Purity and the King of Candy Selection

This is the Life! Volume 1

Sexual impurity brought about the downfall of the king who was a "man after God's heart" and of the king reputed to be the wisest man who ever lived. What are the consequences of impurity today? Are they inevitable? And is the bibilical exhortation to purity just the decree of a God who doesn't want us to enjoy sex?

Todd WagnerNov 19, 2006
Proverbs 2, 5, 6, 7 & 9

In This Series (10)
Be Thirsty: Where the Sherpas Drink
Todd WagnerJan 7, 2007
Kindness: Never Random and Far Too Rare
Todd WagnerDec 17, 2006
How to be a Prude and Like It: Living a Life of Discernment
Todd WagnerDec 10, 2006
The Tamed Tongue: Controlling the Uncontrollable [Wise Speech]
Todd WagnerDec 3, 2006
Purity and the King of Candy Selection
Todd WagnerNov 19, 2006
A Generous Dozen, part 2 [Generosity]
Todd WagnerNov 12, 2006
A Generous Dozen, part 1 [Generosity]
Todd WagnerNov 4, 2006
Integrity: Sleeping Well, Living Better
Todd WagnerOct 29, 2006
If You Don't Get the 'God' Question Right, It Doesn't Matter What You Get [The Fear of God]
Todd WagnerOct 22, 2006
Who Needs a Dragon When You Have a Father Like This? (Introduction to 'This is the Life!')
Todd WagnerOct 15, 2006

I'm going to be honest with you today. What I'm about to share with you is not going to be very fun. It just isn't. What we're going to do today is swing a corpse in front of folks. We're going to let the gallows fall and let that rope have its noose around the neck of folks who have not listened to the wisdom of a loving Father, and I'm going to let them see the body. That's not pleasant, but it's appropriate.

We have talked a lot about things that, if we will embrace these characteristics into our lives and if we will learn to live this way, we'll experience life like we've never imagined we could experience life before. This is the life. What we're in the middle of is talking about life lived to the fullest.

So many of us think God is trying to rip us off and is not trying to set us free. I was talking to a friend yesterday about what I'm talking about right now. I said to my friend yesterday, "This one area is the area where I thought God was trying to give me the chicken bone and not the chicken. I thought he was trying to rip me off."

I have a good friend I love dearly who I lived with for four years who I think today the reason he has not embraced Jesus is he is still deluded into thinking God is trying to rip him off and keep him from finding life in this one area. What I want to tell you today is that God is not ripping you off; he is trying to keep you from having a toe tag.

The area I'm talking about is the area of purity. It is the area that took out the wisest man who ever lived. I mean, the guy who had insight like no man has ever had. This is where he caved. The one guy in all of God's Word who is singularly described in the greatest way men could be described… In fact, the greatest character in the entire Scripture apart from God himself in the person of Jesus Christ is a guy who was labeled as a man by, "Do you want to know what God is like? Do you want to know what a heart that is after God is like? Look at this guy."

This is the area that took him out. It took him out, so it should be no surprise to you when God tries to put together a book that trains up young men and young women in the way of life, as he takes nine chapters to set up the introduction before he gets to the little bullet proverbs that make up much of the book through the last 22 chapters, he takes on this topic at a level that nothing else even approaches.

In other words, five times in the first nine chapters he writes an essay on this area. From chapters 10 to 31, five more times he alludes back to this area. It is by far the first area that a loving Father is going to say to his boy or to his little girl, "Come over here next to me and listen to me."

Yesterday, I was standing outside with a good friend of mine. We were watching a bunch of our kids playing football. They were just out there and had a little pickup game. We were there watching at the park. They were playing some flag football. My buddy and I were talking about how we have learned much of our lessons in life by experience. In almost a prayerful way, we said, "God, spare these boys out there on that field from having to learn what we have learned the way we've learned some of what we've learned."

We didn't go to a moment of prayer, but collectively together we stood there and just said, "God, help us be the kind of dads who impart to them such wisdom and whose lives reek of such life that they would believe us when we tell them that God is not looking to rip them off, but he's looking to set them free."

What's the area? It is the area of purity and wisdom and abstaining from lust and immorality. In marriage, we call it adultery. In the single life, we call it fornication. It doesn't matter. In the area of the mind and fantasy, we just call it lust. I'm telling you it will kill you. It will kill you. Listen to me. You will not have life if you don't get this character trait right.

If you never come into an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, you are headed for a Christless eternity, and it's going to be worse than anything I could even do to try and describe it to you, but even if… Listen. This is almost so absurd and a statement I can't believe I'm going to make. If you're going to choose to suffer forever, at least listen to this so you can get 80 years that are reasonably palatable. I'm telling you it will kill you. It will kill you.

I want to share with you a little story before we get into this thing in a very sober way that I think we'll laugh about a little bit, but this has become a metaphor for the Wagner family. We have a Wagner family metaphor, and I'm about to let you in on it. I've shared this story before with the singles on the Elevate Retreat. I think I've talked about this with the men before, but here's the story.

A number of years ago, my two oldest children (my little girls) were 5 and 3. It was a beautiful Saturday much like yesterday. I said, "Come on. I'm going to put you in that little trailer behind my bike, and I'm going to take you guys on a bike ride, and I'm going to take you on a great, little trip, and I'm going to get you something really fun." I loaded them up, and we rode for just a little bit. They probably thought we were on that road for a long time, but I ended up at a 7-Eleven.

I unbuckled them, and I stood them outside that door, and I said, "Here's the deal. We're fixing to go in there, and I'm going to show you a wall of candy like you have never seen. You're allowed to go in there. That candy is going to be 20 feet wide and four rows high, and you can get whatever you want. I'm not going to make you get anything. I will help you if you want help.

Let me just say something. You have been blessed, because your dad is a candy expert. I know candy. I'm good at candy. I'll take you in there. Look at me. I'll help you out with anything you want, but you get to decide whatever you want. One thing. We'll get it. We'll celebrate it. We'll eat it together. We're good. Here we go!"

Ally, who is a little more cautious (my oldest one) and who also knew me better, because she had two more years with me, walks right in holding my hand, and she said, "Dad, what should I do?" I said, "Let's just take a look around. I want you to peruse, but I'll help you out, Ally. I'll show you where the good stuff is."

Kirby is trailing behind. Kirby walks right in. She's 3 years old, so you can tell what level of candy she has exposed herself to right there at eye level. What's at eye level? It's the cheap stuff. It's the Tootsie Pops. It's the gum. Then, there's one box which is especially well marketed. It is the coolest looking box in the entire candy aisle. It is bright red with some bright yellow lightning bolts and cool flames. If you were just going in there looking for a cool box, you'd go right to this one.

When you're 3, and all you can see is the 3-year-old level, you walk in and go right to that box and go, "Search over! I'm ready!" She puts her hand in there and locks onto a single piece of candy in a little wrapper. It's a bright red piece of candy. It has flames on it, too. It's called an Atomic Fireball.

I'm going to Kirby, "Just keep looking." She's going at 3 years old, "You said I could get whatever I wanted." I go, "Yeah, I did say that, but I also said I'd help you. Ally, come here! Look at this over here. These are called Skittles. Skittles are unbelievable. There's a pack with 40 things in here. They're all multi-colored. One of them you can chew on. You can suck on it or whatever you want. How about Sprees? This is a long row of really great candy. These got me through high school calculus. Look up here! M&Ms. Peanut M&Ms. A pound-bag of Skittles. Ally, come here! Over here! Look! A pound-bag of Skittles."

Kirby's over there like, "Dad, come on! Let's get with it." I went back to Kirby and said, "Listen, Kirby. I know that candy looks good. I know I told you I would get whatever you want, and I really will, but you don't want. You don't want to go there." Well, Kirby had made her mind up. She had her around that little Atomic Fireball.

I did all of the imploring I could, and I finally go, "Uh-oh. A teachable moment here. A teachable moment." I take the pound-bag of Skittles and the 2-cent Atomic Fireball. I go, "Throw it up there on the counter, girls." Ally and Kirby threw them right up on the counter. "Ring it up." We go back outside. We sit down outside. I go, "Here we go!"

I open Ally's Skittles. I go, "You have an abundance there." She put some in my hand. Ally and I are enjoying these. Kirby looks over and goes, "Look at those Skittles." She ripped that thing opened and took the Atomic Fireball and fired that sucker in her mouth. It's huge! It was just filling up her cheek.

She looks at me. What happens when you first put an Atomic Fireball in your mouth? If you haven't had one in a while, the first 20 seconds are a very pleasant experience. It is laced with a sugar that is sweet, so Kirby is sitting there going, "Ally, you poor sucker listening to Dad who thinks he knows candy. This is candy right here!" She's just working it in her mouth.

I'm just sitting there going, "Just hang in there, Ally. Not only do you have a multitude of Skittles, watch this." Sure enough, that thin layer of sweetness quickly wore off, and the facial expression changed, and the candy became a projectile comet rolling across the gravel to which I go, "Nuh-uh. Nuh-uh. We said we were going to eat our candy."

I take the water bottle from the bike, wash off the Atomic Fireball, and I go, "Let's eat what we were sure we wanted when we went in there." Back in the mouth. Hand over the mouth. Then, I start talking to Kirby. I said, "Kirby, what's going on right now? That thing you were cock sure was going to bring you a lot of pleasure isn't bringing you much pleasure, is it?"

I'm talking to her, first of all, like she's 17 and not 3, and secondly, like she could actually listen to me while her mouth was on fire, but I spent probably 35 or 40 seconds saying, "Remember this taste. Your daddy loves you. He wants to give you candy all through life. You're going to think you see things. You think you know better than Dad. You can just see down here. Your dad could give you a pound-bag of candy. Ally, how are those Skittles? Good! Kirby? Oh, your eyes are watery. How's that, Kirby?"

We spit it out. We went home. For a week, in front of Kirby we celebrated those Skittles. We shared them with other siblings who were around. "No, Kirby. Where's yours? It's gone, isn't it? You threw it away, didn't you?" Now, let me just tell you that has become a metaphor for our family, and it started on the bike ride back home.

The Lord said, "Todd, that was great! Good object lesson! By the way, it reminds me a lot of our relationship when you in your four decades of insight can see right here this is what your eyes can take in, but you don't see what I see, and I love you. You think you love Kirby. You have no idea how much I love you.

You think you know life? I know life, and you keep grabbing this thing that has a great package, and you want to put it in your mouth, and you go, 'I got away with this one. This is a good one,' but every time what happens? It just gets you, doesn't it? What you thought was sweet is bitter. Why don't you apply that to your own life with me and quit walking by sight and start listening to a Father who loves you?"

This has become a Wagner family metaphor. Sometimes now, when I can't go there, I just say, "Kids, let me just tell you something. This is a Fireball. I know it looks good. I understand all your friends are telling you, but they haven't sucked through the sweetness yet. Trust me. That's an Atomic Fireball."

We work our way through life a lot by going back to this. Here's what I'm telling you this morning. Like nothing else in all of this life, this is an Atomic Fireball. It looks good. It is packaged well. God himself designed the packaging, but God wants you to enjoy that which is so attractive to you in a way that, only if you use in that way, will you find the life he intends for you to find with it.

Let me just tell you. Listen to me. Your God loves candy. Your God is for you. He isn't trying to rip you off. You're grabbing 2-cent stuff that makes your mouth burn. He's trying to give you really expensive stuff that will make your heart full. Quit believing that you know better than your Daddy. This is the life.

That's Proverbs. Five times in the first nine books and five more times in the next 22. Are you ready? We're going to skip the first one and come back to it at the end. The second time it comes up is in Proverbs, chapter 5. This is what it says in Proverbs, chapter 5. "My son, give attention to my wisdom, […] that you may observe discretion…"

You can know what is good and what is not. "…and your lips may reserve knowledge." I'm going to tell you here at the gate. "For the lips of an adulteress drip honey…" In other words, that first little touch is so stimulating. It's so alive and sweet, but just hang in there. By the way, "…and smoother than oil is her speech…"

In other words, it makes sense when you first think about it and go there. It sounds great. It's easily applied to your life. How many times we have had guys say to us, "Let me just tell you that this woman gets me. She makes me feel alive. She understands me like nobody understands me. I thought I was in love, but this is my soulmate. It makes so much sense." It is easily applied to that life like oil, but watch.

"…but in the end she is bitter as wormwood…" Poison! That is the metaphor I use with my boys and my girls. I say, "It is poison, guys. It is laced with a thin sugar coating of sweetness, but it is poison.""…sharp as a two-edged sword." In other words, it's going to go in quickly, and it's going to go in deeply, and it's going to do major damage.

"Her feet go down to death, her steps take hold of Sheol."Hell. What does he say? He says, "Son, think. Just think. Don't go on impulse. Don't go on what looks good to your eyes or makes sense to you. There is a way which seems right to men, but in the end it is the way of death. Listen to me. Don't be like her."

"She does not ponder…"That's the problem. She doesn't think. She doesn't think ahead. Have you ever seen that little deal at IBM made famous? There was a sign that said, "Think ahead." The word think was too big, so the word ahead was written down on the side. Don't just start scribbling. Think about where it's going to go.

She doesn't do that. "She does not ponder the path of life; her ways are unstable…" It's a slippery slope. If you get on that thing, it's going to shake, and you're going down. "…she does not know it. Now then, my sons, listen to me…" If you want to learn through experience, it's a great teacher, but it's an expensive one.

I was with my boys and their friends on Friday morning. We were just talking about it. We used the classic illustration about fire again. "How many of you all think if you stuck your hand in a roaring flame you'd figure out it's not a good thing for your flesh?" Every one of them. "How many of you guys want to really learn that? Does anybody want to stick their hand in fire? Why take my word for it?" "No, we've seen what it does to a piece of wood." "Okay. Good. Good."

If you don't believe wood is like your flesh or if you don't believe me and you think I'm trying to rip you off from real warmth and satisfaction, then you might need to learn by sticking your hand in the fire, but I'm going to tell you it's going to melt your flesh. It's going to deform you for the rest of your life. You can learn either through experience or by listening to an expert.

I'm going to tell you something, gang. What I'm going to do before you is I want to run disfigured men before you this morning. I want you to see their deformed lives. I want you to see their melted flesh. I want you to get a good look at the corpse, and I want you to go, "I want to listen to the expert. I want to listen to the Father who loves me so I don't have to learn that way."

Do you know what is going to be so stinking amazing? Some of us are not going to listen. Rows of us and maybe stinking sections of us and maybe even the speaker are not going to listen. "She does not ponder the path of life; her ways are unstable, she does not know it. Now then, my sons, listen to me and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her and do not go near the door of her house…"

Why would you even put yourself in that position? Sometimes we think we're spiritually mature because we can get right up next to something and not be succumbing to the temptation of it. We think that's a sign of spiritual maturity. I have to tell you something. That is insane. Spiritual maturity is a person who doesn't just dangle on the edge of the precipice.

Spiritual maturity says, "Why even go there? Why go near there where I could slip and fall?" Spiritual maturity and wisdom and greatness are not determined by the fact that you can stand right there and not succumb. Spiritual maturity says, "I'm not even going to look at it. Why would I even tangle with it?"

I have some guys who tell me they can be around that stuff and it doesn't affect them. I'm going to tell you something using an African metaphor. Do you know what a wildebeest is? A wildebeest, as far as I can ascertain, exists for no other reason than crocodiles and large carnivores to slaughter them and eat them. I want to tell you, if you're a wildebeest and you're hanging out with lions, you're not brave and you're not special. You are next. You're next!

Watch. "Keep your way far from her…" Mark my words. Verse 9: ** "…or you will give your vigor to others and your years to the cruel one…" **You won't find the life you're looking for. You're going to lose the very life you had."…and strangers will be filled with your strength and your hard-earned goods will go to the house of an alien…"

It says there, "…and you groan at your final end, when your flesh and your body are consumed…" Some of you guys are going, "Wait a minute! Not true! I'm okay. I'm still sucking this thing. It's not getting me yet." I'm going to tell you. Keep sucking. That sugar-coated outside is thinner than you think.

By the way, if you'll just go back on a few of those other Fireballs you put in your mouth, you'll remember they didn't sit so well inside your mouth, and they didn't do so well when you got them inside your stomach. Some of you are still rotten from the stuff. What you're doing is trying to shove fresh Fireballs into your mouth so the sweetness of the new ones will cover up the burn of the ones that are already there. I'm telling you. Cut it out! You're eating the wrong candy. You're eating the wrong candy.

Good candy is sweet and lingers in sweetness. There is no sweetness to bitterness. Unless you think God is somehow a cosmic killjoy who doesn't think sex is a good thing or if you think I'm up here saying today, "Stay away from sex…" You couldn't be more wrong. I forbid you. You cannot find a pastor who is more in on sex than I am. You just can't.

You cannot find a God who says in this book that sex is bad. No. He said, "I created sex. Sex is an awesome thing. You have to use it, though, where I gave it to you to use, in the context of one man and one woman in a monogamous, lifelong, covenant relationship where you can enjoy it and deepen with each other."

I have to tell you I have never had sex with my wife (not one time) when afterwards I went, "Maybe we shouldn't have done that. Do you feel as guilty as I do? What if you're pregnant? Oh, my gosh!" I'm not concerned I'm going to get some disease that leads to a lingering presence in my mouth or in my genital area or that might kill me.

There has never been a single bit of regret, and we're getting better at it. I mean it. I'm telling you guys God is for it. If you don't believe me, watch this. This is what it says. When you go the wrong direction, "And you say, 'How I have hated instruction! And my heart spurned reproof! I have not listened to the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to my instructors!'""Oh, man! That would have been so much better."

I just want you to know God's grace is available to anybody any time all of the time, but the government of reap what you sow is not going to be mitigated. You're going to experience it. God's grace is going to be there to hold you. God's people will be there saying, "We, too, have put some stupid things in our mouths," but your mouth might have a real rawness to it for a while.

You may always have this thing you go back to and say, "Yeah, I had to remove that thing from me. There is a scar there. By the grace of God, I'm getting healthy, but man…" Watch this. God is for this. He says in verse 15, "Drink water…" There is an alternative to thinking you can find life only that way with sex.

"Drink water from your own cistern and fresh water from your own well. Should your springs be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be yours alone and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed…" Don't dilute your fountain. Don't let the walls God has given you to keep your deep waters alive and fresh fall down, because it's easy to mucky up thin water that just gets dispersed. "…and rejoice in the wife of your youth."

The very first verse I asked my wife to memorize when we got married is right here. Proverbs 5:19: "As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love." Let's quote that one tonight. "Sweetie, a little Proverbs 5:19. Come on!" What I'm saying is God is not against sex, guys, but he's against stuff that looks life-giving that brings death.

Verse 20: "For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress and embrace the bosom of a foreigner? For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD , and He watches all his paths." Don't worry about what others know, gang. Don't worry about that. Your problem isn't what this community is going to figure out. The problem isn't what is going to be exposed. This is death already within you. You are melting away. The vitality of you is melting away as in the heat of summer.

I know it. If you're catting around on your own in isolation on your computer in your little chat rooms on your little phone lines or in your little escapades out of the city in the dark recesses of the city or in a habitual retreat of your mind to sin, you may think, "At least other people don't know," but you know, and your Creator knows.

Verse 22: Here's what the body is telling you. "His own iniquities will capture the wicked, and he will be held with the cords of his sin." Jesus said in John, chapter 8, verse 34, "…everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin." Where it says, "…and he will be held with the cords of his sin," the strongest man who ever lived and the wisest man (the one whose heart is more like God) was held by the cords of the sin of lust (Samson).

Verse 23: "He will die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he will go astray." Here's the deal. You are free to choose your actions, but you are not free to choose your consequences. You need to know part of the deceitfulness of sin is that we always think we're going to be the ones who can manage it.

This is a little metaphor I use a lot. When I was a kid, I wanted a pet raccoon. Pet raccoons were just cool! Then, I started to think about this. "Well, if I have a pet raccoon and I think I can get some attention with a pet raccoon, how about a pet lion cub? Give me a pet lion. Let me put Simba on a leash and strut through the park." Do you think I'd gather a crowd? How cute would he be to roll around on me? We'd be wrestling having a good time. He would pounce on me. You know how little lions pounce. You'd be going, "I wish I had a lion cub."

"Well, you should! You should have a lion cub. Lion cubs are great." Here's the deal with lion cubs. Lion cubs grow up to be lions. It's what Bagheera said to Baloo about Mowgli. "Baloo, Mowgli is great. We like man cubs. The problem, though, with man cubs is they grow up to be men, and men destroy the jungle. Men hunt Bagheeras and Baloos, so we have to get rid of this man cub because he grows up to be a man."

I'm just telling you part of the deceitfulness of sin is this little pet thing you have that you love and you've named. It's yours. You can't but a bullet through its head because it's your Simba. It sure doesn't look like the kitten you once got, but it's yours, and you love it, and your Simba would never eat you, to which I say, "Hang on, Siegfried. We'll see if that really works out for you."

You need to know when your little cub grows up it may not eat you on day one. It might not eat you on day two, but I'm going to tell you something. It is no longer your choice. It is Simba's decision when you are the snack, and you need to know that. "Not my Simba. You don't know. I've fed him with a bottle from the time he was a cub and scraps of meat since then, and I understand lions and tigers like nobody."

All right. We'll see. Gang, what I'm going to tell you here is some of us have some cubs and we can't kill it because we love it. It's our friend. You have to bring some friends with you. You have to put a bullet through this thing. It's a wild animal seeking whom he might devour, and I am deluded into thinking I'll be the first man who can live safely among the lions and not be consumed.

Listen to this in Proverbs 6, verse 23. "For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light…" Let me ask you guys a question. How many folks do things more effectively in the dark than they do in the light? None of us. Watch where the guy who messes with this stuff always goes.

"…and reproofs for discipline are the way of life…" Listen to me, son. "…to keep you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress." You'd better hear another voice, because this woman is persuasive. I was just thinking about this. You drive by the strip clubs in town and on the computer you want to go to those websites. I think whenever you go to a pornographic website they should just put, "Beware! The dead are here. Men who have been reduced to a loaf of bread are about to go where you're about to go."

We think there is life inside the men's club and there is life inside the affair. Do you know what they ought to put there? "Zombies enter here." You don't think so maybe, so you'd better listen to another voice. Verse 25: "Do not desire her beauty in your heart…" That's where it starts. Right here.

"…nor let her capture you with her eyelids. For on account of a harlot one is reduced to a loaf of bread, and an adulteress hunts for the precious life." Look at that. Hunts, like a roaring lion seeking whom they may devour, but we think we can control that lion. Verse 27 says, "Look! Think!" "Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned?" You can learn from experience or you can learn from an expert. How has that worked out in the past when people stuck their life in the fire?"Or can a man walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?"

You go, "Okay, Wagner! I've seen that happen. There are guys who can walk on coals and get away with it. In fact, a guy in my office is telling me he's right now walking on the coals of this thing you say five times in the first nine books and five more times after that God says, 'Don't go there.' He's walking on coals. He's getting away with it."

By the way, I've seen that happen. These guys, the self-help gurus and self-actualization people, actually will teach you how to walk on coals. What I'm going to tell you is they will teach you a magician's trick. It is an illusion. Here's the deal. A short 30 seconds walking on coals… Coals and specifically the ash that covers them are notoriously poor conductors of heat.

You will not find people who walk on coals in magic acts and self-actualization seminars are lighting fires, and while the embers are still fresh, they're walking across them. No. They light them at the beginning. They'll talk for 45 minutes to an hour until a thin layer of ash is covering them. Then, they will walk briskly over coals about this length.

If they move quickly, it's not going to burn their feet, but if they keep going back over it or if they'll stroll or if you just walk up there and say, "Excuse me, Mr. Robins," and blow that little layer of ash off of the top of it, you will find that he wants another illustration to teach you about what will happen if you unleash the giant within. What God is saying is the giant within is a deceptive giant. It is deceitfully sick, and you'd better listen to a giant of a God who has your best interests in mind.

Don't tell me you've seen people walk on coals. It is an illusion. Right now, some of you are thinking, "My friends tell me they're doing this, that it's better and full of life, and, 'You wouldn't believe what's over there.'" It just sounds so sweet, and it's so seductive and easily applied to my life. I'm just saying, "All right. Go ahead and buy the magician's trick and check back in with me on that," or listen to the expert.

Verse 29: "So is the one who goes in to his neighbor's wife; whoever touches her will not go unpunished." Mark it. "Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is hungry; but when he is found, he must repay sevenfold; he must give all the substance of his house."

There is a significant price to pay. If you went back and looked at where we've gone so far in Proverbs 6, you'll see, first of all, if you lose God's Word and if you don't pay attention to the commandment, you will lose your riches. It will be divided amongst many households. You will lose your freedom.

In other words, you are free to choose, but you are not free to choose your consequences. You will be burned. You're going to lose your freedom to decide if you're going to be burned or not. You will lose respect, because men will despise you. You're going to lose your mind. You're going to lose your mind.

"The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense; he who would destroy himself does it." There was an article yesterday in the Dallas Morning News that I'm going to give you more of a little bit later when we do another one of these characteristics, but there is a line in here. Listen. As you talk about people who give themselves away and who don't understand, this whole article is about folks who live a double life and the craziness of where their lives go.

Listen to this line. "If I'd known the earth would have opened up and I'd burn in hell forever, I still would have gone there." Talking about back to the adulteress, because he has lost his mind. He has lost his mind. He has lost his freedom to choose, because he is a slave to that which he has given himself to. This line is dragging him around town and straight to hell. I could line up men who by God's grace are here working their way out of the pain of these decisions who would love to go, "Wagner, sit down. Let me tell them my story."

They're going to lose every bit of peace they ever had. Verse 33: "Wounds and disgrace he will find, and his reproach will not be blotted out. For jealousy enrages a man, and he will not spare in the day of vengeance. He will not accept any ransom, nor will he be satisfied though you give many gifts." You're going to lose your peace, and you're going to lose your very life.

Chapter 7: "Say to wisdom, 'You are my sister,' and call understanding your intimate friend; that they may keep you from an adulteress, from the foreigner who flatters with her words." In other words, she uses her words to entice you not to edify you." For at the window of my house I looked out through my lattice, and I saw among the naive, and discerned among the youths a young man lacking sense, passing through the street near her corner; and he takes the way to her house…"

Watch when he does it. "… in the twilight, in the evening, in the middle of the night and in the darkness." In the darkness of that movie, in the darkness of that bar, in the darkness of that party, in the darkness of that phone call, in the darkness of that text message, in the darkness of that chat room, in the darkness of that relationship, and in the darkness of that city, the naïve continue to go, and I watch them like lambs led to slaughter or like an ox that is just moving toward the slaughterhouse. Oh, naïve ones, come here.

I prayed over those 10-year-old boys yesterday what I pray every day over myself, that they wouldn't have to learn through experience. Do you want to see the face of some boys who have learned through experience? Here's the deal. What Proverbs 7 is saying is, "The world is going to tempt you. Don't put yourself in the way of it." Watch this.


Ed Bradley: There are some facts about this case that aren't in dispute. There was a party that night. There were strippers who were hired. There was alcohol. You're a team captain. You've had a lot of time to think about the decisions you've made. Have you come to any kind of conclusion?

David Evans: I was naïve. I was young. I was sheltered, and I made a terrible judgment, my greatest failure as a leader. In the five months, I've learned more than I did in 22 years about life, responsibility, and everything it means.

Ed: What have you learned?

David: That even the smallest action has great consequences, and even the ones you take for granted every day that just might be a little bit wrong can lead to terrible, terrible things.

Collin Finnerty: It has changed my life forever, no matter what happens from here on out. It's probably gonna be something that defines me my whole life.

Ed: Do you ever look back on that night and think, 'Maybe I should have done something differently'?

Reade Seligmann: Not go to the party…

[End of video]

Yeah. Good idea! "Everybody goes to the party. It's just one stripper one time. I didn't invite her. I just stood in the room with all of my buddies. Maybe I shouldn't have been there." How about the guy before who said, "That changed my life forever." Quoting Proverbs? Verse 10 says, "And behold, a woman comes to meet him, dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart. She is boisterous and rebellious, her feet do not remain at home; she is now in the streets, now in the squares, and lurks by every corner. So she seizes him and kisses him and with a brazen face she says to him…"Something flattering like, "I came out to look just for you."

No, she didn't. If you say, "No," if you move on, and if you flee immorality, she'll be all right. The next guy is saying the exact same thing, but in her flattering tongue she entices him. "I was due to offer peace offerings; today I have paid my vows. Therefore I have come out to meet you…""You're the guy!"

"…to seek your presence earnestly, and I have found you. I have spread my couch with coverings, with colored linens of Egypt." This is racy stuff. "I have sprinkled my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. Come, let us drink our fill of love until morning; let us delight ourselves with caresses. For my husband is not at home…"

"Forbidden fruit can be yours." "…he has gone on a long journey; he has taken a bag of money with him, at the full moon he will come home.""We can have a party for a long time." "With her many persuasions she entices him; with her flattering lips she seduces him. Suddenly he follows…"Suddenly? This was the guy who was walking out wondering.

Guys, I'm telling you. It's one thing. You can't avoid some of what you're going to see in our world today, but why would you go to where you can have the hook set? I know you love James Bond. I know you think his gadgets are cool. I know he's infamous for his debonair ways, and it's great to see, but come on!

You go see that movie… There's something else Bond is famous for: his Bond women. Yeah, I know it's really funny. Will Farrell and those guys… That's great, hilarious stuff. Wedding Crashers? A great movie. American Pie? That's funny stuff. I want to be able to tell the lines with my buddies. Really? I just want to sit in the room. Really? Keep drinking some of that stuff. Keep following that and see where it leads you.

"…as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as one in fetters to the discipline of a fool…" Do you know what's amazing? Jesus is saying, "Follow me," and the world is saying, "Follow me." Which one do you want? One that is leading you to life or one that is leading you to fetters and slaughter?

Do you know that humans are the only creatures on the face of the planet that get to choose what kind of creature they're going to be? Do you know that? We are the only creatures… An ox is an ox. A pig is a pig. A wild dog is a wild dog. A human can be a sheep or a pig or a mule or a horse that needs a bit in its mouth rubbing against its gums to say, "Turn over here."

God is saying, "Don't be like the horse or the mule. Don't be like the ox. Don't be like the pig who takes a bath and goes back to the mud or like a dog that throws up and goes back and eats it. Be a sheep under the hand of a loving Shepherd." If you don't, "an arrow pierces through his liver; as a bird hastens to the snare, so he does not know that it will cost him his life." Guys, God isn't trying to rip you off. He's trying to give you life.

"Now therefore, my sons, listen to me, and pay attention to the words of my mouth. Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, do not stray into her paths. For many are the victims she has cast down, and numerous are all her slain. Her house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death."

Believe me on it. Gang, here's the deal. This is not just about men. Women, I know this is an issue for you. I know you sometimes struggle, too, and give yourself away illicitly, but here's the bottom line. Typically, women are giving themselves away illicitly because this is the love they've been looking for. This is the value and the treasure. Women will give sex to get love. Guys will act like they love to get sex.

Don't tell me this guy is going to love you if he just gets that. If a guy tells you that you have to do something to get his love, he doesn't love you. He is just setting you up. Here's the job description of an adulteress. Just look at what she is. You want to make sure, gals, that you're not this. Guys, you want to make sure you're not near it. Proverbs 2. Let's go back to the very beginning the first time she's introduced. Wisdom will keep you from this woman "…who flatters with her words…"

In other words, I'm going to say it again. She seeks to manipulate not to minister. She wants to entice you not encourage you, so she is known by her speech. I would tell you by her nonverbals. It's that girl who just goes like this. She's always moving closer to you. In verse 17, she is also known by her social life.

"…that leaves the companion of her youth…" In the context here she has left her husband, but she has also left the circle of friends, the societal restraints that should be there. She's operating in isolation. She is not celebrating who she is. She's keeping over here, and she's looking for you to somehow validate her.

"…and forgets the covenant of her God…" She is known by her speech. She is known by her social life. She is known by her spiritual life and specifically her lack of social connection and her lack of spiritual connection. "…for her house sinks down to death and her tracks lead to the dead…"

If you go to Proverbs, chapter 7, verse 10, it talks about how she dresses like a harlot. You can know this woman because of the way she dresses and her selection of clothes. Let me just speak to the women in this body really quickly. When you go to put on clothes, if you're going, "I want to entice my brother with my clothes," you are dressing like a harlot.

Even if you don't know Christ, you deserve more than to be seen as an object for men's pleasure, so quit dressing like you're a whore, because you're not. You're worth so much more. Some of you don't know that you're worth more than a momentary source of gratification for men, and I would highly encourage you to read today's Watermark News where sweet Audrey is begging you to listen to her story when she said, "I couldn't even look at myself in the mirror because of what I thought I was." Yet, she has found life.

You need to take an older woman in your closet and say, "Throw out some stuff for me, because I don't want to dress like a harlot. I don't want to believe I'm only as valuable as making men respond to me because of what I wear." Women, if you see a gal wearing that and she professes to know Christ, you don't love her a lick if you don't say, "This is going to be an awkward conversation, but we're going to have it, because I love you."

She is known by her spirit. In Proverbs 7:11-13, she's not spunky but she's brazen. She is salacious. She's not humble, but she's haughty. She's saying, "Come on! Get over it. I love this. This is the life." Okay. There you have it. What do you do in the midst of this? Here's what you do.

First of all, simply ask yourself, "Is the strange woman who is talked about there in Proverbs 5, 6, 7, 9, and back in chapter 2, a stranger to you, or do you know her web address? Do you know what movie she's in? Do you know where she has lunch on business trips? Do you know where she hangs out in the office to have conversations?" The biggest problem most of us have is the strange woman is no stranger to us. We go looking for her. We invite her into our homes. We have her on favorites.

Secondly, is God's Word constantly your companion? Every time you see a guy fall, say, "Have you been consistently in God's Word?" "No, I haven't. I've been following some other voice." Thirdly, are you following Jesus? Fourthly, are others clear about who you are? Have you told them the cubs you've been nursing and you've named that you love? "…abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul." Have you told people where you're at war where some of those cubs have grown to be lions and you love them and you can't even kill them? Do others really know who you are? Are you leading that double life?

Fifthly, are you clear on who you are? I have to tell you something, gang. I run scared to death because I know I can be an idiot. I can get so convinced that I see all of the candy that there is, and I know what it's going to do to me, so I am very clear who I am. I am an idiot apart from Jesus Christ and his Word informing my life.

I am an idiot, but when I walk with him, I am a son of the King who walks with dignity and honor, and that has been the last two decades of my story, and I hope it's the next 30, but the moment I get arrogant and step off and say, "I hope those guys heard it today," this is a message I listen to. I teach this message to myself daily. Because of that, I can stand before you in humility and say, "I'm so glad, God, that it's not my body swinging this week, and I know it could be if I didn't have the kind of Dad that you are."

I would just ask, "Have you thought about who you want to be, and are you doing the things that will make you that man or that woman?" I'm going to show you a clip right now. You guys are smart enough to know, aren't you, that when we show a clip up here we're not endorsing the movie? You guys are smart enough to know that. Right?

Listen to me. I think every man ought to get this movie, get this clip, put it on their computer, edit this piece, and they ought to watch it every time they leave their house on a business trip. They ought to watch it when they're on the plane. They ought to load it on their computers and watch it when they get to their hotel room. You ought to watch this clip.


Dan: Is she okay?

Beth: She's asleep. Did you call the police?

Dan: Not yet. No.

Beth: Why not?

Dan: Honey, we have to talk.

Beth: What is it?

Dan: I know who did this.

Beth: You do? Who?

Dan: Remember the girl who came to the apartment? The one I met in the Japanese restaurant?

Beth: The one with the blonde hair. You're scaring me. What is it? Did you have an affair with her?

Dan: Yes. Beth? Beth, I am so sorry. The last thing I ever wanted to do was to hurt you.

Beth: Are you in love with her?

Dan: No. It was one night. It didn't mean anything.

Beth: What has it got to do with what's happened?

Dan: She's pregnant. She's...

Beth: It's yours?

Dan: I don't know. That's what she says. Listen, Beth, please.

Beth: Get out! I want you out of this house! How could you do that? I hate you!

Dan: Understand what I'm saying...

Beth: I don't want to hear it!

Dan: Please, just listen to me, will you?

Beth: What is the matter with you?

[End of video]

It isn't pretty. The dead are there. If you are somebody who is around a strange woman, before it moves to that scene… I have a letter here from a guy who two weeks ago was in a spot just like me that starts with, "I am so sorry," just like that movie. You're going to write that letter. Your wife is going to be hitting you, or you're single and you're going to be hitting yourself if you don't come back to the Father who loves you.

If you are here this morning and you want to know about the grace of Jesus Christ that can free you up from the delusion of you knowing what kind of life is found in what kind of candy, I want you to know I have found life in Jesus. I have found forgiveness for the Atomic Fireballs I have shoved into my mouth. I have found restoration for my soul. There is life you can get back into if you're in the valley of the shadow of death.

If you, by God's grace for some reason have not walked through that valley, you'd better cling to the mast of God's Word. You'd better know who you are, that you are capable of anything. You'd better make sure others know who you are. You'd better make sure you are a follower of Jesus. You'd better make no provision for the strange woman, and you'd better continually remind yourself who you want to be, or you're not special. You're next.

When you leave here this week as a week of worship, you'd better be attuned to this thing that the strongest man, the wisest man, and the godliest men in Scripture all messed up in. I'm going to stand before you as another man of God who by God's grace has not messed up in that area and I purpose not to. I can, and because I know I can and because I don't do the things right now by the grace of God that lead to those things, I won't for Christ's sake, for your sake, and for my sake.

May we leave here today brokenhearted, fully offering grace to those who need it, willingly walking through wherever you are, and receiving you just like Jesus would but admonishing and encouraging each other day by day lest we be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin! Let me pray for you. Then, we're going to close by singing a song together (just one quick snippet of it) as our expression of praise as we get ready to leave.

Father, this is not fun to just look at dead men and dead women, to look at people who have been disfigured by the fire, but it is an appropriate part of our education. I thank you that you love us. As much as I looked over that 10-year-old field of boys yesterday and prayed for them, you look over all of us right now.

You look over the adulteress woman and say, "Sweetie, come here. I know what you've done, and the government of reaping what you sow cannot be avoided at this moment, but grace can still prevail. I don't want to condemn you. I want to give you the life so you can go and be the seductress and adulteress and fornicator no more. I want you to be just like our sweet little friend in the Watermark News is."

Father, I want to pray for our body, that we would get our arms around this thing, that we would hate sin, that we would love what is good, and we would pursue you with our whole heart. Give us clean hands.

If you don't know the God of faithfulness, forgiveness, and life, would you let us introduce you to him this morning? Would you just check that perforated section? Say, "I want to know life. I want forgiveness. I want people who can walk me through the shadow of death that I am in." We would love to serve you as people who ourselves have been redeemed from the pit.

If by the grace of God you have not yet stuck your hand in that fire, would you just celebrate and thank your God that he has spared you and not look with haughtiness or arrogance towards others who have but be a part of the healing and the hope and continue to communicate that this is the life? Would you worship him by gladly letting him pick your candy this day and every day in the context of a commitment to his Word, following Christ, and not doing it alone? May you have a great week of worship!

About 'This is the Life! Volume 1'

It's the ultimate self-help book. Centuries before Drs. Laura, Phil and Benjamin came on the scene to tell us how to live, love and parent wisely, God weighed in on these matters in the Book of Proverbs. Today's "life coaches" have simply repackaged God's wisdom but the concepts are timeless and truly life-changing. In this multi-volume series, Todd Wagner combs through the book's 31 chapters and identifies principles for approaching life with wisdom and skill. Each of the attributes is perfectly embodied in the person of Jesus Christ and guaranteed to bring abundant life to those who apply them - regardless of whether they've chosen to acknowledge Christ as Lord or not. Discover the blessed life God has in store for you in Volume 1 of this practical and applicable series on Proverbs. This is The Life, Volume 1, offers advice on: the fear of God, integrity, generosity, purity, wise words, discernment, kindness, and the thirst for knowledge.