“Live in Moral Purity”
Proverbs 5:3-14,20-23;6:23-24,27-29,32-34


Tom J. Nettles


This lesson investigates one of the most profound gifts with which God blessed the creatures made in his image. For that reason it is capable also of the most egregious misuse and corruption. It can give and perpetuate life, joy, wholeness and mutual love, respect, and faithfulness; it can lead to bitterness, corruption, death and effect as well as symbolize broken relationships, lack of trust, and hatred. Augustine called the entire corruption of humanity’s nature concupiscence. It refers to our universal propensity to seek enjoyment and pleasure from the created order apart from a primary focus on the glory of God. This tendency no where more energetically exerts itself than in the realm of  sexuality. The unruliness of this aspect of our being, both individually and corporately, gives evidence of how deeply lies the rebellion of the entire race against God and his original, revealed intent for us.


I.                    Deception of Sexual Allurement –

A.     Promises pleasure and contentment - verse 3: Note how the writer expresses the allurement in both physical and metaphorical terms. The words and conduct of a woman seeking personal pleasure by promising it to others brings destruction to both.

1.      Adulteress – The temptation clearly is to a perverse use of a God-given relationship of the most intimate sort. From the beginning (Genesis 2:22-25) to the end (Revelation 19:6-10) the sexual intimacy of marriage serves as a symbol of the sovereign mercy and faithful relationship of God to his people (Hosea 2:19-23). Idolatry in the Old Testament is regularly called “whoredom.” (Jeremiah 13:25-27) Any suggestion of merchandising sexual intimacy in a way that bypasses the commitment to faithfulness in marriage and as a seal of such vows of faithfulness is in itself “forbidden,” and the woman that tempts to such use of display is a “forbidden woman.”

2.      “Forbidden” could also refer to a non-covenant female – It is possible that Solomon has in mind the events of Numbers 25:6-9, where an Israelite brought a Midianite woman to his family tent for intimacy, even during a time when God was judging Israel for dalliance with Baal worship [25:5}, and Phinehas killed them both with a spear.

3.      Any woman that is forbidden – any woman not one’s wife

B.     Delivers the opposite

1.      Not sweet and smooth, like the honey set forth in the image and so imagined by the person tempted, but bitter and sharp and killing with the quickness and depth of a two-edged sword [2800 teenage girls get pregnant every day; 2500 people contract sexual transmitted disease every day]. The contrast is clear in the image of promise and expectation [her lips drip honey] and actual result [“she is bitter as wormwood”].

2.      verses 5, 6 - Death, not life- the temptation promises the enhancement of life, the granting of pleasure, but in reality opens the road to sorrow, tragedy, and eventual eternal punishment. (Revelation 21:8; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10)

3.      Instability, not wholeness – Her perverse life has led her to think that sexual pleasure, particularly that of the random adventure, gives just that edge of pleasure that life needs to make it full. She is fragmented in soul, wanders without light and leads her victims into darkness and destruction both here and hereafter.

II.                 Results of Sexual Impurity 5:7-14

A.     The results come when advice is ignored  5:7 [cf. 7:1-5; 6:20-24; 1 Thess 4:1-8] All of these texts give this instruction with an obvious intensity both because of the power of the temptation and the corresponding intensity of the dire consequences. Paul shows that all this instruction is the direct command of God (1 Thessalonians 4:8).

B.     Resolve to stay removed from any allurement to sexual sin  5:8; 7:6-8; 1 Peter 2:11 – knowing the power of such enticement and the corruption of life that is the result, do not even go in the vicinity of the “forbidden woman” no matter where she is or what form this forbiddenness takes. Peter points to the reality that the passions of the flesh wage war against the soul.

C.     Multiplication of problems and increasing corruption of life 9-14

1.      Loss of concentration on one person, one love, one covenantal relationship and consequent dissipation of life

2.      Loss of pleasure 9

3.      Loss of time 9b

4.      Loss of the purpose of ‘one flesh’  10a

5.      Loss of money 10b

6.      Loss of health 11

7.      Loss of self-respect and filled with regret 12, 13

8.      Loss of public respect and excluded from the comfort and assurance of Christian fellowship 14

III.               Corruption of Divine Intent

A.     Concentration on one’s marriage partner delivers pleasure and fulfills purpose of God. Again the Proverbialist points to the reality that this is a “forbidden woman,” even an adulteress. This is a woman who is purposefully and aggressively in violation of the law of God [the seventh commandment], an adulteress, and will bring the one that follows her into that same disobedience and under the same judgment. “We must not indulge in sexual immorality,” Paul wrote the Corinthians, “as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.” (1 Corinthians 10:8)

B.     Why invite God’s judgment by ignoring His Purpose? 5:20-23; 1 Thes 4:6; Heb. 13:4

1.      No matter how secret this might appear at the moment, all is open to God. Though hidden from men, and perhaps from all other persons that could be concerned in the matter, it is yet “before the eyes of the Lord.” In fact, it is so known by God that the writer pictures God as pondering the path of such a despicably weak and sensuous person.

2.      Sexual sin carries its own punishment – It ensnares the transgressor and holds him fast in cords.

3.      God punishes sexual sin by giving one up to its perversion 5:23. “He dies for lack of discipline.”

Ř      Rebellion against divine revelation often is specifically for the purpose of ignoring the divine law on sex – Romans 1:24-27; 2 Thess. 2:12  - In justice, God may clearly remove any restraining mercies on the lust of men and give them up to pursuit of their pleasures. The result is a more frenetic pursuit of the ever-fleeting promise of happiness and fulfillment in pure physical pleasure with the result of greater fragmentation of life and hardness of heart.

Ř      Heresy involves sexual perversion –  2 Tim 3:4-7; 2 Pet. 2:1, 2, 10, 14. There are those who work to get into positions of religious authority just so that they might gratify their propensity for sexual adventure.

IV.              Inevitability of Judgment

A.     Verse :23 - The commandment is not an attempt to destroy pleasure but to give joy and save life. It is “a lamp and the teaching a light.” Sexual aggressiveness, both heterosexual and homosexual, is quite acute in our day and sexuality is seen as being totally a matter of the discretion and will of each individual sexual being. It seems never to occur to the modern that we did not invent sex, nor is it simply the accidental development of a long chain of evolutionary developments, but that it is original with the creation of man and woman, given by God for the consummation of pleasure and unity with a married couple with the normal consequence that the human race is propagated through that act of emotional, spiritual and physical union. It is designed to cement and sanctify the devotion that a couple had pledged to one another and to be the vital stream of life that is the fountain of all the natural affection that characterizes family life. “The reproofs of discipline are the way of life.” These commandments “preserve you” from the evil woman.”

B.     By its very nature, illicit sex wreaks havoc  6: 27-29

1. Fire has properties that are destructive in and of themselves. It is valuable for warmth, for purification, for cooking and a number of other things in which its properties serve well. It is not meant for contact with garments or with human flesh. Its very properties will destroy both; in the one resulting in expensive loss and in the other perhaps the scarring of skin, the loss of limbs, or destruction of life.

2. Just as naturally destructive, for equally opposed to the proper use of a good thing, is the commission of adultery. It would be better to burn one’s hand from his arm in the fire than to violate the God-ordained rights of marriage through sexual sin.

C.     Verse 30-35 – Stealing is wrong even when done by a man merely seeking bread for his hungry family. The thief is punished, but perhaps not despised in such a situation. The adulterer, however, is worthy of ineradicable disgrace. Far more serious than a violation of property is a violation of a person’s most intimate treasure, his selfhood and ability to give full communication of person to person; this interrupts the most sublime aspect of the image of God as manifest in the eternal personal relations of the Trinity. As God has given marriage to show the perfect union and common bliss that exists eternally within the Trinity, so the commission of adultery is like seeking to pour corruption into the relation of the infinitely perfect harmony and love that ever flows from Father to the Son and reciprocated perfectly and fully from the Son to the Father, the ever-flowing streams of love constituting the flaming perfection of the Holy Spirit. Who dares such will find himself under the wrath of an infinitely jealous God who hates the attempt to pollute his own faithfulness by the perversion of his sovereignly ordained grace of marriage.


V.                 Grace cleanses and makes whole – The magnificence of the grace of God is seen in that even this sin can be cleansed in the purifying crimson of Christ’s pierced body.

A.     David in Psalm 51

B.     Prodigal Son – Lk 15: 13, 30

C.     John 8:1-11 Woman taken in adultery

D.     First century Christian from a pagan culture  1 Corinthians 6:9-11