The GPS system in your phone or your car can be very helpful in directing you around traffic problems and delays so you can successfully arrive at your destination.
By that, GPS is useless if you don't consult it. The Bible is very similar. It can steer us away from distractions and temptations, but only if we read it and obey it.
Today on Truth for Life weekend, we're studying Proverbs chapter 5, but Alistair Begg begins today in chapter 6. You 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. 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. Now for those of us who are sitting here and saying, Well, you know, this is very good advice. I'm glad he's mentioning this, finally, because of Mr. So-and-so, I've been meaning to mention this to him, as if somehow or another you're immune to it.
If you think you're immune to it, you're in great danger. Let a person who in this respect thinks they stand take heed lest they fall. A few years ago, a very gifted and prominent pastor in the United Kingdom left his wife and his family in favor of a friend. Tremendous hullabaloo ensued, both in the Christian and in the secular press. Only many articles at that time was one in the Daily Telegraph in England, written by a lady called Anne Atkins. I read it at the time, and I kept it in my files.
I thought that it was very honest and very challenging. She mentioned how she could think of hardly anyone less likely to abandon his loved ones than this highly respected and revered pastor. But she said she was not surprised.
She had been prepared for it for a very important reason. And then she wrote this, When I was younger, I used to find some Christian teaching rather gloomy. The doctrine of total depravity, for instance, I prefer to think everyone's jolly nice, really. And so we are, we're made in the image of God with a divine stamp on us all. Incidentally, this is an article in the Daily Telegraph in the secular press. For those of you who are thinking about journalism and the arts, don't forsake this arena. It's possible to write cogently, cohesively, impactfully in our day.
For all of you in the public school systems and teaching children, don't give up. The Bible also teaches that we have fallen from this created ideal, and now we're rotten through and through, all of us. I have friends who consider this deeply offensive, but as I have got older, I have found it increasingly liberating. You see, I too am an adulterer.
She writes, A few years ago I was in a remote part of the world, alone with the owner of an idyllic island. As the days went by, he became more attentive and more attractive. It was an extremely pleasant sensation. I was enjoying myself greatly, my work required me to be there, and my head insisted that I was above temptation. But I'm not. The Bible tells me so. Consequently, I knew I must leave urgently.
I did. By the grace of God, I didn't commit adultery. Not then, and not yet. But it's there, in my heart, biding its time. Jesus said, That makes me as bad as the worst offender, happily, because I've always been taught that I am capable of adultery. I have always been on my guard against it.
After all, it doesn't start when you jump into bed with your lover, but months, years earlier, when you tell yourself that your friend understands you better than your spouse. Who wants to look back over his life and find that verses 11 to 14 fit? At the end of your life groaning, when your flesh and your body are spent. Verses 22 and 23, ensnared by evil deeds, the cords of sin tying us up, dying for lack of discipline led astray by stupidity and folly. You say, How I hated discipline! How I wish I'd listened to my father! How my heart spurned correction! How I thought it was an addition and it was a reduction! How I thought it would add and it only squandered! I wouldn't obey my teachers! I wouldn't listen to my instructors! I've come to the brink of utter ruin and look at me in the middle of the whole assembly!
What's wrong with this picture? Just about everything. How high is this price?
Too high for any of us to pay. Finally, verses 15 to 23, look at this passion that there is to enjoy. Verses 15 and 16 provide an imagery that's not difficult to grasp and needn't expand upon it. Through 17, it speaks of exclusivity. The picture there is of the enjoyment of the physical dimensions of life and love within marriage. Yours alone—that's exclusive—never to be shared with strangers.
We understand that. It's to be marked by exclusivity, but not in some dreadful, boorish, half-hearted, mathematical, restrictive way, because it is to be matched also by ecstasy. Notice may your fountain be blessed. Look at the verbs.
Rejoicing. Look at the description of your wife, a loving doe, a graceful deer. That's Semitic poetry. It may not float your boat, particularly. You maybe don't want to write it on your anniversary card.
But if you understand Semitic poetry—some of you have to take great care about your anniversary cards—but if you understand Semitic poetry, and your wife does, then actually it may be good for a weekend in the hills. Because it's a very attractive picture, all right? But the point is, you're supposed to be intoxicated by her, captivated by her, ecstatic as a result of her. Notice the lasting dimension of it. It's not only exclusive and ecstatic, but it is constant. May you ever be captivated by her love. May her breast satisfy you always. Why forsake the true in verse 19 for the parody in verse 20? When I wrote Lasting Love, and whenever it was, every so often I go back and look at this stuff—1997.
It's a long time now. I wrote a section in here about the importance of the ever and the always. If we're going to make sure that we don't face marital failure. And I wrote at the time, most marriages don't disintegrate because of some bizarre event that appears like a devastating scud missile out of the blue.
Much more frequently, the love in the relationship gradually evaporates like a slow leak in a tire that goes undetected for a long time. Vigilance and care are therefore necessary in the everyday events of life. And neither superficial optimism—oh, we'll be fine!—or debilitating pessimism—this is destined for destruction—should permeate our thinking.
We need to be realistic about the challenges, dependent upon God's resources, and committed to seeing things through to the finish. One of our favorite songs as a couple is written by Eric Katz and Beth Nielsen Chapman. It's called All I Have.
It was made all the more poignant by the fact that Beth Nielsen Chapman's husband died in the infancy of their marriage. So she wrote these words, I feel like I've known you forever and ever. Baby, that's how close we are. Right here with you is where my life has come together and where love has filled my heart. You know I'd go anywhere as long as I have you to care. All I have is all I need, and it all comes down to you and me, how far away this world becomes in the harbor of each other's arms. Where he says, Son, don't settle for the parody.
That wonderful song by Paul Overstreet, All the love that a man could want I've got waiting for me at home. So it is in this ecstatic, exclusive, constant commitment that we find the preservation against the inroads of promiscuity. Let me wrap it up by pointing out to you what the Bible points out—namely, that the Bible always tackles the issues of life from the perspective of the end. Verse 21, a man's ways are in full view of the Lord.
He examines all his paths. That's why we have to consider all of these issues, all of these practical issues that we're called to about across the street, in light of the fact that there is a judgment day coming when we will stand before God and give an account. So the Bible asks, what will the prophet a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Making the point, who cares if you're a big businessman if you haven't taken care of the issue of your eternity? What's the benefit of enjoying all of this squandering of your resources now if, on the day of judgment, you're going to be called to account for it?
It doesn't make any sense, apart from it being a total violation of God's command. And since the Bible speaks so clearly about the examination of our paths and the examination that we will one day face, some of us are saying, Well, what am I supposed to do? Well, there's another whole sermon in this, and I can't give it to you, but I'll give you the outline. Number one, practice the presence of God. Practice the presence of God. Remind yourself every day you get up and everywhere you go, I am in the presence of God. There is no place that I can go. When I sit down, when I stand up, when I get on a plane, when I go in a hotel room, no matter where I go, I live in the presence of God. We need to remind ourselves of that every day. As teenagers, well, my parents are not here. They went away for the weekend.
Who cares? You're in the presence of God. Practice the presence of God. Memorize the Word of God. How will a young man keep his way pure? By taking heed according to the Word. Thirdly, stick with the people of God. Don't isolate yourself.
Isolation is danger. Make sure that you made a commitment to be amongst the people of God, whoever they are, wherever they are. As long as they believe the Bible and love Christ, then go ahead and have a wonderful time. And finally, accept the forgiveness of God. Accept the forgiveness of God. There are some people, and it's understandable that there would be, for whom a message like this this morning is pretty devastating, because it rattles around in the dustbin of sins that have already been forgiven. Some of us are perhaps fiddling around with it.
I haven't even mentioned the thresholds of it—the internet and all of that stuff. It'd be surprising in a congregation this morning if there weren't people who are hooked into all of that. And you know who you are, and God knows who you are, because everything you do and everything I do is done before his searching gaze.
But for the person who says, I made a royal hash of this, and I don't know what to do—listen. Even adultery, as wrong as it is, is not the unforgivable sin. We're not trapped fatalistically in the clutches of sin. God's kindness points each one of us to the doormarked repentance. To enter through that door is to acknowledge that I'm a sinner, that sin is an offense against God, it's an offense to God, and in the face of God I have no legitimate right to be let off. The only basis on which I can appeal is on the basis of his mercy, his unfailing love, his great compassion—and where is all that mercy and unfailing love and great compassion to be found?
In the Lord Jesus Christ, who by his death on the cross silenced the condemnation of the law by paying the wage it demanded and clearing the way for the repentant sinner to be freed from all debts, so that we can say in Romans 1, there is now therefore no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. It was this truth, when it gripped H. G. Spafford, that he wrote down in his hymn, wasn't it? When peace like a river attended my way, and sorrows like sea billows roll … Remember, Spafford, he lost his son, and then his family were going to the United Kingdom. They were going via Le Havre in France.
The Atlantic crossing was to go to Le Havre. His wife and girls, four daughters, set off ahead of him. He stayed back because of the Chicago fire. He was then to follow. The ship sunk, and the telegram he received from his wife said, Saved alone. He recognizes that his four daughters have been drowned in the Atlantic. His wife now is on the far side of the Atlantic. He must go to her. He boards a ship. He gets on the ship, and out of respect, they hold a service at the point of the Atlantic where they had identified the ship having gone down. And in the context of that, he writes, When peace like a river attendeth my way, and sorrows like sea billows roll, Whatever my lot you have caused me to know, it is well with my soul.
We understand that in the throes of everything else. But how in the world does he get this verse in it? My sin, O the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part, but the whole, Is nailed to his cross, and I bear it no more. Bless the LORD, bless the LORD, O my soul!
You say, Spafford, what have you got that in the middle of a hymn about your daughters drowning in the ocean for? Because he would have said, The really significant wonder to me is this, Not that I have lost my loved ones, And all the pain that is represented in that. The great wonder to me is that as the ocean has swallowed up my daughters, so the sea of God's forgiveness has swallowed up all of my sin, And I am clean before God today. There is no record that he holds against me, you see. And that, my friends, is the great thing.
Not the issue of our physical strength, not the issue of our intellectual prowess, not the issue of our business acumen. Have you come before the law of God and it has confronted you and shown you that you have every occasion for sadness? Then would you look away to the cross and find out that in Jesus there is every reason to rejoice? And that's why we teach our children, Wide, wide is the ocean, and high is the heavens above, And deep, deep is the deepest sea, is my Savior's love, For I, though so unworthy, still am a child of his care, For his Word teaches me that his love reaches me everywhere.
And therefore you can step out. No condemnation now I dread, Jesus and all in him is mine, Alive in him my living head, And clothed in righteousness divine. Therefore bold I approach the eternal throne.
On the basis of what? On the basis of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is forgiveness, my dear friends, in nobody else.
And every other offer is a futility and is a crock. Do you hear God's Word to you today? Can I ask you, are you a wise boy? Are you a wise son? Are you a wise daughter? Are you a foolish child? A wise son makes his mom happy, A foolish son rots her bones, A wise daughter rejoices the family dining table, A foolish daughter finds her parents living in tears. Our world, you see, under a disguise of wisdom, says Paul to the Romans, has become foolish. Praise the glory of God and all of his truth and all of his righteousness, for a bunch of mumbo-jumbo about beasts and things with tails and the creation of funny little idols.
One final illustration I'm through. Those of you who've gone to Scotland may have gone to Oban. It's a nice little place, rains like crazy, though they are nearly all the time.
That's why the vegetation is so green. But if you go to Oban on the west of Scotland, it's impossible to go in there, either by boat or by car, without being immediately struck by a remarkable building which overlooks the bay. It's Colosseum-like in its construction, and if you arrive in the evening, you discover that it is floodlit, and it really looks pretty attractive. It's quite unusual and spectacular.
But you should be prepared for a disappointment if you decide to trek up to it during the day. Because if you trek up to it in daylight, you will discover that the building, although it is wonderfully symmetrical and has many windowed in its structure, the building is a complete shell. There's no glass in the windows.
There's no interior structure. It is, and it always has been, simply a circular wall. This edifice has been there for over a century now. In Scotland it is known by all who visit it, by the name of the man who constructed it, a man by the name of Macaig. It is known as Macaig's Folly.
It is a folly, a foolishness. It is one of many eighteenth- and nineteenth-century structures which you will come upon as you visit the United Kingdom and also visit France. They're always impressive. They're always expressive of classical or gothical architecture.
They have one thing in common. They are constructed to impress, but they serve absolutely no useful function. They are empty, and they are useless. What about your marriage this morning, sir, madam? Constructed it to impress, have we? Looks okay from a distance.
It's the right kind of lighting in the evening. But in the inside, it's all emptiness, it's all sadness, it's all pain. No tapestry, no windows, no nothing. And God says, All my ways are perfect, and all my paths are peace. I invite you to embrace God's way.
It is the only way. You're listening to Truth for Life Weekend. That is Alistair Begg explaining how living in light of eternity can help us resist the temptations of today.
Alistair will be back in just a minute to close today's program. In today's message, Alistair mentioned a book he's written titled, Lasting Love, How to Avoid Marital Failure. This is a book that takes a candid look at the essentials of a healthy marriage.
As you read the book, you will find biblical wisdom to help your marriage last a lifetime, whether you're a newlywed or have been married for decades. And you're welcome to download the audio book for free. You can find out more about the book, Lasting Love, when you visit our website at truthforlife.org.
While you're on the website, check out another book that we're excited about. It's titled, Before You Share Your Faith. This is a brief handbook written by Matt Smethers that provides five helpful tips on how to talk to others about Jesus. You can easily read this book in an hour or two, and you will feel more prepared and more confident about initiating a discussion about the gospel. Again, the title of the book is, Before You Share Your Faith. You can find out more about the book when you visit us on the Truth for Life app or on our website at truthforlife.org.
Now this is the time of year when I know many of you look forward to summer vacations. Keep in mind that if you listen to Truth for Life on the radio, you don't have to miss a single program just because you're traveling. When you're away from home and you want to listen to a local radio station, you can find the time when Truth for Life is aired and the station call letters where the program can be heard by visiting truthforlife.org slash station finder.
Just type in the zip code, the city name, or even a local landmark, you'll find a list of stations in your area that broadcast Truth for Life. Now here's Alistair. God, our Father, we pray this morning that your word may take root in our hearts and minds, that as young people looking out over the horizon of life, you will help us to make wise choices, that we may become these children to our parents, about which Proverbs speaks, that those of us who have been fooling around on the fringes of things may stay away from the door, may run—whether running means turning off the computer, throwing away the magazine subscription, changing my job, relocating my seat, whatever it may be—help us, Lord. Thank you, too, that you keep us in the evil day. The fact that we're still standing as we think of that lady's article in the telegraph is an account of your grace, your goodness. So we want you to take our lives and use them, and we pray in your name. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine.
Thanks for joining us this weekend. Many first-time parents lament the fact that newborns don't come with an instruction manual. Next weekend, we'll learn how to love our sons and daughters wisely, and we'll discover four questions every Christian child should be able to answer with confidence. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the learning is for children.
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