The Cords of Sin
Dr. Joe Temple

Review

Open your Bibles to the book of Proverbs, chapter 6, that portion of the Word of God we will be studying in this lesson. We have suggested to you that the first portion of the book of Proverbs has to do with thirteen lectures on wisdom which Solomon delivered to his son. We have been considering those lectures one by one. We now come to lecture number ten, which is entitled The Cords of Sin and which is recorded in Proverbs, chapter 6, verses 1-19. This particular lecture, as all of these thirteen lectures, begins with my son . We have told you that every time you see the words my son , it does not mean that a new lecture is beginning, but those words are always the beginning of the lectures at which we are looking.

Introduction

I am going to suggest that you follow in your Bibles as I read this entire lecture so that we might have all the information before us before we begin to consider it in detail. Look at Proverbs, chapter 6:

Proverbs 6:

1 My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger,
2 Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.
3 Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend.
4 Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.
5 Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.
6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.
9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?
10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:
11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.
12 A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth.
13 He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers;
14 Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord.
15 Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.
16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

This tenth lecture ends with verse 19. You may wonder where, in the passage of Scripture which we have read, we would find any suggestion as to the title that we have given you— The Cords of Sin . Perhaps you will recall that we said that chapter 5 closed with an epilogue, two verses of Scripture that summed up the sum of previous truths and laid the groundwork for discussion of truths that were yet to be presented.

In chapter 5, verse 22, we read:

Proverbs 5:

22 His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.
23 He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.

We suggest to you that in chapter 5, verse 22, we have the text and the title of the present lecture. Keep in mind that our English translation is not divided as is the original text, and what is not always apparent in the English translation is evident in the original text. We have ample reason for suggesting to you that the text of this tenth lecture could well be entitled The Cords of Sin .

I think you will find the reason for that as we go along, but I believe there is something else we need to know before we get into the meat of the message. I tried to emphasize it in the reading of this portion, mainly that the portion falls naturally into three divisions. Solomon would warn his son concerning three sins that can be like cords upon an individual, binding him and holding him down tight to where he is almost helpless. Those three sins are indicated in your English text primarily by the paragraph symbol which you see at the beginning of the verses indicated. The only exception I would make is that the paragraph which begins with verse 12 should continue all the way through verse 19, without the symbol of the paragraph at verse 16, which you noticed in your Bible.

With that thought in mind, we suggest to you that Solomon speaks to his son concerning the sin of overestimating one's ability and the trouble into which it will bring him which will bind him as certainly and strongly as any cord could bind him.

Then in verses 6-11, he speaks to his son concerning the sin of not providing for the future. It is so easy to live always in the present and never think that there is a day coming for which provision should be made. I am not speaking of, nor do I believe Solomon was speaking primarily of, spiritual preparations, though that should not be ignored. He was speaking of the present in the physical.

The third sin that he brought to the attention of his son was the sin of deception discussed in verses 12-19, in which Solomon told his son that it is possible to develop the habit of deception to such an extent that it will become so much a part of the individual that it will characterize the physical and dominate the spiritual.

I think as we look a bit more in detail concerning these individual discussions, we will be able to learn some things that will perhaps forewarn and, I trust, prevent us from falling into the same errors which Solomon himself had fallen into and did not want his sons to fall into. These are rules for everyday living.

The Sin of Overestimating Oneself

What is the sin of overestimating oneself? It is described in verse 1. Notice again:

Proverbs 6:

1 My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger,

To be surety for a friend can be sin. Before you say I am missing the boat in this discussion, let me remind you that this does not rule out coming to the assistance of your neighbors and your friends when they are in need. It does not rule out loaning them money. It does not rule out making provision for them when there is a need. It does not forbid the endorsement of notes, but it does forbid the unwise assumption of obligations. Let me emphasize that again. It does forbid the unwise assumption of obligations. That that is the suggestion is indicated in verse 2, where the wise man said:

Proverbs 6:

2 Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.

That verse suggests that the individual in question may agree to assume liability or responsibility without giving serious thought to what he is doing, and then as he thinks about it, he wonders if he has done the wise thing. It refers to the individual who lives more by his heart than by his head, and when the plea is made, he immediately responds to that plea without giving serious consideration as to whether or not he is able to fulfill the obligation which he assumes. Sometimes it refers to the individual who, when he is approached about such a matter as this, is too proud to admit that he can't handle a given situation, so immediately he responds with his mouth: “Oh, I will be glad to sign that note,” or “I'll be glad to lend you that money,” or “I'll be glad to assume that obligation,” because he is not wont to admit that he is not up to the situation. In these senses, I think the individual in this paragraph has committed the sin of overestimating his ability by letting his mouth, as Solomon said in the book of Ecclesiastes, cause him to sin.

When an individual has overestimated himself in the manner that we have discovered, he has indeed fallen into a trap. He is bound with some very real cords. Notice verse 2 again:

Proverbs 6:

2 Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.

Notice the word snared , as I draw to your attention that it comes from the Hebrew word yaqosh , which may be translated by the phrase,“snared by a fowler,” because it speaks of a bird hunter who is out to snare birds. He tracks his birds with a snare. The individual who does what we have been talking about has fallen into a snare, into a trap. You do recognize that the greatest fowler of all times is the Devil, and quite often when he knows he cannot lead you into some grievous sin, yet might hinder your spiritual growth, he will lead you into foolish action that will not only hinder your spiritual growth but damage your reputation and even cause a great deal of trouble to friends and loved ones.

The second word in that verse is the word taken . It, too, is a word that is related to the huntsman. It comes from the Hebrew word lakad , which means “to be caught in a net or a trap.” The use of these words to describe the condition of the individual involved is apt in light of verse 5. Notice what you read there:

Proverbs 6:

5 Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.

Deliver thyself as a bird that has been caught will deliver itself and make provision for deliverance. Individuals oftentimes find it hard to deliver themselves from agreements which have been publicly made, and such is the case here. Look at verse 1:

Proverbs 6:

1 My son, if thou be surety for thy friend [if thou endorse a note], if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger [then you are caught] ,

The interesting statement in this verse is the phrase “stricken thy hand.” This phrase comes from the Hebrew word taqa which means “to slap hands.” The suggestion is that when you have agreed to assume someone's obligation, you step up to the man who holds the note. You hold out your hand and you slap his hand in public. This is a public recognition that you have assumed the obligation. The idea is the matter of striking hands with a stranger.

Not only is it the matter of publicly assuming the obligation, but the thing that concerned Solomon was that it is possible for individuals to be snared in this fashion by striking hands with a stranger. They know nothing about the person with whom they have made the agreement. They know nothing about the reliability of the person. As a matter of fact, it is so emphasized that the word zuwr is used, and the word zuwr may be translated by the word foreigner . The suggestion is that you are in real trouble if you agree to assume the obligation of other individuals, particularly if you are making that agreement with foreigners.

I don't know how often you personally may be faced with a situation similar to what I am talking about, but I never read this portion of the Word of God without calling to mind the fact that a word concerning a national application is always in order. Our own government is finding itself in a snare because it has stricken hands with strangers. It has assumed financial obligations and debts of other nations and has made agreements with other nations which are strangers to us. They are foreigners to us as far as we are concerned in the matter of keeping words and assuming obligations. You who have studied history know more debts have been written off which our nation has assumed than have been paid. That is, money that has been owed to us, phrasing it correctly, has been written off because we have stricken hands with strangers, and they feel no responsibility for what they have done. This might be something for you to consider when you are thinking about your position in voting and in sending men to Congress and placing men in office who seem to have no real responsibility, no real concern about the things we are talking about.

Look at the paragraph again and notice what Solomon said to his son. He said, “Son, if you get in the situation such as I am talking about, if you have fallen into this trap, I want you to hold your head high and I want you to act as though nothing at all has happened. Whatever you do, Son, don't let folk know that you have made a mistake. Just brazen it on out.”

Some of you are looking to find out where I am getting that, and I am glad to see that because it shows that you are interested. It just isn't there, but that is the way a lot of us act because of our pride. You know, when we overestimate ourselves, we never like to admit it, do we? When we bite off more than we can chew, we will chew it if it strangles us.

This is what Solomon said in verse 3:

Proverbs 6:

3 Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend.

If you have made a mistake, go humble yourself. Go say to your friend, “I tell you I just should have never promised to do that. I am not able to do it. It is going to work a hardship on my family if I do do it, and I don't know where my mind was. I had no right to promise a thing like that, and I want you to release me from my obligation.”

That sounds a little strange, doesn't it, because we do not like to humble ourselves? Sometimes we feel as if we won't be keeping our word, but let us remember today that before we give our word, we ought to consider whether we have the right to give our word. Better to go to the man and say, “You know, I had no right to do what I did. I had no right to say what I said. I had no right to assume the obligation and I want released.”

Sometimes husbands have had a little experience like this. They have overborrowed or overbought in enthusiasm for whatever reason, and the wife has said, when it has been discussed, “I don't know if that was very wise or not. With all the obligations we have, do you think that was very wise?” “Well, I don't care whether it was or not; I am not going to take it back, and I'm not going to own up I did wrong.” One debt after another piles up and pretty soon even the home can be broken because of the individual who overestimates himself. Much better would it be to go to the people involved and humble yourself and ask to be released. It will take some real humility.

If you look at verse 4, Solomon considered this to be such an urgent matter that he wasn't talking about it as calmly as I am talking about it. He said:

Proverbs 6:

4 Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.

“Not even the sleep that you deserve. Don't you go to bed tonight. You get this thing straightened out.” That is what he said. The Spirit of God has recorded the words because He knows us so well, and He knows that what is so important in our life will not seem so important tomorrow morning, and if somehow we can put it off until tomorrow morning, we won't feel the urge so greatly. That is the reason the proverb has developed in our colloquial language: “Sleep on it before you do anything.”

Sometimes that is a good idea if you are really mad about something and you are about to act in the flesh. Sometimes it is a good idea if you sleep on it. But, Beloved, when the Spirit of God has laid upon your heart a suggestion that you need to do a certain thing, then you had better not sleep on it. You had better go and do it right now. Notice again:

Proverbs 6:

4 Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.

If the Spirit of God is asking you to do something that is related to the matter of your humbling yourself, then you had better be willing to humble yourself, and in the light of verse 5:

Proverbs 6:

5 Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.

If a young fawn were caught in a trap, do you think it would lie there quietly, hoping somehow it could be released? You well know that some animals caught in traps have chewed their leg off in order to be free, such was the urgency of the need for freedom; and that is the figure of speech the Spirit of God is using here. When you have committed the sin of overestimating yourself and find yourself bound with cords that make a veritable trap for you, then lose no time in seeking deliverance. You can make your own application in many different ways.

The Sin of Not Providing for the Future

Look at the second paragraph which I have labeled, because of the subject matter in the text, The Sin of not Providing for the Future . I suggest to you that it is a sin not to provide for the future. When I say that, immediately there may be confusion in your minds because you might find yourself saying, “What about the matter of faith? What about the matter of believing that God is able to meet your needs?”

Beloved, never should emphasis on faith be confused with presumption. There is a difference. But someone said, “Didn't the Lord Jesus Christ say, “Take no anxious thoughts for tomorrow? Did He not say that the birds of the air, the flowers of the field were taken care of by God?” Yes, He did, but did you listen carefully to what He said? He didn't say, “Take no thought.” He said, “Take no anxious thought.” There is a vast difference. There are some individuals who are so concerned about the future that they live so meagerly in the present they damage themselves and their families and do not have the opportunity of doing what they ought to do.

This message is not suggesting that there is anything wrong with trusting God and doing the job you have to do without worrying yourself to death. It is suggesting that there is no room for indolence in the family of God. Notice verse 6:

Proverbs 6:

6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

This is the first time in the book of Proverbs that God considers the ant as an apt illustration of individuals, but it is not the last time. He brings it to our attention again in verse 30. In verse 6, He says:

Proverbs 6:

6 …consider her ways, and be wise:

Then in verse 7:

Proverbs 6:

7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

Here is a message for the sluggard. Who is a sluggard? The word sluggard comes from the Hebrew word atsel , which means “to lean idly.” I never read this word-picture without picturing in my mind someone leaning against the wall, chewing on a straw, too lazy to move, just wasting time. If somebody came to him and offered him an opportunity to work, he wouldn't be the least bit interested. It would be just too much effort to take the straw out of his mouth to say that he didn't want the job, and he would just look the other way. This is a sluggard. He is an individual who doesn't make provision for the future.

You may have wondered where I have gotten the suggestion concerning making provision for the future, and I have gotten it from this very interesting lesson from nature. The ant is constantly providing for the future. In the summer time, she is busily gathering her food. In the harvest time, she is busily gathering the bits of grain and carrying them to a place of safety where they will be when she needs them.

The interesting application to the story is found in verse 7:

Proverbs 6:

7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler [she does this],

This is God's emphasis on the importance of individual ingenuity. Whenever you surrender your right as a individual to make your own way, you are violating the Scripture because God says that you are in danger of having nothing when the future comes. You shouldn't need someone to put out a work program for you. You shouldn't need someone to plan the matter in which you make your living. The ant had no overseer or ruler.

This word overseer is a very interesting word. It is the same word that is used in the book of Exodus when the description is given concerning what the children of Israel had to do under the Egyptian taskmasters. They made bricks, but they didn't want to. The only reason they did was there was a taskmaster with a big whip, and every time the whip came down, they got energetic.

Solomon said to his son, “Son, be busy, and if you want to know how busy I mean, you go look at the ant and you keep in mind that the ants are making provision for the day and they are making provision for tomorrow. Don't fall into the habit of assuming that there will be a tomorrow and plenty for tomorrow. Recognize there will come a day when there will not be enough for what is needed, so make provision for it.”

Notice what he said in verse 9, because it is interesting, I think:

Proverbs 6:

9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?

He pictures the individual who is leaning against the wall, taking his afternoon siesta all afternoon long, being shaken by someone saying, “Wake up, fellow. It is time to go to work.” The fellow yawns and says, “Oh, I will. I will in a moment or two. I will in a little while. Just a little bit more sleep, just a little bit more slumber.”

I know it is an illustration that wouldn't be entirely apt because it is an enjoyable thing to do but it does have a point. You are skating on thin ice if you develop the habit that some of you enjoy of turning off the alarm clock when it rings, and saying, “I'll catch just a few more winks of sleep.” Those few more winks are more enjoyable than all of the sleep of the night, but it is an indication that you need to guard against because there may be trouble. The trouble is described in this paragraph in verse 11. Notice:

Proverbs 6:

11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.

You will not escape poverty if you are this kind of person. It will come upon you as one that travelleth. That phrase, “one that travelleth,” has no particular meaning for us, but when the King James version was translated, there were men traveling up and down the highways who were known as highwaymen , who spent their time robbing stagecoaches and travelers, and this particular phrase, “one who travelleth,” is one that could be translated by the word highwaymen . The idea is that poverty will slip up on you when you least expect it, and it will slip up on you as an armed man with formidable weapons with which you will have no way to cope. This is said to the man who practices the folly of saying, “All I am concerned about is today. Tomorrow will take care of itself.” The true believer takes no anxious thought for tomorrow, but he does take thought.

The Sin of Deception

The last section of our lecture that we will be considering is the sin of deception, which becomes so real in the the life of the individual that he literally, as you are going to see, is going to breathe lies. The sin of deception is so real that it marks his very posture and his very character. As I suggested at the very beginning of our discussion, I believe that this paragraph is composed of two sections. In verses 12-15, you have the ways of the naughty man described. Then in verses 16-19, you have those very ways stated as the objects of God's hatred . Higher critics say that someone injected verses 16-19, and they really shouldn't be there. I think that there is a very definite connection.

We are talking about the ways of a naughty person in verse 12. What is a naughty person? You are told here that he is a wicked man. The word naughty is not a strong word right now. Usually when we see some little child doing some small thing that he has been forbidden to do, we might say, “Naughty, naughty.” Well, this word is not used in that light. The word naughty comes from the Hebrew word bliyaal which means wicked , but you see how strong it really is when you recall that in II Corinthians, chapter 6, verse 15, the Apostle Paul asked a question which was, “What fellowship hath light with Belial?” It is the name which he had given to the Devil, and he transliterated the word from the Hebrew to the English without translating it. “What fellowship hath the Christian with the wicked one?” We could say that the naughty person in this passage of Scripture is a wicked person who is very definitely influenced by the Devil.

Solomon is saying to his son, “If you find yourself in the position where you have practiced deception at the instigation of Satan to where it affects every phase of your life, then indeed you have fallen into a snare and are bound by the cords of sin.”

Look once again at verse 12 and notice what he is talking about. If you didn't understand the Scripture, you might erroneously think this is a reference to a homosexual person. I heard a sermon preached on homosexuality on the basis of this text right here. There are references to homosexuality in the Bible, effeminacy etc., but this is not one of them. However, it does sound like it: “He walks with a pursed mouth. He winks with his eye. He speaks with his feet. He teaches with his fingers.” Sounds like it, doesn't it? “Frowardness is in his heart. He devises mischief continually. He soweth discord.” The passage is not speaking of a person involved in homosexuality, but it is speaking of a person who has become so deceptive that he uses every member of his body to convey that deception.

In verses 16-19, you find God saying that there are six things He hates—seven, as a matter of fact. Because I think that we could gain more by noticing them side-by-side rather than reading one verse and then looking at another, I would like for you to notice how they are presented. In verses 12-15, this son of Bliyaal is quoted as having a perverse mouth. In verses 16-19, we are told that God hates a lying tongue. We are told in the first portion that he has winky eyes, and in the second portion we are told God hates a proud look. In the first portion we are told that he has teaching fingers. He uses his fingers to accomplish his purpose, and we are told in the second portion that God hates hands that shed innocent blood. We are told in the first portion that he has a perverse heart. We are told in the second portion that God hates the person who devises wicked things in his heart. We are told in the first portion that he devises mischief. We are told in the second portion that God hates people who run to mischief. We are told in the first portion that he is a man who soweth discord among the brethren. We are told in the second portion that God hates the man who sows discord among the brethren.

So there are six things in the first part, six things in the second part, and a final thing which makes a summary for all of it—the seventh thing. That is the reason that the Spirit of God said, “Six things, yea seven things that God hates…” The seventh thing is a false witness, for the person who is described by the things in this section represents a false witness indeed. A man who is a false witness and who has adopted that as his manner of life is going to find himself in the trap that is described in verse 15. Notice:

Proverbs 6:

15 Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.

Some people become very adept at deceiving, very adept at lying, but there comes a time when the calamity comes. There comes the time when they are caught in the lie. They may be able to straighten that lie out; they may be able somehow to square it away, but there will come a time when they will become broken and that without remedy. So Solomon said to his son, “Beware of deception. You will be trapped by it by and by.”

Conclusion

The cords of sin are awfully hard to break after they have been forged, so the simple suggestion is, “Don't get yourself in a situation where the cords of sin are binding you down.”


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