It is that God has provided can become perverted when they're used at the wrong time, in the wrong place, or with the wrong person. Alistair Begg is looking today at Proverbs chapter 5. Well, we turn again this morning to the book of Proverbs, a book which Kidner in his wonderful little commentary says, Proverbs seldom takes us to church.
It's not a very churchy kind of book. Rather, it calls to you in the street about some everyday matter. As you just go down the road of your life, suddenly you find that as you become aware of the content of the book of Proverbs, that it's calling to you from across the road. Or it is speaking to you as you arise from your bed, saying, Come on now, as door turns on its hinges, so a lazy man turns on its bed.
And some of you, I know, have already been making your bed to the great amazement of your moms and dads as a result of the sermon on laziness a little while ago. Some of us, I think, have had a call concerning friendship, the importance of friendship, and what it means to be consistent with the friendship of the Lord Jesus himself. The Bible has spoken to us from the book of Proverbs about how insidious a thing jealousy is, and how easily it can trip us up, ensnare us, and make us far less useful than we might otherwise be. And certainly, none of us were able to escape the call which came loud and clear last Lord's Day morning in this matter of the use of our tongues, words in our lives, words that could be used to help, words that can so easily be used to harm, words behind which we try and hide from the searching gaze of God. Yes, it's in the realm of everyday life, in business and in leisure, in home and in society, that we discover in the most practical terms that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This little book, says Kidner again, performs the function of putting godliness into working clothes.
I like that. The working man's view of godliness. Tempted sometimes to think of the word godly or godliness as some strange experience known only by a certain group of individuals who look as though they've been sucking on those dreadful pickle things that you get with sandwiches here, whose faces look like donkeys looking over a wall, and you say to yourself, Well, if that is godliness, you can keep it, and I for one concur with you. What is godliness? What does it mean to be godly? Well, here the book of Proverbs calls to us across the street and says, We'll show you what godliness is like.
We'll put it in everyday working man's clothes. Now, the crux question, which underpins all of these chapters, asks of all of our behavior in every area, Is this pattern of behavior marked by wisdom or by folly? If you read Proverbs through, you will find that the great antithesis throughout the whole book is this contrast between the simpleton, the foolish man, and the man who is listening to the words of wisdom and who is living words of wisdom. And the wisdom which you find in the book of Proverbs is a God-ordained and a God-centered wisdom. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And the foolishness that we find in the book of Proverbs, the root problem for the fool, is not a mental and intellectual issue, but the root problem for the fool as described in Proverbs is a moral one, it is a spiritual one, insofar as the fool, Proverbs 1 29, rejects the fear of the Lord. It is the foolish man who says the Lord does not need to be feared. It is the foolish girl who says, I may do exactly what I please. God does not see me, does not watch over me.
I have no reason for concern at all. Now, as you have begun to read Proverbs, as I know some of you will have done, it's quite impossible to miss the fact that a significant amount of Solomon's time is given to the matter of sexual relationships. Whether from a positive side concerning the nature of marriage and all of its fulfillment or from a negative side in relationship to the issues of adultery. He provides the disasters in order that we might walk, as it were, down the corridors, see the dreadful results of foolish choices, and walk away from them. He also holds up for us these wonderful, delightful pictures that accompany the pathway of wisdom in order that we might embrace them and live in the experience of them. Now, he tackles both disaster and delight, as you would see here in chapter 5. I want to simply follow his line this morning rather than jump around the book, as I've done in the previous studies. I want to exercise—and I want to tell you this up front—both brevity and caution.
I can go longer and more graphically on another occasion and in another place. We're going to look at it in three sections. First of all, in the first six verses, we're going to ask the question, What's wrong with this picture? What's wrong with this picture? For he provides there a picture of an adulteress or of a seductress, and the answer is that there is a great deal wrong with the picture. Now, you'll notice that the mechanism that is employed here is of the instruction of a father to his son. This, of course, does not rule out daughters. It doesn't rule out women.
It's standard in the way in which the Old Testament addresses these issues. We ought not to think that the similar challenges are not found when you flip the roles within the framework of the sexes. However, my son, he says, I want you to pay attention to my wisdom. Notice the opening phrase there, the verbs. Pay attention. How many times in a day do you say that to your children? Would you just pay attention? That's all I'm asking.
Every school teacher says it till they're about blue in the face. Could you just pay attention? Or, as he says later in the verse, would you just listen?
Please listen. And don't just listen, but listen well. Now, the reason that it begins this way is because to be forewarned is to be forearmed. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. And so Solomon provides this instruction in order that, he says in verse 2, you may be able to live your life with discretion, so that you're not charging around like a fool, like a simpleton, and also in order that your lips may preserve knowledge. So that your lips may preserve knowledge. Look on the same page at verse 20 of chapter 4. My son, pay attention to what I say.
Same terminology. Listen closely to my words. Words are very important. Do not let them out of your sight. Keep them within your heart. You see how all the senses are processing the information?
Verbal information, written information, literary information. He says, I want you to listen. I want you to keep them in your heart. I want you to read them. I want you to look at them.
Why? Verse 22. For they are life to those who find them, and they are health to a man's bones. So for those of you who don't read, you need to read.
And you need to read good material. And you need, first of all, to read your Bible. For your Bible is a source of life to you, both correcting and guiding, rebuking, training, and so on. And if your Bible is a closed book to you throughout the week, do not think that in the space of some thirty-five minutes here on the Lord's day that I or the others who stand in this pulpit can counteract all that flushes over each of us in the remaining days of the week. I've been reading a lot of Calvin and Luther in recent days and have been struck forcibly by the fact that they preached every single day. Calvin preached every day in Geneva. Every day he preached.
The congregation came every day. That's what we need. It's not that we need less preaching. We need more preaching. We need more teaching. Because think of all the hours that there are in a week, and think about all the images that flush through our minds in a week, and think about all the material in the literature that gushes over us in a week, and think about how we assimilate all of that and we process all of that. And then do you think you can counteract it in thirty-five minutes on the Lord's day, and some of you never come back in the evenings?
Oh, you must be brilliant that you can get by on so little. Listen, he says, pay attention. Don't let them out of your sight. Keep them within your heart.
That's what we saw last time. The words that help in the New Testament, you find the same thing. Don't let unwholesome talk come out of your mouth. Ephesians 4, Colossians 3, since you've been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, and therefore put away all of this junk, he says, including filthy language. We use the phrase, don't we?
Talking ourselves into it? And that's why words, sensible conversation, provide an antidote to foolish behavior. Sensible words provide an antidote to foolish behavior. Unwholesome talk, filthy language, greases the slopes for bad activities. That, incidentally, teenagers, is why you shouldn't listen to garbage lyrics. Because they groove paths in your mind that are ungodly, they're untrue, they're unwholesome. Are you free to listen? Of course. All things are lawful, but not all things are expedient.
They won't be helpful to you. The things that are helpful are the things that are pure and are holy and are gentle and are kind and are good, and they're full of wonderful reports. And, says Paul to the Philippians, think on these things. Now, we've only got to verse 2. I do apologize.
I must just pick it up, speed it up very much. Otherwise, we'll get a complete series on chapter 5. Now, the reason for this warning is so that this man may be prepared. Because we are now introduced to this individual who appears with frequency throughout the pages of the book of Proverbs. She's described in various ways.
She's kind of the archetypal seductress. If you let your eye go down to verse 6, you will notice that this individual gives no thought to the way of life. You have this notion of somebody who is not really concerned very much about tomorrow or about her tomorrows. She's very concerned about tonight.
Tonight's the night. She takes no thought to the way of life. Her paths are crooked, and she herself doesn't even understand.
That's why he said in verse 27—you didn't need to move from the page 27 of chapter 4—"Don't swear of my son to the right or to the left. Keep your foot from evil." If you start zigzagging on these issues, you will very quickly run into her, because her paths are crooked. She is shifty. She is shaky. She is slippy.
She doesn't realize how bad it is. I'm walking through Nordstrom's the other day. I had a strange temptation.
There was a lady sitting on a stool, and she was getting her face made up. And I think I'd just seen myself on the stainless steel of the escalator, and I thought, I wonder if that man could fix me at all if I jumped up in the chair. That's why I say it was a strange temptation. I mean, it was a bizarre thought, wasn't it?
And it'll allow you to pray more sensibly for me, but these are the things that pass through my mind. You know, I thought he was doing a pretty good job on her, and I thought, maybe there's… Anyway, a lot of the concentration was on her mouth. I actually stopped for a moment just to watch to see how it was done. And there was a tremendous emphasis on the lips. I believe you can get your lips enlarged.
You can get them rearranged. You can do a number of things with them, because lips not only are the conveyance of words, but they also are the means of engagement. For the flow of microbiotics in that reciprocal encounter involving lips. This is also known as kissing.
But I told you I wanted to be discreet with the children here. Now, we can't delay on this, but our lips are sweet, they're smooth, and they're seductive. Sweet, smooth, and seductive. Actually, when you get into Song of Solomons in chapter 4, you find that sweet, smooth, and super lips are part of God's provision for a husband and a wife in relationship to one another.
There's nothing wrong with sweet, smooth lips. In fact, that's God's design. But in this case, used at the wrong time, in the wrong place, with the wrong person, even that which is good and beautiful in the plan of God becomes perverted as a result of our own fleshly instincts and the inroads of the evil one. But although it may be delicious in its prospect, it's disgusting in its end. Verse 4, in the end there's a dreadful aftertaste. You walk away, and there's a bitterness that you can't remove.
The smoothness has been replaced by the serrated edge of the sword. Conscience has been stirred. In the end, she's bitter as gall. We'll say more about this as we conclude, but that little phrase, in the end, is important. One of the Puritans said, Never do anything you would be afraid to do if you knew it was the last hour of your life.
Never do anything you'd be afraid to do if you knew it was the last hour of your life. But in the end, the love we take, says McCartney and Lennon. See, there is a way that seems right to a man.
It may even feel right to a man, but it leads to destruction. And in verse 5, this individual invites you to join her, and it's not going to be on a detour. She's inviting you to a dead end. To a dead end. You can see this in Proverbs 2, in verses 18 and 19. In a similar statement, her house leads down to death, her path to the spirits of the dead. None who go to her return or attain the paths of life. What's wrong with this picture?
Just about everything. Secondly, in verses 7–14, notice that this price he describes is far too high. This price is far too high. Begins the next section in much the same way. Now then, my sons, listen! Listen! Don't turn aside from what I say. Pin your ears back. Pay attention. Do what I'm telling you.
And then notice how he puts it. Keep to a path far from her. Do not go near the door of her house. Do you remember, as a small boy or girl—I hope you do, because otherwise I'm confessing to you something that is, again, completely weird—but do you remember, in that first initial flush of interest in someone of the opposite sex, how you would contrive of every possibility just to go past her house? You're on your bike.
You rode up, and then you rode back, and up and back. You never saw her. It didn't matter if you saw her. Just to be near her house, you know? You got it in that great country western song where love has fallen apart, you know, Just because I asked a friend about her, and just because I spoke her name somewhere, and just because I dialed her number by mistake today, she thinks I still care.
Of course he still cares. Well, that's okay when it's in the paths of righteousness. But it's absolutely verboten when it's along the path of sin.
There's nothing particularly brilliant about this, is there? You find the same thing in the New Testament. In 2 Timothy, Paul says to Timothy as a young man, Flee the evil desires of youth.
Make a run for it. I was talking with someone not so long ago. He was asking advice and counsel in this area. And when I began to tell him these things, he said, Oh no, there must be something more than that. It was a bit like when Naaman wanted to be healed.
That's how I felt. You know, when Naaman wanted to be healed, and Elisha said, Go dip yourself in the Jordan. And Naaman said, Who does he think he is?
I'm not going in the filthy river. I thought that he would come and wave his hands over me, and he would do something dramatic, and I would have no leprosy anymore. And the servant said, My master, Naaman, if the man had asked you to do something difficult, wouldn't you have done it? He at least asked you to do something simple.
Why wouldn't you do it? And I began to tell this man. He said, Oh, I thought there was something like, you know, you could wave your hands, and it would all be gone.
No, there's no waving of the hands. There's no be gone. Keep far from our house. Don't go by our door. Run for your life. Because the price you'll pay is far too high.
Let me explain it to you, he says. You'll squander everything. You'll squander your best strength. That, incidentally, is the importance of being a virgin when you're married. Because once you squander your best strength, you can never share that with someone again. It just makes absolute practical sense.
We would expect it to do so. After all, God in his wisdom knows what's absolutely perfect. And if in the bounds of marriage, then a man or a woman determines that they will step out with that framework, then it is to do that which squanders. You'll squander your honor. Chapter 6, verse 32 and 33, A man who commits adultery lacks judgment. Whoever does so destroys himself, blows and disgraces his lot.
His shame will never be wiped away. You'll destroy your freedom. You'll destroy your best years. Why, give your best strength to others and your years to one who is cruel. Oh, well, she's not cruel. She's a lovely lady.
No, she has sweet, seductive lips. But in the end, the aftertaste is horrendous. Strangers will feast on your wealth. Your toil will enrich another man's house.
In chapter 6, just one cross-reference here, The prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulterous prays upon your very life. See, it's always suggested that there's something extra, something additional, something that will add, you know. It doesn't add. It subtracts. It's offered constantly in the media, in magazines, in all kinds of literature. It's held out to us as something that will make an addition.
No, it makes a reduction. It is to squander. It puts us in the realm of physical danger. It puts us in the realm of social disgrace and sexual sin sears the sinner inescapably. Sexual sin sears the sinner inescapably. Isn't that what Paul says to the Corinthians? Every other sin a man does is outside of himself, but when he commits sexual sin, he sins, he violates against his own psyche, his own physicality, his relationship with God, his relationship with his spouse, his relationship with his children, his relationship with his colleagues, his relationship with every single person. And forgiven it may be, but the searing impact of it remains forever.
And anyone who tells you differently is talking to you from an empty head and from a closed Bible. Why do you think the warnings are so strong? Why do you think he pleads with his son? Oh, son, don't go down this road. Please, listen to your dad. Listen to your father.
Because you can never repay this. You're listening to Truth for Life Weekend. That is Alistair Begg with an important warning for each one of us.
We'll hear more next weekend. As Alistair mentioned today, the Bible is the source of life and health, and studying God's Word daily is the antidote for foolish behavior. That's why you often hear Alistair encourage you to open your Bible and think it through for yourself. In addition to studying the Bible along with us on Truth for Life, we recommend that you spend personal time in God's Word, and we have an easy-to-use Bible reading plan that will guide you through four passages of Scripture each day, so that after a year's time you will have read through the entire Bible.
You can download the Bible reading plan for free at truthforlife.org. And if you're looking for an encouraging book to read, let us recommend a book called How Christianity Transformed the World. At a time when Christianity is often attacked for doing more harm than good, this book points to the men and women whose Christian faith helped shape values both historically and in today's world. For example, you'll read in this book about the many positive contributions Christian beliefs have made on society's view of things like health care, human rights, and the dignity of women. Find out more about the book How Christianity Transformed the World as you visit the Truth for Life app or our website truthforlife.org. I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for listening this weekend. Next weekend, we'll hear the conclusion of today's message and we'll find out how living in light of the end can help us resist the temptations of today. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
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