Understanding The Pattern and Progression of Sin

Grace For The Journey

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15Apr  Warning signs … Alarm bells … All of this and more is what comes to mind every time I read Proverbs 7:6-27.  Solomon is writing about a young man’s giving in to sexual temptation.  This is an important topic to Solomon, as he addresses it frequently in chapters five through seven.  At the same time, however, its application extends beyond sexual immorality and serves as a graphic illustration for any number of sins.

In today’s blog we will examine the progression and pattern of sin, tracing sin from birth to death.

My hope is that this information

Will be more than mere words in a post,

But words written indelibly upon our souls.

When we face temptation of any kind

This week may these truths

“Make some noise” within us,

And may that noise grow increasingly louder

Until we resist temptation and save ourselves

And others from hurt, from despair,

And maybe even from death.

This passage is very similar to a passage in the first chapter of James and it’s virtually impossible to study one passage without studying the other.  James 1:14-16 says, “… each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.  Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”

This pattern in James echoes Solomon’s narrative in Proverbs 7.

We see the same pattern and progression:

Desire, Deception, and Death.

Another action is implied here,

That of Disobedience.

So, note these four actions in the text:

1) Sin Begins with Desire.

This teaching in Proverbs 7 is very picturesque.  It is as though Solomon is painting a picture and he turns around his easel, showing us a strikingly brilliant, full-colored image that he has painted for us.  This picture tells the story of the pattern and progression of sin.  He has just said that his proverbs “will keep you from the immoral woman, from the seductress who flatters with her words.”  Then he paints a picture illustrating what he means in verses 6 and 7, “For at the window of my house I looked through my lattice, And saw among the simple, I perceived among the youths, A young man devoid of understanding.”

Solomon looks out his window and he sees “a young man devoid of understanding,” a foolish man, a man “lacking common sense” as some translations have it.  This man is not just meandering down the street, aimlessly wandering along, minding his own business; no, he has something on his mind.  He has desire in his heart.

Verses 8 and 9 tell us about that, “Passing along the street near her corner; And he took the path to her house In the twilight, in the evening, In the black and dark night.”  

This young man was not walking down this path by accident.  The context suggests he is looking for trouble.  He’s walking in the cover of darkness, “in the black and dark night,” heading in the direction of a well-known loose woman’s house.  He intentionally takes “the path to her house.”  He knows where he is going.   There’s a stir within him.  It is the stir of lustful desire.   Intentionally he heads down the path to her house.

Remember the last couple posts?  Remember the six things that God hates?  Two of those things are illustrated here: “A heart that devises wicked plans” and “feet that are swift in running to evil.”  You see both of those things in this “simple” young man, “a young man devoid of understanding.”

Verses 10 to 12 tells us about the woman he is meeting, “And there a woman met him, (How convenient, right?) With the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart.  She was loud and rebellious, Her feet would not stay at home.  At times she was outside, at times in the open square, Lurking at every corner.”  (She gets around, doesn’t she?)

This young man’s desire led him to her house.  Now, maybe he’s thinking, “If I see the woman, I won’t talk to her.  I won’t get too close.  I just want to catch a glimpse of her.  Maybe she’ll see me.  I’ll just smile.  Maybe she’ll smile back.  But that will be the end of it.”

The Bible says this woman has “the attire of a harlot.”  She is dressed inappropriately.  She is showing too much.  But he thinks to himself, “Nothing wrong with looking, you know.”  But watch what happens in verses 13 to 15, “So she caught him and kissed him; With an impudent face (a bold and brazenly immodest look) she said to him: ‘I have peace offerings with me; today I have paid my vows.’  So I came out to meet you, diligently to seek your face, and I have found you.”  

The “peace offerings” refers to meat that was left over after religious sacrifices were made.  According to Leviticus 7:15, the meat left over from the sacrifice was to be eaten the same day. This woman even sounds a bit religious.  She says, “I’ve worshiped and I’ve got some fine food at home that needs to be eaten.”  

When you are

Looking for sin,

Sin will find you.

She knows how to entice a man by appealing to his senses.  She begins with his stomach, ”I’ve got some food for  you.”  She also appeals to his sight, smell, and sexuality.  Look at the colors and fragrances she lays out before him in verses 16 through 20, “I have spread my bed with tapestry, colored coverings of Egyptian linen.  I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.  Come, let us take our fill of love until morning; Let us delight ourselves with love.  For my husband is not at home; He has gone on a long journey; He has taken a bag of money with him,  And will come home on the appointed day.”  

The young fool is utterly overwhelmed by her charm.  His eyes spin.  His brain turns to mush.  He is all but ready to collapse before her, falling like a rag doll.

Sin begins with desire.  Consider the alcoholic: “I will never drink again!”  And he means that but one day he finds himself thinking: “You know, I miss the atmosphere of that place.  I miss my buddies.  I’ll just go with the guys and have a soft drink, no big deal.”  And he goes inside that old, familiar place.  There again are the familiar sights, smells, and sounds.  He feels good.  Watching his buddies drink, he thinks to himself, “What’s one beer?  Just one.  I can handle it.”

2) He’s no different from the other person sitting on the couch watching the movie.  He sees the commercial for something sweet and thinks, “There’s that bag of M&Ms in the pantry!  I can smell them now.  I’ll just go look at the bag.  Alright, I’ll just take one.  I’ll savor it for a few minutes.”  One M&M becomes, “Okay, just one handful.”  And before the movie is over, he has devoured the entire bag of M&Ms (I write from experience here).

And he’s no different from any other man, woman, boy, or girl, flirting with danger, attempting to get as close to the line as possible, trying one’s level best to serve two masters.  You think to yourself, “I’m okay.  I’m in control.  I won’t sin.”

No matter the sin, it begins with desire, wrong desire, ungodly desire.  Sin begins with desire.

2) Desire Leads to Deception.

Verse 21 says, “With her enticing speech she caused him to yield, with her flattering lips she seduced him.”  He shouldn’t have been anywhere around her.  Even if he were there by accident, he should have turned around when he saw her at a distance.  He should have run when she kissed him.  But you see, now it was way too late.  He can smell the intoxicating fragrance of myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon and verse 21 says she continues to entice him with her speech and flatter him with her lips.

Incredibly, what she is suggesting starts making sense to him now.  He thinks, “The husband’s away.  She has everything set-up at the house.  She even has peace offerings left over from a recent religious experience.  It all seems as though it’s all meant to be…almost as though God has ordained it.”

Often a disgruntled spouse seeks divorce on the grounds that God surely does not want him to be unhappy.  How unhappy he is with this wife of his!  And look, here is this other woman!  “She really appreciates me.  She really loves me.  I am so happy with her.  God must have led her my way.”

You see how we are deceived by sin?  We begin to rationalize and justify our behavior.  We even bring God into the equation, thinking, “Well, He must want this or He would have done that,” and so forth.  Deception.  With her enticing speech she caused him to yield.  He should have run, but it’s too late.  He yields.  He is deceived.  Sin begins with desire and desire leads to deception.

3) Deception Leads to Disobedience.

Verses 22 to 23 states, “Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks, Till an arrow struck his liver. As a bird hastens to the snare, He did not know it would cost his life.”  Do you think the ox has any idea it is going to be slaughtered?  The ox just wanders along, unknowingly walking right into death.  Solomon says that’s just like this foolish young man.

What a picture!  Immediately he went after her.  He is deceived.   He went after her, how?  The Bible gives the answer, “As an ox goes to the slaughter.”  Do you think the ox has any idea it is going to be slaughtered?  Do you think the ox wanders alongside the farmer knowing that these are the last few moments of its life?  Of course not!  The ox just wanders along, unknowingly walking right into death.  Solomon says that’s just like this foolish young man.  He just goes right on after sin as an ox goes to the slaughter.

Or like verse 23 says, “as a bird hastens to the snare.”  The bird flies right into the net, totally unaware that someone plans to have him for dinner that evening.  It will cost him his life.

4) Disobedience Leads to Death.

Verse 24 declares, “Now therefore, listen to me, my children; Pay attention to the words of my mouth:  

You see here in these last few verses

Solomon’s application of the whole thing.

He says, “Here are the lessons to learn.”

Look at the verbs.  You’ll find instruction in the verbs.

Look again at verse 24, “Listen to me, my children; Pay attention to the words of my mouth.”  Two things to do: Listen and Pay attention.  Don’t just sit there and think, “Well, this is all well and good for someone else” or, “This is the crazy ranting of an old man who has forgotten what it’s like to be hip and cool.  Listen . . .  Pay attention.

When you’re tempted to sin – whatever the sin – remember this story and remember the progression and pattern of sin.  Sin begins with desire.  Desire leads to deception.  Deception leads to disobedience.  And disobedience leads to death.

If verse 24 gives two things to do . . . Verse 25 gives two things not to do: “Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, Do not stray into her path.”

Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways.  This suggests that you have control over temptation.  You do.  The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you, except that which is common to man; but God is faithful.  He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to endure, but will with the temptation make a way to escape.”

You cannot be so tempted by sin

That you are simply carried away by it

As though you had no control over it.

You do have control . . . You must turn away.

Do not stray into her paths.  This gets back to what we said earlier.  If you go looking for sin, sin will find you.  Solomon reiterates that in Proverbs 11:27, “Evil comes to the one who searches for it.”

So, don’t go looking for it.  Do not stray into her paths.  This foolish man fell into adultery because he strayed near the path of the loose woman.  He would not have sinned with this woman had he not left his house that evening.  He shouldn’t have been over there and he knows it.

Note another truth in verse 16, For she has cast down many wounded, and all who were slain by her were strong men.”  It doesn’t matter how strong you think you are.  This adulteress has had many men.  And every one of those men thought themselves strong men.  So . . .

Don’t scoff at the

Teaching of Scripture

And shrug off

The straightforward warning

Of Scripture.

We are weak, weaker than we may wish to admit.

Solomon concludes with a serious warning in verses 27, “Her house is the way to hell, descending to the chambers of death.”  

Sin begins with desire.

Desire leads to deception.

Deception leads to disobedience.

And

Disobedience leads to death.

You can trace that pattern – desire, deception, disobedience, and death—in Genesis chapter 3 where we read of the Fall of Man.  Adam and Eve were tempted.  There was desire, deception, disobedience, and then death.  When Adam and Eve sinned, they experienced first spiritual death – separation from God – and then eventually physical death.

Because of the sins of our first parents – Adam and Eve – we enter this world separated from God, already spiritually dead.  If we do nothing about this, we will remain spiritually separated from God when we physically die.

Jesus Christ came to take care of this sin problem.  When we receive Christ into our lives we are saved from spiritual death.  We are born again.  We are made alive spiritually.  And while we will die a physical death, our death is not the end.  We are merely ushered into the presence of God.

Jesus Christ came to give us life, and to give life more abundantly.  Jesus came that we may have life – salvation from the penalty of sin.  And Jesus came that we may have life more abundantly – salvation from the power of sin.

It is in Christ’s power

That the Christian overcomes

Daily struggles with sin.

When we are tempted, we must make a conscience choice, drawing upon the power of God, and we must not sin.  We do that not in our strength, but in His.

This is God Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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