Throughout our study of the book of Proverbs we have seen, over and over, that God cares about the nitty-gritty, day-to-day details of our lives. He cares about who we are becoming, where we’re going and how we navigate life along the way. We need wisdom and that’s what God offers us through this ancient, though incredibly relevant, book. Yet, the source of this wisdom is not found in mastering a particular body of knowledge, as we’d expect, but in being increasingly mastered by God himself (a.k.a. fear of the Lord). In other words, as we increasingly let God be God to us we increasingly become wise people who are able to make wise decisions – particularly in areas of life where the normal rules of life don’t apply. Today we’re going to look at biblical sexuality. You may be surprised to discover that the Bible is not shy when it comes to matters of sex. Today, God the Father is having a conversation with us on this important topic because we’re vulnerable and we need help. Let’s walk this out together.
As we begin, we need a quick personal word. Sexual sin is like any other sin. None of us are beyond it. If you think you are, you’re probably asking for it. It is not uncommon to elevate the severity of certain sins over others. That’s often the case w/ sexual sin. Often, unforuntately, you can be angry, proud, self-righteous, anxious (all of which are often socially accepted sins) but sexual sin portrayed as the “unforgivable sin”. Here’s the problem that creates. Inevitably, when (any) sin is elevated it goes underground in the livesof those who are sincerely struggling with that particular sin. And, as it goes, hiding only makes the problem grow. Shame grows in the dark. There, it must be repeated that the church, this church must be safest place confess adultery, porn, same-sex attraction, fornication, abortion, infidelity and other forms of sexual sin. It’s ok to struggle. Its human to struggle. It’s not ok, not to struggle. Jesus offers grace for all sin. That’s good news forsexual fools.
Q: WHY DOES GOD CARE ABOUT OUR SEXUALWISDOM AND FAITHFULNESS?
There are many reasons, but let’s look at the big, over-arching, meta-reason. Let me paint a picture for you. Our sexuality is not created by some impersonal, random, evolutionary force to propagate human race. Marriage is not a genetic mutation in next step of social development. Ultimate reality is not a big, dark, empty canvas of meaninglessness.
Rather, ultimate reality is a love story anchored in God’s deep love for his people. When a man and woman love one another and commit themselves to one another with life long vows of faithfulness and are then united sexually, emotionally, financially, relationally, spiritually and more – all of that points to mega-romance of Jesus relationship with his people, the church. God created universe to tell that love story. He created marriage and sexuality to tell that story. That means that marriage and sexuality came from God and reveals God – and that our sexuality is meant to point us to deepest truths of the universe. All of this is why the Apostle Paul in Eph 5 calls this a “profound mystery” Therefore, what we do with our sexuality reveals what we believe about the Creator of it, impacts life now + forever. That is why our sexuality matters.
Q: WHAT IS THE BIBLE’S VIEW?
5:15-10 Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.
Proverbs originally written as manual for young men, so written w/ that in view. Don’t get hung up on the fact it is written from the persective. All of the principles apply across the board, for men and women. One commentar pointed out that conservatives love form, restraint, control and rules – especially when it comes to sex. Liberals love freedom, openness, and choices – especially when it comes to sex. Both see part of truth. Bible gives us whole truth: form and freedom, proper restraint and radical openness.Let’s look at what these wise sages tell these young men what marriage should be like – and make three observations.
First, sexuality is described in very positive, almost too hot to handle, terms. Hebrew poetry: “cistern” and “well” (refer to female anatomy) and “may your fountain be blessed” (refer to male anatomy). God is not a prude. The sage also commends, “Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight” and be “intoxicated always”. Literally, on that last point, it means to be drunk, stagger, unleashed in love. In other words, the sage is emphasizingquality of lovemaking (“fill…with delight” and “be..intoxicated”). i.e. Enjoy one another! And, at the same time, quantity of married lovemaking (“at all times”, “always”). i.e. Make it fun and frequent!
Second, while this may seem obvious, it should be highligted. This happens within the context of marriage. “Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets?” It’s a rhetorical question. No. Don’t just throw your body out there on the streets. There is freedom w/in forms. Openness w/in restraints and that makes marital, human sexuality, purposefully intensified.
Third, though this not in this passage, in Pr 2:17 spouse called “allup” which, in Hebrew, means intimate companion, i.e. best friend.
SUM: So, what do you get when you put all of these together? Marriage beautiful union between best friends that are drunk in love. Fun, spontaneous, free, crazy. It is the highest view of marriage and sexuality – Sexual freedom w/in context of total life entrustment of marriage.
But, instead, because we live in a broken world…and that brokenness extends to our sexuality. This brokenness manifests itself in two primary ways.
We treat it like its nothing.
30:20 This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I have done no wrong.”
No awe. No wonder. Routine. Consumption. Sex viewed as appetite to be filled. Product to be consumed. Bible says sex isn’t a commodity, something to be consumed, its part of who we are. Human sexuality is not created to be an exchange of products and services, but an exchange of selves and souls. Human sexuality is not to be used as a means self-gratification but a radical, unconditional means of self-giving. This is why you must never give someone your body without giving them your whole self. i.e. Need to be married. If you treat it like a grocery store it loses awe and wonder, but when you make it an act of total life entrustment you get awe and wonder.
Though we treat it like nothing, we still make it everything. That’s the other side of sexual brokenness:
We treat it like its everything.
11:22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.
This proverb is describing when we’re drawn to someone physically but don’t take into account their character. Distracted by the ring, miss the pig. The proverb is emphasizing the importance of character and warning us against the dangers of overdesring or overvaluing sexuality and physical attraction.
Result: Widespread habit of men to objectify women by evaluating strictly on looks. How we got pornography. Modern marketing. Music. TV. Movies. Sex sells b/c we treat it like its everything.
Result: Widespread habit of women to then tie their self-worth to your looks. Live in a culture where, for a woman, you’re basically fat and ugly no matter who you are. Idolatry particular to our culture. Why? Because we’ve made physical attractiveness and sexual prowess everything.
“OK, so how do we walk out of sexual foolishness and guard our hearts from it?”
This is primary concern of sages in Proverbs. 5 key ingredients to walk out of sexual foolishness: struggle with porn., fornication, same-sex attraction, lust. Honestly, any habitual sin. If sexual sin isn’t currently something you struggle with, then insert whatever that may be for you. These aren’t steps, but active ingredients. All need to be in play.Together, they create lasting change.
Q: HOW DO WE WALK IN SEXUAL WISDOM?
#1 BE LOVED BY, AND LOVE, GOD.
Primary way you fight sinful pleasure is with a greater pleasure; pleasure in God. Fight pleasure w/ pleasure. Delight in porn or you will delight in God – may the greatest delight win – and it will.
5:1 “My son, be attentive to my wisdom…”
7:1 “My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments…”
Who is the ultimate Father in view here? God the Father. These are Father’s words to us. Here, our good and gracious Father is coming alongside us to lovingly warn us. His great concern is not religion. His great concern is us – our life here and our life to come. God wants to be your ally against your sins. God doesn’t threaten, he warns. This coin of cultivating delight in God has two sides.
Side #1: To fight this fight, must have deep assurance you are right with God thru Jesus. Not enough to know how foolish we’ve been. All get that. Have to know how good it is to be really loved by God in Jesus. You can’t change your sinful habits on your own. You need God’s help, God’s forgiveness, God’s freedom. But, you won’t come to God if you feel unworthy to do so. This short circuits all transformation.
Rom 5:1-2 Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand…
1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God…so we are.
Heb 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Without a radical trust in and assurance of the grace of God, you will remain paralyzed by guilt and shame. To win the battle against sin we must continually draw near to God, anchored in assurance of his grace. If you make that a regular practice, you will fall less often b/c Jesus will become more precious to you.
Side #2: This relationship is stoked by feasting on God’s Word – where we learn these truths.
My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep mycommandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” andcall insight your intimate friend…
Note: Keep + treasure + bind + write + become like family, like intimate friends, w/ God’s Word. This is not just studying or skimming or looking for proof texts but embracing them.Making our home in. Means keeping it before us so that when we’re tempted we recognize the lie and draw strength from truth. We need to develop a storehouse of truth that we can draw aid and strength from in our temptations and natural weaknesses.
#2 HATE YOUR SIN
This is a tricky one. To stop doing something we must not like it. But, the reason you do itis that you like it. Primary way Father helps us develop distaste for sexual folly is by revealing its consequences and end.
Objection! “It can’t be wrong if it feels so right.” Yes, but live in broken world where disaster can be attractive. Adultery starts out attractive. Porn starts attractive. Fornicationstarts attractive. But, end in shame and guilt. “If only evil were always ugly, life would be simpler.” – Ray Ortlund
2:18 for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed; none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life.
Consequence #1 Quality and quantity of life in jeopardy, ultimately includes physical and spiritual death. This doesn’t merely highlight the state of death but the realm of death. In other words, sexual folly breeds death in all its forms in our life, in various degrees, in various ways.
5:8 Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless,
Consequence #2: Loss of honor and wasted hours, even years of life.
vs10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
Consequence #3: Financial repurcussions.
vs11 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! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors.
Consequence #4: Deep regret and guilty conscience, especially at the end of life.
vs14 I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation
Consequence #5: Public shame.
vs20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths.
Consequence #6: God is watching and there will be consequences. Don’t buy the lie that no one will know.
vs22 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.
Consequence #7: When we disobey our hearts harden. Sin leads to more sin, then we’re ensnared.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones “Be careful how you treat God, my friends. You may say to yourself, ‘I can sin against God and then, of course, I can repent and go back and find God whenever I want him.’ You try it. And you will sometimes find that not only can you not find God but that you do not even want to. You will be aware of a terrible hardness in your heart. And you can do nothing about it. And then you suddenly realize that is it God punishing you in order to reveal your sinfulness and your vileness to you. And there is only one thing to do. You turn back to him and you say, ‘O God, do not go on dealing with me judicially, though I deserve it. Soften my heart. Melt me. I cannot do it myself.” You cast yourself utterly upon his mercy and upon his compassion.” MLJ, Revival, p300
6:32 He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself. He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away.
Consequence #8: Stain than can be redeemed, but it is a stain that stays. The disgrace will not be wiped away.
The point of all of this: There is a high price for sexual folly that is inevitable, regrettable and painful. There is a tremendously high cost.
#3 AVOID YOUR TRIGGERS
6:27 Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?
5:8 Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house,
Think you can play with sin and keep it under your control? One more time? No on will know? Playing w/ fire. When/where do you struggle? What places, situations, times, people do you need to intentionally avoid? Don’t play the “I’m strong card”. Play the “I’m weak” card and you’ll be safe. What are your triggers? Does anyone else know them? What captures your attention? What dominates your thinking will dominate your life. Common: Hungry + Angry + Lonely + Tired . Some wil argue, “Well, just a matter of the heart…God needs to change my heart.” Yes, that is true, but your heart has attached itself to certain things that need to go. That may call for radical amputation.
#4 ENJOY YOUR SPOUSE
Popular culture has cultivated a myth that marital faithfulness is ultimately unsatisfying. That’s a lie. In faithful marriage lies our greatest hope for true sexual fulfillment.
Marrieds: Enjoy. Have fun. Open communication. Only morally legitimate option for sexual fulfillment.
Singles: “Yeah, what about me?” First, being married doesn’t fix anything, so there are no excuses. Secondly, you can love your future spouse right now by walking in holiness, growing in relationship with Jesus and addressing any aspects of character that need to be addressed. Technically, your spouse is alive somewhere and it is a real, tangible act of love to wait.
#5 DO WHATEVER IT TAKES.
One of the underlying calls of Proverbs and the Bible is to do whatever it takes. Keep. Treasure. Bind. Write. Don’t delay. Don’t make excuses. Don’t befriend your sin. Do whatever it takes. Do it today. It might hurt to deal with it, but it won’t kill you – but it might kill you if you don’t deal with it.
Sum: Be loved by, and love, Jesus + Cultivate a hate of your sin + avoid your triggers + enjoy your spouse + do whatever it takes (you won’t regret it).
There is one true friend for sexual fools: Jesus Christ. He wants you to know that your sexuality is a gift from God and was given to you to reveal him, in part. He wants life for you, not death. He want to maximize your joy, not take it away (even though it may feel like it). Remember parable of the prodigal son? The younger brother requests an early inheritance from his dad, which is like saying, “Wish you were dead.” Left home, dad, family and goes to a far land to indulge in parties and prostitutes. He eventually comes to his senses. Went back home with head down. While still a long way off, father got up and ran. Father did not shame him, but rejoiced over him. You may be long way off too. Maybe you’re stalling. What are you waiting for? You have a Father. You have a home. You have afamily – here. World may say you should wallow in your sin, or there is no hope, or there is nothing better, but God your Father, because of the cross, is ready to embrace you. Fly to him this morning…in your rags, in your mess, in your shame, in your darkness as you are right now. He will forgive you, clean you up, wipe away your shame, remove your guilt. It might hurt, but it won’t kill you – but it might if you don’t deal with it. Will you come home to him today? He will receive you and rejoice over you and renew you.