The Sin of Adultery
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Turn to the book of Proverbs, that portion of the Word of God that we have been considering together. We are considering at the present time the book of Proverbs, that portion that deals with what we have referred to as Thirteen Lectures on Wisdom which Solomon delivered to his son. Each one of those lectures begin with the words, “my son.” As we have emphasized to you, every time you see the words, “my son,” you should not assume a new lecture is beginning; but when the lecture does begin, it will begin with those words.

We are now going to consider with you the eleventh lecture on wisdom, and as we have suggested to you, it is going to deal with the subject of sex. It is going to deal with the subject of adultery.

A few weeks ago, someone said that I brought an X-rated message on Sunday night. Perhaps I did. You will recall I did bring you lecture number nine as it was found in chapter 6 which had to do with sexual looseness, sexual immorality. In our next lesson we are going to bring you lecture number twelve in chapter 7 of the book of Proverbs. It too has to do with sex, for it represents the picture of the prostitute.

Some folk may say, “Why are you bringing messages like that to us? We don't particularly need them.” Perhaps you don't, but you need to be familiar with your Bibles so that when people come to you for instruction from the Word of God, you will know where to find that instruction. Those of you who are young enough to be faced with the temptations of the flesh need the instruction from the Word of God. Those of you who are parents who have to give instruction to your children certainly need to know how to give that instruction based upon the Word of God. I am quite willing to agree that we need sex education, but I believe that the need is for sex education to be carried on in the home. We re going to see that this was the very thing that Solomon did. Notice with me the entire lecture before we look at it piecemeal. Follow as we read, beginning with verse 20:

Proverbs 6:

20 My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
21 Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.
22 When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.
23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:
24 To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.
25 Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.
26 For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adultress will hunt for the precious life.
27 Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?
28 Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?
29 So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.
30 Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry;
31 But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house.
32 But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.
33 A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.
34 For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.
35 He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.

We believe the passage of Scripture that we have just read emphasizes a special message concerning sexual looseness that is perhaps needed as much in our day as any day that it could possibly be needed because we are not talking about sexual looseness in a general way. Rather, we are talking about the sin of adultery (listen closely) as it is related to your neighbor's wife.

You may ask, “Why does this subject need to be emphasized in the particular day in which we live?” If you are keeping up with events in the world, you know that the practice of wife swapping is something that is common in many circles. There is a difference between visiting the house of prostitution and committing adultery with your neighbor's wife.

We are going to notice the matter of visiting a house of prostitution. In chapter 5 we noticed a man becoming weak in relation to the things of the flesh and cohabiting with a prostitute; but in this lesson we are thinking about the sin of committing adultery with one's neighbor's wife.

You may wonder why I suggested that to you, and I am suggesting it to you because if you will glance down at verse 26, there seems to be indicated the presence of two women. Notice verse 26:

Proverbs 6:

26 For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adultress will hunt for the precious life.

If you read that verse superficially, you may think that a woman is mentioned twice over under two titles—one of them is whorish woman and another title for the same woman is adulteress . Some people who present expositions of the Word of God feel that this is true, but personally I do not, for the reason that in this verse the word for whorish woman is from the Hebrew word zanah , which is translated in chapter 7, verse 3, by the word harlot . This whorish woman is a harlot. She is a prostitute, operating in some public place of prostitution.

In contrast, the adulteress comes from an entirely different Hebrew word. It is the Hebrew word nashiym , which can be translated by the words, “an adulterous wife.” I repeat, it is my belief that in verse 26 we are introduced to a harlot who operates as such without any secrets as to why she does what she does and an adulterous wife who takes delight in seducing neighbors so that she might play the harlot as far as her husband is concerned. I think that is the why, in verse 24, emphasis is placed upon two women. Notice verse 24:

Proverbs 6:

24 To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.

Here again you might think the evil woman and the strange woman are one and the same, but I would like to suggest to you that the word evil comes from the Hebrew word ra , which means “wicked woman,” and is used in connection with a harlot in the Word of God. The word strange woman comes from the Hebrew word nokriy which means “the woman who does the unexpected.” That is a woman who is doing something that she ought not to be doing, something that is contrary to her standard in life.

You expect a harlot to ply her trade and seduce every man she can come in contact with, but you do not expect a respectable housewife to spend her time seducing men. When she does, she is doing the unexpected.

I believe in these two passages of Scripture we have two women, and we need to recognize them for what they are. The evil woman is the whorish woman—the common harlot. The strange woman in verse 24 is the adulterous wife of verse 26. If you will settle these facts in your mind, you will recognize there is a difference in what is brought to your attention as to the sad things that happen in relation to your association with these two women. Look back again with me at verse 26:

Proverbs 6:

26 For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adultress will hunt for the precious life.

Two different things happen. You associate with the whorish woman; you are brought to a piece of bread. You associate with the adulterous woman; you are robbed of precious life. Exactly what those two things mean we are going to reserve in our discussion until we come to the price of the folly that men commit when they have anything to do with adulterous women.

God's Protection from Neighborhood Adultery

Our lecture actually begins with a provision at the hand of God, a provision that suggests again the mercy of God in providing for His own because the lecture actually begins with what I have termed, God's Protection from Neighborhood Adultery. When I speak that, I suggest that this is true because of the word keep , which you find in verse 24. Everything that proceeds verse 24 is given to:

Proverbs 6:

24 To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.

The word keep is the translation of the Hebrew word shamar , which means “to hedge about.” God has offered divine protection for individuals who are going to be placed in this temptation. That divine protection is of a twofold nature. The twofold nature may be described first in terms of parental responsibility. If parents discharge their responsibility in relation to sex education, then God says there is ample protection provided for this social evil that is very common among us today.

The other side of the coin is the children's response. Though parents do discharge their responsibility as well as they know how, if the children do not respond properly to what their parents are instructing them, then, of course, the protection will be only half as effective. All too often children fail to respond as they should until it is too late; then they attempt to don some of the armor their parents have provided and find that much damage has already been done.

Parental Responsibility

I suggest that you look with me now at what we are going to refer to as parental responsibility . Notice in verse 20:

Proverbs 6:

20 My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

The first thing I would like to suggest to you concerning parental responsibility is related to the word unity , for if the father and the mother both are not united on this subject, if their standards are not the same, if they are not in agreement, they will not be able to convince their children of the truth and the seriousness of what they are saying.

You will notice, it is the father's commandments and the law of the mother. We must not think that these represent the mere mouthings of father and mother, as such. We must recognize that the instruction which is given on the part of the father and the mother must be based upon the Word of the living God. That it is based upon the Word of the living God is indicated by the fact that it is based upon the Word of Life and the practical application of God's Word, the way of life.

How do you know that the Word of Life is used? Notice the word commandment . We have already noticed that this word commandment is another word for the Word of God, and here it is compared to a lamp, the effectiveness of which we will be noticing before we are through with our discussion.

In addition to the word commandment , there is the word law , which is compared to a light, the effectiveness which we will be thinking about before we are through. For the moment remember that a lamp takes care of the immediate need. A light shines into the dark corners.

Reproofs of Instruction

There are people who believe that if they train their children in the Word of God and teach them all that they should be taught about the Word of God, they will equip them for life in the world; but I would like to suggest to you on, the authority of this portion of the Word of God, that they will only be half equipped because there is something else that is needed. It is described in our text by “reproofs of instruction.” Notice verse 23:

Proverbs 6:

23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:

Reproofs of instruction represent the practical application of the Word of God to the individual need. It is one thing for a father or mother to tell their child that sexual freedom is frowned on in the Word of God; it is another thing not to give the child the practical instruction that is needed. In verse 25, for example, a very practical instruction is given. Notice:

Proverbs 6:

25 Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.

The father who is interested in the welfare of his child will be quick to point out to this child all of the pitfalls that are related to the prostitute, reminding that sin and lustful desire begins first in the heart and then reaches the outer physical members, reminding the child that prostitutes have a way of making themselves very attractive, for that is the thought behind the words, “let not her eyelids take thee.” The picture of a woman who makes herself very attractive and with very seductive looks overwhelms a person who does not realize the intent and the purpose of the person in mind. That is the reason chapter 7 is presented and really should be presented at the same time if time permitted.

Children's Response

We said that God's protection for this sexual weakness is twofold. We said that it is represented by parental responsibility and by the children's response to what they are taught by their parents. What is your response, young people, to the Word of God under which you sit each Sunday? What is your response to the Word of God, which I trust your parents are keeping before you? I can tell you what your response ought to be, whether I can tell you what it is or not. It is presented here in the paragraph which begins with verse 20, where we read:

Proverbs 6:

20 My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

What are you to do with it? Notice verse 21:

Proverbs 6:

21 Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.
22 When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.

Hebrew children did wear around their necks little portions of Scripture that were little amulets on which was printed the Torah in miniature form, and Solomon may have had that in mind when he said, “Tie them around your throat,” but since he said also, “Bind them upon your heart,” it would be a rather difficult thing to do physically. I am of the opinion that he is suggesting that the individual who is interested in following God's Word should recognize that the Word of God should first find its place in the heart, and recognize all actions should come from the heart as individuals live their lives in constant companionship with the Word of God.

I ask you, is the Word of God your constant companion? Perhaps you would answer me, “Yes. I carry a New Testament in my pocket everywhere I go.” Well, that is fine if you do, and it is always good to be prepared, but I am not talking about that because you might be in some situation where you cannot carry a New Testament in your pocket or in your purse. The Word of God needs to be your constant companion, and the Holy Spirit has laid the groundwork by suggesting that you should bind it upon your heart before you bind it upon your throat, so the Word of God could be hidden away in your heart. The constant companionship of the Holy Spirit is described in the verses I have read by words such as, “When thou goest, it shall lead thee.” If the Word of God is your constant companion, wherever you may be called upon to go, you can expect God to use His Word to lead you. This is why it is so important to commit the Word of God to memory, so that the Holy Spirit can draw upon the Word that you have hidden away in your heart and lead you accordingly.

I am often told by young people, particularly those who are engaged in some systematic type of memorization, that they wonder how much good it does because they don't always remember their assignments, and if someone were to point their finger at them quickly and say, “Give me such and such a verse,” they would not be able to do it.

I have had parents ask me if there was any real value in such a program, particularly when young people sometimes have to be forcefully encouraged to memorize the passages of Scripture which are set before them. They say, “Why, they don't remember them any longer than it takes them to say them.”

The Word of God, Beloved, is divine, and God has a way of hiding it in your heart if you will make an effort to memorize it. The Holy Spirit can bring it to the attention of your child when he needs it, though he may not be able to stand up before a crowd and quote it. Wherever he goes, the Holy Spirit can lead through the Word. You are told that when you are sleeping, the Word of God can keep you, and when you are awake, the Word of God can talk with you.

This word awake , actually refers to the matter of waking up in the night, in the sleeping time of the night, when other folk are asleep. The Word of God will talk with you then. The Word of God can talk to you even in the waking hours of the day.

You may think I am sounding a bit crazed. How can the Word of God talk to you? Sightless people have made available to them the talking book. It is the Bible on tape. I, by the grace of God, have my physical eyesight, and yet I have a talking book. I am not referring to the Scripture that is on tape; I am referring to the Bible such as I have before me, for the Bible talks to me. You can understand what I mean if you keep in mind that here the Word for talk comes from the Hebrew word siyach which means “to meditate and pray.”

How does the Word of God talk with me? In the waking hours of the night, I meditate in the Word of God. Some passage of Scripture comes to my mind and I meditate upon that passage of Scripture. I think about that passage of Scripture and that passage of Scripture talks to me.

Why would the Spirit of God be pleased to choose a word in the Hebrew for talk that would include the idea of prayer? I think the reason is, and you will probably discover this, if the Word of God really talks to you, you wind up praying. If the Word of God really speaks to your heart, you perhaps find some sin that needs to be confessed, some fault that you would like for God to give you victory over, or you may even discover some burden for someone else the Word of God has brought to you.

Keep the Word of God as a Lamp

If you are going to respond to the Word of God to provide the protection which we say God is providing for you, you are going to have to keep the Word of God as a lamp. As I have suggested to you already and I re-emphasize, a lamp is meant to be used in close quarters. You will need to use the Word of God as a light as well, for it is meant to light up the distant, dark corners of the path that you are treading as well.

Turn with me to Psalm 119 for an illustration that I think will say more than I could possibly say about this matter of using the Word of God. You will keep in mind that Psalm 119 is the Psalm of the Word of God which is designed on the basis of the Hebrew alphabet. Every paragraph is written under one of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In the original text, each line in that paragraph begins with that particular letter. Each paragraph presents some particular characteristic of the Word of God. Here we find in verse 105:

Psalm 119:

105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Here we have a picture of the Pilgrim who is traveling down a new and a strange path, one with which he is not at all familiar and one which he has no idea to what end it will bring him, and he fearfully takes his first step.

What does he have to help him? The Word of God. What will the Word of God do? It will light up the path immediately surrounding his feet, as a lamp does, so that he will not have to take one step in the dark. It will do more than that. It will light up the path some distance down the road, just as the lights of your automobile light the highway, depending on whether they are on high or low beam. Low beam corresponds to the lamp. High beam corresponds to the light.

Learn to use the Word of God that way. Parents, if you discharge your parental responsibility and prayerfully ask God to cause your children to respond, they will be equipped for the path of life which they must trod; but since we are speaking about a particular subject in this lecture, we suggest to you that if you educate your children along the lines suggested, your children will be equipped to face whatever temptation along this line they might have to face.

One of the things that you should emphasize to your children in instructing them along this line is the price that most certainly will have to be paid for such folly—the price that will have to be paid for the folly of committing adultery with a neighbor's wife.

The Price to be Paid

This is folly is very plainly emphasized in verse 32:

Proverbs 6:

32 But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.

The woman here is not just any woman. It refers to the neighbor woman. He who commits adultery with the neighbor woman lacks understanding. Today, sex is made the popular thing in commercials, in the theater, on television and in literature. I read just the other day that if you have not had a sexual experience by the time you are sixteen, your experience of life has been sadly neglected. This is what is being advanced today by men who do not know the Word of God. Parents should emphasize to their children that any illicit sex act, and particularly this popular idea of swapping sexual partners, is a folly which demands a tremendous price.

What is the price that you are going to pay for such foolishness? Look at verse 26:

Proverbs 6:

26 For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adultress will hunt for the precious life.

To emphasize the price of such folly, the Holy Spirit presents this contrast in verse 26. He says that if you patronize a harlot, you may wind up in poverty. The harlot is the woman who sells her wares. You may wind up in poverty. That in itself is bad enough, but poverty comes to people for many different reasons. To emphasize how much more serious this is to have anything to do with your neighbor's wife, you are told here in verse 26 that you will wind up in ruin. You are told in the last part of verse 26 that the adulterous woman will hunt for the precious life.

Here we are reminded that the aggressor is the woman. When we were discussing the subject of sex in chapter 5, the aggressor was the man, and the man was told to drink water out of his own cistern and not to go somewhere else. Here we are told the adulterous woman and the neighbor's wife whose morals are not what they ought to be, lies in wait for the neighboring man much as a hunter lies in wait for his prey. The word hunt is from the Hebrew word tsuwd which means “take.” This literally is what the adulterous woman has in mind. She wants to take something from the man. No, it isn't a few moments of sexual satisfaction she desires; it is something far more precious than that. In our King James text it is described as “precious life.” The word precious comes from the Hebrew word yaqar , and it is translated by the English word honor in other portions of the Word of God. What does this adulterous woman want? She wants to take the honor from a good man, ruin his family and ruin the lives of his children. She seems to take a sadistic delight in doing such a thing as that.

God says, “If you have a relationship with your neighbor's wife, it is going to cost you what could be precious to you—the honor of a good name and the honor of your children—because the joy you are taking, as though it is your own personal right, is not only costing you; it is costing your children as well because they will have to live in the shadow of a dishonored life.

One of the reasons we play fast and loose with things such as this is that honor means very little to most of us any more. There was a time when individuals could speak of people and refer to them as honorable men , but there are very few people who care about being honorable any more.

We are talking about the price of this folly, and as we continue our discussion along this line, I would like for you to notice with me the paragraph which begins with verse 27:

Proverbs 6:

27 Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?
28 Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?
29 So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.

Here the Holy Spirit of God speaks of the certainty of punishment that awaits the man who violates the law of God and man in this area. He may think that he will escape punishment, but it will be as impossible for him to escape punishment as it would be for a man to take a coal and hold it in the fold of his garment, as he binds his garment across his breast and not set his clothing on fire. It is as impossible for him to escape punishment as it would be for men to walk on hot coals and not burn their feet.

Individuals are quick to say, “I don't know about that.” I could cite you some instances when individuals have talked to me about that. I always suggest they remember the illustration of the atheistic farmer who believed that God had nothing to do with his crops. He planted, he plowed, he tilled on Sunday, while his neighbors went to church. He refused to use the Lord's day in this fashion. When harvest day came, his crops were bigger and better than that of his Christian neighbors. He wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper and pointed out what I have described. He said, “You see, I don't believe in God, and my crop is bigger than these silly Christians who do.”

The editor printed his letter and added a note, a very simple, one-line statement, which was: “God does not settle His accounts in October.”

You might remember, if you see instances of people playing fast and loose with the laws of morals, who seem not to pay the price, that God has just not yet called them to account. Certainty of punishment will be theirs because God will not hold them innocent. You might remember that phrase in the last part of verse 29: “…shall not be innocent,” literally means, “shall not be unpunished.”

No Means of Restoration

There is another kind of price that individuals have to pay, and if you will notice with me the paragraph that begins with verse 30, you will have it emphasized in your thinking. Notice:

Proverbs 6:

30 Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry;

The man is hungry and he steals. Men don't despise him, but even so he has to pay back what he stole, according to verse 31. Notice:

Proverbs 6:

31 But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house.
32 But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.
33 [Notice now] A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.

The reason the Spirit of God brought to our attention the little story of the hungry man who stole to fill his empty stomach was to remind us that one of the prices that man pays when he commits the sin of which we are speaking is that there is no restoration. You may restore food that you have stolen. You may repay money that you have taken, even sevenfold, but, boys, listen to me: You will never be able to restore the virginity that you have stolen from a girl. No way in the world can that ever be restored.

Girls, listen to me, for the subject of our discussion is not careless boys; it is careless girls. Listen to me: You may be able to make up to your own life, to your parents for nearly anything that you do; but there is one thing that you can never make up, and that is the virginity that you may have handled so loosely and lightly when you gave it away to a boy on whom you wouldn't even wipe your feet now if you had the opportunity. The sad, sad, sad thing about this sin is that there is no means of restoration, and this is a tremendous price to pay.

Men, there is another thought and that is a price that some of you may not want to pay. It is described in verses 34-35. Notice:

Proverbs 6:

34 For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.
35 He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.

The man who dares to commit adultery with his neighbor's wife, the man who dares to commit adultery with his friend's wife, becomes the object of a jealous rage. There is nothing so implacable as the rage of an offended husband. This passage of Scripture says that no amount of words can change the picture. No amount of gifts can make any difference. You have to bear the brunt of it, and of course, records bear me out that men are in their graves today because foolish women thought it was smart to seduce their neighbor's husband. Men are in their graves today, homes are broken and children are bearing the brunt of it because our morals in this land have slipped so low that in the world you really haven't had an experience unless you have had some other sex partner than your husband.

Parents, God gave us something in His Word to talk about to our children. Solomon said, “I have gone through this, my son, I want to spare you what I have gone through.”

Conclusion

In the grace of God, some of us as parents have not had to go through what Solomon did, but we have his example. We ought to use it. Don't be afraid to be practical. Don't be afraid to be blunt. Don't be afraid to be even crude if it could be so interpreted. Be sure that your child is properly oriented in matters of sex and in principles of morality. There is no new morality. There is old sin in a new garb.


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