Day 19: Temptation
Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?
Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?
So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife;
none who touches her will go unpunished.
Dads, it is good to warn your children about poison oak: “See that oily bush, son. That’s poison oak. Leaves of three, let it be.” Yet what if you weren’t sure what poison oak looked like? You might carelessly walk right into it and lead your children through it also. Or else you might be overprotective: “Don’t touch anything green!” Your children would go through life petrified of nature. Yet even more importantly, you must warn your children against temptation. Warn them what to watch out for and what to do when they are pressured. If you do not instruct them, someone else will.
Solomon, for example, warns his son about . . .
. . . the adulteress: “The lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it” (Prov. 5:3-6). Solomon knows that if he keeps silent about sex because of shame or fear, his son may end up scared or repressed or deviant about a gift which God designed as good.
Now hopefully, you may not need to have this “talk” for many years, but you must address every subject in the Bible in an age-appropriate way. For example, when I studied Proverbs with my boys they would always laugh about the forbidden woman: “Beware the forbidden woman, hahaha.” They didn’t know a thing about adultery, but they knew enough to stay away. Occasionally they would even call out the forbidden woman when they saw a female villain in a movie: Captain Phasma, Ursula the sea urchin, Cruella de Vil, or those wicked step-sisters of Cinderella. Right now, my boys need only know that some women are evil and some are virtuous, yet we have laid the foundation for future conversations.
Dads, do not give clearer warnings about poison oak than about spiritual temptations your children will face. The watchful father knows the danger of prideful naïveté: “I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense” (7:7)—a fool out for an evening stroll without God’s Word on the tablet of his heart (1:4). His companions also are simpleminded—vain men without conviction who watch him stride foolishly into danger (13:20). This youth spurns his father’s warning and arrogantly declares, “That will not ever happen to me.” He has no plan to spare his purity, but is “open-minded” to adultery. He has failed to establish strong conviction before temptation comes (see Job 31:1). He then finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time: “Passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness” (Prov. 7:8-9). He ambles down her street and passes by her door at twilight. The darkness hides his shameful intentions. Every step draws him closer to her house, for he lives on the edge of temptation. He flirts with danger: “It can’t hurt. How can something that feels so good be wrong?” Solomon, however, proposes a better way: “And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death” (vv. 24-27).
Dads, you cannot determine your child’s every choice, but you can warn him against temptation. Alert him to the dangers and set him on the righteous path. Show her the blessings of a God-pleasing life so she will have no reason to crouch outside sin’s door. She must not find her rush from dangerous living and tempting temptation. Instead, may she delight to do God’s will and find her abundant life in him.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, My children will face much temptation in this fallen world. Teach me to wisely warn them of danger and to establish biblical convictions in advance. Help me not to fall into temptation myself and to set for them a godly example. In your Son’s name, Amen.
LifeWork: Write down one way you will apply today’s Proverb.
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