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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
 www.oaklawnurc.org/
 
Title:Lips of Honey, Bitter as Gall
Text:Proverbs 5:1-23 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Purity
 
Preached:07/27/2014
Added:2014-07-31
Updated:2014-09-08
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Pastor Ted Gray
07/27/2014 – a.m.


“Lips of Honey; Bitter as Gall”
Proverbs 5:1-23

Many of you have heard of Josh McDowell, the Christian apologist and evangelist. He has written 115 books, including the well known book on apologetics, Evidence That Demands a Verdict.  Recently Josh McDowell, now in his 70’s, also launched a website called www.1click away.com.

What is one click away?  Pornography.  McDowell notes: “The downfall of the church will not come from a lack of apologetic teaching; it will come from disintegration of the families in the church.”  The website goes on to report that more than 1 billion pornographic websites are one click away. The average age of first-time viewers of pornography is 9 years old. 80 percent of 15 to 17 year-olds have been exposed to hard core pornography. Half of all Christian families report that pornography is a problem. 30 percent of pastors have viewed pornography in the last 30 days.

In the light of those statistics we see the relevance of the Word of God. As God’s Word teaches us about all aspects of our life, including sexuality, it warns us that immorality, including pornography, may appear as sweet as honey but is as bitter as gall.
     
Proverbs chapter 5 begins with the 6th warning in Proverbs to “my son.”  In verse 1 we read,  My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight. It is a godly father’s advice to his son, but above that, it is God the Father’s instruction to us on sex education. It is practical instruction that has been relevant in every era of history. But it is especially relevant today as 1 in every 4 searches on the internet are for pornography. More than 1 billion pornographic sites are 1 click away.  Many marriages end in divorce because one or both spouses are infatuated, not with each other, but with pornography.

The world says: “It’s biological. It’s in our human make-up, so lets enjoy every passion possible.”   Pornography is presented as a harmless but enjoyable pleasure that almost everyone participates in, - so what’s the problem viewing it?

The response of Scripture, as God instructs us about our sexuality, comes in the form of a warning: 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 (3-4).

Although the lips of an adulterous woman, a forbidden woman, (literally in the Hebrew, “a strange woman”) drip honey, nevertheless, in the end those lips are as bitter as gall and cut sharper than a double edged sword.  Why is that?  In what way does immorality in general and pornography specifically cut and destroy?  One way that  it cuts and destroys is that it consumes the time, indeed the lives, of those bound by it.

The Consumption of Those Enslaved

News reports surface quite often on the number of videos found on the computers of those charged with child pornography.  It’s never 3 or 4 videos, is it?  Have you noticed how it is invariably, hundreds, even thousands of obscene, pornographic videos that these people are charged with viewing?

No wonder Scripture warns us to stay away from the “foreign woman” – from sexual sin in all its forms – lest, in the words of verse 9, you give your best strength to others and your years to one who is cruel.

Why does immorality consume so much time?  Because it enslaves.  It binds a person. It is an addiction that takes over a person’s life. Jesus said, in John 8:44, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” 

Verse 22 of this chapter point to that same truth: The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast.  Studies show that endorphins, along with other chemicals in the brain, form a powerful addiction in those who view pornography. It becomes an addiction which truly enslaves them. 

I’m sure you have seen how those strong steel cables are made. They are made with many strands of small wires. The wires in themselves wouldn’t be that strong, but woven together they make a massive cable that cannot be broken.  Every time someone watches pornography it’s like adding another strand to the cable of sin. Sin, whether sexual sin or any other sin, always binds and enslaves its victims. 2 Peter 2:19 points out that a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. And Paul adds, Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey - whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:16).

Leads to Greater Perversity

Not only does it consume hours and hours of time by those who are bound by it, but pornography, and immorality in all its forms, leads to ever greater perversity. Ecclesiastes 1:8b makes a general statement on our eyes, but it is a statement that has a specifically application to anyone who views pornography.  It says: The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.

The person who becomes addicted to pornography always needs more. The person that is addicted to pornography will find that they are no longer satisfied watching natural physical acts.  In order to find satisfaction they need to watch something unnatural, something more perverse and violent than what they watched before. Studies have shown that pornography frequently leads to rape as the person who has viewed pornographic images begins to visualize acting the scenes out. 

One of the best known examples took place long before the Internet was popular.  Back in the 1970’s a man by the name of Ted Bundy raped and killed at least 28 women in a spree that spanned 7 states, from Washington state all the way down to Florida.  He was apprehended and sentenced to death.  Before his execution on January 24, 1989 in the Florida State Prison, he gave an interview to Dr. James Dobson, the well known Christian psychologist. Why did he give that interview?  He wanted Dr. Dobson to spread the warning that pornography had taken root in his life, beginning at the age of 13, and led him to act out the horrific rapes and murders that he committed.

Sin always creates an ever greater hole in the heart.  Sin, left unchecked and unrepented of, is insatiable.  It will always go from bad to worse, whether it is sexual sin or any other type of sin.

 Leads to Frustration and Sorrow

In this chapter, we also see where immorality, including pornography, leads to great frustration and sorrow.  In verses 11-14 we read:  At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, “How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors. I have come to the brink of utter ruin in the midst of the whole assembly.”

And it is little wonder that there is sorrow.  In the next chapter,  Proverbs 6:27 asks this question: Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?

But the greatest sorrow will be in eternity for  those who do not turn from sin, whether sexual sin or any other sin. Verse 5 gives a graphic picture of where sin leads:  Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. And verse 23 points out, He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.

The death these verses describe is not just physical death, but eternal death, that is, eternal separation from God in hell. Consider the words of  Revelation 21:7-8, after describing the glory of the city four square, our heavenly home, God Himself says: “He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars - their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

There is no way to hide sin, whether sexual sin or any other from God.  As verse 21 puts it:  For a man’s ways are in full view of the LORD, and He examines all his paths.
 
While the warning of Scripture is unmistakable and clear, so also is the gospel promise of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Sexual sin, like all our sin, is forgivable. The classic example is found in the opening verses of John chapter 8 where the teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group  and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do You say?”

They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with His finger.  When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.  At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
  

The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, also describes the power of the gospel to transform depraved sinners.  He writes how many in the Corinthian church who had been bound by their addiction to sexual sin, including male prostitutes and homosexual offenders, were released from their bondage to sin through faith in Jesus Christ as they repented and turned from their sin.
      
While we take great joy in the forgiveness of our sins, as Christians we also strive not to sin. Our goal is to live holy, pure lives of service and gratitude to God. To avoid the enslavement of pornography, as well as all types of sin:

Flee from Temptation

When you know something is going to tempt you, don’t go close to that temptation.  Instead, turn and run from that temptation.  The longer that you or I think about temptation – no matter what temptation it is – the harder it will be to resist.  Eve looked at the forbidden fruit with more than a casual glance before she ate some and gave some to Adam. David gazed for some time at Bathsheba before he sent for her, to come to the palace. Verse 8 describes the right defense: Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house.
       
Joseph set the best example, when he turned and ran from the seductive advances of Potiphar’s wife.  By doing so he put feet to the words that Paul would write centuries later in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20: Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.  Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Your Daily Planner and Accountability

A second way to avoid immorality is to structure your daily calendar for good things so that you don’t have time for evil. And then be accountable.      

Timothy was a young man who was guided and mentored by the Apostle Paul. 1 and 2 Timothy are filled with practical wisdom for living a Christ-honoring life. For instance, in 2 Timothy 2:22 Paul writes, Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. In that verse we see three items that Timothy – and you and I – should write on our calendar for each day.  First Paul writes, Flee the evil desires of youth.
   
That instruction is not confined just to young men.  I’m always amazed how many 60, 70 and even 80 year old men are arrested in prostitution stings.  You’ve seen “Cops.” You’ve seen the ages of some of those men.  Likewise,  David was about 50 when he had his disastrous affair with Bathsheba.  The admonition to flee the evil desires of youth is for all of us, no matter what age we are.

Second, in the place of evil desire, we are to pursue what is good - righteousness, faith, love and peace.  We’ve all heard how idle hands are the devil’s tools, how staying busy keeps us out of trouble.  There is truth to those adages.

When we structure our day with plans to do the good deeds before ordained for us to do (Ephesians 2:10), - when we seek to exercise our faith, - it keeps us from pursuing sin.  As an example, if you are in the habit of watching a TV show that you know is suggestive, make a specific plan to do something constructive during that time. Write it on your calendar; put it in your daily planner.  When you are  actively doing what is constructive, your desire to do what is destructive and sinful will diminish.

Third, in 2 Timothy 2:22 Paul also speaks about being accountable to others. He writes, Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, - along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
 
Being accountable to each other is an excellent way to keep ourselves from falling into the same, repetitive trap of sin. There are many Scriptures which refer to that, including James 5:16, Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

In a certain church a young man confided to me his addiction to pornography.  I respected him for that. I was thankful that he felt that I was approachable as his pastor to confess a sin that carries a specific and unique shame and humiliation with it.  By confessing that sin, and making himself accountable to another Christian he was able, by God’s grace, using the means God provides, to resist and overcome a long pattern of addiction to pornography.

In an article entitled, Three Lies Porn Tells You, Justin Davis, a pastor who was addicted to pornography himself, writes about the importance of confession. Drawing on his own experience he writes:

…We have built a religious system that tries to find healing through hiding our sins, not confessing them. The sins we do confess are “safe” sins: bitterness, jealousy, materialism, anger and selfishness.

I was the master at this. I appeared “authentic” for confessing socially acceptable sins while I lived as a prisoner to sins I wasn’t willing to confess. For years, I forfeited the healing that God l (could) bring to my heart not because I didn’t confess my sins to Him; but because I refused to confess them to anyone else.  But here’s three truths porn will never tell you:

Temptation loses its power when we confess.

Sin loses its ability to keep us fractured when we confess.

Addictions lose the control they have in our lives when we confess.

The secret sin you keep only has power as it remains a secret. The Light will always overcome darkness. The difficult decision we face is (to) allow that Light into the darkest, most embarrassing parts of our heart. God (won’t) heal the parts of our heart we refuse to bring into the Light. But when we do, we can be healed.  (www.relevant magazine.com).

God’s Design for Physical Love

A third help in guarding yourself from the lips of the “strange woman” and immorality in all its forms, is to understand that while some are single by choice (1 Corinthians 7:7) or providence (Matthew 19:12), nevertheless, marriage is God’s design for physical love.

Proverbs 5:15-20 is used as ammunition, along with other graphic passages of Scripture, by enemies of the Bible, including the Gideons who put Bibles in public places.  Opponents say, “The Bible is a lustful book. It has no place in motel rooms or any other public place.”

But the marriage union is blessed by God.  Hebrews 13:4,  Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

Why is there a special blessing on the martial union by God Himself? The physical love between a Christian husband and Christian wife portrays the oneness of Christ and His Bride, the true church. In Ephesians 5:31-32 Paul quotes from Genesis 2:24: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church.

* * *

Josh McDowell has a good name for his website www.1clickaway.com.  But God, by His Holy Spirit, is far closer than 1 click away.  He lives within us, convicts us of our sin, assures us of God’s forgiveness and the certainty of salvation for all who repent and believe in Jesus Christ.

If you are tempted by that “one click away” idea, keep in mind the warnings of this chapter, and of all Scripture.  Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.  Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, honor God with your body. Amen.

 

- bulletin outline -

 

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. – Proverbs 5:3-4

“Lips of Honey; Bitter as Gall”
Proverbs 5:1-23

I.  As God’s Word teaches us about all aspects of our life, including sexuality, it warns us that
     immorality, including pornography, may appear as sweet as honey (3) but is as bitter as gall
     (4) since it:
     1) Consumes one’s life (9) as it enslaves them (22; John 8:34)

 


     2) Leads to ever greater perversity (Ecclesiastes 1:8b; Matthew 6:22-23)

 


     3) Leads to frustration and sorrow in this life (11-14, Prov. 6:27) and to an eternity of sorrow
         for those who do not turn from it (5, 23; Revelation 21:8). But it is, like all our sin,
         forgivable (John 8:11; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11)


      

II. To avoid the enslavement of pornography, as well as all types of sin:
     1) Stay far from temptation (7-8), by fleeing from it (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)

 


     2) Structure your daily calendar for good things so that you don’t have time for evil; be
          accountable (2 Timothy 2:22; James 5:16)        

 

     3) Understand that while some are single by choice (1 Corinthians 7:7) and others by
          providence (Matthew 19:12), marriage is God’s design for physical love (15-20). The
          marriage union is blessed by God (Hebrews 13:4) as it portrays the oneness of Christ
          and His Bride, the true church (Ephesians 5:31-32)

   


07/27/2014 – a.m.

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 07/2, Rev. Ted Gray

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