24 So listen to me, my sons,
and pay attention to my words.
25 Don’t let your hearts stray away toward [the adulteress].
Don’t wander down her wayward path.
26 For she has been the ruin of many;
many men have been her victims.
27 Her house is the road to the grave.
Her bedroom is the den of death.
(Proverbs 7:24-27, NLT)
This is the third time (cf. Prov. 5:1ff; 6:20ff) that the father has warned the son against adultery. As we observed in day five’s meditation, given the frequency of infidelity in our own time and culture, it should be no surprise that he is doing so. For it is a heart-wrenching reality that in our own time (as it probably was in theirs), adultery is pervasive among us, with almost every week bringing the news of yet another moral failure of a spouse, and the consequent dissolution of a marriage.
So the father, rightly, grabs us lovingly by the collar, gives us a shake, and says, “Wake up to this! Be attentive! Listen to what I’m saying now!” And then waves the devastating consequences of adultery like a smelling salts beneath our noses in an attempt to keep us from falling to temptation.
And why do we need smelling salts?
Because the adulteress is seductive, she is a smooth operator (Prov. 7:21). She will lull a person lacking sense (Prov. 7:7) to sleepily succumb to sexual sin. She will share promises of satisfaction that can be secretively relished. She will smother with kisses, seize with allurements, spread out a seeming banquet of delights, persuade with physical pleasures.
It struck me this morning that there is a deeper danger than merely a person here, the one the father describes as the adulteress. Don’t get me wrong, I think in each instance the father is describing an actual person, an adulteress. But he is also describing the sin of adultery. And what I feel freshly awakened to this morning by these smelling salts is the scary reality that there is a prince of the power of the air, a spirit at work in people that tempts and compels them toward disobedience (Ephesians 2:1-3).
Remember, dear friend, sin is this powerful force and attacker, seeking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). Sin is a wily foe, it is crouching at the door, and its desire is contrary to a good life for us (Genesis 4:7). Sin does not come with a full, frontal assault, saying,
“Here I am, your old friend sin. Come on, turn aside to my ways, stray over here to my path, I’ve prepared some delights that will lead to your slaughter, pierce your heart, lay you low, cost your life, bring you to the grave, and secure your painful and untimely death.”
Who would willingly buy in to that sale?
No. Sin doesn’t come at you that way. Sin is smarter than that. Sin is a seductress. Sin is a smooth talker. Sin baits and hides the hook of your destruction with pleasures and delights, enjoyments and amusements, in order to pierce your soul, hold you fast, and drag you into Sheol and the chamber of death (Proverbs 7:27).
What is the answer to slaying this crouching, smooth-talking devourer of souls?
The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17).
1 Follow my advice, my son;
always treasure my commands.
2 Obey my commands and live!
Guard my instructions as you guard your own eyes.
3 Tie them on your fingers as a reminder.
Write them deep within your heart.
4 Love wisdom like a sister;
make insight a beloved member of your family.
5 Let them protect you from an affair with an immoral woman,
from listening to the flattery of a promiscuous woman.
(Proverbs 7:1-5, NLT)
I have hidden your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
(Psalm 119:11, NLT)
Thank you for being the kind of Father that’s not afraid to tell us about the truly scary monsters that live in our world. Sin and Satan are wily and vicious foes, bent on our destruction. But you have supplied us with a book, that warns us of these smooth operators. You describe the kinds of traps and snares that will be laid in our path, so that we might have success in overcoming their temptations. Place within us the desire to follow your advice, treasure your commands, guard your instructions, and obey your commandments, that we may truly live! Fill us with your Holy Spirit, and remind us of the victory that Jesus has already secured by his costly cross.
Yes, and very amen, in Jesus’ name.
Pursuing the wise and good life with you,
Proverbs Thirty-One Day Reading Plan
August 14: Proverbs ch. 1
Aug. 15: ch. 2
Aug. 16: ch. 3
Aug. 17: ch. 4
Aug. 18: ch. 5
Aug. 19: Grace Day
Aug. 20: ch. 6
Aug. 21: ch. 7
Aug. 22: ch. 8
Aug. 23: ch. 9
Aug. 24: ch. 10
Aug. 25: ch. 11
Aug. 26: Grace Day
Aug. 27: ch. 12
Aug. 28: ch. 13
Aug. 29: ch. 14
Aug. 30: ch. 15
Aug. 31: ch. 16
Sept. 1: ch. 17
Sept. 2: Grace Day
Sept. 3: ch. 18
Sept. 4: ch. 19
Sept. 5: ch. 20
Sept. 6: ch. 21
Sept. 7: ch. 22
Sept. 8: ch. 23
Sept. 9: Grace Day
Sept. 10: ch. 24
Sept. 11: ch. 25
Sept. 12: ch. 26
Sept. 13: ch. 27
Sept. 14: ch. 28
Sept. 15: ch. 29
Sept. 16: Grace Day
Sept. 17: ch. 30
Sept. 18: ch. 31
Samuel Johnson was born on September 18, 1709, and was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer.
How Can We Pursue A Long Repentance In The Same Direction?
This last Sunday, in Calvary’s morning gathering, we studied the book of Haggai together as part of God’s Whole Story. Together we heard God speak through his prophet to his people after the exile, challenging them to remain faithful and to rebuild the temple.
The book of Haggai is the second shortest book in the Old Testament. It has 4 oracles (think: sermons), 2 chapters, and about 1,100 words.
In the book of Jeremiah we read of God’s intention for Daniel and all of those with him who have been exiled from the land of promise.
We are in a sermon series called The Whole Story, so named because we started off with the assumption, and belief really, that the whole Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus. Each and every book is a bit like a chapter that contributes to the overall story that God is telling.
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.