Proverbs 7: Keep My Commands and You Will Live
August 7, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
A great struggle for many people is maintaining fidelity to biblical norms regarding sexuality. How is this to be achieved? Many people assume that such fidelity to biblical norms is for all practical purposes impossible. But should we conclude this, we who have the Spirit of God within us and serve a God whose commands are not burdensome? Down through church history, multitudes of followers of Christ—facing all kinds of temptations not dissimilar to ones we face today—have rejoiced as they have found the daily bread necessary to stay strong and stay the course of biblical fidelity. This chapter gives us some more insight into how this fidelity is achieved, in particular with relation to avoiding adultery.
The first key, verses 1-5, comes down to the Word of God. Our actions follow our thoughts, and the Word of God, if we dwell in it and upon it, has the power to shape our thoughts and give us strength to face the daily (hourly) battles of temptation. The psalmist advises the same: “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word” (Psalm 119:9). Bind these commands on your fingers; write them on the tablets of your heart.
The author of Proverbs has more in mind than merely intellectual familiarity with what God says in the Bible. It is a constant meditation upon, awareness of, and affection for God’s Word. Every time, without exception, that I have had the sad task of helping someone extract themselves from sexual sin, somewhere at root there has always been a failure in regular, daily quiet times with God in his Word. The Bible is our life blood.
The second key, verses 6-22, is a dose of straightforward reality. Sexual sin hides in the shadowlands of fantasy. You wake up the next morning, the deed is done after you have visited that site on the Internet, and the sin that was sweet is now sour in your mouth. Sometimes it takes longer to realize this than a mere next morning awakening; sometimes it takes months, even years, on occasion. But the harsh reality is expressed in these verses: “like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life” (7:23). Many of us have not trapped birds, I suppose, so it may be hard for this imagery to become vivid in our minds.
The other day a small bird flew into one of the windows of our home. Sometimes birds mistake windows for simple free air. Imagine the bird flying along, not a care in the world, swooping merrily from one part of the sky to another, and then suddenly without warning… and now that little bird is dead.
Similarly, an affair may feel sweet for a while but really it is like, without warning, having a trap sprung around you, “little knowing it will cost you your life.” This is another thing that I have found time and time again with people I have talked to who are trapped in sexual sin. They do not think it is doing them any harm. All around them—their family, their friends, their social life, their business life, their own mind, their sense of peace, most of all their relationship with God—all around them the devastation is plain for those with eyes to see. But they cannot see; they do not notice the trap until it is too late.
Third, verses 24-27: therefore, take these truths to heart. “Do not let your heart turn to her ways” (7:25). At the time the temptation may well feel enticing; if it did not, it would not be temptation. But hide God’s Word in your heart that you might not sin against him. Remember the harsh reality of the all too deadly devastating effects of sin. “Keep my commands and you will live” (7:2).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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