I was called one evening about 5 years ago and asked to go and meet with a husband and wife. As I entered the home, the children in bed asleep, I found myself in a highly emotional, angry and volatile situation. As I sat and listened, the wife, in body shaking sobs, described how she had just found out that her husband, sitting across from her, had been cheating on her for the past 18 months.
The repeated question from the wife… Why?
The repeated response from the husband… I don’t know!
What was left? A broken family, hurt and pain, a family destroyed.
Check out these cheating statistics...
In over 1/3 of marriages, one or both partners admit to cheating.
22% of men say that they've cheated on their significant other.
14% of women admit to cheating on their significant other.
10% of affairs begin online. (But increasing)
40% of the time online affairs turn into real life affairs.
We live in a world where adultery, cheating on your spouse is in many senses accepted and even expected. There are even specific websites set up so you can find someone to commit adultery/cheat with.
Sexual purity is given a huge amount of focus in the Book of Proverbs. And our focus this morning is seeking wisdom when it comes to the sin of adultery.
Adultery – A married person having sexual relations with someone they are not married to. Or a single person having sexual relations with someone who is already married.
Not something that we openly speak about, other than to condemn. And yet a message that is for both the simple and the wise.
This is a message for…
Although the passages we are exploring use the imagery of an adulterous woman, it is not blaming the cause or source of adultery on women. The imagery of the adulterous woman is a symbol of sinful foolishness. In the same way that woman wisdom is a symbol for wisdom and righteousness.
Adulterous behaviour is found both in men and woman. It takes two to tango.
Certainly, it is appropriate to use discretion as we talk about such sexual behaviour – adultery.
But we should not remain silent. God’s Word isn’t.
Adultery is condemned by God.
Condemned in the law - You shall not commit adultery. Exodus 20:14
But that would never happen to me. I would never do that.
There is no way I would engage in adulterous behaviour.
Jesus Christ condemned adultery, but also extended the understanding of adultery to include inner lust, our thought life.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28
Maybe that could happen to me. Maybe I could of have done that.
Maybe I have engaged in adulterous behaviour.
I think it would be naive and wrong for us to think that as believers, we are immune to the temptation and sin of adultery both physically and in our thought life.
WHAT LEADS TO ADULTERY?
We are simple, lacking sense...
At the window of my house I looked down through the lattice. I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who had no sense. Proverbs 7:6-7
The simple person and the person who lacks sense are talking about those who are gullible/naive. Those who fall easily into temptation.
Those who say, that could never happen to me.
I would never cheat on my husband or wife.
Those who say, this only happens to other people.
I would never seek out sexual satisfaction from online pornography, chat rooms or camming.
The simple and those lacking in sense, bury their heads to the reality of the fallen world we live in.
And what is wisdom's response…
Proverbs 5:1, 7
Proverbs 6:20-21, 23
Listen, pay attention, turn your ear, keep/bind/fasten, make a way of life, store and guard.
WISDOM and the WORD!
There is no excuse for being simple and lacking sense, gullible and naive! As his can lead to adultery.
We go looking for it…
He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in. Proverbs 7:8-9
The foolish person goes looking for sexual gratification from one other than their spouse.
The person spoken of here in Proverbs wasn’t near this her house by accident. He potentially wandered toward her house purposefully, knowing where she lived.
Do we watch programs that see us lusting over women or men?
Do we time our visits to certain places because we know someone will be there?
Do we make time and opportunity to surf pornography, chatrooms or online cams?
Do I focus my time and energy in building friendships with members of the opposite gender with lustful thoughts in mind?
Are we trying to get as close to the flame as possible without getting burned?
But it “just happened.” An excuse used to often.
But it always starts with a person who is either actively looking or at least open to the possibility of adultery/cheating.
And so, they put themselves in compromising situation in hope that something might happen.
And what is wisdom's response…
Avoid the slightest temptation.
Ask yourself, what relationship, what activities am I putting most time into and what is my motive?
If it is looking for sexual gratification from one other than their spouse.
Steer clear! Avoid!
We are Seduced…
With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. Proverbs 7:21
For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil… Proverbs 5:3
Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife? Proverbs 5:20
from the smooth talk of a wayward woman. Proverbs 6:24
We are seduced, intoxicated, deceived into seeking pleasure through adulterous actions and thoughts.
Charm, flattery, and promises of pleasure.
Making you feel wanted, valued, important.
Such openness to seduction is encouraged by any number of reasons.
Usually connected with some unmet emotional need.
Without wanting to generalise to much…
Men – we love to have our ego’s stroked.
Women – love to feel wanted, appreciated and valued.
Adultery is grounded in seduction and lies, as is all foolishness.
Promises of fulfilment without any commitments or costs.
Pleasures without responsibility and work.
And what is wisdom response…
Don’t set your heart, your passion, your desires on the temporal. On what promises so much but in the end, doesn’t deliver.
Rather set your heart on wisdom.
Set your heart on wisdom.
Rather than being seduced, intoxicated, deceived into seeking pleasure through adulterous actions and thoughts.
We form adulterous habits…
The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. Proverbs 5:22
All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life. Proverbs 7:22-23
We form adulterous habits. We follow. In all times of temptation there are ways of removing ourselves from it. But many of us follow it.
Repeat patterns of online behaviour.
Repeat patterns of flirting and meeting.
The decision to commit adultery either physically or in our thought life is not a sudden decision.
Adultery is formed in the cultivation of desires.
The ongoing habitual seeking of sexual fantasies in our thought lives through online stimulation and simulations.
And what is wisdom's response…
Be captivated by your spouse’s love. Invest in your husband or wife.
“drink from your own well” Proverbs 5:15
Practice, form habits of faithfulness to your husband and wife.
Do those things that build a marriage of pleasure, intimacy, respect, passion, and commitment. T
Value who you are married to. Rejoice in the wife/husband of your youth Proverbs 5:18
Feelings come and go; Unconditional love is what a marriage is grounded on.
Form faithful and committed habits in our relationships/marriages.
We are not to be cultivating passions and desires that see us making adulterous decisions either physically or in our thought life.
And those who are single, don't drink at all!
So, what leads to adultery?
Our passages today tell us that adultery comes from…
Being simple and lacking sense – I know that I shouldn’t do it but it just didn’t cross my mind.
We go looking for it – I felt a bit uncomfortable the first time but still I went back again
We are seduced – I look back and realise how flirtatious she has been over the time I’ve known her
We form adulterous habits – It felt good to help her out the first time so I dropped in again
CONSEQUENCES OF ADULTERY?
Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death. Proverbs 7:26-27
lest you lose your honor to others and your dignity, lest strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich the house of another. At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. Proverbs 5:9-11
The results of adultery, loss of face, shame, economic ruin and ultimately death.
Adultery can affect you physically through guilt relational turmoil , sexually transmitted diseases.
Adultery can ruin you financially through the cost of hiding your shame, possible divorce.
Adultery can destroy your reputation. You good character can be lost through one act or series of acts.
Adultery can break apart family. Losing the trust and respect of your spouse and children.
Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? Proverbs 6:27-28
You can’t play with fire and not get burned.
And note, the consequences of adultery don’t just affect the adulterers, but for those connected, spouses, families, friends.
And what is the biggest lie in adultery?
No one will find out!
For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths. Proverbs 5:21
There is no hiding the sin of adultery, either physically or in our thought life.
Probably none of us is without sin in the area of moral purity. We have all, at times, been unfaithful and unwise.
We need to be open and honest before God.
As ones who have been saved by grace we need to trust God.
As Ross shared with us last week from Proverbs 3
Trust His moral wisdom and follow it!
Trust His loving wisdom by welcoming it.
Listen to the words of the foolish person…
You will say, “How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! Proverbs 5:12
And what is wisdom’s response…
For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life, Proverbs 6:23
Again, as Ross shared last week, being confident of God’s love we need to accept instruction, correction, discipline as He directs in our lives with precision. God is seeking to refine and purify us.
We can’t do this alone. We need to seek help. We need accountability from those who can provide us with spiritual leadership and support. Don’t listen to the lies of foolishness.
From when I was twelve, and a friend and I found a pornographic magazine on the way home from school, the door has been opened for potential seduction of adulterous thoughts and behaviours in my life.
Young people, Proverbs is warning and entrusting you to train in good/righteous habits around sex in marriage now.
Married couples, your marriage covenant is to be honoured. Because if we do not pay attention, stay vigilant and set boundaries, we run the risk of falling prey to the seduction of adultery both physically and in our thought lives.
Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and to insight, “You are my relative.” They will keep you from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words. Proverbs 7:4-5