PROVERBS 5: 21-23
PROVIDENCE'S RESTRAINT OF EVIL
In chapter 5 we have viewed the deadly enticements of sin (5:1-14) and then the happiness provided by keeping the marriage bonds tight and uncorrupted (5:15-20; Heb. 13:4). This should motivate us to avoid adultery and esteem our marriage.
Now let us look at the end result of those that refuse to hear God's instruction, and do not heed His rebuke concerning the holy state of matrimony. God has foreordained that sin should be its own worst enemy (CIT).
I. MAN IS WATCHED BY GOD, 21.
II. MAN IS PUNISHED BY HIS SIN, 22-23.
The dire consequences of adultery (vv. 7-14) should motivate a person to avoid it. But four even higher motivations are given in verses 21-23. Verse 21 booms forth like a thunder out of heaven. "For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He watches all his paths.
This verse should be comforting to the wise and discomforting to the foolish. Freedom of choice is one of the privileges God has given us, but He instructs us and urges us to use that freedom wisely. The Words of God are guideposts to lead us on the path of life, "and He watches" the decisions we make and "all" the roads we take. Since, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good" (15:3; Job 31:1,4; Heb. 4:13), adultery committed in secret is known by the Lord.
Practical atheism is the root of human wickedness (Ps. 14:1-3). Man must certainly believe in his heart there is no God, no matter what he might profess with his mouth if he refuses to restrain his moral actions in life.
Man will restrain his actions if the eye of man or even a child is upon him. The theft holds back his hand, if the eye of man is upon him. All but the most brazen adulteress wait until night to hide their action from human eyes. If human eyes hold man in check, would not man hold his actions in line if he truly believes, "the eyes of God" were upon him?
If it would but flash upon our conscience and we would ponder that an all-knowing (omniscient) God who is the Judge of the World looks on, we would truly ponder our paths.
No one's action is hidden from God's piercing eye (Heb. 4:13). He also examines man's conduct (or ways- paths, Prov. 4:26). Man cannot escape God's scrutinizing. and He will be a swift witness against the adulterers insuring that no unclean person shall enter into his kingdom (see Mal. 3:2, Eph. 5:5; Rev. 21:8).
II. MAN IS PUNISHED BY HIS SIN (5:22-23)
Verse 22 again teaches us that sin ensnares (1:17-18), and ties a person down like ropes. "His own inquiries will capture the wicked, and he will be held with the cords of his sin.
As long as we use our freedom wisely, we will mature in Christian character, and God can trust us with more freedom and ability. But if we abuse our freedom and deliberately disobey His Word, our freedom will gradually become bondage, the kind of bondage that can't easily be broken. "The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast" (5:22). Those words could have been used as an epitaph for Samson (Jud. 13-16).
If the fornicator or adulterer will have no regard to reason or to the all-seeing eye and refuses to restrain himself, let him think of the trouble that he is bringing upon himself. God does not even need to act for man's own sins bring him into chains.
It is a principle of creation, of divine government, that one's sin becomes the instrument of punishing sinners. For both restraint in this life and in final judgment the Maker and Ruler of all things has designed into the system of the universe a self-acting apparatus which encourages good and represses evil. Though these providential laws are not the total judgment against sin, they do exert a constant force in opposition to moral evil. This force does not act to push men off the cliff but to restrain them. These cause and effect laws are intended to keep the present world system from dashing itself into chaos.
Though people like to talk about being "free" to sin as they wish, sin actually takes away freedom. As verse 22 says, "And he will be held with the cords of his sin." Wherever he goes, his sin goes with him, as cords to hold him (11:3-6; 29:6, 1 Sam. 18:5-10). Does he think that he can give them up when he pleases? Repetition forms habit. The habit becomes a ruling or governing principle. Every lust deals with us as Delilah dealt with Samson. It not only robs us of our strength (5:10) but leaves us bound fast with cords which we cannot break.
It is impossible to sin without being bound. One of the deceitful things about sin is that it promises freedom but only brings slavery. "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin" (John 8:34). "Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?" (Rom. 6:16).
The "cords of sin" get stronger the more we sin, yet sin deceives us into thinking we're free and can quit sinning whenever we please. As the invisible chains of habit are forged, we discover to our horror that we don't have the strength to break them. Millions of people in our world today are in one kind of bondage or another and are seeking for deliverance, but the only One who can set them free is Jesus Christ. "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed" (John 8:36).
[If we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive our sin (1 John 1:9). God does indeed completely forgive our sin. The problem is, sin itself brings with it its own repercussions. It's not that God judges us. That was done on the Cross. But the sin itself causes real heartache. No wonder, then, that Solomon pleads with his son to avoid strange women and the sin that is sure to follow. [Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Com: Vol 2. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson, 2006, S. 192.]
The chapter ends with a summary. Verse 23 teaches us again that being undisciplined (v. 12) in one's moral life results in death (vv. 5, 11). "He will die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he will go away."
The more wonderful the gift of God the more terrible the resulting spiritual bondage and death for those who exercise it apart from the instruction and fear of YAHWAH. As a virtue is its own reward, sin is its own punishment.
Death is the expected result for sexual immorality. For the love and loyalty that give life are severed. Physical life may struggle on but it is now rooted in the poisonous ground of rebellion, compromise, and failure that was drudged up by adultery.
Rebellion against God's Word leads to sin. Sin diminishes man's ability to even take in the Word, which, in turn, makes him vulnerable to more sin (Psalm 119:9). Then they die morally because they can't follow godly instruction. Their outer behavior eventually reflects their inner death.
"Folly" appears 21 times in Proverbs. Refusal to obey the Word of the Lord is great folly indeed. To yield to sexual lust is folly. Such folly leads one down the broad road to destruction (2 Pet. 2:14-15).
Water is not sweeter elsewhere nor grass greener. Not as long as God is in heaven and our ways "are before the eyes of the Lord." As Jesus taught us to pray: "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil (one)" (Matthew 6:13). Our failure to voice that prayer or our refusal to help answer it lead to disaster. We become entrapped in snares of our own making (v. 22). Our twisted, distorted ways ("iniquities") catch us in their nets. Our straying from God's clearly marked path or missing the target of His righteous requirements lassos us with our sin's own lariat.
No wonder the father warns his children to stay away from the adulteress. "Remove your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house" (Prov. 5:8). "Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death" (7:27).
But is there no remedy for this deadly curse? Thanks be to God! Cleansing is provided for the impure (Zech. 13:1, 1 Cor. 6:11). Deliverance is proclaimed to the captive (Isa. 61:1 - Lk. 4:18). Our eyes are on you o Blessed Savior! Cleanse the stain in Thy precious fountain and set the captive free.
For us who walk upon the straight and narrow, let us ponder our path and realize that the first step from the firm footing of virtues into the slough of vice sets into motion an unseen binding that hinders our life and our work for the Lord.