The High Cost of Low Choices
No one starts down the pathway toward immorality thinking, “You know, I really want to destroy my marriage today. I would love it, if I could give the enemy an advantage on me, and bring immeasurable reproach on my family.” The fact that no one thinks like that and yet still people destroy their lives through immorality shows us how self-deceiving sin really is. We foolishly think that the pleasure of sin will be worth the consequences of sin. Or we think that somehow we will avoid the consequences of our sin. We think that we will enjoy the sin for a short time, but then we will stop. We think that we are different than others who have destroyed their lives. We fully expect to repent of our sin right away, and then avoid the ruin that comes. But in reality, we are deceived. We are blinded to the high cost of our sinful choices.
So how do we guard ourselves from the deception of immorality? How do we warn our sons and daughters? How do we teach others in the church to guard themselves from immorality? There are a number of answers that we could give, but I want to focus on two that Solomon gave his son in Proverbs 7: 1) we must count the cost, and 2) we must befriend wisdom.
We must count the cost
Those who fail to count the cost of immorality are more susceptible to the seduction of the adulterous woman. In Proverbs 7, Solomon warns his son of the danger of adultery. In verses 6-27, he tells his son that while the pleasures of immorality are real, they are short-lived. The adulteress seduces the man by flattering him with her words. At the same time that she pretends to care about spiritual things, she is violating the moral law of God: “I was due to offer peace offerings; today I have paid my vows” (v. 14). In verse 15, she makes the young man feel special by seeking after him. In verses 16-17, she entices him with her preparation. In verse 18, she acts as if she is offering true love and ultimate satisfaction, “Come, let us drink our fill of love until morning; let us delight ourselves with caresses.” In verses 19-20, she calms his potential fears by telling him that her husband will be gone for a while. Then in verse 21, Solomon summarizes her ways: “With her many persuasions she entices him; with her flattering lips she seduces him.”
In all of this enticement, the adulteress minimizes the high cost of his low choices. And that is exactly why Solomon warns his son. He wants his son to know that while her offer seems appealing, the cost is extreme, and ultimately not worth it. Consider verses 22-23, “Suddenly he follows her as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as one in fetters to the discipline of a fool, until an arrow pierces through his liver; as a bird hastens to the snare, so he does not know that it will cost him his life.” Solomon likens the immoral man to an ox walking merrily to be slaughtered, or the bird expecting to get a nice meal from inside a trap. But the end of the ox and the bird and the immoral man is death. Solomon wants his son to see the high cost of immorality. The prospect of “death” ought to be screaming at him when the temptation is severe; “it will cost him his life.” Solomon drives home his point in the final two verses: “many are the victims she has cast down, and numerous are all her slain. Her house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death” (vv. 26-27).
Christians, if we are going to avoid immorality, we must count the cost. So practically what does this look like? How do we take the wisdom of Solomon and apply it to ourselves? How do we count the cost of immorality in a tangible way? In his book, The Purity Principle, Randy Alcorn tells the story of a man who had destroyed his life with immorality. After some time had passed, Randy asked him, “What could you have done to prevent this?” His response was “If only I had known the cost.” Out of that conversation, Randy developed for himself a list of specific consequences that would come if he ever violated God’s prohibitions against immorality. I would commend this list to you, and encourage you to write your own list, and then read it often.
We must befriend wisdom
The Scriptures teach that we will avoid the temptation of immorality if we take time to count the cost. But secondly, Solomon equips his son to avoid immorality by teaching him to become a friend of wisdom in verses 1-5:
My son, keep my words And treasure my commandments within you. Keep my commandments and live, And 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,” And call understanding your intimate friend. That they may keep you from an adulteress, from the foreigner who flatters with her words.
So if we are going to avoid immorality, we must meditate on wisdom and understanding. We must consider what is true and right before God. We must see the big picture. We must consider what ultimately satisfies. We must consider for Whom we live. We must consider how the Bible describes love. We must consider what our sin cost our Savior. As we focus on wisdom, the temptation of immorality is seen for what it is—fleeting pleasure that will cost us our life. In other words, we see the sin of immorality from God’s perspective. And here is the promise that we have from God in verse 5: those who embrace wisdom and understanding will avoid the trap of the adulteress, and the foreigner who flatters with her lips.
Avoid the trap of immorality by counting the cost and by befriending wisdom. The pleasure of immorality is short-lived. The cost is high, so consider your ways. Embrace the truth of God’s Word and save yourself from unspeakable trouble.
“Flee from sexual immorality…glorify God with your body, for the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (1 Cor 6:18-20).
It’s such a powerful reminder in this article about the seriousness of immorality. I was reading Kevin DeYoung book yesterday (The Hole in Your Holiness) and talking about the effort we must take to fight for our own holiness is very important. Our holiness will not come without taking effort in pursuing it. This for the great approach of thinking about and contemplating the cost of sexual sin (flirting with sexual activities or even the hints of immorality) is dangerous and has costly consequences. Our minds are the frontline battle field where our thoughts of immorality will begin and have that mindset of counting the cost is a great way to approach and begin the war. I will keep that list with me that Randy Alcorn developed. Thank you for the great article again. It’s such a blessing to me personally and a great reminder. We need those kinds of articles especially in the midst of immoral culture.