sex-scandal in Washington. Some, in fact denounce pornography pornographically. But all such speech is degrading. It tends to take our minds away from "those things which are above" and put them on "those in the gutter". Thus, in Ephesians 5:3,4, "Fornication and uncleannes" are closely linked to "foolish talking and coarse jesting". If therefore, your speech--in any way--tends to excite lust or filthy imagination--then it is immoral.
Lust. 6:25 reads, "Do not lust after her beauty in your heart". Thus, you might be celibate and yet thoroughly unchaste. The words of our Lord are ever relevant, "You have heard it said to those of old, `You shall not commit adultery'. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery against her already in his heart".
Immorality, therefore, cannot be limited to adultery/fornication, and the like. It includes anything and everything which provides, promotes, aids or abets sexual impurity. Thus, I wonder if any of us can plead innocent to this awful charge?
THE ARGUMENTS FOR IMMORALITY.
If everyone saw immorality for what it was, then no one would ever commit it. But because of the Fall of man and the craft of Satan, many plausible reasons can be presented in its favor, only three of which I will mention.
"Immorality is harmless". This argument is assumed throughout our text. The young man is going "as an ox to the slaughter", but he does not know it. This is one of the chief arguments presently in its favor. It is called by many "a victimless crime". But such an argument cannot remain under the light of Scripture. Immorality is harmful to at least five parties:
It is destructive to you.
Physically, millions suffer and die every year with venereal diseases. But this is no new epidemic. Solomon describes it perfectly in 5:11, "And you mourn at last, when your flesh and your body are consumed."
Psychologically, it will issue in a bad conscience now and an awful regret later, 5:12, "How I have hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof."
Morally, it will lead to further sin. 5:22, "His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, and he is caught in the cords of his sin." Let me put it to you very simply: It is easy to commit fornication once. It is hard to commit fornication only once. I must direct a word to you who are yet unmarried: If you commit fornication, you will never again be satisfied holding hands. For in all sexual acts, there is a certain bond which is not easily broken, as it is written, "Do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her, for `The two, He says, shall become one flesh.'".
Ultimately, immorality unrepented-of will lead to eternal doom. For "Whoremongers, wrote John, "Shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death".
It is ruinous to your partner.
Everything I have said applies equally to the partner. Thus, immorality is not only suicidal, it is homicidal.
It is harmful to your family.
6:30-35. The man who commits adultery has:
Denied his wife. For when he indulges his filthy pleasure, he becomes "One flesh" with someone else.
Stolen from his wife. "The husband does not have power over his body, but the wife does". Thus, he has taken something which belongs exclusively to his wife, and given it to another.
Publicly humiliated her.
Runs the risk of infecting her with a disease.
Forfieted her trust.
Given her much to worry about--for the rest of her life!
But I can see the dodge coming. "I am not married, you say, "thus I don't hurt my family". But that is untrue! For consider the effects which your sin will have on a future family:
Your spouse-to-be has an exclusive claim to your body. Thus, the fornicator steals--as it were--in advance.
Some venereal diseases are asymptomatic and have long incubation periods, especially AIDS. Thus a "fling" of five or ten years ago, might come back to haunt you and your spouse.
Premarital sex will adversely affect your married sex life. For although fornication may last only minutes, its memory may never end. Naturally, comparing your own spouse to previous lovers is monstrous in the extreme.
Immorality is damaging to society-at-large.
It sears the social consicience, opening the door to ever-increasing vices. Fornication leads to (socially, not individually) adultery, prostitution, sodomy, pornography, bestialty and every other abomination. Read Romans 1 for proof...Or just open your eyes.
It breeds disease, some of which become epidemics, which, in turn will bankrupt every insurance company, which will lead to an unparalleled economic depression.
It produces unwed mothers, illegitimate children, abortions, and all of the attending misery.
It ultimately brings down Divine Judgments upon whole nations. See, for example, Sodom and Gomorrah.
Immorality (in Christians at least) grieves the Holy Spirit.
So, the next time somebody says, "Who's it going to hurt?" Please reply thusly, "Me, you, our families, nation, and God". Thus, if there are such things as "victimless crimes", immorality is not among them.
Thus, the words of 6:27-29 ring eternally true.
"No one will ever find out". This argument, too was urged upon the young man. The harlot said, 7:19-20, "For my husband is not home; he has gone on a long journey; He has taken a bag of money with him and will return home on the appointed day." The gist of her argument is obvious. "No one will ever know..." But this argument is too absurd for much comment.
Firstly, "He knows". And it is very difficult to keep any secret, especially one which involves a bad conscience. For man was made to confess his sin. And those who refuse to admit to God almost inevitablby blurt out their sins to man. Do you know, for example, how most fugitives are caught? Not through brilliant investigation. They say more than they should, and the hearer picks up the telephone and calls the police.
Secondly, "She knows". If, therefore, he desires to keep up a good reputation, he becomes ever subject to her blackmail. You know a prominent religious leader was just exposed in this way.
Thirdly, "Others may know". David committed adultery in private, but God exposed his folly publicly. Indeed, in recent months, the leading candidate for President was so caught.
Fourthly, "God certainly knows". 5:21, "For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He ponders all his paths."
Thus, when someone suggests, "No one will ever know". Please remind him. "I'll know. You'll know. Others might know. And God certainly will know". For in the end, "That which was spoken in secret will be shouted from the roof top."
"I love you". See 7:18, "Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning, let us delight ourselves with love". This is the most devilish of all arguments, and also the most difficult to overcome. But to do so, consider:
This argument perverts the nature of love. "Love, by definition seeks the welfare of its object". But immorality destroys. Therefore, immorality cannot be a product of love. Consider:
"I love you so much, I just want to violate your body, defile your conscience, ruin your reputation, and damn your soul."
This argument also perverts the duration of love. Real love admits to no end. "Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it". If, therefore, you really love her, why not marry her? Why not make a commitment? Because you don't really love her, that's why.
This argument perverts the priority of love. The "First Commandment" is to "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind". Any love which would reverse this order is perverted. Thus, you cannot love your neighbor unless you first love God. And love for God is demonstrated by obedience to God. Anyone therefore, who would have you disobey God is no fit lover.
There is, therefore, no argument in favor of immorality or any other sin. As it is written, "There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the LORD".
THE GRAVITY OF IMMORALITY.
The light of nature teaches that immorality is sinful. But every man or nation does not equally receive this Divine revelation. Western society, in particular, thinks little of its guilt. We Christians, too are influenced by our culture. What would have brought down the censure of the world fifty years ago is now accepted by the church. Thus, we need to come to grips with the seriousness of this sin. I would now impress this upon you in a very brief manner. And to do so, I will take the LEAST OFFENSIVE ACT OF IMMORALITY, which is fornication. Even the wicked look down upon adultery, at least in certain forms. Other sexual sins are also abhorred. But fornication is not only accepted. It is institutionalized in the California Penal Code, entitled, "The Consenting Adults Law".
Fornication is, firstly, linked to the vilest sins.
Under the Mosaic Code, seven sexual sins were punishible by death. Rape, incest, bestiality, sodomy, prostitution, adultery and FORNICATION.
But the penalties of a Just and Wise Lawgiver must correspond to the seriousness of the offense.
Therefore, fornication, rather than being some trifling matter is no better than the most shocking crimes.
That is grave.
Fornication is, secondly, a religious sin. The Christian's body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. And whoever defiles that Temple, God will destroy.
Under the Old Covenant, sacrilege was an unspeakable transgression. --Nadab and Abihu--Uzzah--Uzziah, were guilty of it, and suffered the worst consequences.
But surely, God cares more for the sanctity of His Living Temples, rather than the inanimate ones.
Therefore, fornication is sacrilege of the worst kind.
That too is grave.
Fornication is a sign of irreversible foolishness.
Man views the fornicator as "sophisticated, worldly, urbane, or cosmopolitan".
God, however, see things differently. According to this very chapter, it makes a man:
A simpleton, 7:7
Without understanding, 7:8
A fool, 7:22b
A dumb animal, 7:22a
And, for a man, created in the likeness and image of God to reduce himself to the level of an ox, is a grave offense.
Christ died for fornicators. See Him writing in unparalleled pain for fornicators, and then tell me that it is some small thing.
Therefore, despite the world's smirk, immorality is a horrible sin, the gravity of which will not be fully appreciated until the day of judgment, when the millions will suffer eternally for it. "Mortify, therefore, your members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousnes, which is idolatry, for which things sake, the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience." (Colossians 3:5-6).
THE ESCAPE FROM IMMORALITY.
14:16 is eternally true. "The wise man fears and departs from evil, but the fool rages and is confident".
Better men that you and I have fallen into the trap of immorality. David was the "Apple of God's eye", and fell into the most inexcusable adultery. Samson was a "Hero of faith" and twice frequented prostitutes. Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, and still fell prey to this beast.
You may, therefore, love you wife and fear God, and still fall into immorality---unless you watch.
Therefore, "If any man thinks he stands, let him take heed, lest he fall".
Avoid those influences which promote lust.
The "Blessed man does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly", which simply means he does not take the advice of wicked men. This counsel comes to us, of course, in many ways, but uniquely through the mass media.
I recently read a survey which suggested that 50% of the American men have been unfaithful to their wives. This greatly surprised me. For conisidering the fact that men are primarily tempted through the eyes, and the sexual assault which the media makes thereupon, I supposed that the percentage would be higher!
Avoid, therefore, those materials which stir up lust. And don't be so naive to think that pornography is the sole offender, for nearly every magazine, television program, movie, and popular song abounds in immorality. Quote Thomas Watson. "Many a play house has led to a whorehouse."
"Be not deceived, wrote Paul, "Evil communication corrupts good morals".
Avoid direct temptations.
This requires, firstly, a plan. Job 31:1
And, secondly, resolution. "Flee fornication", i.e., when confronted with a compromising situation, do not talk about it, pray about it, read the Bible, seek advice, or anything else---Just Leave immediately.
Battle against the first rising of lust. 5:6 Cf. James 1:13f.
Cultivate a loving marriage.
This means, that if you do not have the gift of celibacy, that you must strive toward marriage. "It is better, said Paul, "to marry than burn". How is this done? Work on those things which are keeping you from marriage--appearance--income--personality--unavailability--etc.
If already married, this means to cultivate a good sex life. The chief problems faced by couples are:
Thoughtless husbands, who transform the act which is intended to display the Union Between Christ and The Chruch into animal mating. If you do this, dear husband, it is no wonder that your marriage is so unfulfilling.
Uncooperative wives, who--legitimately or illegitimately--are too tired, etc., to meet their husband's needs. It is written, "Let the wife render unto her husband due bevevolence...lest Satan tempts him due to his lack of self-control".
This naturally forbids every sort of sexual blackmail.
Consider the consequences.
Be much in the Word, 5:1, 6:20-23, 7:1-5, 7:24
Fear God. 3:7.
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