Proverbs 7:1-23
I Thessalonians 4:1-8

In Homer’s Odyssey, the Sirens were gorgeous, but dangerous creatures, who lived on rocky islands in the Aegean Sea. From the waist down fish, from the waist up strikingly beautiful women, the Sirens sang spellbindingly beautiful songs that would lure passing sailors to their deaths. As they sang, sailors couldn’t resist the temptation and flung themselves over the sides of the ship to swim toward the enchanting voices, only to be dashed to death upon the jagged rocks that surrounded islands.

A couple hundred years before Homer composed the Odyssey, a man named Solomon penned the Proverbs. In chapter 7, he blares out a warning to resist the temptation of the sirens:

Follow my advice, my son; always treasure my commands. Obey my commands and live! Guard my instructions as you guard your own eyes. Tie them on your fingers as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Love wisdom like a sister; make insight a beloved member of your family. Let them protect you from an affair with an immoral woman, from listening to the flattery of a promiscuous woman.

While I was at the window of my house, looking through the curtain, I saw some naive young men, and one in particular who lacked common sense. He was crossing the street near the house of an immoral woman, strolling down the path by her house. It was at twilight, in the evening, as deep darkness fell. The woman approached him, seductively dressed and sly of heart. She was the brash, rebellious type, never content to stay at home. She is often in the streets and markets, soliciting at every corner. She threw her arms around him and kissed him, and with a brazen look she said, “I’ve just made my peace offerings and fulfilled my vows. You’re the one I was looking for! I came out to find you, and here you are! My bed is spread with beautiful blankets, with colored sheets of Egyptian linen. I’ve perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let’s drink our fill of love until morning. Let’s enjoy each other’s caresses, for my husband is not home. He’s away on a long trip. He has taken a wallet full of money with him and won’t return until later this month. “So she seduced him with her pretty speech and enticed him with her flattery. He followed her at once, like an ox going to the slaughter. He was like a stag caught in a trap, awaiting the arrow that would pierce its heart. He was like a bird flying into a snare, little knowing it would cost him his life. (Proverbs 7:1-23).

Now having heard Solomon’s warning, would like to venture a guess as to what commands he was referring to? “Thou shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14)
And “Thou shall not covet. Thou shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.” (Exodus 20:17).

Homer, Solomon; does the great Apostle Paul have anything he’d like to add?

Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more. For you remember what we taught you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor; not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways. Never harm or cheat a fellow believer in this matter by violating his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before. God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. (I Thessalonians 4:1-8).

Next month we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong saying, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Most people aren’t aware that as he was climbing back in the lunar lander, Neal quipped to himself, “Good luck, Mr. Gorsky.” Many at NASA thought it was a remark concerning some rival Soviet Cosmonaut. However, upon checking, there was no Gorsky in the Russian space program. Over the years many people questioned Armstrong, but he would just smile. Until 1995, while answering questions in Tampa, he finally talked about it. In 1938 he was a kid playing baseball in his backyard in Wapakoneta, Ohio. He chased a ball which landed near an open window of the Gorsky’s. As he leaned down to pick up the ball, 8-year-old Armstrong heard his neighbor, Mrs. Gorsky, shouting at Mr. Gorsky: “Sex? You’ll get sex when the kid next door walks on the moon!” 1

The almost 3,000-year-old image of the seductive sirens luring their victims to their deaths upon the rocks is as illustrative today as it was in Homer’s time.

And even more so, as the culture we live in today has many more ways for the siren’s temptation to be heard and responded to than in any other time in human history.

You can blame W. Duke & Sons who made both cigarettes and soap. In 1885, they began including trading cards that featured erotic female images. 2 Guess what they discovered? Soap sales increased considerably.

And because they did, whether or not we actively seek them out, we are constantly exposed to visual erotic stimuli: billboards, comic strips, magazines, posters, television ads; not to mention the world-wide-web.

Speaking of the latter, the songs of the sirens have increased a billion fold as they emanate from our phones, tablets and computers.

In 2016, humans spent over 4 ½ billion hours watching one (porn) site. On that single website humanity spent twice as much time in a year as it has spent existing on planet Earth. That one website had 44,000 visitors every minute of every day. It all adds up to over 500 thousand years’ worth of viewing in 12 months.

Since 2015, we have spent 1,000,000 years responding to the siren’s call in this way.

It has eclipsed baseball as America’s favorite pastime. It brings in more money than the NFL, NBA, and MLB combined. 3

Lest we be tempted to think that the church is immune from this problem, a 2014 a survey conducted by Barna Group reveals that of Christian men between 18 and 30 years old; 77% look at porn at least monthly, 36% on a daily basis, 32% admit being addicted and another 12% think they may be.

For middle-aged Christian men between ages 31 and 49; 77% viewed pornography while at work in the past three months. 64% view pornography at least monthly. 18% admit being addicted and another 8% think they may be. 4

And don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a men’s only problem. Fewer studies are done in this regard, but in one prominent survey 87% of women reported that at some point in their lives they have participated. 5

And more than half of all teens have admitted to viewing on-line porn. And yet, astonishingly, the vast majority of these young people say they have no one in their life helping them to avoid it. 6

It’s clear that our society has a problem that has reached epidemic proportions. And the problems tentacles have reached in and grabbed hold of many people in the church.

Now in Biblical terms, we’re talking about the temptation to ‘lust,’ which, if given in to, often leads to more serious sin.

The word lust appears 29 times in the Bible and is always used in a negative way. In the Old Testament the word lust is used in connection with idolatry; where through His prophets, God accuses His people of lusting after other gods.

But in the NT the word is most often used in connection with sexual immorality; as in I Thessalonians 4:3-5 which says:

God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor; not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and His ways.

One Bible expositor defines sexual lust as “willfully allowing pleasurable gratification of wrongfully directed sexual desire that takes place deep inside.” 7 Lust is simply a desire for something that isn’t yours to have.

And as Solomon warns his readers, when we go after that which isn’t ours, it always, always, always leads to negative consequences.

He followed her at once, like an ox going to the slaughter. He was like a stag caught in a trap, awaiting the arrow that would pierce its heart. He was like a bird flying into a snare, little knowing it would cost him his life.” (Proverbs 7:22-23).

Author and theologian Steve Lawson lists many of the negative spiritual consequences that result from sexual sin.

It robs God of his glory. It attaches Jesus Christ to the act of sin. It deeply grieves the Holy Spirit. It desecrates the temple of God. It is uniquely self-destructive. Sexual sin is a sin that is uniquely against one’s own body. It can dominate, drive, and control. It internally destroys a person like no other sin. It interferes with joy and gladness. It forfeits financial resources. It haunts your mind. It breaks multiple other commands.
It always leads to other sins.” 9

(By the way, the above is just a portion of an article that is well worth reading. See footnote 9 to find it.)

The truth is God built sexual desire into you and me.

He encourages us to marry, to be fruitful and multiply, to enjoy sexual relationships within the context of marriage. The Bible affirms that desire is a good thing. If you haven’t, I encourage you to read the entire book of Song of Solomon. Sexual desire part and parcel of who we are.

However; it is a good thing that can be misused when it is misdirected.

Even a look can get us in trouble; in Reader’s Digest, ‘Life in These United Sates,’ Drew Anderson confesses: “While my wife and I were shopping at a mall kiosk, I noticed a shapely young woman in a short, form-fitting dress stroll by. When my eyes followed her, without looking up from the item she was examining, my wife asked, “Was it worth the trouble you’re in?” 8

Let’s be honest, it is impossible not to look. Gail and Brett and I were walking Siesta Key Beach and everywhere we looked there were women in bikinis and men in Speedos.

The question is when does a look turn into lust? I don’t know for sure. I suppose everyone is different in this regard.

Is it fair of me to say that the problems begins when we take a second look? Because it is that second look that can easily become lust which can lead to further sin.

Pastor and author, Paul David Tripp, helps his readers understand God’s point of view when a man chooses to lust: (same for when a woman lusts).

Imagine a man is walking home from work and sees a desirable woman approaching him on the sidewalk. He slows down his walk to take a longer look, and he stops and turns around and watches as she passes. From God’s point of view: First, he is treating this moment as if it belongs to him. It’s as if he is sovereign and she is on the sidewalk for his pleasure. He’s the self-appointed deity of the moment. The world has shrunk to the size of his desire, and he rules it for his pleasure. He will have what he will have, even if it isn’t right to stare at body parts and imagine having them for his own. But there is more. For that moment he is stealing God’s creation and taking it as his own. He has no right to this woman. She does not actually belong to him in any way, but he takes her with his mind and his eyes. He’s ripped this woman out of the hands of God and claimed her as his own for whatever momentary pleasure he can achieve. He has denied God’s existence. He has set himself up as God. 10

Even though our culture is obsessed with serving up sex on every possible platter, we don’t have to give in to these tantalizing temptations. It is possible to live in a sexually saturated society without giving in to the siren’s call.

Here are three tips to help you find your way out of the morass.

First, if you have an addiction problem, I encourage you to get professional counseling. In addition, get involved in a 12 step program.

Second, remove sources of sexual temptation. Temptation is not a sin, but acting on it is. If you find yourself lustfully engaging in behavior you know to be wrong, then identify the source of that temptation and remove it.

An affluent woman reviews resumes from potential chauffeurs to drive her Rolls Royce. She narrows the applicants to three men and invites them to her palatial home. She escorts each one individually to her driveway and the brick wall beside it. Then she asks, “If you were driving my Rolls, how close do you think you could come to that brick wall without scratching my car?”
The first guy, “I can drive within a foot of the wall and not damage your Rolls.”
She brings out the second applicant and asks “If you were driving my Rolls, how close do you think you could come to that brick wall without scratching my car?”
He scratches his head and says, “I can drive within six inches of that wall and not damage your car.”
She invites the third applicant and asks, “If you were driving my Rolls, how close do you think you could come to that brick wall without scratching my car?”
He does not hesitate: “Ma’am, I do not know how close I could come to the wall without damaging your car, but if I was driving your car, I would stay as far away as possible from the wall as possible.”
Guess who got the job? 11

When it comes to sexual temptation, the point is not see how close we can come without getting scratched, but staying as far away as possible. If the internet is your downfall, it would be well worth your money to purchase a good filter and comply with it.

Thirdly and most important for you and I as Christian men and women, turn to Jesus in faith in His ability to give you all the grace you need to overcome sexual temptation.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (II Corinthians 9:8).

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

So by faith alone, Jesus will give you everything you need to fight sexual temptation.

Another Greek myth with the call of the sirens is that of Jason and the Argonauts. Like Odysseus, Jason and his men also had to sail past the siren’s island. Fortunately, the Argonauts had the great musician Orpheus with them. As the sirens began to sing their song of temptation, in the hopes of seducing the Argonauts, Orpheus played sublime, heavenly music on his lyre. His music overpowered the voices of the sirens, and the Argonauts were able to sail safely past the island without being seduced.

As we tune our hearts to listen to God’s marvelous grace, we will hear the more beautiful music of Jesus play in our souls and will be less prone to wander away from God’s will for our lives.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace!

Paul writes the Thessalonians:

So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ. (II Thessalonians 1:11-12).

Commenting on this verse John Piper writes:

Faith is the conduit God uses to transmit His power into obedience. … When we fix our faith on God’s grace, the power of God flows through that faith and we are empowered to accomplish all the good things He desires. We get the help, God gets the glory.” 12

Two months ago, I shared a story about Augustine that bears telling again. Not too long after he became a Christian he was walking down the street when he saw a former mistress approaching from the opposite direction. Augustine quickly turned and began to walk in the opposite direction. Surprised, she sang out, “Augustine, it is I.” But Augustine, proceeding on his way, cried back to her, “Yes, but it is not I.” 13

What he meant was that there was a new Augustine, who by the grace and strength that only Jesus gives, he was able to resist the siren’s call.

And so, if you will turn to Him as you are, and trust Him to forgive you, help you, change you, He will come alongside and give you grace to overcome.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above.

No matter how much you have sinned sexually, how impossible change feels, or how powerfully you are being tempted — there’s good news.

He is able, more than able, to accomplish what concerns me today.
He is able, more than able, to handle anything that comes my way.
He is able, more than able, to do much more than I could ever dream.
He is able, more than able, to make me what He wants me to be!



3 Adapted from Matt Walsh, We’re A Nation Of Porn Addicts. Daily Wire (11-30-17)

4 (article in Charisma News)


6 Adapted from Andy Crouch, The Tech-Wise Family (Baker Books, 2017), page 179


8 Drew Anderson, (Tucson, AZ), Reader’s Digest


10 Tripp, David Paul. Sex in a Broken World. [Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, © 2018], pages 124-125


12 Piper, John. Future Grace. [Colorado Springs, Colorado: Multnomah Books, Revised Edition © 2012]. Page 163.