Proverbs: Life In The Details-The Cost of Embraced Temptation
Proverbs: Life In The Details-The Cost of Embraced Temptation
Opening Illustration: Winnie The Pooh
All of you know the familiar story of Winnie the Pooh. Question, what is the one thing that Winnie the Pooh loves? Of course the answer is honey. Winnie the Pooh will do just about anything to get his paws on some honey. On one occasion, Pooh was minding his own business when he spotted a honey bee. He became very excited and decided to follow that honey bee. That bee flew to the top of a tree. Pooh just knew that wherever a honey bee was, surly there would be honey. So, what does Pooh do? He climbs that tree and pokes his head in the notch in the tree where there was gobs and gobs of honey. Pooh as you remember dives into the tree. He eats and eats and eats. He eats so much honey that he gets stuck in the tree. The promise of honey eventually comes at a cost. Pooh manages to free himself from the tree but in doing so he falls from the tree and into a thorn bush. Pooh is left wondering if chasing the honey was even worth it.
How Do You Respond To Temptation: Flirt or Flee?
Let’s face it, we have all been tempted. We’ve been tempted to spend more than we have. We’ve been tempted to tear down someone in hopes of making ourselves feel better. Many have been tempted by easy images of subduction on the internet. We are tempted by lust, greed, idolatry, pride, and arrogance. So, what do you do when you are feeling tempted? Do you flirt with it thinking “what’s the harm” or do you flee like Joseph from Potiphar’s wife? Oh friend, temptation is a powerful tool in the arsenal of Satan. Temptation promises tremendous gain but leaves you with nothing. Temptation promises fulfillment and leaves you broken. It promisees wholeness and leaves you empty. Temptation says watch that movie, read that romance novel, listen to that music, watch that show, none of them will hurt you. All the while, temptation slowly slices into your spirit bleeding your soul. Temptation promises that no one will ever know even though it plans to publicly humiliate you and damage your relationship with God.
Temptation is not a sin. Acting on temptation is a sin. Throughout the Bible, temptation has turned many a good man into vile sinner. You can hardly think of any Bible character without seeing him or her succumb to temptation and sin. Even Jesus was tempted. Of course, we know that Jesus was without sin. Just because He was tempted does not mean that He was a sinner. Jesus overcame temptation and did not sin. He was victorious over it and His victory offers each of us hope that we too can defeat temptation.
Remember, temptation promises freedom but really enslaves. It always costs more than you have and demands more than you are willing to give.
Background and Context:
King Solomon ruled the nation of Israel for 40 years. He brought peace and wealth to the nation. Solomon’s workmen built palaces, and the great temple (house of God in Jerusalem). The people of Israel learned arts, sciences and music.
When he was young, Solomon obeyed God. He asked God for wisdom, and God gave it to him (1 Kings 3:9, 12). Other rulers, including the queen of Sheba, visited Solomon (1 Kings 10:1-13). She asked him many questions. His answers showed great knowledge of many subjects. He taught about plants, animals and fish. Solomon became more and more famous.
Solomon learned and wrote many proverbs (wise words). He collected 3000 proverbs (1 Kings 4:29-34). The Book of Proverbs contains many of these proverbs. The Book of Proverbs also contains other lessons about wisdom. And the Book of Proverbs contains many poems about wisdom.
Solomon also wrote Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon in the Bible. The Bible also contains some other books about wisdom. These books are Job, Ecclesiastes and James. And Jesus taught lessons about wisdom in Matthew chapters 5 to 7 and Luke chapters 11 to 16.
In Proverbs 5, we see a married woman tempting a man who is not her husband. This woman is representative of all sort of temptations. Like this young man, we see temptation’s invitation, then we are ensnared by temptation and then temptation gives birth to sin and death. Here you have the loving words of a father wanting to protect his son from certain death.
Temptation is dangerous because it has the ability to take over our senses. This young man is not worried about the consequences of his actions. He is not worried about her husband. He is not even thinking about the laws he is breaking or how his actions damage his relationship with God.
Proverbs 5 ESV
1 My son, be attentive to my wisdom;
incline your ear to my understanding,
2 that you may keep discretion,
and your lips may guard knowledge.
3 For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil,
4 but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps follow the path to Sheol;
6 she does not ponder the path of life;
her ways wander, and she does not know it.
7 And now, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
8 Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
9 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.”
15 Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
16 Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
17 Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.
20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
21 For a man's ways are before the eyes of the Lord,
and he ponders all his paths.
22 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
23 He dies for lack of discipline,
and because of his great folly he is led astray.
I. The Author of Temptation
Have you ever heard this statement “God is tempting me” or “why does God keep putting me in these situations”? I have. Friend, God is responsible for a lot of things in this world but one thing that He is not responsible for is all the various temptations that you deal with on a daily basis. Sorry, He is not on the hook for that one. So, if it is not God who is tempting you, then who is it? Well the answer is two fold. First, it is important to understand that you and I were born with a sin nature. This means that we are naturally and hopelessly drawn towards sin and temptation. The Bible clarifies that every man is tempted by pride (I know best attitude), immorality (sexual perversion and lust) and idolatry (making myself or something else the object of my own worship) among others. These desires were sown deeply into our DNA and frankly there is not much we, on our own power, can do about it. Most all humanity, even those that claim Christ as Savior, deal with these temptations and most are even ruled by them.
So, there is a natural proclivity within us to sin, to enjoy temptation. Even Paul wrestled with temptation when he said in Romans 7:15
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
Many people say “well, the Devil made me do it” and while that statement cannot be discounted totally, ultimately it is our on decision to embrace temptation and stop into sin. Remember, no one falls into sin unexpectedly. Sin is often subtle and temptation slowly erodes our resistance to making the choice to say “no” to evil.
How Does Temptation Work?
A. The Desire of Man
James 1:13-16 NIV
“When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full- grown, gives birth to death. Don't be deceived, my dear brothers.”
B. The Devil’s Manipulation
Matthew 4:3 NIV
“The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."
Illustration: The Devil In Our Midst
The story is told of a certain African tribe that learned an easy way to capture ducks in a river. Catching their agile and wary dinner would be a feat indeed, so they formulated a plan.
The tribesmen learned to go upstream, place a pumpkin in the river, and let it slowly float down into the flock of ducks. At first, the cautious fowl would quack and fly away. After all, it wasn't ordinary for pumpkins to float down the river! But the persistent tribesmen would subsequently float another pumpkin into the re-gathered ducks. Again they would scatter, only to return after the strange sphere had passed. Again, the hungry hunters would float another pumpkin. This time the ducks would remain, with a cautious eye on the pumpkin, and with each successive passing, the ducks would become more comfortable, until they finally accepted the pumpkins as a normal part of life.
When the natives saw that the pumpkins no longer bothered the ducks, they hollowed out pumpkins, put them over their heads, and walked into the river. Meandering into the midst of the tolerant fowl, they pulled them down one at a time. Dinner? Roast duck.
I Peter 5:8 NIV
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
I. The Author of Temptation
II. The Advice of Temptation vs. 3 and 11-12
Temptation always wants something. Temptation wants more than you are willing to give and always costs more than you have.
A married woman attracts a young man. She seems so beautiful. When he kisses her, her lips seem to taste like honey. When he listens to her, her words are so attractive. He does not think about the woman’s husband. He does not think about God’s law. He does not even think about the results of his actions. He only thinks about her.
Sometimes evil ideas attract us. These ideas might seem sweet and pleasant. Sometimes it seems easy to do the wrong thing, and it seems hard to do the right thing.
We should not do evil things. We should say, ‘This offends God. It might hurt other people. It could place me in danger.’ The devil offered bread to Jesus when Jesus was hungry. (Matthew 4:1-4) Jesus refused. He said, ‘Man does not live by bread alone. A man must live by God’s instructions.’ (Deuteronomy 8:3). We also must refuse to do evil things.
Evil ideas may seem attractive, but they are really terrible. When the man kissed the woman, even her lips tasted sweet. Later the taste in his mouth will be bitter. Later he will know the results of his actions. At first, the woman’s speech was attractive. Later she will be like a sword. She will attack him and hurt him. Evil things are often like this. Evil behavior always causes pain and trouble. The devil uses evil ideas to try to destroy us.
How Does Temptation Weaken?
A Temptation Can Be Intoxicating vs. 3
Proverbs 5:3 ESV
“For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,and her speech is smoother than oil…”
Temptation Seeks To Trap Our…
3. Every Thought
I Timothy 6:9 NIV
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.
B. Temptation Can Seem Invigorating vs. 11-12
Proverbs 5:11-12 ESV
and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say, “How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof!
Illustration: He Knew Right Where To Hit Us, Art and Money!
Mark Augustus Landis (born in Norfolk, Virgina 1955) is an American painter of original works and forgeries, who lives in Laurel, Mississippi.After he donated a large number of forged paintings and drawings to American art museums under various identities, his forgeries were exposed beginning in 2008.
For nearly 30 years, art forger Mark Landis has made headlines for duping dozens of museums into accepting fakes into their collections. Landis admits he has always had a mischievous streak. When contacting museums, he would often use aliases and dress like a Jesuit priest. With his odd demeanor and near encyclopedic knowledge of art history, Landis could easily come across as an eccentric art collector.
His skills with a pencil or paintbrush are undeniable. Often using a magnifying glass, Landis studies a print of an original work and, with meticulous attention to detail, copies exactly what he sees: religious icons, impressionist or modern works. His re-creations in the style of old masters are astonishing—and so are his tools. They include magic markers and pens and Wal-Mart frames … raw materials that proper forgers might not use.
More than 45 museums could not tell the difference between Landis' copies and original works. Not only were his fakes convincing, but he also knew exactly what to say when he met with museums. As one museum director explains, Landis would imply he had more paintings he might donate "and possible endowments from the family's estate." The museum director admits: "He knew right where to hit us. Our soft spot: art and money."
Friends, know today that the Devil knows more about you than you could possibly know about yourself. He knows every weakness and strength. Have you ever wondered how sites like google and amazon work, how they know what you are shopping for and what your interests are? These sites practice something called “data mining” where they watch your internet habits and record every key stroke. Using powerful algorithms, they learn what interests you and they constantly bombard your computer with images that tempt you to buy products.
Satan is so much more sinister than that. He has been watching you from birth and knows everything there is to know about you. He has learned to wrap his temptation in a way that you are enticed and intrigued. Using your own power, you don’t have much of a chance. It is quite a show that he puts on but ultimately you have the power to indulge.
Proverbs 14:12 ESV
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
I. The Author of Temptation
II. The Advice of Temptation vs. 3 and 11-12
III. The Aftermath of Temptation vs. 4-5, 14, 22-23
Proverbs 5:4-5, 14, 22-23 ESV
How Does Temptation Waste Lives?
A. Temptation’s Detour
“but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol…”
Friend, God has a plan and a path for your life. However, if we embrace temptation then our path takes a pretty horrible detour. Solomon says the phrase “in the end” meaning that this young man will look back on his life and think of all the places he could have gone. I liken it to a person who sits in jail with a sentence of 100 years. He wonders where his life could have gone and what he could have done.
B. Temptation’s Disgrace
“I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation.”
There are to many stories of men and women who have been shamed by the disgrace of sin. These disgraces are often public and humiliating. Never think that your potential embarrassment won’t be found out. It will be discovered. One day, our sins will be on full display of God and everything will be brought into the light.
C. Temptation’s Delivery
“The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.”
Stuart Moffatt awoke on the Saturday before Easter, loaded up his wife and three kids in the family car, and headed to the annual Easter Egg Hunt in the British town of Holford, Somerset. About 25 children participated in the egg hunt in the field beside the busy road. As the hunt was drawing to an end, the parents began counting the gathered eggs to see if all had been found.
Stuart looked out and noticed a three-year-old little boy had wandered out toward the road, and had apparently found another egg. Not recalling placing an egg that close to the road, Stuart walked out to the child, who was now standing on top of the egg. Impressed that the egg did not crack, Stuart walked up and noticed the egg was oddly shaped and textured. It wasn't until he knelt beside the little boy, still standing on top of the egg, that Stuart realized it was not an egg at all. It was a hand grenade.
In fact, it was a live, fully-functional World War 2 grenade. Stuart picked the boy up off the grenade and backed away. A bomb disposal unit was called in, and destroyed the grenade in a controlled explosion.
It's hard to fault the child. After all, it looked like an Easter egg, and Easter eggs were what he was looking for. But, sometimes, you get more than you bargained for. What you see looks like what you want, feels like what you want. But when you get it, the results can be explosive.
Defeat Temptation By Preparing, Praying and Planning An Exit!
1. Know your dangers.
Think about your own temptations. Where are you tempted? When? With whom? Why? The more you understand the situations that cause you to fall, the easier it is to work around them. “A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it” (Proverbs 22:3).
Even if you can’t see a way to resist temptation, God can. Jesus was “tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). What better resource is there than the One who overcame temptation? Ask him to show you the path around your weaknesses.
3. Plan your detour.
Find a replacement thought pattern. Instead of thinking about buying yet another hand bag or electronic gadget you don’t really need, focus on how you can spend that money on the poor. Yearning for chocolate cake? Imagine the taste of a gorgeous, crisp, colorful apple instead. Direct your attention to that uplifting book on your nightstand instead of to surfing the Internet. Choose where your treasure is, then focus on it. And “there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
Standing firm when you feel yourself slipping into behaviors that are less-than-pleasing to Jesus is a sure-fire way to draw closer to him. And what better time that Christmas to do that!