I’m returning to a subject I recently talked about in the audio entitled “Can I lose my relationship with God?” The subject is sexual sin. It’s not a subject I try to harp on, but I believe the Lord wants me to write more about it because Proverbs 23:27 stood out to me as I was reading the scriptures a few days ago:
“For a prostitute is a deep pit; an adulteress is a narrow well.”
The scriptures here describe the consequences of sexual sin as being in a deep pit or well. God is warning us about something, but what exactly? Often we miss warnings in the scriptures because we fail to pause and try to understand. So what is the problem with being in a deep pit or a narrow well? Why are we being warned about it?
The biggest problem is that you can’t escape. When we are tempted by sin, very often the devil or our flesh tells us that there will be no consequences (or minimal consequences) for our decision. Or we deceive ourselves into believing that no one will see or no one will know. And if no one knows, then how can there be consequences, we say to ourselves. We also deceive ourselves by believing that we will be able to easily extract ourselves from the sin once we do it. Many of us have thought along the lines of: “I’ll sin now and then ask God to forgive me.” This is trying manipulate God and “force” him to forgive you (something he doesn’t have to do). Planning to sin because you plan on taking advantage of grace later is double trouble because it is adding sin to sin.
But the warning in Proverbs 23:27 tells us that the consequences of this type of sin are actually hard to escape from. So often in my own life and I’m sure in the lives of most other people, we want to take care of our sins quickly, quietly and privately so that no one will know and so that we don’t lose face. But the Lord doesn’t always let that happen. James 5:16 tells us,
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
Here we see that God doesn’t let us take care of our sins privately. Note that the second half of the verse mentions a righteous or spiritually mature person. So confess your sins to someone who is a spiritual authority in your life (pastor, elder, discipler) who can actually help you be free from the sin.
Getting back to being in a well or a pit, the problem is that you can’t escape on your own. What would you do if you were stuck in a pit or well? Well, you would probably call out loudly for help. And you would keep calling out until help came.
I remember when I got into sexual sin when I was younger. Immediately after it happened, I prayed a little prayer and asked God to forgive me. And I continued on with my life hoping that I could just whitewash over it and pretend like it never happened. What I found was that although the Lord was merciful and willing to forgive, it was not something that came quickly or easily. I was hoping that a little “I’m sorry and I won’t do it again” would be sufficient. The sad truth was that I didn’t really understand what it meant to be sorry, and I did do it again, just digging the pit deeper.
You see, to understand the depth of our sin, sometimes we have to suffer consequences for a while. What if I fell in a pit and someone immediately saw and pulled me out? I might be tempted to think, “Well, that wasn’t so bad.” In the same way, imagine if we sin with our bodies, and we were immediately forgiven and restored to perfect fellowship with the Lord. We would be tempted to think, “That sin wasn’t so bad.” But what if we had to sit in that pit or well for a few days or weeks or months or years? What if we had to call out for help again and again and again? We would (hopefully) be less tempted to go back to that sin because we know how seriously God takes it and because we know the struggle and heartache we had to go through as we worked through our repentance.
We believers often make promises about God’s forgiveness too easily, which is dangerous because people become tempted to sin thinking that forgiveness is cheap and easy to come by. The fact is that forgiveness is neither cheap nor easy. I know that Jesus has forgiven me, but it took time to work that out in prayer, talking to my pastor, and further calling out to the Lord. Crying out to Jesus from inside a well helps the heart work through the deceptions, delusions, justifications and cover-ups that we’ve created. Crying out can help us to get serious with God allow him to purify our heart. Also, God responds to people who cry out to him as a result of his judgments. Psalm 107 has several examples of this. Here’s one:
10 Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom,imprisoned in iron chains of misery.11 They rebelled against the words of God,scorning the counsel of the Most High.12 That is why he broke them with hard labor;they fell, and no one was there to help them.13“Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,and he saved them from their distress.14 He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom;he snapped their chains.15 Let them praise the Lord for his great loveand for the wonderful things he has done for them.16 For he broke down their prison gates of bronze;he cut apart their bars of iron. (Psalm 107:10-16)