Proverbs 7:6–9 “For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, 7 and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, 8 passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house 9 in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness.”
Christians seldom fall into grave sin all at once. Almost invariably, there is a progression. Knowing how this progression works, gives us a powerful means to stop it before it is too late. To stop it before as James outlines it: ”each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14–15) There is a roadmap to sin and this passage opens it up.
Our text traces the progression of it in this case in three movements. 1. Passing near temptation’s corner. 2. At the corner, taking the road to her house. 3. Moving closer and closer under the increasing cover of darkness.
Temptation begins in the mind. It is usually only an inward movement at first – flirting with an idea. An idea we won’t let go of. This is equally as true of temptation to sexual sin, as it is to unforgiveness and bitterness, revenge, theft and even such things as fear and anxiety. But it is at this point that temptation is still most conquerable. What we allow ourselves to dwell upon mentally, if unchecked, will bring us to taking some form of action outwardly.
A passage like Colossians 3:16–17 takes on huge importance in this regard. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
If the subject matter of God’s Word takes on an increasing place in my daily thought life, coupled with expressing the bounty of those things to others, and rejoicing in them in a life revolving around magnifying the name of Jesus and filled with thanksgiving – it is hard for sinful things to find much root. Thankfulness in particular may be the single greatest weapon in the arsenal – as a mind that is full of what it DOES have, doesn’t leave room for musing on what it doesn’t. When I am convinced (as is true) that Christ really does have my best interest at heart and has never deprived me (and never will) of what is best – lusting after revenge, position, material goods, attention from another person, power etc., is defanged.
However, once failing to check our thoughts, it will not be long before we verbalize those thoughts. It may start by only saying it to myself in the mirror, or in a journal, or diary. Then maybe on – Facebook, MySpace, Pinterest, a text or an email – whatever. This is taking the road to her house, after having passed by her corner. It is the next step. We know it will bring us closer, but we convince ourselves it is not “actual” sin, and so it is harmless. That saying isn’t doing. Which is true – but not completely. Even our legal system has laws against conspiracy to commit a crime. Saying it is often the first motion of doing. And stopping the flood here, while not impossible, it exponentially harder than before. For in verbalizing the matter, we’ve started the process of growing accustomed to hearing it out loud without objection. We’ve normalized to ourselves. We’ve said it out loud, and lightening didn’t strike – we’re still OK. And we dwell there.
Thirdly, we inch closer and closer to actually acting in the sin, after building layer after layer of what we think is protective secrecy. Maybe I can’t do it in broad daylight, but I flirt with doing it in the evening, at twilight. And if I’m too discoverable then, I’ll wait until it is fully night – and dark. When no one (I imagine) can see.
And at this point, the possibility of escape is nearly gone. I’ve circumvented all the roadblocks. I’ve schemed around every objection. I’ve said “yes” – even though the act isn’t consummated. But I have at last given myself permission. And I am ignoring the fact that death cannot be far behind.
Beloved, hear the Spirit’s voice through Solomon, and begin to examine and seek His power to control your thought life now – or you will find yourself in pain and shame of such bondage as you’ve never imagined. Christ has made a way of escape for us – but we must take it.
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.