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Ephesians 5:3, 4ff Exposition
Proverbs 4:23 Exposition
Jehovah Nissi: Exposition
of Exodus 17:8-16
1Thessalonians 4:3ff Exposition
Galatians 5:16ff Exposition
1Timothy 4:7ff Exposition
2Corinthians 10:3-5 - Exposition
James 1:15 - Expositions
from your own
from your own
(Pr 5:18,19; Hebrews
You have your own spring and your
own well which flow with clear water. So drink from these sources!
(German Common Language Version)
Do not go to the well of another
man. Stay with your own wife and sleep only with her, just as a man
drinks water from his own well. (UBS)
Bridges - A restless
dissatisfaction with our present blessings cherishes the lust for
forbidden pleasures. Where contentment is not found at home—drinking
out of our own cistern, it will not be found abroad. Thus conjugal
love—the greatest earthly blessing—is the Divine remedy against
incontinence. (1Cor 7:2, 36) ‘First—choose thy love; then love thy
choice.’8 Quench thy thirst out of thine own, and lust not after thy
neighbor’s, well. ‘Enjoy thou the lawful delights and contentments of
thine own wife.’ (Bishop Hall) Let the streams of a happy issue
derived from thee, as little fountains, or springs from the fountain
(cp Nu 24:7, Deut 33:28, Ps 68:29, Isa 48:1)—be dispersed abroad,
fertilizing the streets (cp Zech 8:5) with their godly
influence—children whom thou knowest to be thine own, and canst
acknowledge without shame (Ps 127:3-5, 148:13). Rejoice with the wife
of thy youth. (Dt 24:5, Eccl 9:9) (Proverbs
In Proverbs 5:15, 16, 17, 18, 19,
20, 21 Solomon offers his "remedy" calculated to counter the
temptation to commit sexual immorality with a strange woman. His
remedy - delight yourself in fidelity to your own wife, your covenant
partner, your one flesh. The world ridicules faithfulness, but God
honors and blesses it. One wife for one life and one partner to enjoy
sex with for all of your days. That is God's "old fashioned" plan!
In context Solomon is speaking in
highly metaphorical language, using cistern, well and fountain as
pictures of one's wife. Notice that that possessive pronoun precedes
each description and that is Solomon's emphasis -- sexual relations
with your OWN wife, and no one else's! That is his main point in this
section and to heed such sage advice will keep one far from the paths
of the adulteress woman.
The best way for a man to avoid
sexual misconduct (including indulging in pornography and the
fantasizing and self-gratification that naturally accompany this sin)
is to (1) have a loving relationship with your Creator and (2)
secondly a loving relationship with the wife of your youth.
Explorer the Bible notes
adds that "the institution of holy matrimony
has been designed by God as the only place for the expression of
sexual love. It is also quite clear that a satisfying and intimate
marriage is a powerful safeguard against sexual temptation. Again,
from the perspective of the male, the text calls upon the young man to
find his fulfillment in his wife alone. With plain, yet appropriate,
language the man is exhorted to be thoroughly satisfied with his
wife’s sexual intimacy and to ever be exhilarated or, more
literally, “intoxicated” with “her love” (Pr 5:19). This command
places a holy responsibility upon both partners in the marriage. Each
should be sensitive and attentive to the needs of the other so that
any temptation to violate the marriage bond is effectively repelled
(cf. 1Cor 7:5). (Be
Wise About Sexual Purity)
The UBS Handbook on Proverbs
Pr 5:15-20 use a number of images
such as water, cistern, well, springs, fountain, hind, and doe to
appeal to the learner to be satisfied with his own wife rather than
going after another person’s wife.
A cistern is an underground chamber
used to catch rainwater for storing. Cisterns, like wells in the next
line, were often dug in the ground and lined with limestone plaster to
keep them from leaking. They were also sometimes hollowed out of rock.
The scarcity of water made it essential to guard cisterns and wells
closely. The emphasis in this verse is on the private use of water
from a cistern. The thought expressed here is “Just as you drink water
from your own cistern, so you should have sex only with your own
wife.” (Reyburn, W. D., & Fry, E. M. New York: United Bible Societies)
W A Criswell comments that "These verses use frankly erotic
language as is found in the Song of Solomon in expressing that sexual
delight in marriage is by divine design (Pr 5:15), as is the joy of
procreation, in which husband and wife join hands with the Creator God
to produce the next generation (Pr. 5:16, 17, 18; Ge 1:28). The wife
is compared to a "cistern" and "well" (Pr 5:15; Song 4:12). This
figure enhances her value in the eastern world, in which water was
scarce and valuable. The terms "fountains" and "streams of water" are
references to children who are victims of marital discord. They suffer
from lack of a proper home, either abandoned or raised by "strangers"
W A. Believer's Study Bible: New King James Version. 1991. Thomas
Drink water - Drinking is a
normal God given desire but even it is to be gratified in an
appropriate way. Solomon here uses this normal physical need to
picture a man's sexual need which is also God given and is only to be
fulfilled by one's spouse. In other words the idea is be faithful to
your own wife, just as you drink water from your own cistern and well.
Let her be your "cistern" and "well" with her companionship alone will
a husband find total satisfaction and the quenching of all his sexual
Constable agrees writing
that "The figures of a cistern and well
refer to one’s wife (cf. Song 4:15) who satisfies desire.
In first Corinthians Paul
because of immoralities, each man
is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.
The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the
wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own
body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not
have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving
one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote
yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not
tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1Co
7:2, 3, 4, 5)
Adam Clarke writes that me
are to "Be satisfied with thy own wife; and
let the wife see that she reverence her husband; and not tempt him by
inattention or unkindness to seek elsewhere what he has a right to
expect, but cannot find, at home.
Proverbs 5:15-21 Reminders for
THERE IS ONE JOINING -
Marriage is Exclusive Pr 5:15, 16, 17
THERE IS ONE JOY - Marriage is Ecstasy Pr 5:18, 19
THERE IS ONE JUDGE - Marriage is Evaluated (by God) Pr 5:20, 21 (Ref)
5:16 Should your
(Deut 33:28; Ps 68:26; Is
48:21) (Ge 24:60; Jdg 12:9; Ps 127:3; 128:3)
Your springs dispersed abroad
- This metaphor is more difficult to understand. Some understand
it as a metaphor for offspring or children (see below). However in
context it is at least possible that your springs...not for
strangers (Pr 5:16, 17) continues the metaphor of sexual activity
and presents a contrast with the water metaphors in Pr 5:15. In
that verse the picture is of the husband experiencing the quenching of
his sexual appetite the good way, God's way, with the wife of his
youth. In Pr 5:16, 17 the word strangers (Hebrew = zur, used in
Pr 5:3, 10, 17, 20, 7:5) could certainly be the strange woman with
whom one's springs are dispersed. I do not mean to be
dogmatic, but offer this as an alternative interpretation of these two
difficult verses (Pr 5:16, 17).
Constable does record that
Another view is that the springs
and streams in view belong to the man being warned who might share
them with a woman of the street.
Ryrie writes that...
The idea is, should you beget
children by an adulteress, a woman of the street? (and that) your
springs (is) a reference to one's children.
Thy fountains; thy children
proceeding from thy wife, called thy fountain, Pr 5:18, and
from thyself, as the Israelites are said to come from the fountain
of Israel, Deut 33:28; Ps 68:26. Compare Is 51:1. And fountains
are here put for rivers flowing from them, as it is explained in the
next clause, and as it is Ps 104:10, by a metonymy of the cause for
the effect. And this title may be the more fitly given to children,
because as they are rivers in respect of their parents, so when they
grow up, they also become fountains to their children.
Be dispersed abroad; they shall be multiplied, and in due time
appear abroad in the world to thy comfort and honour, and for the good
of others; whereas whores are commonly barren, and men are ashamed to
own the children of whoredom.
W A Criswell feel that...
The terms springs and
streams of water are references to children who are victims of
marital discord. They suffer from lack of a proper home, either
abandoned or raised by "strangers" (Pr 5:17).
W A. Believer's Study Bible: New King James Version. 1991. Thomas
John MacArthur feels that...
The euphemism refers to the male
procreation capacity with the idea of the foolish as a fountain
scattering precious water—a picture of the wastefulness of sexual
promiscuity. The result of such indiscriminate sin is called
streams of waters in the streets, a graphic description of the
illegitimate street children of harlotry. Rather, says Solomon, “let
them be only your own” and not the children of such immoral strangers.
Some commentators like
Expositor's Bible Commentary feel that...
Channels of water in the street
would mean sexual contact with lewd women.
5:17 Let them be yours
and not for
John MacArthur feels that
them relates to children and thus Solomon is saying...
“let them be only your own” and not
the children of such immoral strangers.
Adam Clarke agrees writing
let them be "the offspring of a legitimate connection."
5:18 Let your
(Eccl 9:9; Mal 2:14,15)
Your fountain be blessed - A
metaphor referring to one's wife and continues the idea that sexual
pleasure must be fulfilled at home. In an arid land like the
Palestine, where water was precious, this aqueous metaphor should be
especially powerful to the male readers.
Bridges - Receive her
as the gracious gift of thy God. (Pr 19:14) (Proverbs
Matthew Poole - she shall be blessed with children;
for barrenness was esteemed a curse and reproach, especially among the
Israelites. Or rather, she shall be a blessing and a comfort to thee,
as it follows, and not a curse and a snare, as a harlot will be.
Handbook on Proverbs explains that...
A fountain is not an
artificial jet of water, as may be seen in city parks or gardens, but
rather a spring of water flowing out of the ground. Your fountain
refers to the man’s wife, who is here the source of his pleasure. The
sense of blessed is seen in the parallel word in the second
line rejoice. Blessed has the sense of joy or happiness. This
happiness is to come from the man’s wife. (United Bible Societies)
NET Bible - That it should be blessed
(the passive participle of barak) indicates that sexual delight is
God-given; having it blessed would mean that it would be endowed with
fruitfulness, that it would fulfill all that God intended it to do.
in the wife of your youth
- An excellent command indeed! Do not seek strange women
but rejoice in the same woman (...that you married).
The Apologetics Study Bible
notes that "Critics sometimes argue that
passages extolling the pleasures of sex are inappropriate and should
not be in the Bible. The book of Proverbs, though, sees sex as a gift
from God that is to be enjoyed in the context of the commitment of
marriage. An intimate relationship with one's spouse and the physical
delight such a relationship can bring is commended by Proverbs and is
seen as a powerful antidote to the temptations that can lead to
unfaithfulness and immorality.
Michael Griffiths wrote that
"there is no end to the richness
that springs out of that exclusive relationship, and the warmth of the
welcome that reaches out from his home to bless others. (Take My Life)
As Al Martin says "God never intended that man could
find the true meaning of his sexuality in any other relationship than
that of the total self-giving involved in marriage.
5:19 As a
(Song 2:9; 4:5; 7:3; 8:14) (Be
exhilarated - 2Sa 12:4)
This verse if treasured in one's
heart ("control center"; cp Ps 119:9, 11) and obeyed under grace (Ro
gives the husband a powerful "aphrodisiac" and a strong shield
impeding wandering eyes and "wander-lust"!
Loving hind - Hebrew reads
"the hind of loves". The language in this section is
obviously what we might term quite "erotic", and it serves to show
that God, the "Inventor" of sex, is not ashamed to speak openly about
it, extolling it as a good gift (James 1:17) to be enjoyed with the
wife of one's youth. Paul amplifies the goodness of sexuality within
the bounds of marriage, emphasizing that in fact it is a prophylactic
which serves to protect one (husband and/or wife) against improper
sexual dalliances (in thought [fantasy life], word or deed) explaining
because of immoralities (porneia),
let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own
with a negative = stop something already being practiced!) one
another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves
to prayer, and come together again lest Satan
= continually tempt) you because of your lack of self-control. (1Cor
Cherish her, not with a sensual, doting, passion, but, as the loving
hind and pleasant roe (Ge 24:67), with gentleness and familiarity.
(2Sa 12:3 - The hind and the roe were objects of special delight -
Song 2:17, 3:5 - and were treated with most tender endearment--a
beautiful picture of the lively delight, which the wife naturally
engages.) Count thyself most happy, as ravished with her love. Never
err in giving liberty to thy passion, save in her society. It is not
the having, but the loving of, the wife, that covers the soul. A man
chained to an uncongenial wife is in imminent temptation. It is when
she is as the hind and the roe, that the pleasures of lawful love
preserve from lust—pleasures without a sting—yes truly—shadowing out
the great mystery; "loving and cherishing our own flesh, even as the
Lord the church (Eph 5:25, 29)." (Proverbs
Sexual desire is natural and
marriage is provided for its fulfilment. - Norman Hillyer
Hind and...doe - Animals
that picture the graceful delicate nature of a man's wife. It is
interesting that women were often named for graceful or attractive
animals - cp Tabitha, Dorcas.
Hind - Easton's Bible Dictionary
Hind - Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia
of Biblial Literature
Hart, Hind - Hastings' Dictionary
of the Bible
Matthew Poole on hind...doe
- as amiable and delightful as the
hinds are, either, 1. To their males, the harts; Or, 2. To princes and
great men, who used to make them tame and familiar, and to take great
delight in them, as hath been noted by many writers
(shagah) primarily meant to stray, go astray or wander. In the
present context the verb signifies a staggering gait expressive of the
husband's ecstatic joy over his wife's love. Some interpret this verb
as indicating that he is "intoxication" by her love.
The Net Bible explains that
The imagery for intimate love in
marriage is now employed to stress the beauty of sexual fulfillment as
it was intended. The doe and deer, both implied comparisons, exhibit
the grace and love of the wife.
should you, my
(Pr 2:16, 17, 18, 19; 6:24;
7:5; 22:14; 23:27,28,33; 1Ki 11:1)
For - This conjunction
introduces Solomon's explanation of why exhilaration with one's own
wife is such an important protective mindset to maintain. As men, we
must be continually on high alert, for our sexual desire which is God
given to be gratified in a God pleasing way in the marriage covenant,
will potentially seek gratification outside of this covenantal
relationship if we become lax and allow our mind to wander from the
path of God's transforming Word of truth.
Bridges - With
such a view of the ruinous pleasures of lust (Pr 6:9-11), and the holy
delight of God’s ordinances; (Pr 6:15-19) surely, if the sinner were
not stupified, would he leave the pure fountain for the poisoned
spring? Would he slight the "honorable" state of marriage (Heb 13:4),
to embrace the bosom of a stranger—‘loveless—joyless—unendeared?’ (Proverbs
One wonders what went through
Solomon's mind as he penned these words in light of facts
documenting his wandering mind in
Now King Solomon loved many foreign
women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite,
Sidonian, and Hittite women,
2 from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the sons of
Israel, "You shall not associate with them, neither shall they
associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after
their gods." Solomon held fast to these in love.
3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred
concubines, and his wives turned his heart away.
4 For it came about when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart
away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the
LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.
5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and
after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites.
6 And Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not
follow the LORD fully, as David his father had done.
(nokri) describes that which foreign or alien and so a stranger
or foreigner. The idea is not related to. In context it describes a
woman who is not related to the man by the covenant of marriage and
with whom any sexual liaison is sinful. The "strange" woman may seem
exotic and exciting at the beginning but the end is deadly.
Wiersbe writes that "When a husband and wife are
faithful to the Lord and to each other, and when they obey Scriptures
like 1Cor 7:1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and Ep 5:22, 23, 24, 25, 26,
27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, neither of them will look for satisfaction
anywhere else. If they love each other and seek to please each other
and the Lord, their relationship will be one of deepening joy and
satisfaction; they won't look around for "the greener grass."
5:21 For the
(See passages on the Eyes of
the LORD - Pr 15:3; 2Chr 16:9; Job 31:4; 34:21; Ps 11:4; 17:3;
139:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12; Je 16:17; 17:10; 23:24;
32:19; Ho 7:2; Heb 4:13-note;
Always pause and ponder this
term of explanation
- Ask (and attempt to
answer) at least one simple question - "What
is the writer explaining?"
Remember that when you find a "for" at the beginning of a
verse, it is usually (not 100% - check the context =
Keep Context King)
term of explanation.
In Proverbs 5-7 there a several "for's" for you to pause and
ponder. (Pr 5:3, 20, 21, Pr 6:23, 26, 34, Pr 7:6, 19, 26). As an aside
there are over 9000 occurrences of for in the NASB, which should give
you many opportunities to practice (and make "perfect") the discipline
of interrogating the Biblical text (See
with the 5W/H questions).
As believers we should love the
comforting attribute of God's omnipresence, for as Isaac Watts
said so poetically...
Within thy circling power I stand;
On every side I find Thy hand;
Awake, asleep, at home, abroad,
I am surrounded still with God.
But this comforting
doctrine of divine omnipresence is also a convicting
doctrine, as Spurgeon explains...
Where we cannot enjoy God’s
company, we will not go. Our motto is, “With God, anywhere. Without
God, nowhere...There is no place so well-adapted for the discovery of
sin and recovery from its power and guilt as the immediate presence of
God. Get into God’s arms, and you will see how to hit at sin. You will
gather strength to give the final blow which shall lay the monster in
the dust. Job never knew how to get rid of sin half so well as he did
when his eye of faith rested on God, and he abhorred himself, and
repented in dust and ashes (Job 42:5, 6) (See study of
Solomon writes in Proverbs
The eyes of the LORD are in
every place, watching the evil and the good. (Pr 15:3, 2Chr 16:9)
Bridges - Would
not the thought—that the ways of man are before the Lord—arrest him in
his course? (Job 34:21-22, Ps 94:6-9, Jer 13:25-27, 16:17, Hos 7:2)
But no. Practical atheism is the root of human depravity. (Ps 14:1-3)
The eye of man—even of a child—is a check upon him (Job 24:15, Isa
29:15). But the thought of an all-seing God—even if it enters his mind
(Ps 10:4)—inspires no alarm, conviction, or restraint. Oh! if men
would but read—would but believe—their Bibles, how would this solemn
truth—he pondereth all his goings—flash upon their consciences! Not
only does he see and mark them as the Omniscient God (Ps 125:3, Job
31:4, Ps 129:1-4); but he ponders them as the just Judge (Pr 16:2, 1Sa
2:3, Da 5:27). Not one is hidden from his piercing eye. (Heb 4:13) "He
will bring every secret thing to judgment." (Eccl 12:14) He "will be a
swift witness against the adulterers." No unclean person shall enter
into his kingdom. (Mal 3:5, Eph 5:5). (Proverbs
William Arnot wisely
God announces Himself the witness
and the judge of man. The evil-doer can neither elude the all-seeing
eye, nor escape from the Almighty hand. Secrecy is the study and the
hope of the wicked. The word booms forth like thunder out of heaven
into every human heart where evil thoughts are germinating into
wickedness, proclaiming that the ways of man are before the eyes of
the Lord. A sinner's chief labour is to hide his sin: and his labour
is all lost. Darkness hideth not from God. The Maker of the night is
not blinded by its covering. (Laws
from heaven for life on earth -
This Resource is Highly
from heaven for life on earth ... - Google Books)
The Maker of the night
is not blinded by its covering!
Matthew Poole - God sees all thy filthy actions,
though done with all possible cunning and secrecy. He taketh an exact
account of all their doings, that he may recompense them according to
the kinds, degrees, numbers, and aggravations of all their unchaste
He watches all his paths -
As men we delude ourselves into thinking, that if we are just looking
and not touching, it is a "small sin" (See
Simeon's msg on "The Captivating Power of Sin"), but that is a lie when we
understand the meaning of holiness (see 1Thes 4:3 [note]
where continually abstaining from sexual immorality equates with
holiness). So clearly God's will for every Christian man is
holiness, which is manifest by our continual practice of
abstaining from sexual immorality in thought, word or deed. There is
no such thing as a "small sin" in the area of sexual impurity,
for just as a small crack in the damn can eventually lead to its
rupture, so too can "small sins" which are nursed and cultivated like
"weeds" in the garden our mind. We deceive ourselves into believing
that since the fantasy is only in our mind, no one knows. This verse
is a wake up call which should extinguish that sort of empty delusion.
God sees it all beloved believer. As such the truth of this verse
should serve to motivate all of us to diligently desire to obey the
charge to enjoy the wife of one's youth and not to fantasize, flirt or
fall prey to strange women.
J C Ryle in his booklet
Thoughts For Young Men
has this to say about the
eyes of God...
RESOLVE NEVER TO FORGET THE EYE OF
GOD. - The eye of God! Think of that. Everywhere, in every house, in
every field, in every room, in every company, alone or in a crowd, the
eye of God is always on you. "The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,
keeping watch on the wicked and the good" (Pr 15:3), and they are eyes
that read hearts as well as actions.
Endeavor, I beg you, to realize this fact. Remember that you have to
deal with an all-seeing God, a God who never sleeps, a God who
understands your thoughts, and with whom the night shines as the day.
You may leave your father's house, and go away, like the prodigal,
into a far country, and think that there is nobody to watch your
conduct; but the eye and ear of God are there before you. You may
deceive your parents or employers, you may tell them lies, and act one
way before their faces, and another behind their backs, but you cannot
deceive God. He knows you through and through. He heard what you said
as you came here today. He knows what you are thinking of at this
minute. He has set your most secret sins in the light of His
countenance, and they will one day come out before the world to your
shame, except you take heed.
How little is this really felt! How many things are done continually,
which men would never do if they thought they were seen! How many
matters are transacted in the rooms of imagination, which would never
bear the light of day! Yes; men entertain thoughts in private, and say
words in private, and do acts in private, which they would be ashamed
and blush to have exposed before the world. The sound of a footstep
coming has stopped many a deed of wickedness. A knock at the door has
caused many an evil work to be hastily suspended, and hurriedly laid
aside. But oh, what miserable folly is all this! There is an
all-seeing Witness with us wherever we go. Lock the door, pull down
the blind, turn out the light; it doesn't matter, it makes no
difference; God is everywhere, you cannot shut Him out, or prevent His
seeing. "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight.
Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom
we must give account" (Heb 4:13-note).
Young Joseph understood this well when his employer's wife tempted
him. There was no one in the house to see them, no human eye to
witness against him; but Joseph was one who lived as seeing Him that
is invisible: "How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against
God?" (Ge 39:9)
Young men, I ask all of you to read Psalm 139:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,
9, 10, 11, 12ff. I advise all of you to learn it by heart. Make it the
test of all your dealings in this world's business: say to yourself
often, "Do I remember that God sees me?"
Live as in the sight of God. This is what Abraham did, he
walked before Him (Ge 17:1). This is what Enoch did, he walked with
Him (Ge 5:22, 24, cp Ge 24:40, 48:15, Ps 26:3, 56:13, 116:9). This
is what heaven itself will be, the eternal presence of God. Do nothing
that you would not like God to see. Say nothing, you would not like
God to hear. Write nothing, you would not like God to read. Go no
place where you would not like God to find you. Read no book of which
you would not like God to say, "Show it to Me." Never spend your time
in such a way that you would not like to have God say, "What are you
5:22 His own
and he will be
(Pr 1:18,31; 11:3,5; Ps
7:15,16; 9:15; Je 2:19; Ho 4:11, 12, 13, 14; Gal 6:7,8) (Held -
Ec 7:26) (Sin - 1Co 5:9,10, 11, 12, 13; Gal 5:19, 20, 21; Ep
5:5,6; Heb 13:4)
Be sure to read
William Arnot's insightful comment
below on this verse.
Beloved, as you
on the principles in this verse, note that the
foundational issue being addressed is the condition of one's heart. It
therefore behooves us to be knowledgeable of what it means to watch
over our heart with all diligence. Toward this end let me recommend a
work by the esteemed Puritan writer John Flavel, a short book entitled
Heart (online source)
which has been called one of
"the greatest Christian books of all time". The short time you
invest (since it is an older work, the English is a bit more laborious
to read for most of us) in this endeavor will yield not only temporal
but eternal dividends. (Hint:
Natural Reader is a great little tool [I get no recompense] for
converting any text file to an Mp3. I convert my Memory Verses to Mp3
and sometimes add my own notes and then can ponder while I pedal my
bike and listen to my Ipod. I was able to listen to 1/2 of Flavel's
book this morning in my 1.5 hour bicycle ride. Some text doesn't not
lend itself to listening while you ride or drive but Keeping the Heart
was able to keep my attention the entire time. If you want to maximize
the use of your time while traveling, running, biking, walking, etc, I
encourage you to try Natural Reader Personal Version [I ordered Paul's
voice which is excellent. Note that the free version does not have a
natural voice.] which sells for about $50 for the PC version and $60
for the Mac version. Go to
Bridges - But if no
regard to reason, or to the All-seeing eye, will restrain the sinner,
let him think of the trouble that he is bringing upon himself. He may
go on awhile without trouble. God needs no chains or prison to bring
him under his hand. Wherever he goes, his sins go with him, as cords
to hold him for judgment. (Pr 11:3, 5, 6, 29:6, 1Sa 28:5, 20) Does he
think that he can give them up when he pleases? Repetition forms the
habit. The habit becomes a ruling principle. ‘Every lust deals with
him, as Delilah with Samson—not only robs him of his strength, but
leaves him fast bound.’ (Proverbs
As (presumably) an old man
Solomon wrote this wise warning (quite possibly based on personal
experience [cp 1Ki 11:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9])....
And I discovered more bitter than
death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are
chains. One who is pleasing to God will escape from her, but the
sinner will be captured (lakad = same Hebrew verb as in Pr
5:22; Greek verb is sullambano = seize, apprehend, grasp, used of
taking prisoners into custody, catching animals or fish, figuratively
of the union of lust conceiving - Jas 1:15-note;)
by her. (Ecclesiastes 7:26)
A little sin will add to your
Subtract from your energy and
Multiply your difficulties.
His own - Not someone
else's. This man is not a passive player in this destructive drama but is
rightly reaping the
"rewards" of his own godless choice(s).
Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.
The words of John Owen's
famous admonition resonate with those of Solomon...
the choicest believers, who are
assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it
their business all their days to mortify the indwelling power of
sin...Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it
whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it
will be killing you. Your being dead with Christ virtually, your being
quickened with him, will not excuse you from this work." (John
Of the Mortification of Sin)
to "Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers" - Although not an easy
project, Owen's treatise is a
Highly Recommended Read
for all believers who seek to wage war with Sin victoriously in
All sin hardens the heart,
stupefies the conscience and
shuts out the light of truth.
--William S. Plumer
His own iniquities will capture
the wicked - Although the context deals with sexual sin, the
principle is universally applicable to all sins (anger, unforgiveness,
covetousness, slander, etc).
There is an important principle
in this verse that is
impossible to sin without being captured and bound. One of the
deceitful things about Sin (Sin
-- the Sin principle or propensity inherited from Adam)
is that it promises freedom but only brings slavery.
Peter in his description of
the false (and destructive) teachers (2Pe 2:1, 2) said "For speaking out arrogant words of
vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely
escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while
they themselves are slaves of corruption; (Here
is the principle) for by
what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved." (2Pe 2:18, 19-see
notes, cp "lusts of
deceit" Ep 4:22 -note,
- word study from verb 'avah = to bend, twist,
distort) describes the iniquity, evil, punishment or guilt which is
associated with a twisting of the standard or deviation from it.
Since there is a deliberate twisting or perverting, 'avon
describes sin that is particularly evil. It may also describe the
punishment or disaster that befalls those who practice wickedness.
The sad words captured and
held with cords would be a fitting epitaph for the greatly
gifted Samson (Read the decadent declension into
degeneracy in the life of a greatly gifted Spirit anointed judge --
Notice the "direction" in Jdg 14:1, 2, 3-note,
note "direction" again in Jdg 14:7, 8-note,
Jdg 14:18, 19, 20-note,
Jdg 15:18, 19, 20-note,
Jdg 16:18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31-note)
It's "little" sins that trip us
And cause an unexpected fall;
That's why we need to stay alert
To every sin, both large and small.
Earlier Solomon had
described sinners as those who...
lie in wait for their own blood.
They ambush ("booby trap" NLT) their own lives. (Pr 1:18) (Beloved sin
is a deceptive trap - cp Heb 3:13-
One leak will sink a ship;
And one sin will destroy a sinner.
is not just something we commit but is a king that desires to reign in
our lives and if given full sway will not hesitate to take the throne.
Spurgeon described "King Sin" this way -- "Sin will reign if
it can: it cannot be satisfied with any place below the throne of the
heart." Jesus alluded to the power of sin in John 8 when He answered the
unbelieving Jews (who had initially "believed" in Him - compare Jn
8:31 with Jesus' verdict in Jn 8:44, 45 and their actions in Jn 8:58,
Truly, truly (Amen, Amen - a call
to be especially attentive!), I say to you, everyone (who?) who commits (present
= as their habitual practice) sin is the
slave [word study] of sin." (John 8:34,
context = Jn 8:31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, cp Ro 6:16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21,
(Praise God for Jn 8:36 "So if the Son
makes you free [word study],
you will be
free [word study]
Christian, walk carefully,
danger is near!
On in your journey with trembling and fear;
Snares from without and temptations within
Seek to entice you once more into sin.
(lakad) means to take possession of as by capturing or
catching, as of men capturing a town (1Sa 14:47), figuratively of men
caught in snares laid by enemies (Jer 5:26, 18:22 Ps 35:8, 9:15 -
speaking of the "trap" of divine judgment, as in Ps 59:12, Pr 6:2,
11:6). Lakad was used in Pr 6:2 of a sinner ensnared (captured)
by the words of their own mouth.
The Lxx translates lakad in
Pr 5:22 with the verb agreuo which was used in " hunting or
fishing (and meant to) take, catch; figuratively in the NT, of
taking advantage of someone in an unguarded moment (and so to) catch
in a mistake, try to get someone to make a wrong statement (Mk
Here are some other uses of lakad
in the context of sin...
On account of the sin of their
mouth and the words of their lips, Let them even be caught
(lakad) in their
pride, And on account of curses and lies which they utter. (Psalm
If you have been snared with the
words of your mouth, Have been caught (lakad) with the words of
your mouth, (Proverbs 6:2)
righteousness of the upright will deliver them, But the treacherous
will be caught (lakad) by their own greed. (Proverbs 11:6)
Lakad translated in NAS =
capture(9), captured(57), captures(4), captures at all(1), catch(2),
caught(12), clasp(1), imprisoned(1), seized(1), take(6), taken(13),
taken captive(2), takes(3), took(8).
Lakad - 113v in the NAS
- Num 21:32; 32:39, 41f; Deut 2:34f; 3:4; Josh 6:20; 7:14ff; 8:19, 21;
10:1, 28, 32, 35, 37, 39, 42; 11:10, 12, 17; 15:16f; 19:47; Judg 1:8,
12f, 18; 3:28; 7:24f; 8:12, 14; 9:45, 50; 12:5; 15:4; 1 Sam 10:20f;
14:41f, 47; 2 Sam 5:7; 8:4; 12:26ff; 1 Kgs 9:16; 16:18; 2 Kgs 12:17;
17:6; 18:10; 1 Chr 11:5; 18:4; 2 Chr 12:4; 13:19; 15:8; 17:2; 22:9;
28:18; 32:18; 33:11; Neh 9:25; Job 5:13; 36:8; 38:30; 41:17; Ps 9:15;
35:8; 59:12; Prov 5:22; 6:2; 11:6; 16:32; Eccl 7:26; Isa 8:15; 20:1;
24:18; 28:13; Jer 5:26; 6:11; 8:9; 18:22; 32:3, 24, 28; 34:22; 37:8;
38:3, 28; 39:1; 48:1, 7, 41, 44; 50:2, 9, 24; 51:31, 41, 56; Lam 4:20;
Dan 11:15, 18; Amos 3:4f; Hab 1:10; Zech 14:2.
(Prov 5:22) His own iniquities will
capture the wicked, And he will be held with the cords of his sin.
(Prov 6:2) If you have been snared with the words of your mouth, Have
been caught with the words of your mouth,
(Prov 11:6) The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, But
the treacherous will be caught by their own greed.
(Prov 16:32) He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he
who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.
Waltke - Lakad is used more often in warfare
for capturing territory from an enemy (cf. Nu 21:32; 32:39, 41, 42; Pr
16:32) or from a person (Jer. 48:7), but the parallel and with the
cords (ûbehablê) shows that it has its less frequent use in capturing
an animal in a trap (Job 36:8; Ps. 9:6; 35:8; Pr. 6:2; Ec 7:26; Isa
8:5; Jer. 18:22; 48:44; Amos 3:5). (Waltke, B. K. The Book of
translates the Hebrew
word for "capture" using a rare Greek verb sphiggo,
which means literally to tie up in a bundle (as used in 2Ki 12:11) or
to be bound tight or fast. Sphiggo is in the
which emphasizes that the binding is continual! The
indicates that the person is bound by an outside "force" (Sin
-- the Sin principle or propensity inherited from Adam).
Considering the captivating power
of Sin, Puritan Thomas Watson warned that...
There is in Sin
a commanding and a
It was the renowned Bishop J C
Ryle who rightly put it that...
Sins begin like cobwebs,
but become iron clamps.
John Calvin was correct
When the will is enchained as the
slave of Sin, it cannot make a movement towards goodness, far less
steadily pursue it.
Os Guinness adds that...
Our use of reason itself is not
only wounded and weakened but made wilful and wrong by sin.
In Pr 1:18 the wicked person
ambushes his own life, whereas in Pr 5:22 iniquity is personified as
the agent which sets and springs the trap which leads to death! God
does not have to send a bolt of lightning. As discussed above, the
moral order of the universe is clearly seen in this verse where one's
sowing of iniquity, results in a reaping of enslavement by that same
iniquity! Could God have been much clearer!
As John Butler writes...
Sin is so beguiling. It is
extremely deceitful. It looks so appealing, but it is simply a trap to
ruin, to destroy, and to bring you into captivity for the devil.
Notice it is “his own iniquities” that entrap the sinner. It is
not the sins of another. He cannot blame others (Ed: He cannot
even say "The devil made me do it"!); he must blame himself for
playing the fool. This does not mean that our sins do not adversely
affect others, but rather that our own sins, not the sins of others,
are the main problems in our lives. We like to blame others for our
troubles, but this verse says the main blame lies with our own
Daily Bible Reading)
Freedom is not the right to do
as you will,
But the power to do as you should!
means to take hold of, to grasp, to uphold, to support, to hold
fast. Tamak conveys the basic idea of grasping securely and is used often in the context of moral issues as here in Pr 5:22 (See
on all the uses of tamak, especially those in Proverbs).
Swanson - 1. (qal)
take hold of, grasp, hold secure, i.e., make physical attachment to
an object by grasping (Ge 48:17; Ex 17:12; Pr 31:19; Am 1:5, 8); (nif)
seized (Pr 5:22), note: this may in some contexts refer to control
or restraint, 2. (qal) control, restrain, i.e., place an object
under the power or control of a person or entity, as a figurative
extension of grasping an object (Job 36:17); 3. (qal) uphold, make
secure, i.e., give aid and help to an object so as to have a
successful outcome of an event or action, as a figurative extension
of a hand grasping and holding up an object so as not to fall or
fail (Ps 16:5; 41:12; 63:8; Pr 28:17; Isa 41:10; 42:1); 4. (qal)
accept, be faithful to, formally, grasp, embrace, i.e., be
trustworthy to adhere to a person, event, or principle, as a
figurative extension of grasping an object by the hands or arms (Ps
17:5; Pr 3:18; 4:4); 5. (qal) accept, receive, i.e., gain or
acquire an object or benefit by payment or gift (Isa 33:15); 6.
(qal) gain, i.e., have an object come into one’s possession (Pr
11:16; 29:23), note: this can refer in some contexts to an elevation
of status and honor; 7. (qal) be certain, be inevitable, formally,
grasp, i.e., have an event happen for sure, and with certainty, as a
figurative extension of keeping a sure grip on a path (Pr 5:5) (A
Dictionary of Biblical Languages w- Semantic Domains- Hebrew)
Baker - A verb meaning to
grasp, to hold; to support. It means to grasp, seize something, to
take hold of a person’s hand (Ge 48:17); a person (Isa 41:10); a
scepter or a pole (Amos 1:5, 8). It refers to grasping and
supporting a person’s hands and arms (Ex 17:12). It is used
figuratively of supporting someone, as God supports His people (Ps.
16:5; 41:12; 63:8); or of holding on firmly to God’s ways (Ps 17:5;
Pr 4:4). Those who hold to wisdom find her a tree of life (Pr 3:18).
Its passive sense refers to being held tightly, firmly, e.g., the
evil person held fast by his sins (Pr 5:22).
Tamak - 20v in the NAS = attain(1), attains(1), grasp(1),
grasped(1), held(1), held fast(1), hold(1), hold her fast(1), hold
fast(1), holds(2), obtain(1), support(2), supported(1), take hold(2),
Genesis 48:17 When Joseph saw that
his father laid his right hand on Ephraim's head, it displeased him;
and he grasped his father's hand to remove it from Ephraim's
head to Manasseh's head.
Exodus 17:12 But Moses' hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and
put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported
his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were
steady until the sun set.
Job 36:17 "But you were full of judgment on the wicked; Judgment and
justice take hold of you.
Psalm 16:5 The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You
support my lot.
Psalm 17:5 My steps have held fast to Your paths. My feet
have not slipped. (What's
the antidote for not slipping spiritually?)
Psalm 41:12 As for me, You uphold me in my integrity (Could
we do it in our own strength? Clearly not!), And You set me in Your
Psalm 63:8 My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.
Proverbs 3:18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who hold her fast.
Proverbs 4:4 Then he taught me and said to me, "Let your heart
hold fast my words; Keep my commandments and live;
Comment: How do you "hold
fast" God's Word today? You can read it daily, but by far the
best way is to
Memorize His Word!
Are you actively "eating" the Word, treasuring in your heart so you
won't sin against Him (Ps 119:9, 11)? If you are not, then you are
without one of the major defenses to keep you from sinning against
Him! Begin to memorize the word daily and devotionally and
diligently, disciplining yourself for godliness which "is profitable
for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and
[also] for the [life] to come. (1Ti 4:7-8-note)
If you need something to "jumpstart" your memorization see
Memory Verses by Topic.
And remember the key to retention is repetition, repetition,
repetition! I know from (painful) experience!
Proverbs 5:5 Her (an adulteress) feet go down to death, Her steps
take hold of Sheol.
Proverbs 5:22 His own iniquities will capture the wicked, And he
will be held with the cords of his sin.
Proverbs 11:16 A gracious woman attains honor, And ruthless
men attain riches.
Proverbs 28:17 A man who is laden with the guilt of human blood Will
be a fugitive until death; let no one support him.
Proverbs 29:23 A man's pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit
will obtain honor.
Proverbs 31:19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her
hands grasp the spindle.
Isaiah 33:15 He who walks righteously and speaks with sincerity, He
who rejects unjust gain And shakes his hands so that they hold
no bribe; He who stops his ears from hearing about bloodshed And
shuts his eyes from looking upon evil;
Isaiah 41:10 'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look
about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will
help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right
Isaiah 42:1 "Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one
in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will
bring forth justice to the nations.
Amos 1:5 "I will also break the gate bar of Damascus, And cut off
the inhabitant from the valley of Aven, And him who holds the
scepter, from Beth-eden; So the people of Aram will go exiled to Kir,"
Says the LORD.
Amos 1:8 "I will also cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, And him
who holds the scepter, from Ashkelon; I will even unleash My
power upon Ekron, And the remnant of the Philistines will perish,"
Says the Lord GOD.
in Pr 5:22 with the
agreuo (64) which was used to describe the hunting of
wild animals and thus meant to catch the prey. Figuratively,
meant to take advantage of someone in an unguarded moment so as to
catch them in a mistake or to try to get them to make a wrong
statement ("They *sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him
[Jesus], in order to trap [agreuo] Him in a statement." = Mk 12:13).
Agreuo is used 6x in 6v in the Old and NT - Pr 5:22; 6:25-26;
Job 10:16; Hos 5:2; Mark 12:13. The other two uses of
Proverbs are instructive, both serving to amplify the warning of Pr 5:22...
(1) Proverbs 6:25 Do not desire her
beauty in your heart, nor let her capture (Hebrew = laqach =
take, grasp, take hold of!; Lxx = agrueo) you with her eyelids.
(2) Proverbs 6:26 For on account of
a harlot one is reduced to a loaf of bread, and an adulteress hunts
(Hebrew = tsud; Lxx = agrueo) for the precious life.
In short, agrueo gives us a
vivid picture of the power of Sin
to "hunt down" and "capture" man like
prey, whether "the deadly hunter" be sexual sin or any other sin we
continue to practice and from which we refuse to repent. Remember that
"Sin is like seed—to cover it is to cultivate it." (Anonymous)
(chebel) carries the most basic meaning of a cord or rope (by
which the spies escaped Josh 2:15 - Note the fascinating dichotomy = one cord
escape while the other brings bondage!) or the cords used to
literally bind Jeremiah
(Jer 38:11, 12, 13).
Harry Ironside writes
that "Certain retribution will follow the
disobedient. The very sins he delights in are the links of the chain
that will bind him forever. Having refused instruction in life, he
will die without it; he will be left to go astray in the folly his
soul loved. Dying in his sins, he goes out into the darkness, where
the light he refused will never shine on him again!
Sin will take you further than you
ever intended to stray.
It will keep you longer than you ever intended to stay.
And it will cost you more than you ever dreamed you would pay.
- word study) describes that which is an offense to God's moral
standard. The basic meaning of the root is to miss a mark or a way. In
Jdg 20:16 the left-handed slingers of Benjamin are said to have the
skill to throw stones at targets and “not miss.”
Sin is a little word with only
but the biggest is I.
--A S Wood
This picture of a full grown person
bound by a tiny sin brings to mind the picture of Gulliver
and the Lilliputs who were able to bind him because he fell
asleep (cp the repeated NT warnings to "Be sober" - 1Th 5:6, 8; 2Ti
4:5; 1Pe 1:13; 4:7; 5:8). Tiny sins are far more deadly than tiny Lilliputs!
In Acts Peter describes
Simon the Sorcerer declaring...
For I see that you are in the gall
of bitterness and in the bondage (sundesmos = bound
together much like a tendon is to the adjacent bone; it is interesting
that a related word desmotes = a prisoner, which is a good
picture of the captivating power) of iniquity. (Acts 8:23)
Albert Barnes commenting on
this description of Simon writes...
Or, that thou art bound by
iniquity. That is, that it has the rule over you, and binds you as a
slave. Sin is often thus represented as bondage and captivity. Sinners
are represented as chained to it, and kept in hard servitude, Ps
116:16; Pr 5:22, "He shall be holden with the cords of his sins;" Ro
7:23,24. These expressions prove conclusively that Simon was a
stranger to religion. (Albert Barnes. Barnes NT Commentary) (Comment:
While not everyone agrees that Simon was unregenerate, the weight of
evidence certainly strongly suggests that conclusion that Simon was
"bound by the cords of his iniquities".)
Wiersbe rightly warns us
The cords of sin get
stronger the more we sin, yet sin deceives (Heb 3:13) us into thinking
we're free and can quit sinning whenever we please. As the invisible
chains of habit are forged, we discover to our horror that we don't
have the strength to break them. Millions of people in our world today
are in one kind of bondage or another and are seeking for deliverance,
but the only One who can set them free is Jesus Christ. "Therefore if
the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed" (John 8:36, NKJV).
Sin is sovereign
until sovereign grace dethrones it.
C. H. Spurgeon
Capture...held with the cords of
sin - The one engaged in sexual sin was given over to that sin so
that he was in bondage. We might say he was now "addicted" to this
sin. Notice that he has no one else to blame ("his own iniquities").
James teaches that we cannot blame God (James 1:13) and we can't even
blame the Devil. We have ourselves to blame because as James says...
each one (Greek hekastos
means every single one) is
tempted (word study)
when he is
carried away (word
(like a fish is drawn out from the safety of the rocks) and
(then the fish is lured by the bait which hides the hook!) by his own
lust (word study)
(In this context the meaning is a strong desire to do evil, this evil disposition emanating from the
flesh (word study),
which is inherited from Adam [Ro 5:12-note]
and which is still present in believers [Gal 5:17-note],
albeit it's power to reign has been broken - [Ro 6:6-note]).15
Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is
accomplished, it brings forth death.16
Do not be deceived
+ negative = stop being deceived, implying some were being deceived),
my beloved brethren. (James 1:14, 15, 16-see
Alexander Maclaren paints a
dismal picture of the indomitable (untamable) nature of indulged sin...
We all know that anything once done
becomes easier to do again. That is true about both good and bad
actions, but ‘ill weeds grow apace,’ and it is infinitely easier to
form a bad habit than a good one. The young shoot is green and
flexible at first, but it soon becomes woody and grows high and
strikes deep. We can all verify the statement of our text by recalling
the tremors of conscience, the self-disgust, the dread of discovery
which accompanied the first commission of some evil deed, and the
silence of undisturbed, almost unconscious facility, that accompanied
later repetitions of it. Sins of sense and animal passion afford the
most conspicuous instances of this, but it is by no means confined to
these. We have but to look steadily at our own lives to be aware of
the working of this solemn law in them, however clear we may be of the
grosser forms of evil deeds. For us all it is true that custom presses
on us ‘with a weight, heavy as frost and deep almost as life,’ and
that it is as hard for the Ethiopian to change his skin or the leopard
his spots as for those who ‘are accustomed to do evil’ to ‘do good.’
But experience teaches not only that evil deeds quickly consolidate
into evil habits, but that as the habit grips us faster, the poor
pleasure for the sake of which the acts are done diminishes. The zest
which partially concealed the bitter taste of the once eagerly
swallowed morsel is all but gone, but the morsel is still sought and
swallowed. Impulses wax as motives wane, the victim is like an ox
tempted on the road to the slaughter-house at first by succulent
fodder held before it, and at last driven into it by pricking goads
and heavy blows. Many a man is so completely wrapped in the net which
his own evil deeds have made for him, that he commits the sin once
more, not because he finds any pleasure in it, but for no better
reason than that he has already committed it often, and the habit is
Whoever steps on to the steeply
sloping road to which self-pleasing invites us, soon finds that he is
on an inclined plane well greased, and that compulsion is on him to go
on, though he may recoil from the descent, and be shudderingly aware
of what the end must be. Let no man say,
‘I will do this doubtful thing once
only, and never again.’
Sin is like an octopus, and if the
loathly thing gets the tip of one slender filament round a man, it
will envelop him altogether and drag him down to the cruel beak.
Let us then remember how swiftly
deeds become habits, and how the fetters, which were silken at first,
rapidly are exchanged for iron chains, and how the craving increases
as fast as the pleasure from gratifying it diminishes. Let us remember
that there are many kinds of evil which seem to force their own
repetition, in order to escape their consequences and to hide the sin.
Let us remember that no man can venture to say, ‘This once only will I
do this thing.’ Let us remember that acts become habits with dreadful
swiftness, and let us beware that we do not forge chains of darkness
for ourselves out of our own godless deeds.
The Cords Can Be Loosened
Bitter experience teaches that the
imprisoning net clings too tightly to be stripped from our limbs by
our own efforts. Nay rather, the net and the captive are one, and he
who tries to cast off the oppression which hinders him from following
that which is good is trying to cast off himself. The desperate
problem that fronts every effort at self-emendation has two bristling
impossibilities in it: one, how to annihilate the past; one, how to
extirpate the evil that is part of my very self, and yet to keep the
self entire. The very terms of the problem show it to be insoluble,
and the climax of all honest efforts at making a clean thing of an
unclean by means within reach of the unclean thing itself, is the
despairing cry, ‘O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of
the body of this death?’
But to men writhing in the grip of a sinful past, or paralyzed beyond
writhing, and indifferent, because hopeless, or because they have come
to like their captivity, comes one whose name is ‘the Breaker,’ whose
mission it is to proclaim liberty to the captives, and whose hand laid
on the cords that bind a soul, causes them to drop harmless from the
limbs and sets the bondsman free. Many tongues praise Jesus for many
great gifts, but His proper work, and that peculiar to Himself alone,
is His work on the sin and the sins of the world. He deals with that
which no man can deal with for himself or by his own power. He can
cancel our past, so that it shall not govern our future. He can give
new power to light the old habits. He can give a new life which owes
nothing to the former self, and is free from taint from it. He can
break the entail (in logic = that which has a necessary consequence) of sin, the ‘law of the spirit of life in Christ
Jesus’ can make any of us, even him who is most tied and bound by the
chain of his sins, ‘free from the law of sin and death.’ (Ro 8:2-note) We cannot
break the chains that fetter us, and our own struggles, like the plungings of a wild beast caught in the toils, but draw the bonds
tighter. But the chains that cannot be broken can be melted, and it
may befall each of us as it befell the three Hebrews in the furnace,
when the king ‘was astonished’ and asked, ‘Did not we east three men
bound into the midst of the fire?’ and wonderingly declared, ‘Lo, I
see four men loose walking in the midst of the fire, and the aspect of
the fourth is like a son of the gods.’ (Da 3:24, 25-note) (The
Cords of Sin)
He breaks the power of canceled
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.
(Play Charles Wesley's great hymn
O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing)
William Arnot has a
picturesque, poignant and powerful comment on Proverbs 5:22...
The Maker of the night is not
blinded by its covering. He who knows evil in its secret source is
able to limit the range of its operation; and there is a special
method by which this is done. It is a principle of the divine
government that sin becomes the instrument of punishing sinners. Both
for restraint in this life and final judgment at last, this is the
method employed. It is not only true in general that the wicked shall
not escape, but also in particular that his own sin is the snare that
takes the transgressor, and the scourge that lashes him.
The Maker and Ruler of all things
has set in the system of the universe a self acting apparatus, which
is constantly going for the encouragement of good and the repression
of evil. The providential laws do not, indeed, supply a sufficient
remedy for sin and its fruits; another physician undertakes the cure;
but these laws, notwithstanding, exert a constant force in opposition
to moral evil.
The wind may be blowing steadily up
the river, and yet a ship on the river's bosom, though her sails are
spread and filled, may not be moving up, but actually dropping down
the stream. Why? Because the stream flows so rapidly down, that the
breeze in the sails, though a force in the opposite direction, cannot
overcome it. The wind does not, in spite of the current, give the ship
momentum upward, but it makes the ship's progress downward much more
slow. That force does not make the ship move upward, but it prevents
the ship from rushing down with such a headlong velocity as to dash
itself in pieces.
The providential laws are
directed against the current of man's sinful propensities, and tell in
force thereon. They do not, however, overcome, and neutralize, and
reverse these propensities. They were not so intended. They impede the
stream's velocity, and restrain its fury. The providential laws
prevent the present system from dashing itself into chaos, but they do
not supersede the redemption by Christ, and the renewing by the
"His own iniquities shall take
the wicked." This is an evident and awful truth. Retribution in
the system of nature, set in motion by the act of sin, is like the "
Virgin's kiss" in the Romish Inquisition. The step of him who goes
forward to kiss the image touches a secret spring, and the statue's
marble arms enclose him in a deadly embrace, piercing his body through
with a hundred hidden knives. Verily a man under law to God would need
to " ponder his path," for the ground he stands on is mined beneath
his feet, and the first step from virtue's firm footing aside into the
yielding slough of vice, set ; unseen swords in motion which will tear
his flesh, and enter the marrow of his bones. "The Lord reigneth, let
the earth rejoice." (Ps 97:1-note) Praise Him for his righteousness; hw judgments
will go into a song as well as his mercy. (Laws
from heaven for life on earth [online] -
This Resource is Highly
from heaven for life on earth ... - Google Books)
George Lawson comments...
Sinners will find, when too late,
if wonderful mercy prevent not, that the sorrow which springs from
self-love, is a very different thing from repentance, and that it is
not so easy a matter as the devil told them, to venture their
salvation in the hands of a Redeemer. They look upon saints as slaves
who live an unpleasant life, but time will convince them, since
admonition cannot, that themselves are the slaves, bound in the
strongest and most ignominious chains. They are fettered by vicious
affections, and they have neither power nor will to assert their
liberty. The cords of their own sins shall hold them fast, till they
are cast into that prison from whence there is no release. This is a
wretched condition, but they may thank themselves. Their own hands
forged the chains which are riveted upon them. They refused that
glorious liberty proclaimed to them in the word of Christ. (see Jn
8:31, 32, 34, 36, Lk 4:18) The sinner flattered himself that he did
not refuse redemption, he only delayed the acceptance of it. But such
delays are refusals in God's estimation. To the sinner
they are for the most part fraught with ruin. (Exposition
of the book of proverbs - enter page #96)
In vain doth he think to
disentangle himself from his lusts by repenting when he grows in
years, and to escape punishments; for he is in perfect bondage to his
lusts, and is neither able nor willing to set himself at liberty; and
if he do escape the rage of a jealous husband, and the sentence of the
magistrate, yet he shall be infallibly overtaken by the righteous
judgment of God.
A W Pink wrote that...
We are ourselves so infected and
affected by sin that we are altogether incapable of estimating its due
Adam Clarke rightly says
Most people who follow unlawful
pleasures, think they can give them up whenever they please; but sin
repeated becomes customary; custom soon engenders habit; and habit in
the end assumes the form of necessity; the man becomes bound with his
own cords, and so is led captive by the devil at his will.
Charles Bridges encourages
all men to...
Ponder this chapter – ye that
know not the poison
of fleshly lusts.
Perhaps painful experience (1Ki 11:1-8. Ec 7:26) had given the wise
man (Solomon) wisdom and understanding. Therefore attend to it with
Man's own strength, the restraint
of education, or self-discipline, is powerless, as the green withs
(willow twigs) to bind the giant. (Jdg 16:9) Engrafted wisdom is the
only effectual safeguard. This heavenly influence teaches us, both to
regard discretion for the covering of our souls, and to keep
knowledge for the warning of our fellow-sinners. (Pr 2:10,11, 16;
6:20, 24; 7:1-5. Ps.17:4; Ps 119:9, 11).
As a very little dust will disorder
and the least grain of sand will obscure our sight,
so the least grain of sin which is upon the heart
will hinder its right motion toward God.
Our Daily Bread -
Everybody longs for freedom. But for many people its pursuit leads to
bondage. Beloved Bible teacher Henrietta Mears knew the secret of true
freedom, and she wanted her students to know it too. With young people
in mind, she said, "A bird is free in the air. Place a bird in the
water and he has lost his liberty. A fish is free in the water, but
leave him on the sand and he perishes. He is out of his realm. So,
young people, the Christian is free when he does the will of God and
is obedient to God's command. This is as natural a realm for God's
child as the water is for the fish, or the air for the bird."
Wise King Solomon urged his son to understand that true freedom is
possible only within the sphere of God-centered living, for which He
created us. By contrast, bondage predictably and inescapably comes to
anyone who ignores God's truth. Proverbs 16 describes the liberty and
satisfaction that come from practicing humility, trust, careful
conversation, and self-control. But it also warns about the
inevitable bondage that comes into the lives of people governed by
willful rebellion, pride, arrogance, strife, and malicious
The New Testament introduces us to Jesus—the ultimate source of our
freedom. He, our Creator and Redeemer, said, "If you abide in My word,
you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the
truth shall make you free" (John 8:31, 32). —M. R. De Haan II (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand
Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
True freedom is not having our own way,
but yielding to God's way.
(cp Jn 8:34, 35, 36)
OF THE SUBTLE, CORRUPTING EFFECT OF SIN:
What happened to the great city
of Ephesus? Often
mentioned in the New Testament, it was one of the cultural and
commercial centers of its day. Located at the mouth of the Cayster
River, it was noted for its bustling harbors, its broad avenues, its
gymnasiums, its baths, its huge amphitheater, and especially its
magnificent Temple of Diana.
to bring about its gradual decline until its harbor was no longer
crowded with ships and the city was no longer a flourishing
metropolis? Was it
smitten by plagues, destroyed by enemies, or demolished by
earthquakes? No, silt was the reason for its downfall—silent and
non-violent silt. Over the years, fine sedimentary particles slowly
filled up the harbor, separating the city from the economic life of
the sea traders. Little evil practices, little acts of disobedience
may seem harmless. (Song 2:15) But let the silt of sin gradually
accumulate, and we will find ourselves far from God. Life will become
a spiritual ruin. In the book of Hebrews we are warned of the danger
of “the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3:13-note).
James said that the attractive pleasures of sin are really a mask
covering death (Jas 1:15-note).God
forbid that we let the "silt of sin" accumulate in our lives!
add up to big trouble.!
There is no sin so little as not to kindle an eternal fire
><> ><> ><>
Sin Is Like
An Insect! - It was reported recently that an enormous pine tree
in the mountains of Colorado had fallen victim to a pine beetle and
died. According to locals, up to that point the tree was thought to be
indestructible. It had survived fourteen lightning strikes and many
years of Colorado winters, including avalanches and fires. But it was
eventually brought down from within by a tiny insect that did its work
silently. That's the way it is with sin in a person's life, be they a
Christian or a non-Christian. Watch over your heart with all
diligence. (Pr 4:23-note)
We must deal with the seeds of sin in our hearts.
If neglected the seeds soon become weeds.
(Compare the progression in Ge 4:5, 6, 7, 8)
><> ><> ><>
John Blanchard says that...
Sin has two great powers; it reigns and it ruins.
Sin is not a toy, it is a tyrant.
><> ><> ><>
"Self-Ruse" - The deceitfulness of sin is vividly seen in the life
of the French philosopher Rousseau. He declared, “No man can come to
the throne of God and say, ‘I’m a better man than Rousseau.’” When he
knew death was close at hand, he boasted, “Ah, how happy a thing it is
to die, when one has no reason for remorse or self-reproach.” Then he
prayed, “Eternal Being, the soul that I am going to give Thee back is
as pure at this moment as it was when it proceeded from Thee; render
it a partaker of Thy felicity!”
This is an
amazing statement when we realize that Rousseau didn’t profess to be
born again. In his writings he advocated adultery and suicide, and for
more than 20 years he lived in licentiousness. Most of his children
were born out of wedlock and sent to a foundling home. He was mean,
treacherous, hypocritical, and blasphemous.
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Two theological students were
walking along a street in the Whitechapel district of London, a
section where old and used clothing is sold.
What a fitting illustration all
this makes!” said one of the students as he pointed to a suit of
clothes hanging on a rack by a window.
A sign on it read:
GREATLY REDUCED IN PRICE.
“That’s it exactly,” he
continued. “We get soiled by gazing at a vulgar picture, reading a
course book, or allowing ourselves a little
indulgence in dishonest or lustful
thoughts; and so when the time comes for our character to be
appraised, we are greatly reduced in value. Our purity, our strength
is gone. We are just part and parcel of the general, shopworn stock of
Yes, continual slight deviations
from the path of right may greatly reduce our usefulness to God and to
our fellowman (see notes on "vessel of honor... useful to the
Master" - 2Ti 2:21,22-2Ti
In fact, these little secret sins can weaken our character so that
when we face a moral crisis, we cannot stand the test. As a result, we
go down in spiritual defeat because we have been careless about little
sins. (Source unknown)
><> ><> ><>
Tiny Evils, Big Fall
READ: Ec 9:16, 17, 18, 10:1, 2, 3,
4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Dead flies cause the ointment of
the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly
him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour. --Ecclesiastes 10:1
It started as a
seedling on the slopes of the Colorado Rockies some 500 years ago. For
centuries it had stood tall, enduring violent winds, lightning
strikes, blizzards, even avalanches. Now, however, the once-towering
tree is just a mound of decaying wood. What caused its demise? A horde
of beetles had attacked it, gnawing away until that skyscraper of
nature surrendered to those tiny pests and toppled over.
That's also the tragic story of many Christians. For long years they
stood tall for God. They resisted temptations, weathered crises, and
were bold in the strength divinely provided. But little sins
began to eat away at their lives--little lies, little
compromises with greed or lust, sins that gradually eroded their
character. And suddenly they fell.
Song of Solomon 2:15 states,
"Catch us the foxes, the little
foxes that spoil the vines."
Old Testament verse should sound a loud alarm in our consciences. We
must not tolerate the little evils that eat away
at the roots of our lives.
Otherwise, our once-strong witness for Christ will become a silenced
casualty of sin. Let's confess those "tiny" evils to God now, before
they lead to a big fall. — Vernon C. Grounds
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Nothing between, like worldly
Habits of life, though harmless they seem,
Must not my heart from Him ever sever--
He is my all! There's nothing between. --Tindley
A big fall begins with a little stumble.
(I would add a blessed
life can begin with what may seem like a little obedience!)
><> ><> ><>
SIN IS LIKE A
BOA CONSTRICTOR! - Are
you being deceived by sin and tolerating it like a pet? If you
are, then you need to remember the fate of the man with the pet boa
constrictor (Do a Google search - use the following three words in
your search keeping the quotation marks as written >> "pet boa"
killed). After 15 years of living with his owner, one day the "pet
boa" would not let its "owner" out of its grip resulting in the
owner's tragic death. Wild animals remain wild and so does
Do not be deceived (Stop being deceived)!
A slight sore, neglected, may prove of fatal
and so may a slight sin slighted and left unrepented of.
><> ><> ><>
No Small Deviations in God's Economy! - In
St. Louis there is a railroad switchyard. One particular switch begins
with just the thinnest piece of steel to direct a train away from one
main track to another. If you were to follow those two tracks,
however, you would find that one ends in San Francisco, the other in
New York. Sin is like that. Just a small deviation from God’s
standards can place us far afield from our intended destination. Don't
be deceived by the world, flesh or devil who say "It's no big deal!"
The way of sin is downhill.
A man cannot stop himself when he will.
><> ><> ><>
by the Cords of one's own Sin - Not long after a wealthy
contractor had finished building the Tombs prison in New York, he was
found guilty of forgery and sentenced to several years in the prison
he had built! As he was escorted into a cell of his own making, the
contractor said, “I never dreamed when I built this prison that I
would be an inmate one day.” (cp Nu 32:23)
No sin is small.
It is against an infinite God
and may have consequences immeasurable.
No grain of sand is small in the mechanism of a watch.
><> ><> ><>
sociologist Robert Bellah
One of our current psychological
gurus says that 98 percent of Americans are dysfunctional. No doubt he
is right. He has just discovered original sin, though he is mistaken
if he things 2 percent are without.
NOT TO SIN!
Just for "fun"
take a moment to review the following list of 20 reasons not to
commit sins (hamartano)...
1. A little sin leads to more sin.
2. Sin invites the discipline of God.
3. The time spent in my sin is forever wasted.
4. My sin never pleases but always grieves the God Who loves me.
5. My sin places a greater burden on my spiritual leaders.
6. In time, sin always brings heaviness to my heart.
7. Others, including my family, suffer consequences due to my sin.
8. My sin makes the enemies of God rejoice.
9. Sin deceives me into believing I have gained when in reality I have
10. Sin may keep me from qualifying for spiritual leadership.
11. The supposed benefits of sin will never outweigh the consequences
12. Repenting of sin is a painful process.
13. My sin may influence others to sin.
14. My sin may keep others from knowing Christ.
15. Sin makes light of the Cross, upon which Christ died for the very
purpose of taking away my sin.
16. It is impossible to sin and follow the Spirit at the same time.
17. Others more earnest than I have been destroyed by just such sins.
18. God chooses not to hear the prayers of those who cherish their sin
19. My unwillingness to reject this sin now grants it authority over
me greater than I understand.
20. I promised God He would be the Lord of my life. (Source unknown)
Sin will take you farther than you
ever thought you’d stray
Sin will leave you so lost, you think you’ll never find your way
Sin will keep you longer than you ever thought you’d stay
Sin will cost you more than you ever thought you’d pay
Charles Simeon's sermon
Power of Sin
THE force of habit is well
known: it operates as a second nature; so constant is it in its
exercise, and so imperious in its demands. There is this difference
however in habits of piety, and habits of sin: that the one are easily
lost; but the other are with great difficulty overcome. Nor is this
difficult to be accounted for; seeing that the one is against the
course of nature, and the other conformable to all its propensities:
the motion of the one is a continual ascent; the other is downward on
a declivity. But it is not merely as a natural consequence that sin,
when indulged, has so great a power: there is an additional influence
given to it by God himself, as a judicial act, and as a just
punishment for indulging it: so that in a judicial, no less than in a
natural sense, our text is true: “His own iniquities shall take the
wicked himself: and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.”
Let us consider,
I. The declaration itself—
In a two-fold view it may be noticed;
1. As a judgment inflicted—
It is inflicted on the whole human race. There is not a sinner in the
universe who cannot from his own experience attest the truth of it.
Every sin has a power to enslave the mind,
and to lead captive him who
has indulged it.
But we will instance this in some particulars.
The man addicted to drinking previous to the formation of his habit,
had perhaps no particular love to strong drink, or desire after it:
but he has been drawn into company, he has there acquired a taste for
conviviality, and at last, by repeated excesses, he has contracted
such a thirst for intoxicating liquors, that he cannot deny himself
the use of them, or use them in moderation. He can see his character
sinking in the estimation of all the sober part of the community, his
health impaired, his fortune injured, his family suffering, and his
eternal interests sacrificed: and yet he cannot cast off the habit
which he has contracted: his soul is bound with it as with a cord, and
he cannot burst his bonds.
In a similar plight is he who has given himself up to the
gratification of his lusts and passions. They, at least as far as the
mind is concerned, are increased by indulgence, so that every object
calls forth desire, and “the eyes of the libertine are full of
adultery, and cannot cease from sin.” (2Pe 2:14-note)
His very soul, as it were, is sensualized, and, whether sleeping or
waking, his imagination roves after the gratification of his lawless
Nor must I omit to mention the gamester, in whom the text is most
awfully verified. Nothing can induce him to abandon his ruinous
pursuits. Domestic ties of wife and children have no influence at all.
The ruin of himself and family are all suspended on a card or die. Not
even the experience of ruin will reclaim him. Let his losses be
repaired again and again, and again and again will he return to the
fascinating object, like the moth, and hover round it, till he is
I have mentioned these instances, as being more obvious and
acknowledged: but the declaration is equally verified in the gay, the
worldly, the profane; yea, and in the superstitious and self-righteous
also. They all “feed on ashes; and a deceived heart hath turned them
aside, so that they cannot deliver their souls, nor say, Is there not
a lie in my right hand?” (Is 44:20)
2. As a warning given—
[In this view more especially
the declaration in our text is introduced, to guard young men against
the temptations to which they are exposed (Pr 5:20). And a most
awful warning it is: it shews us how earnestly we should guard against
our besetting sins. Every man has some “sin which more easily besets
him,” (He 12:1-note)
and by which he is more in danger of being enslaved. Now every man
should find out what this peculiar temptation is; and should watch and
pray against it; lest, by yielding to it, he provoke “God to give him
over to a reprobate mind,” (Ro 1:28-note)
and to say, “He is joined to idols; let him alone.” (Hos 4:17) We
should labour to say with David, “I have kept myself from my
iniquity:” (Ps 18:23-note)
and, with Job, “Thou knowest I am not wicked,” not deliberately and
habitually wicked (Job 10:7). We should dread lest that be inflicted
on us which is spoken in the text; a judgment far heavier than any
other that can be inflicted on us even by God himself, as long as we
continue in this present life; because it is a certain prelude to
everlasting misery, and the means of augmenting it every day and hour:
for, if we are delivered over to our own lusts, we do nothing but
“treasure up wrath against the day of wrath,” and accumulate mountains
of guilt to sink us deeper and deeper into everlasting perdition (Ro
Our employment will be like that of those mentioned by the Prophet
Isaiah, who “drew out iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as a
cart-rope:” (Is 5:18-note)
for, as a rope is spun out continually to an indefinite length by the
constant addition of fresh materials, so will our sin be drawn out to
an endless extent, till death shall cut it short, and the deserved
punishment be awarded to it.]
It would be improper to pass
over such a declaration as this without drawing your attention to,
II. The reflections which it naturally suggests—
1. How thankful should we be for the Gospel of Christ!
[Heathens are in the bondage
above described, and have no conception of any way of deliverance from
it. But in the Gospel a Saviour is proclaimed: who came on purpose to
“preach deliverance to the captives, and the opening of the prison to
them that are bound.” (Lk 4:18) His power no lusts can withstand. As
he delivered Peter from prison, causing his chains to fall off, and
the prison doors to open of their own accord, so can he liberate the
slaves of sin and Satan from their bondage, and bring them forth into
the glorious liberty of the children of God. Diseases, devils,
elements, all obeyed his voice in the days of his flesh: and at his
word the most deep-rooted lusts shall be plucked up, and the most
inveterate habits changed. The day of Pentecost sufficiently attests
the truth of this assertion. The hands of the men who had crucified
him were yet reeking with his blood, yet in an instant were their
hearts renewed, and they became altogether new creatures, “the wolf
being as harmless as the sheep, and the lion as gentle as the lamb.”
However inveterate then your habits may have been, despair not: but
look to “that Mighty One on whom your help is laid,” and who is able
to save “to the uttermost all who come unto God by him.” (Heb 7:25KJV)]
[There is no death of sin
without the death of Christ.]
2. How watchful should we be against the first incursions of sin!
[As we know not “how great a matter a little fire will kindle,” so we
know not what evils one sin may introduce. Every evil habit originated
in one sin. Judas little thought in what his first act of dishonesty
would issue: and millions, who are now gone beyond the hope of
redemption, once thought as little to what a state they should be
ultimately brought, as we now do. Say not, This angry temper is a
light evil: It is murder in the seed and embryo; and may terminate in
the very act of murder much sooner than you imagine. Say not, This
impure thought or look is venial: it is constructive adultery; to
which it lends, and in which, ere you are aware of it, it may soon
issue. The same I would say of envy, hatred, malice, covetousness,
ambition, and the whole catalogue of spiritual lusts: the admission of
them into the heart is as is leak in a ship, which will sink it
ultimately, if it be not stopped in time. A mariner will not neglect
that leak, though it be but small; because he knows the consequences:
he Knows that if it be neglected, his efforts to preserve the ship
will ere long be vain and ineffectual. It is not possible to look
around us without seeing, in numberless instances, what dominion the
evil tempers of men have gained, and what misery they diffuse
throughout their respective families and spheres. Had they been
checked in their commencement, how much sin and misery would have been
prevented! If then we would not forge chains for our own souls, let us
guard against the first risings of sin: for, whatever we may think,
“we shall reap according to what we sow: he that soweth to the flesh
shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit,
shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Gal 6:7,8)]
3. How constant should we be in waiting upon the Lord Jesus Christ,
both in his public ordinances, and in secret prayer!
[None but Christ can afford us any effectual help: for “without him we
can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5) To him we must carry our every trial, and
every temptation: and we must plead with him for help, as the Apostle
did, till he answer us, and say, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”
(2Cor 12:9-note) Let us never forget that it is in vain to resist sin in
our own strength. None but God himself can subdue it in us. “Our
sufficiency even to think a good thought must be of him.” (2Cor 5:5)
If He help us, it is well: “We can do all things through Christ who
strengthened us.” (Php 4:13-note) But if we address ourselves to the
purifying of our hearts in our own strength, we shall fail, as the
Apostles did, when in self-confidence they attempted to cast out a
devil, which “could only be ejected through the influence of prayer
and fasting.” (Mt 17:21) Let us look simply to Christ to purge us
both from the guilt and power of our sins; and then we shall find,
that “according to our faith it shall be done unto us.” (Mt 9:29)] (Volume
VII -- Proverbs to Isaiah 26)
If you are wrestling with sin, if
it is becoming not just an occasional meandering into the darkness,
but a habit that is growing more and more powerful in your life, then
read Charles Simeon's discussion of various aspects of sin...see
SIN - the links are to Simeon's various messages
See Related Topics:
Discussion of the Deceitfulness of Sin -
Charles Simeon's discussion of Achan's sin and the deceitfulness
The Certainty that Sin will Find
Us Out by Charles Simeon
See also several Discussions by Charles Simeon on
Self-Deceit & Self-Deception (links go to page discussing the
topic or subtopic)...
Self–deceit, illustrated in the person of Saul,
The self–deceiver, exposed.
Danger of self–deceit,
Remedies against self–deceit,
XVII. 249, 250. Its importance,
Caution against it,
Why men are so liable to it,
XII. 389, 390.
How we may counteract its baneful influence,
The self–deception of covetous professors exposed,
Sin cannot be reduced to manageable proportions.
The Pulpit Commentary homily on Pr 5:22...
CORDS OF SIN
I. The sinner is in
Such a condition is not
expected when a man freely gives the reins to his passions, and weakly
yields himself to temptation. On the contrary, he supposes that he is
enjoying a larger liberty than they possess who are constrained to
walk in the narrow path of righteousness. Moreover, even when this
shocking condition is reached, he is slow to admit its existence. He
will not confess his bondage; perhaps he scarcely feels it. Thus the
Jews were indignant in rejecting any such notion when our Lord offered
deliverance from the slavery of sin (Jn 8:33). But this only proves
the bondage to be the greater. The worst degradation of slavery is
that it so benumbs the feelings and crushes the manliness of its
victims, that some of them do not notice the yoke that would gall the
shoulders of all men who truly appreciated their condition. The
reality of the bondage is soon proved, however, whenever a slave tries
to escape. Then the chains of sin are felt to be too strong for the
sinner to break. He cries, “O wretched man that I am! who shall
deliver me from the body of this death?” (Ro 7:24).
II. The cords that bind the sinner are spun out of his own sins.
Satan does not need to build
any massive prison walls, or to call upon Vulcan to forge fetters for
his captives. He has but to leave them to themselves, and their own
misdeeds will shut them in, as the rank new growth of a tropical
forest encloses the rotting trunks of the older trees, from the seed
of which it sprang.
1. This results from the force
of habit. All conduct tends to become permanent. The way wears into
ruts. Men become entangled in their own past.
2. This is confirmed by wilful
disregard of saving influences. If the sinner repented and called for
deliverance, he might be saved from the fearful bondage of his sins.
But proudly choosing to continue on his own course, he has consented
to the tightening of the cords that bind him.
III. Christ alone can liberate from the bondage of sin.
Left to itself, the slavery
will be fatal. The sinner will never be free to live to any good
purpose. He will not be able to escape in the day of doom; his own
sins will tie him to his fate. In the end they will strangle him.
Inasmuch as the cords are spun out of his own conduct, they are part
of himself, and he cannot untie their knots or cut their strands. They
are stronger than the cords with which Delilah bound Samson, while the
helpless, guilty sinner is weaker than the shorn Nazarite. But it is
to men in this forlorn condition that the gospel of Christ is
proclaimed, with its glorious promise of liberty to the captives (Is
61:1). Christ brings liberating truth (John 8:32), redeeming grace,
and the saving power of a mighty love,—those attractive “cords of a
man” (Hos 11:4) which are even stronger than the binding cords of sin.
Pr 5:22, 23
I. Wickedness (like
goodness) has undesigned results.
The good comes back to nestle
in the bosom of the giver and the doer. We never do right without
invoking a blessing on our own heads. Evil, on the other hand,
designed and executed, is like a snare set for one’s self, a net in
the meshes of which the crafty is entangled, self-overreached.
II. Wickedness and
ignorance are in close connection.
“He shall die for want of
instruction”—the correct rendering of Pr 5:23. Socrates taught that
vice was ignorance, virtue identical with knowledge. This, however,
ignores the perversity of the will. The Bible ever traces wickedness
to wilful and inexcusable ignorance.
III. Wickedness is a kind
“Through the greatness of his
folly he shall reel about.” The word shâgâh once more. The man becomes
drunk and frenzied with passion, and, a certain point passed, staggers
to his end unwitting, careless, or desperate. (The
THE END OF AN EVIL COURSE
Pr 5:22, 23
There are two fearful evils in
which impenitent sin is sure to end, two classes of penalty which the
wrong-doer must make up his mind to pay. He has to submit to—
I. An inward tyranny of
the most cruel character.
We may never have seen the
wild animal captured by the hunter, making violent efforts to escape
its toils, failing, desperately renewing the attempt with fierce and
frantic struggles, until at length it yielded itself to its fate in
sullen despair. But we have witnessed something far more romantic than
that. We have watched some human soul caught in the meshes of vice
(intemperance, it may be), or entangled in the bonds of sin
(covetousness, it may be), struggling to be free, failing in its
endeavour, renewing the attempt with determined eagerness, and failing
again, until at length it yields to the foe, vanquished, ruined, lost!
“His own iniquities have taken the wicked himself, he is holden in the
cords of his sins.”
1. Sin hides its tyranny from
view; its cords are so carried that they are not seen; nay, they are
so wound around the soul that at first they are not felt, and the
victim has no notion that he is being enslaved.
2. Gradually and stealthily it
fastens its fetters on the soul; e.g. intemperance, impurity,
untruthfulness, selfishness, worldliness. 3. It finally obtains a hold
from which the soul cannot shake itself free; the man is “holden;” sin
has him in its firm grip; he is a captive, a spiritual slave. Beside
this terrible tyranny, the persistent wrong-doer has to endure—
yet more calamitous. (Pr
1. Death in the midst of
folly. “He shall die without instruction,” unenlightened by eternal
truth, in the darkness of error and sin; he will die, “hoping nothing,
believing nothing, and fearing nothing”—nothing which a man should die
in the hope of, nothing which a man should live to believe and die in
the faith of, nothing which a man should fear, living or dying. He
shall die without peace to smooth his dying pillow, without hope to
light up his closing eyes.
2. Exclusion from future
blessedness through his folly. “In the greatness of his folly he shall
go astray.” While the simplest wisdom would have led him to seek and
find entrance into the City of God, in the greatness of his folly he
wanders off to the gates of the City of Sorrow.
1. If the path of folly has been entered upon and is now being
trodden, return at once without delay. Further on, perchance a very
little further on, it may be too late—the cords of sin may be too
strong for the soul to snap. Arise at once, in the strength of the
strong Deliverer, and regain the freedom which is being lost.
2. Enter in earliest days the
path of spiritual freedom. Bear the blessed yoke of the Son of God,
that every other yoke may be broken. Enroll in his ranks whose
“service is perfect freedom.” (The
5:23 He will
and in the
(Pr 10:21; 14:32; Job 4:21;
36:12) (Pr 14:14; Ps 81:12; 2Pe 2:15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22)
God's wounds cure
Sin's kisses kill.
Matthew Poole - In the greatness of his folly;
through his stupendous folly, whereby he cheated himself with hopes of
repentance or impunity, and exposed himself to endless torments for
the momentary pleasures of sinful lusts.
Shutting his eyes against the light—he dies without instruction (Pr
5:12, 1:29, 10:21, Job 4:21, 36:12, Hos 9:14, 17)—the victim of his
own willful delusion—the greatness of his folly leading him astray—to
perdition. (2Pe 2:14-15) But is there no remedy for this deadly curse?
Thanks be to God, cleansing is provided for the impure (Zech 13:1,
1Cor 6:11); "deliverance is proclaimed to the captive."6 Blessed
Saviour! cleanse the leper in thy precious fountain. Perform thy
mighty commission. Set the captive free. (Proverbs
5:22 Sinners Bound With The Cords Of Sin
Delivered on Lord's Day
Morning, February 13th, 1870, by
C H SPURGEON
at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
His own iniquities shall take the
wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. -
The first sentence has reference to a net, in which birds or beasts
are taken. The ungodly man first of all finds sin to be a bait, and,
charmed by its apparent pleasantness he indulges in it, and then he
becomes entangled in its meshes so that he cannot escape. That which
first attracted the sinner, afterwards detains him. Evil habits are
soon formed, the soul readily becomes accustomed to evil, and then,
even if the man should have lingering thoughts of better things, and
form frail resolutions to amend, his iniquities hold him captive like
a bird in the fowler's snare. You have seen the foolish fly descend
into the sweet which is spread to destroy him, he sips, and sips
again, and by-and-by he plunges boldly in to feast himself greedily:
when satisfied, he attempts to fly, but the sweet holds him by the
feet and clogs his wings; he is a victim, and the more he struggles
the more surely is he held. Even so is it with the sins of ungodly
men, they are at first a tempting bait, and afterwards a snare. Having
sinned, they become so bewitched with sin, that the scriptural
statement is no exaggeration: "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or
the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed
to do evil."
The first sentence of the text also may have reference to an arrest by
an officer of law. The transgressor's own sins shall take him, shall
seize him; they bear a warrant for arresting him, they shall judge
him, they shall even execute him. Sin, which at the first bringeth to
man a specious pleasure, ere long turneth into bitterness, remorse,
and fear. Sin is a dragon, with eyes like stars, but it carrieth a
deadly sting in its tail. The cup of sin, with rainbow bubbles on its
brim, is black with deep damnation in its dregs. O that men would
consider this, and turn from their delusions. To bring torment to the
guilty, there is little need that God should, literally in the world
to come, pile up Tophet with its wood and much smoke, nor even that
the pit should be digged for the ungodly in order to make them
miserable; sin shall of itself bring forth death. Leave a man to his
own sins, and hell itself surrounds him; only suffer a sinner to do
what he wills, and to give his lusts unbridled headway, and you have
secured him boundless misery; only allow the seething caldron of his
corruptions to boil at its own pleasure, and the man must inevitably
become a vessel filled with sorrow. Be assured that sin is the root of
bitterness. Gild the pill as you may, iniquity is death. Sweet is an
unholy morsel in the mouth, but it will be wormwood in the bowels. Let
but man heartily believe this, and surely he will not so readily be
led astray. "Surely in vain is the net spread in the sight of any
bird," and shall man be more foolish than the fowls of the air? will
he wilfully pursue his own destruction? will he wrong his own soul?
Sin, then, becomes first a net to hold the sinner by the force of
custom and habit, and afterwards, a sheriffs officer to arrest him,
and to scourge him with its inevitable results.
The second sentence of our text speaks of the sinner being holden with
cords, and a parable may be readily fashioned out of the expression.
The lifelong occupation of the ungodly man is to twist ropes of sin.
All his sins are as so much twine and cord out of which ropes may be
made. His thoughts and his imaginations are so much raw material, and
while he thinks of evil, while he contrives transgression, while he
lusts after filthiness, while he follows after evil devices, while
with head, and hand, and heart he pursues eagerly after mischief, he
is still twisting evermore the cords of sin which are afterwards to
bind him. The binding meant is that of a culprit pinioned for
execution. Iniquity pinions a man, disables him from delivering
himself from its power, enchains his soul, and inflicts a bondage on
the spirit far worse than chaining of the body. Sin cripples all
desires after holiness, damps every aspiration after goodness, and
thus, fettering the man hand and foot, delivers him over to the
executioner, which executioner shall be the wrath of God, but also sin
itself, in the natural consequences which in every case must flow from
it. Samson could burst asunder green withes and new ropes, but when at
last his darling sin had bound him to his Delilah, that bond he could
not snap, though it cost him his eyes. Make a man's will a prisoner,
and he is a captive indeed. Determined independence of spirit walks at
freedom in a tyrant's Bastille, and defies a despot's hosts; but a
mind enslaved by sin builds its own dungeon, forges its own fetters,
and rivets on its chains. It is slavery indeed when the iron enters
into the soul. Who would not scorn to make himself a slave to his
baser passions? and yet the mass of men are such—the cords of their
sins bind them.
Thus, having introduced to you the truth which this verse teaches,
namely, the captivating, enslaving power of sin, I shall advance to
our first point of consideration. This is a solution to a great
mystery; but then, secondly, it is itself a greater mystery; and when
we have considered these two matters it will be time for us to note
what is the practical conclusion from this line of thought.
I. First, then, the doctrine of the text, that iniquity entraps the
wicked as in a net, and binds them as with cords is A SOLUTION OF A
When you and I first began to do good by telling out the gospel, we
labored under the delusion that as soon as our neighbors heard of the
blessed way of salvation they would joyfully receive it, and be saved
in crowds. We have long ago seen that pleasant delusion dispelled; we
find that our position is that of the serpent-charmer with the deaf
adder, charm we ever so wisely, men will not hear so as to receive the
truth. Like the ardent reformer, we have found out that old Adam is
too strong for young Melancthon. We now perceive that for a sinner to
receive the gospel involves a work of grace that shall change his
heart and renew his nature. Yet none the less is it a great mystery
that it should be so. It is one of the prodigies of the god of this
world that he makes men love sin, and abide in indifference as if they
were fully content to be lost. It is a marvel of marvels that man
should be so base as to reject Christ, and abide in wilful and wicked
unbelief. I will try and set forth this mystery, in the way in which,
I dare say, it has struck many an honest hearted worker for Jesus
Is it not a mysterious thing that men should be content to abide in a
state of imminent peril? Every unconverted man is already condemned.
Our Lord has said it: "He that believeth not is condemned already,
because he hath not believed on the Son of God." Every unregenerate
man is not only liable to the wrath of God in the future, but the
wrath of God abideth on him. It is on him now, it always will remain
upon him; as long as he is what he is, it abideth on him. And yet in
this state men do not start, they are not amazed or alarmed, they are
not even anxious. Sabbath after Sabbath they are reminded of their
unhappy position: it makes us unhappy to think they should be in such
a state, but they are strangely at ease. The sword of vengeance hangs
over them by a single hair, yet sit they at their banquets, and they
laugh and sport as though there were no God, no wrath to come, no
certainty of appearing before the judgment-seat of Christ. See a
number of persons in a train that has broken down. The guard has only
to intimate that another train is approaching, and that it may perhaps
dash into the carriages and mangle the passengers; he has only to give
half a hint, and see how the carriage doors fly open, how the
travelers rush up the embankment, each one so eager for his own
preservation as to forget his fellow's. Yet here are men and women by
hundreds and thousands, with the fast-rushing train of divine
vengeance close behind them; they may almost hear the sound of its
thundering wheels, and, lo, they sit in all quietness, exposed to
present peril and in danger of a speedy and overwhelming destruction.
"'Tis strange. 'tis passing strange, 'tis wonderful." Here is a
mystery indeed, that can only be understood in the light of the fact
that these foolish beings are taken by their sing, and bound by the
cords of their iniquities.
Be it ever remembered that before very long these unconverted men and
women, many of whom are present this morning, will be in a stale whose
wretchedness it is not possible for language fully to express. Within
four-and-twenty hours their spirits may be summoned before the bar of
God; and, according to this book, which partially uplifts the veil of
the future, the very least punishment that can fall upon an
unconverted soul will cause it "weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of
teeth." All they had endured, of whom it is written, that they wept
and gnashed their teeth, was to be shut out into outer darkness,
nothing more; no stripes had then fallen, they had not yet been shut
up in the prison-house of hell, only the gate of heaven was shut, only
the light of glory was hid; and straightway there was weeping, and
wailing, and gnashing of teeth. What, then, will be the woe of the
lost when positive punishment is inflicted? As for what they will
endure who have beard the gospel, but have wilfully rejected it, we
have some faint notion from the Master's words: "It shall be more
tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for
them." We know that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of
the living God, for "our God is a consuming fire." From this platform
there rings full often that question, "How shall ye escape if ye
neglect so great salvation?" And yet for all this, men are willing to
pass on through time into eternity regardless of the escape which God
provides, turning aside from the only salvation which can rescue them
from enduring "the blackness of darkness for ever." O reason, art thou
utterly fled? Is every sinner altogether brutish? If we should meet
with a man condemned to die, and tell him that pardon was to be had,
would he hear us with indifference? Would he abide in the condemned
cell and use no means for obtaining the boon of life and liberty? Yes,
there awaits the sinner a more awful doom, and a more terrible
sentence, and we are sent to publish a sure pardon from the God of
heaven; and yet thousands upon thousands give us no deep heartfelt
attention, but turn aside and perish in their sins. O that my head
were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep for
the folly of the race to which I belong, and mourn over the
destruction of my fellow men!
It often strikes us with wonder that men do not receive the gospel of
Jesus Christ, when we recollect that the gospel is so plain. If it
were a great mystery one might excuse the illiterate from attending to
it. If the plan of salvation could only be discovered by the attentive
perusal of a long series of volumes, and if it required a classical
training and a thorough education, why then the multitude of the poor
and needy, whose time is taken up with earning their bread, might have
same excuse; but there is under heaven no truth more plain than this,
"He that believeth on the Lord Jesus hath everlasting life;" "He that
believeth and is baptised, shall be saved." To believe—that is, simply
to trust Christ. How plain! There is no road, though it ran straight
as an arrow, that can be more plain than this. Legible only by the
light they give, but all so legible that be who runs may read, stand
these soul-quickening words, "Believe and live." Trust Christ and your
sins are forgiven; you are saved. This is so plain a precept, that I
may call it a very A B C for infants, yet men receive it not. Are they
not indeed holden by the cords of their sins when they refuse to obey?
Moreover, brethren, there is a wonderful attractiveness in the gospel.
If the gospel could possibly be a revelation of horrors piled on
horrors, if there were something in it utterly inconsistent with
reason, or something that shocked all the sensitive affections of our
better part, we might excuse mankind, but the gospel is just this: man
is lost, but God becomes man to save him, "The Son of Man is come to
seek and to save that which was lost." Out of infinite love to his
enemies the Son of God took upon himself human flesh, that he might
suffer in the room and stead of men what they ought to have suffered.
The doctrine of substitution, while it wondrously magnifies the grace
of God and satisfies the justice of God, methinks ought to strike you
all with love because of the disinterested affection which it reveals
on Jesus Christ's part. O King of Glory, dost thou bleed for me? O
Prince of Life, canst thou lie shrouded in the grave for me? Doth God
stoop from his glory to be spat upon by sinful lips? Doth he stoop
from the splendor of heaven to be "despised and rejected of men," that
men may be saved? Why, it ought to win every human ear, it ought to
entrance every human heart. Was ever love like this? Go ye to your
poets, and see if they have ever imagined anything nobler than the
love of Christ the Son of God for the dying sons of men! Go to your
philosophers, and see if in all their maxims they have ever taught a
diviner philosophy than that of Christ's life, or ever have imagined
in their pictures of what men ought to be, an heroic love like that
which Christ in very deed displayed! We lift before you no gory banner
that might sicken your hearts; we bring before you no rattling chains
of a tyrant's domination; but we lift up Jesus crucified, and "Love"
is written on the banner that is waved in the forefront of our hosts;
we bid you yield to the gentle sway of love, and not to the tyranny of
terror. Alas! men must be bound, indeed, and fettered fast by an
accursed love to sin, or else the divine attractions of a crucified
Redeemer would win their hearts.
Consider, my friends, you who love the souls of your fellow men, how
marvellous it is that men should not receive the gospel when the
commandment of the gospel is not burdensome! Methinks if it had been
written that no man should enter heaven except by the way of
martyrdom, it had been wisdom for every one of us to give our bodies
to be burned, or to be stretched upon the rack; yea, if there had been
no path to escape from the wrath of God, but to be flayed alive with
Bartholomew, enduring present but exquisite torture, it would have
been but a cheap price for an escape from wrath, and an entrance into
heaven. But I find in God's word prescribed as the way of salvation,
no such physical agonies. No austerities are commanded; not even the
milder law which governed the Pharisee when he "fasted thrice in the
week." Only this is written—"Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and
thou shalt be saved;" and the precept of the Christian's life is,
"Love thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself." Most
pleasant duties these of love! What more sweet? What more delightful
than to permit the soul to flow out in streams of affection? The ways
of true religion are not irksome, her ways are pleasantness, and all
her paths are peace. What, heaven given for believing? What, heaven's
gate opened only for knocking, and boons all priceless bestowed for
nothing but the asking? Yet they will not ask, they will not knock.
Alas, my God, what creatures are men! Alas, O sin, what monsters hast
thou made mankind, that they will forget their own interests, and
wrong their own souls!
Further, it is clear that men must be fast held by the bondage of
their sins when we recollect that, according to the confession of the
most of them, the pleasures of sin are by no means great. I have heard
them say themselves that they have been satiated after a short season
of indulgence We know how true the word is, "Who hath woe? who hath
redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to
seek mixed wine." No form of sin has ever been discovered yet that has
yielded satisfaction. You shall look at those who have had all that
heart could wish, and have without restraint indulged their passions,
and you shall find them to be in their latter end amongst the most
wretched rather than the most satisfied of mankind. Yet for these
pleasures—I think I degrade the word when I call them pleasures—for
these pleasures they are willing to pawn their souls and risk
everlasting woe; and all this while, be it remembered, to add to the
wonder, there are pleasures to be found in godliness; they do not deny
this, they cannot without belying their own observation. We who are at
least as honest as they are, bear our testimony that we never knew
what true happiness was till we gave our hearts to Christ; but since
then our peace has been like a river. We have had our afflictions, we
have suffered grievous bodily pain, we have endured mental depression,
we have been heavily burdened, we have borne many trials; but we can
We would not change our blest
For all the world calls good or great.
"Happy are the people whose God is
the Lord!" We can set our seal to this experimentally. See ye then, my
brethren, these poor souls will prefer the pleasures that mock them to
the pleasures that alone can satisfy. If we had to die like dogs, it
would be worth while to be a Christian. If there were no hereafter,
and our only consideration were who should enjoy this life the best,
it would be the wisest thing to be a servant of God and a soldier of
the cross. I say not it would ensure our being rich, I say not it
would ensure our being respected, I say not it would ensure our
walking smoothly and free from outward trouble; but I do say that
because of "the secret something which sweetens all," because of the
profound serenity which true religion brings, the Christian life
out-masters every other, and there is none to be compared therewith.
But think ye for awhile what the ungodly man's life is! I can only
compare it to that famous diabolical invention of the Inquisition of
ancient times. They had as a fatal punishment for heretics, what they
called the "Virgin's Kiss." There stood in a long corridor the image
of the Virgin. She outstretched her arms to receive her heretic child;
she looked fair, and her dress was adorned with gold and tinsel, but
as soon as the poor victim came into her arms the machinery within
began to work, and the arms closed and pressed the wretch closer and
closer to her bosom, which was set with knives, and daggers, and
lancets, and razors, and everything that could cut and tear him, till
he was ground to pieces in the horrible embrace; and such is the
ungodly man's life. It standeth like a fair virgin, and with witching
smile it seems to say, "Come to my bosom, no place so warm and
blissful as this;" and then anon it begins to fold its arms of habit
about the sinner, and he sins again and again, brings misery into his
body, perhaps, if he fall into some form of sin, stings his soul,
makes his thoughts a case of knives to torture him, and grinds him to
powder beneath the force of his own iniquities. Men perceive this, and
dare not deny it; and yet into this virgin's bosom they still thrust
themselves, and reap the deep damnation that iniquity must everywhere
involve. Alas, alas, my God!
And now, once more, this terrible mystery, which is only solved by
men's being held by their sins, has this added to it, that all the
while in the case of most of you now present, all that I have said is
believed, and a great deal of it is felt. I mean this: if I were
talking with persons who did not believe they had a soul, or believe
in the judgment to come, or believe in the penalty of sin, or believe
in the reward of righteousness, I should see some reason why they
rejected the great salvation; but the most of you who attend this
house of prayer—I think I might say all—have scarcely ever had a doubt
about these things. You would be very much horrified if any one would
insinuate that you did not believe the Bible to be the word of God.
You have a little Pharisaism in your soul, that you think you are not
as scoffers are, nor infidels. I own you are not, but I grieve to say
I think you are more inconsistent than they. If these things be a
fiction, well, sirs, your course is rational; but if these things be
realities, what shall I say for you when I plead with God on your
behalf? What excuse can I make for you? If you profess to believe
these things, act as though you believe them; if you do not,
practically act so. Why do you profess to own them as the truth? The
case is worse, for you not only believe these thing's to be true, but
some of you have felt their power. You have gone home from this place,
and you could not help it, you have sought your chamber and bowed your
knee in prayer; such prayer as it was, for, alas! your goodness has
been like the morning cloud and the early dew. I know some of you who
have had to break off some of your sins, for your conscience would not
let you rest in them. Yet you are unbelievers still, still you are
undecided, still you are unsaved, and at this moment, if your soul
were required of you, nothing would be in prospect but a fearful
looking for of judgment and of fiery indignation. O my hearer, you
whose conscience has been at times awakened, in whom the arrows of the
great King have found a lodging place, in whom they are rankling
still, yield, I pray thee, yield to the divine thrusts, and give up
thy contrite spirit to thy Redeemer's hands. But if thou do not, what
shall I say to thee? The kingdom of God has been thrust from you by
yourselves. Be sure of this, it has come near you, and in coming near
it has involved solemn responsibilities which I pray you may not have
to feel the weight of in the world to come.
Here, then, stands the riddle, that man is so set against God and his
Christ that he never will accept eternal salvation until the Holy
Spirit, by a supernatural work, overcomes his will and turns the
current of his affections; and why is this? The answer lies in the
text, because his own iniquities have taken him, and he is holden with
the cords of his sin. For this reason he will not come unto Christ
that he may have life; for this reason he cannot come, except the
Father which hath sent Christ draw him.
II. But now, secondly, I pass on to observe that though this is the
solution of one mystery, IT IS IN ITSELF A GREATER MYSTERY.
It is a terrible mystery that man should be so great a fool, so mad a
creature as to be held by cords apparently so feeble as the cords of
his own sins. To be bound by reason is honorable; to be hold by
compulsion, if you cannot resist it, is at least not discreditable;
but to be held simply by sin, by sin and nothing else, is a bondage
which is disgraceful to the human name. It lowers man to the last
degree, to think that be should want no fetter to hold him but the
fetter of his own evil lusts and desires. Let us just think of one or
two cords, and you will see this.
One reason why men receive not Christ and are not saved, is because
they are hampered by the sin of forgetting God. Think of that for a
minute. Men forget God altogether. The commission of many a sin has
been prevented by the presence of a child. In the presence of a fellow
creature, ordinarily a man will feel himself under some degree of
restraint. Yet that eye which never sleeps, the eye of the eternal
God, exercises no restraint on the most of men. If there were a child
in that chamber thou wouldst respect it-but God being there thou canst
sin with impunity. If thy mother or thy father were there thou wouldst
not dare offend, but God who made thee and whose will can crush thee,
thy lawful sovereign, thou takest no more account of him than though
he were a dog, yea, not so much as that. Oh, strange thing that men
should thus act! And yet with many it is not because of the difficulty
of thinking of God. Men of study, for instance, if they are
considering the works of God, must be led up to thoughts of God. Galen
was converted from being an atheist while in the process of dissecting
the human body; he could not but see the finger of God in the nerves
and sinews, and all the rest of the wonderful embroidery of the human
frame. There is not an emmet or an infusorial animalcule beneath the
microscope but what as plainly as tongue can speak, saith, "Mortal,
think of God who made thee and me." Some men travel daily over scenes
that naturally suggest the Creator; they go down to the sea in ships,
and do business on great waters, where they must see the works of the
Lord, and yet they even manage to become the most boisterous
blasphemers against the sacred majesty of the Most High, in his very
temple where everything speaks of his glory. But you will tell me
perhaps, some of you, that you are not engaged in such pursuits. I
reply, I know it. Many of you have to labor with your hands for your
daily bread, in occupations requiring but little mental exercise. So
much the more guilty then are you that when your mind is not
necessarily taken up with other things, you still divert it from all
thoughts of God. The working man often find is it very possible to
spend his leisure hours in politics, and to amuse his working hours by
meditating upon schemes more or less rational concerning the
government of his country, and will he dare to tell me therefore that
he could not during that time think of God? There is an aversion to
God in your heart, my brother, or else it would not be that from
Monday morning to Saturday night you forget him altogether. Even when
sitting here you find it by no means a pleasant thing to be reminded
of your God, and yet if I brought up the recollection of your mother,
perhaps in heaven, the topic would not be displeasing to you. What owe
you to your mother compared with what you owe to your God? If I spoke
to you of some dear friend who has assisted you in times of distress,
you would be pleased that I had touched upon such a chord; and may I
not talk with you concerning your God, and ask you why do you forget
him? Have you good thoughts for all but the best? Have you kind
thoughts of gratitude for every friend but the best friend that man
can have? My God! my God! why do men treat thee thus? Brightest,
fairest, best, kindest, and most tender, and yet forgotten by the
objects of thy care!
If men were far away from God, and it were a topic abstruse and
altogether beyond reach, something might be said. But imagine a fish
that despised the ocean and yet lived in it, a man who should be
unconscious of the air he breathes! "In him we live and move and have
our being; we are also his offspring." He sends the frost, and he will
send the spring; he sends the seed-time and the harvest, and every
shower that drops with plenty comes from him, and every wind that
blows with health speeds forth from his mouth. Wherefore then is he to
be forgotten when everything reminds you of him? This is a sin, a
cruel sin, a cursed sin, a sin indeed that binds men hard and fast,
that they will not come to Christ that they may have life; but it is
strange, it is beyond all miracles a miracle, that such a folly as
this should hold men from coming to Christ.
Another sin binds all unregenerate hearts; it is the sin of not loving
the Christ of God. I am not about to charge any person here with such
sins as adultery, or theft, or blasphemy, but I will venture to say
that this is a sin masterly and gigantic, which towers as high as any
other—the sin of not loving the Christ of God. Think a minute. Here is
one who came into the world out of pure love, for no motive but mercy,
with nothing to gain, but though he was rich, yet for our sakes he
became poor; why then is he not loved? The other day there rode
through these streets a true hero, a brave bold man who set his
country free, and I do remember how I heard your shouts in yonder
street, and you thronged to look into the lion-like face of Italy's
liberator. I blame you not, I longed to do the same myself, he well
deserved your shouts and your loudest praises. But what had he done
compared with what the Christ of God has done in actually laying down
his life to redeem men from bondage, yielding up himself to the
accursed death of the cross that man might be saved through him? Where
are your acclamations, sirs, for this greater Hero? Where are the
laurels that you cast at his feet? Is it nothing to you, is it nothing
to you, all ye that pass by, is it nothing to you that Jesus should
die? Such a character, so inexpressibly lovely, and yet despised! Such
a salvation, so inexpressibly precious, and yet rejected! Oh, mystery
of iniquity! indeed, the depths of sin are almost as fathomless as the
depths of God, and the transgressions of the wicked all but as
infinite in infamy as God is infinite in love.
I might also speak of sins against the Holy Ghost that men commit, in
that they live and even die without reverential thoughts of him or
care about him; but I shall speak of one sin, and that is the mystery
that men should be held by the sin of neglecting their souls. You meet
with a person who neglects his body, you call him fool, if, knowing
that there is a disease, he will not seek a remedy. If, suffering,
from some fatal malady, he never attempts to find a cure, you think
the man is fit only for a lunatic asylum. But a person who neglects
his soul, be is but one of so numerous a class, that we overlook the
madness. Your body will soon die, it is but as it were the garment of
yourself and will be worn out; but you yourself are better than your
body as a man is better than the dress he wears. Why spend you then
all thoughts about this present life and give none to the life to
It has long been a mystery who was the man in the iron mask. We
believe that the mystery was solved some years ago, by the conjecture
that he was the twin brother of Louis XIV., King of France, who,
fearful lest he might have his throne disturbed by his twin brother,
whose features were extremely like his own, encased his face in a mask
of iron and shut him up in the Bastille for life. Your body and your
soul are twin brothers. Your body, as though it were jealous of your
soul, encases it as in an iron mask of spiritual ignorance, lest its
true lineaments, its immortal lineage should be discovered, and shuts
it up within the Bastille of sin, lest getting liberty and discovering
its royalty, it should win the mastery over the baser nature. But what
a wretch was that Louis XIV., to do such a thing to his own brother!
How brutal, how worse than the beasts that perish! But, sir, what art
thou if thou doest thus to thine own soul, merely that thy body may be
satisfied, and thy earthly nature may have a present gratification? O
sirs, be not so unkind, so cruel to yourselves. But yet this sin of
living for the mouth and living for the eye, this sin of living for
what ye shall eat and what ye shall drink, and wherewithal ye shall be
clothed, this sin of living by the clock within the narrow limits of
the time that ticks by the pendulum, this sin of living as if this
earth were all and there were nought beyond—this is the sin that holds
this City of London, and holds the world, and binds it like a martyr
to the stake to perish, unless it be set free.
Generally, however, there also lies some distinct form of actual sin
at the bottom of most men's impenitence. I will not attempt to make a
guess, my dear hearer, as to what it may be that keeps thee from
Christ, but without difficulty I could, I think, state what these sins
generally are. Some men would fain be saved, but they would not like
to tale up the cross and be despised as Christians. Some would fain
follow Christ, but they will not give up their self-righteous pride;
they want to have a part of the glory of salvation. Some men have a
temper, which they do not intend to try to restrain. Others have a
secret sin, too sweet for them to give it up; it is like a right arm,
and they cannot come to the cutting of it off. Some enjoy company
which is attractive, but destructive, and from that company they
cannot fly. Men one way or another are held fast like birds with
birdlime, till the fowler comes and takes them to their destruction. O
that they were wise, for then they might be awakened out of this
folly! But this still remaineth the mystery of mysteries, that those
sins absurd and deadly, bind men as with cords, and hold them fast
like a bull in a net.
THE CONCLUSION OF THE WHOLE MATTER IS THIS, a message sinner to thee,
and saint, to thee.
Sinner, to thee. Thou art held fast by thy sins, and I fear me much
thou wilt be held so till thou perish, perish everlastingly. Man, does
not this concern you? I lay last night by the hour together on my bed
awake, tossing with a burden on my heart, and I tell thee that only
burden that I had was thy soul. I cannot endure it, man, that thou
shouldst be cast into the "lake that burneth with fire and brimstone."
I believe that book as thou dost; believing it, I am alarmed at the
prospect which awaits the unconverted. The more I look into the
subject of the world to come, the more I am impressed that all those
who would lessen our ideas of the judgment that God will bring upon
the wicked, are waging war against God and against virtue and the best
interests of men. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the
living God." Do not try it, my friend, I pray thee do not try it. Run
not this risk, this certainty of endless misery, I beseech thee, dare
it not! What sayest thou, "What then should I do?" I venture to reply
in the words of one of old, "Break off thy sins by righteousness, for
it is time to seek the Lord." But thou repliest, "How can I break them
off? they are like cords and bonds." Ah, soul, here is another part of
thy misery, that thou hast destroyed thyself, but thou canst not save
thyself; thou hast woven the net, thou hast made it fast and firm, but
thou canst not tear it in pieces. Bat there is One who can, there is
One upon whom the Spirit of the Lord descended that he might loose the
prisoner. There is a heart that feels for thee in heaven, and there is
One mighty to save, who can rescue thee. Breathe that prayer, "O set
me free, thou Liberator of captive souls;" breathe the prayer now, and
believe that he can deliver thee, and thou shalt yet, captive as thou
art, go free, and this shall be thy ransom price, his precious blood;
and this shall be the privilege of thy ransomed life, to love and
praise him who hath redeemed thee from going down into the pit.
But I said the conclusion of the whole matter had something to do with
the child of God. It has this to do with him. Dear brother and sister
in Christ, by the love you bear to your fellow sinners, never help to
make the bonds of their sins stronger than they are—you will do so if
you are inconsistent. They will say, "Why, such a one professes to be
a saved man, and yet see how he lives!" Will you make excuses for
sinners? It was said of Judah, by the prophet, that she had become a
comfort to Sodom and Gomorrah. O never do this; never let the ungodly
have to say, "There is nothing in it; it is all a lie; it is all a
mere pretense; we may as well continue in sin, for see how these
Christians act!" No, brethren, they have bonds enough without your
tightening them or adding to them.
In the next place, never cease to warn sinners. Do not stand by and
see them die without lifting up a warning note. A house on fire, and
you see it as you go to your morning's labor, and yet never lift up
the cry of "Fire!" a man perishing, and yet no tears for him! Can it
be so? At the foot of Mr. Richard Knill's likeness I notice these
words, "Brethren, the heathen are perishing, will you let them
perish?" I would like to have each of you apply to your own conscience
the question, "Sinners are perishing, will you let them perish without
giving them at least, a warning of what the result of sin must be?" My
brethren, I earnestly entreat you who know the gospel to tell it out
to others. It is God's way of cutting the bonds which confine men's
souls; be instant, in season and out of season, in publishing the good
news of liberty to the captives through the redeeming Christ.
And lastly, as you and I cannot set these captives free, let us look
to him who can. O let our prayers go up and let our tears drop down
for sinners. Let it come to an agony, for I am persuaded we shall
never get much from God by way of conversion till we feel we must have
it, until our soul breaketh for the longing that it hath for the
salvation of souls: when your cry is like that of Rachel, "Give me
children or I die I" you shall not long be spiritually barren. When
you must have converts, or your heart will break, God will hear you
and send you an answer. The Lord bless you! May none of you be held by
the cords of your sins, but may ye be bound with cords to the horns of
God's altar as a happy and willing sacrifice to him that loved you.
The Lord bless you for Jesus' sake.