Roadblocks on the Way to Adultery


The sin of adultery is explicitly condemned in Scripture. It was prohibited in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:14) which God gave as a foundation for the rest of the laws given to the nation of Israel. In the New Testament, Paul listed adulterers as those who “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9). The Hebrew writer said that adulterers will be judged by God (Hebrews 13:4). In fact, Jesus gave fornication (which is adultery when committed by a married person) as the only cause that gave one divine permission to put away his spouse (Matthew 19:9).

Not only does God specifically condemn adultery, but society generally looks down upon it as well. The wise man said, “Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is hungry; but when he is found, he must repay sevenfold; he must give all the substance of his house. The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense; he who would destroy himself does it. Wounds and disgrace he will find, and his reproach will not be blotted out. For jealousy enrages a man, and he will not spare in the day of vengeance” (Proverbs 6:30-34). This passage does not justify stealing while condemning adultery – both were condemned (Exodus 20:14-15). But the wise man’s point was that man tends to be sympathetic toward one who steals solely out of hunger. For the adulterer, there is no excuse in the eyes of man – particularly with the husband of the wife who participated in the affair. Instead, the adulterer becomes a target for wounds, disgrace, and vengeance.

Despite the fact that there are many deterrents to adultery, this sin remains prevalent. Why is that? I believe we can begin to see why as we examine the warnings about the adulteress (Proverbs 7). As she was described in that chapter, we read of her doing everything she could to remove the roadblocks that stood between a man and the sin of adultery. She wanted to portray the sin as not only pleasurable, but also convenient and without consequence. Let us notice some of the roadblocks – those things which help deter us from committing adultery – and see how the adulteress strives to take those roadblocks out of the way.

  • Pure thoughts are a roadblock to adultery – The adulteress tries to remove this roadblock by being “dressed as a harlot” (Proverbs 7:10). Her clothing (or lack thereof) incites lust. A woman should dress in such a way that she is “making a claim to (professing, KJV) godliness” (1 Timothy 2:10). Rather than godliness, the woman dressed as a harlot is professing lasciviousness and promiscuity.
  • Apprehension of approaching such a woman is a roadblock to adultery – The adulteress tries to remove this roadblock by initiating the affair. She “comes to meet him” and “seizes him and kisses him” (Proverbs 7:10, 13).
  • Avoiding worldly women is a roadblock to adultery – The adulteress tries to remove this roadblock by presenting herself as having at least some interest in serving God: “I was due to offer peace offerings; today I have paid my vows” (Proverbs 7:14). It might be tempting to let our guard down when we are around other Christians, but we must not. Christians can get caught up in sexual immorality just as the world does (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:1).
  • Fear of rejection can be a roadblock to something as innocent as a young man asking a young woman out on a date. It can also be a roadblock to a man who might be tempted to commit adultery with a woman. The adulteress tries to remove this roadblock by making the man feel wanted: “I have come out to meet you, to seek your presence earnestly, and I have found you” (Proverbs 7:15).
  • Not having an appropriate and private location in which to engage in the sex act can be a roadblock to adultery – The adulteress tries to remove this roadblock by preparing the place for them to go: “I have spread my couch with coverings, with colored linens of Egypt. I have sprinkled my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon” (Proverbs 7:16-17).
  • Having to deal with any lingering emotional attachment can be a roadblock to adultery – The adulteress tries to remove this roadblock by promising one night of pleasure without any lasting commitment or attachment: “Come, let us drink our fill of love until morning; let us delight ourselves with caresses” (Proverbs 7:18). If she can convince him it is just for one night, she might be able to get him to ignore the consequences.
  • The fear of being caught by a jealous husband can be a roadblock to adultery – The adulteress tries to remove this roadblock by convincing the man that there is no way for her husband to find out: “For my husband is not at home, he has gone on a long journey; he has taken a bag of money with him, at the full moon he will come home” (Proverbs 7:19-20).

The more roadblocks the adulteress can remove, the more likely adultery is to occur. We must always be on our guard because the temptations made by this woman can come at any time. The wise man said, “She is now in the streets, now in the squares, and lurks by every corner” (Proverbs 7:12).

Sometimes we can avoid temptation (by not passing by her house – Proverbs 7:8). Sometimes we cannot (she lurks by every corner – Proverbs 7:12). Regardless, we must be alert and strong for whenever temptation might occur. Rather than flirt with sin and get as close to the line as possible, we must stay as far away as we can. The wise man said the one who is tempted falls “suddenly” (Proverbs 7:22). He resists for a time, then in an instant he gives in to the temptation. It does not matter if you are a religious and moral individual – you are still a target (Proverbs 9:15) and you most certainly can fall (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:12). Be aware of the dangers and overcome the temptation to sin. The wise man offered a sober warning: “Many are the victims she has cast down” (Proverbs 7:26).

Despite all that the adulteress might do to make the sin convenient and seemingly without consequence, there is one very important roadblock she cannot remove – your accountability before God. She might try to distract you or get you to ignore this, but never forget this fact: “There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13).

Joseph remembered this. As Potiphar’s wife tempted him and tried to seduce him, Joseph said, “How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). It did not matter that the sin might be pleasurable. It did not matter that the sin was convenient. And it did not matter that no one would find out. God would know. That was enough of a reason for this young man to resist temptation. It should be enough for us as well.

No matter how many roadblocks to adultery the adulteress removes, God’s promise remains: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). There is no excuse and no good reason for committing adultery. Let us never allow ourselves to be led into this sin. Instead, let us find the way of escape that God has promised will be there, no matter what the situation.

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