After hearing about several recent cases of sexual immorality involving Christian leaders, I’ve been rereading Proverbs. Solomon warns his son not to lust after an immoral woman, then asks two rhetorical questions:
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?
The obvious answer is no. Regardless of how much we rationalize that we can get away with sin, its consequences are inescapable.
In case the point of his illustrations was missed, Solomon brings it home:
So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife;
no one who touches her will go unpunished.
The New Testament sounds the same warning as the Old, directed right at believers: “God will judge the adulterer” (Hebrews 13:4). We’re told to “Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18).
Throughout Proverbs a special emphasis is placed on the consequences of sexual sin:
For the lips of an adulteress drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil;
but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave.
The Internet image, packaged to sell, is Satan’s bait. She’s the equivalent of the same adulteress Solomon spoke of thousands of years ago:
I find more bitter than death
the woman who is a snare,
whose heart is a trap
and whose hands are chains.
The man who pleases God will escape her,
but the sinner she will ensnare.
Jesus said, “Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in broad daylight, and whatever you have whispered in private in a closed room will be shouted from the housetops” (Luke 12:3).
There is no such thing as a private moment.
Moses warned, “You may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). Sometimes this judgment of God will come only after we’ve left this world. But normally the consequences start here and now, even before they’re publicly known.
A friend and I had to confront a man we dearly loved who was living a lie. Our message to him was, “What you’re doing is wrong. But it’s not only wrong—it’s just plain stupid!” In God’s moral universe, governed by the law of the harvest, whatever is right is smart and whatever is wrong is stupid. Notice what Scripture says:
But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment;
whoever does so destroys himself.
Blows and disgrace are his lot,
and his shame will never be wiped away.
(Proverbs 6:32-33, emphasis added)
Proverbs is a book written by a wise father for his son. It reminds us that we need to not only tell our children and ourselves and our friends to obey God because it’s right, but also because it’s SMART. Sin is never in our bests interests.
Sometimes, even though we should be, we aren’t sufficiently motivated by what’s right and wrong. In those times Scripture teaches us to be motivated by understanding what’s smart and what’s stupid.
The choice is ours.
I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Photo by Joshua Newton on Unsplash
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.