Lesson 3

A Matter of Life and Death

(Proverbs 6 & 7)
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Introduction: This morning I was reading an article about an atheists' rally. At the rally, they were making fun of Jesus and comparing the atheist rights movement with the homosexual rights movement. The writer of the article pointed out that homosexual rallies do not make fun of heterosexual marriage. Why would atheists make fun of Christians? I've noticed that some former members of my church do not just leave, they attack the church and make fun of it. Why is that? I think it has to do with one of the points of our lesson: our religious instruction as a child stays with us. Those who leave the path of their instruction feel guilty, and so they have to make fun of their former beliefs to help "get over" them. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and see what new things we can discover about religious training!

  1. Neck Commands


    1. Read Proverbs 6:20-21 and Proverbs 7:3. What do you think it means for you to "fasten ... around your neck" and "bind ... on your fingers" the teachings of your parents?


    2. Read Deuteronomy 6:6-9 and Proverbs 3:3. Let's take stock. We are told to keep right teaching in our heart, around our neck, tied to our hands (fingers) and foreheads and on our doors and gates. That is a lot of places. Do you see a pattern here? (The neck is the entry way to the body, and gates and doors are the entry way to your home. Your heart and forehead are symbols of what you think and your hands a symbol of what you do. I think the message is that what we allow in our homes and our minds, and what we think and do should all be run through the filter of God's word.)


      1. What is the lesson if you are a parent trying to figure out how to raise your children? (We need to talk about God's will at every opportunity with our children. But, we need to be especially careful about the "entry points" of their learning.)


      2. Have you ever had to compare two documents to see if they were different? Would that idea apply here? (I think that is one lesson here. You compare what you think and do, what you let in your home and your body, with what is written in God's word and taught to you by your parents. If you are not constantly comparing, it is easy to get off track.)


      3. Imagine if you had such an upbringing and you were an atheist? (It would be constant turmoil.)


    3. Read Proverbs 6:22-23. How will our parents' instruction, if we are willing, help us? (They protect us all the time by illuminating the path of life.)


      1. That sounds like a romantic phrase, "illuminating the path of life." What does it mean, as a practical matter? (How many times do we fail to think things through? How many times do we miss critical facts? Our decisions determine the quality of our life, and the Proverbs tell us that what our parents taught us about God's word will help us to make fully informed decisions.)


  2. Life as Bread


    1. Read Proverbs 6:23-24. We now have an illustration of how childhood teaching (and discipline) can help us. What does a "smooth tongue" suggest? (Easy to listen to her.)


    2. Read Proverbs 6:25. What else is a problem? (Her beauty, your lust.)


    3. Read Proverbs 6:26. Bread is good! What is the problem with being a loaf of bread? (My version of the NIV says, "the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread." You are consumable, you get eaten.)


      1. What do you think this means - comparing you to a loaf of bread? (Let's consider a couple of possibilities. First, immorality will consume you. It takes a lot away from you. Second, you are just being used. You meet a need for the time being, but after you are "consumed" the other person moves on.)


    4. Read Proverbs 6:27-28. Would anyone think he could put fire in his lap and not be burned? (People who have affairs think they will be able to keep it private. It is a fun little secret. The Proverbs teach us that idea is silly. It will be discovered and you will get burned.)


    5. Read Proverbs 6:30-35. These verses draw a parallel between stealing to eat and stealing "love." How do people react to these two different sins? (People understand why a person would steal to eat, but they do not understand adultery. If you steal food, there is a set penalty. If you steal a spouse, you open yourself to unlimited damages.)


    6. Let's take a moment for a reality check here. Compare Deuteronomy 17:17 with 1 Kings 11:3-4. Is this the height of hypocrisy: a guy with 1,000 women to sleep with lectures those of us with one spouse to keep our eyes, minds and hands off anyone other than our one spouse? (We obviously have a substantial gap between our teacher's instruction and his performance. However, 1 Kings tells us that Solomon was led astray by his wives. Solomon knows what he is talking about.)


      1. Read Matthew 23:2-3 and Matthew 7:15-18. How do you reconcile these two ideas? (I've often joked that hypocrisy is underrated. There are evil people who do evil things - you should avoid their teaching. At the same time, there are people whose lives do not match their teaching, but they are teaching the right thing. Solomon is giving us the right advice.)


  3. The Analogy


    1. Read Proverbs 7:10-14. Why would this woman mention "fellowship offerings?" (It suggests a veneer of religious practice. This is okay because we are religious.)


    2. Read Proverbs 7:18-20. In our introduction we discussed religious training. Now we've been mired in adultery and prostitution for many verses. Is our 1,000 women King Solomon really spending this much space on the issue of marital unfaithfulness?


      1. Look at these verses carefully, what argument is this woman making? (This will be fun and I can prove that it will not be dangerous.)


    3. Read Proverbs 7:22-23. Does sex outside of marriage do liver damage? Is it really like committing suicide? (I think Solomon is talking about a bigger picture. He tells us that sin and false belief have real appeal. There is a pseudo logic, pseudo spirituality, and a promise of joy. But, it all leads to a painful death.)


    4. Read Zechariah 5:6-8. To what is the iniquity of the people compared? (A woman.)


    5. Read Zechariah 5:9-11. Why would you build a house for a basket? (This is obviously symbolic. The woman represents evil, and Babylon will be the host, the dwelling place, for evil.)


    6. Read Proverbs 7:24-27. When you consider Zechariah, do you think these verses are addressing the issue of sex sin? ("A mighty throng" does not seem to fit our original story of a youth walking by the house of a prostitute (Proverbs 7:7-8). Instead, this sounds like sin in general.)


      1. These verses start out with "pay attention" and end up saying this leads to death. Why would you have to urge someone to pay attention to something that would kill them?


      2. How quick is death from sin? (Apparently not quick enough to automatically warrant attention. My son is a physician, and he says that when he is giving medical advice to those who have cancer they pay close attention and do what he recommends. On the other hand, those who have metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar leading to diabetes), pay no attention and rarely do what he suggests. Both lead to death, and diabetes can mean a painful death. Why the difference? (Those with cancer think they face death now, those with metabolic syndrom think they have a lot of time.)


      3. We started out talking about instruction to our children. Is this part of the problem - that we are talking how sin causes death, and they are thinking "I'm not dying anytime soon?"


        1. If I'm right, what we should be teaching our children? (We should still talk about the ultimate result of sin, but I think it is better to focus on the more immediate negative result of sin.)


      4. Step back a moment. One of my complaints about my youth was the focus on sin rather than grace. Have I (we) just fallen into the failure of the prior generation? (I believe both messages are appropriate for our children: grace and judgment for those who refuse grace.)


    7. Friend, will you take temptation in your life seriously? Will you take the religious instruction of your children seriously? These are life and death matters!


  4. Next week: Divine Wisdom.

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