Be Wise About Preventing Adultery (Proverbs 5)

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Be Wise: Preventing Adultery, Pursuing Purity

Proverb 5 gives wisdom preventing adultery

In 1885, after being caught in adultery, this unfaithful wife wrote these words to her husband. “Branded and blackened by my own misdeeds I stand before you; not as one who pleads for mercy or forgiveness, but as one, after wrong is done, who seeks the why and wherefore.

“Go with me back to those early years of love and see just where our paths diverged. You must recall your wild pursuit of me, outstripping all competitors and rivals, till at last you bound me sure and fast with vow and ring.

“I was the central thing in all the universe for you. Just then, for me there were no other men. I cared only for tasks and pleasures that you shared. Such happy, happy days.

“You wearied first. No, I will not say you wearied, but a thirst for conquest and achievement in man’s realm left love’s barge with no pilot at the helm.

“The money madness and the keen desire to outstrip others, set your heart on fire. Into that growing blaze went romance and sentiment. Abroad, you were a man of parts and power. Your double dower of brawn and brains gave you a leader’s place.

“At home you were dull, tired, and commonplace. You housed me, fed me, clothed me; you were kind; but oh, so blind, so blind. You could not, would not see a woman’s need.

“When I complained of loneliness you said, “A man must think about his daily bread and not waste time in empty social life; he leaves that sort of duty to his wife. He pays her bills and lets her have her way and feels she should be satisfied.

“Each day, our lives that had been one life at the start, farther and farther seemed to drift apart. Dead was the old romance of man and maid. Your talk was all of politics or trade. Your work, your club, the mad pursuit of gold absorbed your thoughts. Your duty kiss fell cold upon my lips. Life lost its zest, its thrill, until.

“One fateful day, when earth seemed very dull it suddenly grew bright and beautiful. I spoke a little, he listened much. There was attention in his eyes, and such a note of comradeship in his low tone, I felt no more alone.

“There was kindly interest in his air; he spoke about the way I dressed, my hair, and praised the gown I wore. It seemed a thousand years and more, since I had been so noticed. Had mine ear been used to compliments year after year, if I had heard you speak as this man spoke, I would not have been so weak.

“The innocent beginning of all my sinning was just the woman’s craving to be brought into the inner shrine of some man’s thought.

“You heal me there, as sweetheart and as bride; and then as wife, you left me far outside. So far, so far, you could not hear me call. You might, you should, have saved me from my fall.”

There is no excuse for sin, but there are reasons for compromise–which is why the godly man and godly woman continually work at their marriage. And why wise marriages flee from any hint of adultery. Wise singles flee from any hint of fornication. And wise men and women flee from youthful lusts.

And where can you get this wisdom? Proverbs. The book of Proverbs is God’s wisdom made available to His children. Proverbs are simple, moral statements that give direction for the practical life.

Created in 971 to 686 BC, Proverbs were authored before Solomon’s heart turned away from the Lord—1) to help you and I live in the fear of God, and 2) to put God’s wisdom into practice into everyday life. And 3) for all Christians, to know and live more like our Savior, Christ Jesus.

And part of true wisdom involves your moral purity. Almost immediately in Proverbs, Solomon warns about immoral behavior. It wasn’t the Beatles or the 60’s which created the sexual revolution–it was the sinful human heart. So Solomon tells you to beware–of what? Proverbs 2, flattery–Proverbs 2:16, “To deliver you from the strange woman, from the adulteress who flatters with her words.”

Solomon warns of turning your focus off your mate and disregarding your vow to God. And then in verse 17, “That leaves the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God.” Solomon also warns of the deadly consequences of adultery in verses 18 and 19. “For her house sinks down to death and her tracks lead to the dead; 19 none who go to her return again, nor do they reach the paths of life.”

Why should we study this? Sexual sin and impurity are unwise. Living wise means maintaining the joy of a clean conscience. Living wise means cultivating a pure mind. Living wise means resisting the temptations of impurity. And Proverbs is all about warning you, to prevent impurity and cultivating a life of purity.

Solomon demonstrates the extreme deadliness of adultery by repeating the same warnings in chapters 5, 6 and 7, proving adultery was just as much a problem then as it is today. And in a unique place in Proverbs there is this pointed challenge. The first nine chapters of Proverbs were assembled as broad lessons, not single Proverbs. It is like a New Testament epistle, written in paragraphs to make a strong point. So turn to Proverbs 5 and grapple with the peril of adultery.

Solomon begins with a call to pay attention–to be wise. Some of you remember your dad instructing you–sometimes repeatedly exhorting you to listen. This is verses 1 and 2. This is the seventh father-son lecture in Proverbs, making chapter 5 a robust, man-to-man warning against adultery and a frank invitation to the delights of married love.

Read Proverbs 5:1 to 2, “My son, give attention to my wisdom, Incline your ear to my understanding; 2 that you may observe discretion and your lips may reserve knowledge.” In a twisted sense, this is a biblical commercial. Solomon is pitching wisdom over worldliness–dad is saying, “Live by facts, not by feelings–truth, not emotion.”

There are four participles in verses 1 to 2 that emphasize four truths. 1) discernment is something you must learn–become the bank teller who can automatically tell the counterfeit from the real. 2) never forget, sexual sin temptation is deceptive–it’s a lie. 3) not everything that glitters is gold. And 4) look at life long-term.

We teach our children to be careful around strangers–especially those who offer candy or a ride in their car. Solomon is saying the same thing to adults, in verses1 to 2. There are wolves in sheep’s clothing. And never forget, there are female wolves–I think the term is”cougar”?

Don’t judge a book by its cover–people are never quite the way they seem. That old girlfriend, that fellow worker, that friendly student, or nice neighbor—they may be kind, attractive, even attentive. But they can also be a wily fisherman, bating a gullible fish. Don’t get hooked. The wisest dad in the world is speaking to you, his sons and daughters. Christian, you will die without this instruction.

#1  The deceptive PROMISE of adultery

To remain pure, you must beware of deception. Adultery promises one thing and delivers another. As I read verses 3 to 6, look for the promise of “feel good”–listen for the enticement of flattery to build your self-esteem. Watch for allurements. What is the fake promise? Verse 3, “For the lips of an adulteress drip honey and smoother than oil is her speech.”

Wow, you know of this type of temptation. The pornographic image is so alluring. The promise of fame so seductive. The gambling commercial where everyone is so happy–all of it is a lie. There might be 10% truth, but the rest is a distortion and a deception.

Here is an adulteress–the word means another woman or a foreign woman. Not from another country, but a woman outside of the marriage covenant because you made a vow of loyalty and exclusivity to your bride for life–one life, one wife. This outsider is tempting you through conversation.

Reading about men who have violated their vow, it begins with the gal who leans too close over your desk so her hair brushes up against your face. It may start with appearance and scent, but before sex it’ll move to sinful thoughts, then to sinful communication–seductive speech, verbal innuendo.

In the ancient world, dripping honey is the sweetest candy imaginable. It was the freshest honey from the honeycomb. This temptation tastes like Almond Joy, Kit Kat, Skor, 100 Grand, M&M’s, Twix and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Solomon warns his son–her words will cause an emotional, sometimes physical, response. You might drool. How? Her words soften every moral objection as they’re spoken. They are, verse 3, “smoother than oil”–that’s olive oil, which was used in Jewish worship, lamps for light, cooking, physical massage, even as medicine. It’s smooth, sometimes scented, giving a picture of seduction.

This gal knows what to say in order to get a response. But verse 3 tells us the adulteress is an African bee–yes, she has honey in her mouth, but she has a sting in her tail.

The real truth starts in verse 4, “But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. 5 Her feet go down to death, her steps take hold of Sheol. 6 She does not ponder the path of life; her ways are unstable, she does not know it.”

You saw the contrast that starts in verse 4—“but”. Whoever succumbs to the temptation of adultery in verse 4 experiences the opposite of what is promised in verse 3. The sweetness of her words soon turns sour. The smoothness of her seduction soon cuts like a knife. Solomon says, “Look at the genuine reality of adultery.”

Spurgeon singles out a phrase in verse 4, “in the end.” He compares that phrase to lighting a lamp in the room of the adulterous or in the brothel. Then when the light floods the room, you see Satan there with a wicked smile. Solomon says, “Look at where this is leading.” Verse 4, “Bitter as wormwood” is a metaphor for a painful experience–it’s not lethal, but you wish you were dead.

Sharp as a two-edged sword is the scary stabbing of the assassin’s blade. You didn’t see it coming, but it’s permanent damage or fatal. So stop listening to her words, but look at her feet—where is she going? Where will adultery lead? Verses 5 and 6, “death . . . Sheol . . . unstable”–not life, not joy. She isn’t interested in Christ. Verse 6 she is wandering in moral darkness, her path is crooked and leads only to hell. Adultery promises much, but what you get is . . .

#2  The terrible PRICE of adultery

There are two overall messages Solomon gives next–first is flee in verses 7 to 8. “Now then, my sons, listen to me and do not depart from the words of my mouth. 8 Keep your way far from her and do not go near the door of her house.” Adultery and sexual sin in general is so powerful and so alluring, the Bible commands you and I to flee.

Read verse 8, “Keep your way far from her and do not go near the door of her house.” Fleeing here requires geographical avoidance. Stay away from her and wherever she hangs out. Second Timothy 2:22 says the same, “Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” How do you flee?


Just like Joseph, who fled from Potiphar’s wife, Christians must decide to do what is right in advance when faced with sexual temptation. You decide now what you will do . . .

  • If you’re out with your boyfriend in the back seat of a car, don’t pray–get out, flee. (Throw up on him, if necessary.)
  • If you’re in trouble, call your dad, or Morgan, Rob Sousa, Andre Dyer—really, most of the dads in this room. We’ll take care of it! But whatever you do, prepare in advance.


Think before you go to the beach at night to watch the submarine races. Think before you spend any extended time alone in an apartment or home. Staying public and active is one way of fleeing.


Don’t go out with a flirt. Why would you want to go out with someone whose biblical description is that of a harlot, unless you want to be one or use one? Don’t hang out with someone with a bad reputation. First Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived; bad company corrupts good morals.” Pick your friends, pick your dates. Have the courage to say, “NO!”


Gals, ask a respected older woman about dress–not a guy! Remember, the eye goes where the line ends. And pants should be different than paint.


Purity starts within. In Mark 7:20,21,23 Christ says, “ ‘That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications… adulteries, 23 All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.’ ”

Purity not only starts with Christ, but also starts within–not with a bunch of external do’s and don’ts, but with a heart attitude, an inner longing to be right with God and a true desire to have a clean, guilt-free conscience. It starts when you stop longing to be happy and start hungering to be holy. Dwell on what God has created, not what Satan has perverted.


Like Job, who said in Job 31:1, “I have made a covenant with my eyes, how then could I gaze at a virgin?” Make a covenant with your eyes not to look at–not to look lustfully at or listen long to anything impure. And covenant not to take that second look at anything or anyone that might result in lustful thoughts.

Why should you flee? Because of the price you’ll pay in verses 9 to 14. The price should cause you to flee and count the cost. Verse 9, “Or you will give your vigor to others [you waste your life]. And your years to the cruel one; 10 And strangers will be filled with your strength and your hard-earned goods will go to the house of an alien; 11 and you groan at your final end [you will die sorry], when your flesh and your body are consumed; 12 and you say, ‘How I have hated instruction! And my heart spurned reproof! 13 I have not listened to the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to my instructors [you will be haunted by regrets]. 14 I was almost in utter ruin In the midst of the assembly and congregation [your reputation will be ruined and you’ll be filled with shame].’ “

Be afraid, friends–look hard at verse 11. “Your flesh and your body are consumed.” STD’s, like Syphilis and Gonorrhea, brought on by immorality, literally eat the body away. Solomon shocks his son and God reasons with you. There is a terrible price for adultery. So what is . . .

#3  The practical PREVENTION of adultery

Two super-wise, amazingly simple and profoundly important steps.

Step 1  Love your SPOUSE

Wise Solomon will ask, “Why would you look at a Ford Fiesta, when you have a TESLA model X at home? ( Or Mercedes-Benz G-class, or BMW X6, or Porsche Cayenne Turbo S?)

Read Proverbs 5:15 to 18 with me and notice the wide variety of references to water. “Drink water from your own cistern. And fresh water from your own well. 16 Should your springs be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be yours alone and not for strangers with you. 18 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth.”

Drink is a euphemism for enjoying a healthy sexual relationship within the confines of marriage. In the midst of a desert of lust, find satisfaction in your wife. In the heat of porn, prostitutes and adulterous women, married men are to find physical refreshment with their bride. While living on a world which sells everything with sex, filling  the eyes with inappropriate images, be blessed with your mate.

Verses 15 to 18 says, “Find cool refreshment for hot desires.” Bruce Waltke writes in his two-volume commentary on Proverbs: “In order to quench his thirst, the sons’ well must be a constant source of sweet water – so the father prays his sons will have a wife who can quench that thirst quantitatively and qualitatively in the most satisfying way.” Find your satisfaction with your wife. Why?

Wives, if your spouse is going to find any relief from lust, if your husband will ever have a fantastic lover, if your mate is to enjoy enough intimacy and joyful sex—he can only turn to one person. You–you’re it. First Corinthians 7:1 to 4 commands believing wives and husbands four times to meet the intimacy needs of their spouse.

Solomon tells his son to look to his wife because, verse 19, “As a loving hind and a graceful doe”–she is beautiful. “Let her breasts satisfy you at all times”–she has what you need anytime you need it. At all times, “be exhilarated always with her love.” Always. To prevent adultery, her lovemaking is totally satisfying and its quantity unending.

Exhilarated is intoxicated–be intoxicated with your bride. And as you are, then verse 20, “For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress and embrace the bosom of a foreigner?” The intimacy of a wife with her husband is to cause a husband to not look elsewhere.

Ephesians 5 says, “Husbands love your wives.” Titus 2 says, wives “love their husbands.” As newlyweds, after five kids, even when you’re 55–marriage still involves intimacy. Christian wives know their husband can’t look elsewhere, so sometimes slowly, wives begin to forget their husbands’ physical drive. The struggle is great with kids, job, ministry, headaches and health–but step one to prevent adultery, love your spouse.

Step 2  Love your LORD

Solomon the father concludes Proverbs 5 with theology. What attributes of God do you hear in verses 21 to 23? “For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He watches all his paths. 22 His own iniquities will capture the wicked, a.nd he will be held with the cords of his sin. 23 He will die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he will go astray.”

Omniscience in verse 21 and justice in verse 22 to 23. Solomon says God is omniscient and sins have consequences. When you stop loving Christ, you start loving things. You should not love things and people you’re not to focus on.

But Solomon says God knows when you drift in verse 21–every way you act, every path you follow, each long lustful stare and every voyeurism of mind. And God’s justice will prevail. Notice in verse 22 to 23, “he will be held . . . he will die . . . he will go astray.” The price of the stolen waters of adultery will be high and harsh. So love your spouse and love the Lord first.

A.  FIND your satisfaction in Christ first

Purity starts with a life focused on the only pure one. First John 3:2 says, “You know, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.  And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

You’ve heard all the rules about purity and they are not enough. How often has a believer who knows what the Bible says stepped into impurity? Purity starts, not with do’s and don’ts, but with Christ, His beauty, His character and His person. Christianity without Christ is only a bunch of legalistic rules.

A Christian lifestyle without the pursuit of Christ cannot maintain purity, because purity springs from intimacy with Christ. Find your satisfaction with intimacy in Christ first. And because you can’t handle some temptations, wisdom demands you . . .

B.  FLEE lustful sin

Turn to Genesis 39:7 to 12 where Joseph shows us the way, “His master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, ‘Lie with me.’ 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, ‘Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. 9 There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God? [Joseph loves the Lord] 10 As she spoke to Joseph day after day, [a continual bombardment] he did not listen to her to lie beside her or be with her. 11 Now it happened one day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was there inside. 12 She caught him by his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me!’ And he left his garment in her hand and [he what?] fled, and went outside.”

Whatever the cost, 2 Timothy 2:22 says flee from youthful lusts. First Corinthians 6:18 adds, “Flee immorality.” And the result of Joseph fleeing, in order to preserve his purity–he was arrested, put in jail and seemingly forgotten. To prevent impurity, wisdom demands you flee. Wisdom also demands you . . .

C.  FOLLOW the example of older saints

Titus 2:3 and 4, “Older women 4 … may encourage the young women to love their husbands.” The Bible calls older, godly wives to train younger wives how to like their husbands–not merely love them, but like them. The word love in verse 4 is not agape, but phileo—like, friends. Often, it’s the wisdom and example of godly, older wives that younger wives desperately need in the area of intimacy.

It’s the older, godly wives who train the younger wives how to care for the physical needs of their husbands. If there is difficulty here, the biblical answer–God’s wisdom says be mentored by an older, godly woman.

D.  FLOURISH in fondness (its tough to keep them all letter F)

To prevent adultery, Proverbs 5 wisdom reminds you of this–the grass is not greener on other side. The grass is greener where you water it. Focus on your spouse. Make her the standard of beauty, think only of him in your heart. Set your affections to remember the blessings of your marriage and make a commitment to build new memories together. Word at your marriage. Work at romance.

E.  FAITH in Christ

Build your marriage on Christ alone–depending on Him, serving Him in ministry, intimacy with Him in prayer, studying and applying the Word of God together. Let me put it this way–if the architect of marriage is not directing the building, the marriage will eventually collapse. Christ must be Lord of your marriage, of your dating, and of your purity.

You can’t do this in your own strength at all. Wisdom demands you cry out to God to open your heart so you can turn from your sin and put your faith in Christ. Let’s pray.

About Chris Mueller

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.

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