Addictive Sins

Addictive Sins

Text: Proverbs 23:24-35


Make Your Parents Happy

(Proverbs 23:24-25)

            A father is made happy by a son who is righteous and makes wise decisions. Thus, children should strive to make their parents happy in this way.

            As we have seen before this type of exhortation precedes a section that is particularly important to pay attention to.

Sex

(Proverbs 23:26-28)

            God, through Solomon, wants the reader to give his heart to Him; that is to turn over his innermost being, his seat of emotions. When your heart is focused on something, your eyes follow along.

            Unfortunately, many young people, especially young men, focus on sexual images. Once again Solomon warns that promiscuous sex is like a deep pit or a narrow well – it is an easy trap to fall into and very hard to get out of (Proverbs 22:14; Ecclesiastes 7:26). One reason is that young men see themselves as the hunter in sexual encounters and never notice that same drive makes them easy prey (Proverbs 6:26). Here the seductress is described as an unseen robber (Proverbs 7:12). Thus, it is important not to wander from the true path or you will become a target.

            Two types of women are described: the prostitute who uses sex to gain money or advantages and the adulteress who uses sex to please herself. Whether it is fornication or adultery, both are outside of the marriage covenant. Whether a person engages in fornication or adultery, the long term effect is marriage is destabilized.

            Previous proverbs on this same topic are Proverbs 2:16-19; 5:1-20; 6:20-35; 7:1-27; 9:13-18; 22:14.

For discussion:

  1. Why are there so many warnings in Proverbs regarding sexually immoral women?
  2. What can be done to avoid the trap of the seductress? (Hint: Proverbs 23:26.)

Alcohol

(Proverbs 23:29-35)

            This section contains a very detailed description of effects of alcohol. It starts off with a list of rhetorical questions that are essentially a riddle.

  • It causes woes and sorrows. Alcohol is a depressive; yet, oddly people often use alcohol when they are feeling sad because it numbs their feelings for a while. However, at the same time it increases their feelings of sadness, making the person wanting to drink more.
  • It causes strife and anger. There is a lack of restraint while under the influence of alcohol. Matters that should have been overlooked because they really don’t matter instead flame a passionate outburst.
  • It loosens tongues and causes the drinker to babble complaints. It is another effect of removing self-control.
  • It affects the memory. One can get hurt and not feel it nor remember were the injuries came from the next day.
  • The redness in the eyes is due to the breaking of capillaries. Alcohol dissolves fats and removes water, weakening the blood vessels and damaging the nerves.

Notice that the first two questions deal with a person’s inner emotions. The next two deal with his relationship with other people. And the last two questions address his physical condition.

The answer to each question is the same: people who spend long hours drinking alcohol (using alcohol for recreation) and those who sample wine mixed with drugs (Isaiah 5:22). Since alcohol dissolves chemicals, it was often used to extra intoxicants from various herbs. Thus, while alcohol is the primary focus of this passage, it also applies to recreational drug use.

The warning is not to get distracted by how pretty wine might look or taste. This is a focus on the short-term pleasures of drinking. Rather, we need to think about its longer term effects. The writer of this passage likens it to two types of poisons.

  • The bite of the serpent affects a person's circulatory system, widening capillaries near the skin while constricting blood flow to vital organs. It might feel like it is warming you, but it is actually cooling your core temperature.
  • The bite of the adder affects the nervous system causing hallucinations, reducing reaction time, throwing off balance, and in extreme cases stopping the heart or other vital organs. Alcohol dissolves the fatty layer of insulation around the nerves causing signals to go to the wrong places. This is why drunks stagger (Isaiah 28:7-8).

The numbing effects of alcohol causes the drinker to think he is tougher than he really is. He takes punches and doesn’t feel the full effect through his misfiring nerves.

But the saddest aspect of drinking alcohol is that when it wears off, the drinker thinks foremost about getting another drink to numb the pains in his body caused by the alcohol he was drinking and the fights that he got into. Like all addictive drugs, it creates an endless cycle of “needs” that are never satisfied (Isaiah 5:11-12).

For discussion:

  1. Read Hosea 4:11. Why are warnings about sex and alcohol placed together?
  2. Why is comparing alcohol to snake venom particularly appropriate? Who is generally associated with snakes?