We live in a world of desire and are in a constant state of desire.
In our fallen condition, the object of our hearts’ desires always will be the sinful allurements of the world.
We may come to know the vanity of these things, but we inevitably will turn from one empty desire to another until a power outside of us enables us to desire God as the object of supreme desire.
A boy may go from the childish desire of pleasure to the more sophisticated desire for money. Once he has grown disillusioned with the emptiness of riches, he sets his heart on the quest for power.
In a seemingly endless transition from one desire to another, the heart is left powerless and empty. Thomas Chalmers’ put it so well when he wrote, “The love of the world cannot be expunged by a mere demonstration of the world’s worthlessness. But may it not be supplanted by that which is more worthy than itself?”
The Scriptures provide a solution to this dilemma. In Proverbs 7, we read a father’s counsel to his son with respect to the danger of going after the adulterous woman. This chapter commonly has been understood to be a warning against evil in general – and not simply against adultery specifically.
This is supported by that fact that, in Prov. 8, wisdom is personified as a woman who calls out to young men in contrast with the adulterous woman of Prov. 7. Whatever the case, the warning being pronounced is clear: There is something attractive about sin, but in the end, it is worthless and deadly.
The testimony of Scripture and our own experience is that there is a very real pleasure to sin, though it is a passing pleasure.
In counseling his son about the dangers of the adulterous woman, the father goes to great lengths to describe the attraction of sin. He warns his son of the subtle way in which the adulterous woman allures the young man. She dresses to attract (v.9), makes herself accessible (v. 10-12), allures with a kiss (v. 13) and even presents herself as being religious (v. 14).
The allurement is summed up when she finally says, “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” (v. 17-18).
While there is a very real attraction, the consequences are devastating. The father explains that the young man “did not know it would cost his life.” He exhorts his children to listen to him, to turn from her paths, and he reminds them that many strong men were slain by her. But is this alone enough to keep them from her?
Jesus Christ allures his people with his beauty. He is the only one who can draw our hearts off of sin. The way to keep from turning to the pleasures of the world is to turn to Jesus instead. When we are tempted to sin, we must remember that there is another who is altogether lovely.
We must, in the words of Hebrews 12:1-2, “Lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us … and look unto Jesus, the author, and finished of our faith.”
When we do, we will find that we have experienced the expulsive power of a new affection.