Proverbs 1:10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.
It’s not Scripture – but the saying “to be forewarned is to be forearmed” is nonetheless true. And one of the chief aims of The Holy Spirit in giving us the Proverbs is to arm God’s people with weapons to use against sin. One of those weapons is to unmask sin so that we grasp how it works, and how it reasons. Sin’s power is in “enticement”. And every enticement, every inducement to act contrary to the will of God bring some rationale along with it. Some form of argument and reason(s) why entering into any given sin is a better idea at the moment than not.
The word translated “entice” in this passage comes from a root meaning to open up, to create a hole or opening of some kind. In terms of temptation to sin, it implies making an opening in the heart and mind to consider and pursue some action we would be closed to previously. HOW it entices – how it makes this opening for itself is the focus of verses 11-14 in chapter 1, followed by ways to close that door in verses 16-18. The design is to give us the tools to recognize when we’re being talked into sin, and then another set to extricate ourselves from being talked into it. Talked into it either by others, or by our own deceptive hearts and minds.
So here are some of the attractive means that are used to open us up to sin. What may appeal to you may not appeal to another and vice versa. But there is no shortage of means:
a. (11) Danger. The thrill of possibly getting caught, getting dangerously close to the edge, pushing the boundaries is sufficient motive to goad some into actions that without that element would not even be on the radar. Is this you?
b. (11) Excitement. Youth especially is drawn to things which are exciting and abhor the boring. And then again in stages of life when we are bored, dissatisfied or disillusioned. Times like that make some especially vulnerable. The high experienced by a proposed new thrill can lead to places we would have never thought before. An unexpected message on Facebook. An old flame suddenly makes contact. The idea of just having a night out to “party” and have a little “life” again. Perhaps this is where you are right now.
c. (11) Randomness – careless abandon. Doing something on a lark, completely spontaneously without any forethought can be such an instantaneous trap that few temptable in this way escape the idea once implanted. Sins of opportunity that just suddenly present themselves can make short work of many who have been used to a lifestyle carefully guarded and regimented. Then, all at once, without warning or seeking, a secret desire is appealed to with a random opportunity to fulfill it, and tragedy follows immediately behind. I pray this is not you.
d. (12) Power. Especially if we have been through a season of powerlessness, confronted by unchangeable circumstances that we resent. Then almost any chance to exert some form of power, especially over someone else if we have been victims in any way – can swallow someone whole. Sins against others emerge in the most vicious ways under the sway of this enticement. And once indulged in, it escalates rapidly. May you are in that place right now?
e. (13) Some perceived gain that mimics wealth. All of us have those things inside, perhaps not even consciously voiced which seem like the purest gold to us. Some individual’s affection. The possession of an object or position in life. An experience. A previously unfulfilled desire from a spouse. Approval from a withholding parent. To be thought of a certain way by others. The one “thing” that if we had it, would finally make us feel truly wealthy and complete – and without leaves us feeling bereft and cheated. And then the possibility of obtaining it presents itself – and irrespective of the dangers, sinfulness of the method or anything else can’t dissuade us from acting. Maybe this is where you find yourself this very moment.
f. (14) Belonging, brotherhood – fellowship. Thinking that someone, some relationship, some society can fill the unfillable void within. And you are the puppet of any idea, group or person who pretends to be able to fill soothe that ache. Is that you today?
These are ways, created openings sin uses to gain control and reign in our hearts and minds. And Proverbs faithfully reveals their hidden barbs in this passage.
Thankfully, The Spirit didn’t end just in exposing these traps, He goes on to give us 4 remarkable means to deliver ourselves from these allurements.
They are at once simple, and overlooked and underutilized.
a. (16) Consider the evil of it. Wait. Wait and think. And think about the evil that hides behind the temptation. Not pausing, thinking and considering finds us prey in the traps of sin more than any other thing. Hold that word before you say it. Consider the impact, the consequences, the motive behind it. Think about what it means to do evil.
b. (16) Find compassion for the victim(s). There is in reality no such thing as a victimless sin. For if I am joined to all others in Christ, I cannot be the means of imbibing the contagion of sin without it impacting all the others I am connected to in Christ. We never sin alone. And compassion on our brothers and sisters in the Lord is a powerful antidote to falling into many a sin. How dare we drag them along with us into that morass? How dare we make others in any way, the victims of our sinful acts?
c. (17) It’s foolish – stupid. Shame has one main role – to be so uncomfortable as to cause us to retreat when we act or think in ways that are beneath us. When we consciously choose to act like we are not who we are in Christ. That is shameful. It is not shameful to err, to trip and fall, to make a mistake. It IS shameful to refuse to act as image bearers of the Living God.
d. (17-18) The end of this pursuit, is death. To stop and think about the reality that without exception – the wages of sin is death. And that to participate willingly in those things – the guilt and stain of which Christ died to free us from – says in effect says to Him – “here, feel some more pain on my behalf. As long as I get to go free.”
Such horror ought to make us recoil. But in the thoughtless moments of temptation – such thoughts are woefully far from us. May the Spirit be pleased to come along side and bring them streaming back into our minds – so as to live in the freedom He died to secure for us.
All that said – think then on what a wonderful Savior we have – who has not only paid the penalty for all our sin, but then also counsels us and walks with us and empowers us that we may learn the holy skill of walking with Him. What a Savior!