Satan is a clever foe, and one of his greatest strategies is to make sin seem right and desirable. We see this all the way back in Eden, where he denied the prospect of death for eating the forbidden fruit and instead set the fruit forth as the means of becoming like the Lord (Gen. 3:1–5). Furthermore, we see the attractiveness of sin even in our own experience. Rarely do we encounter a temptation and say something like, “This is really going to hurt, but I’m going to do it anyway.” Instead, we give in to temptation because it promises pleasure. We believe the lie that the sinful behavior in question really is not all that bad—and, in any case, no one will find out about it.
The adulteress of Proverbs 7 sets the prospect of sinning in secret before the young man, using smooth and deceitful words to entice him to lie with her. She makes sin seem as attractive as possible, a delight to the senses and an act that her husband will never hear about (vv. 14–20). Sin hides its ugliness and destructive power behind a facade of beauty, and while this is true of all transgression, it is particularly true of sexual sin. Illicit sexual encounters, pornography, and so forth come to us—at least initially—not as things that bring death and destruction but as good and beautiful things.
It is all a meticulously crafted lie, as today’s passage emphasizes. The foolish young man who heeds the call of the adulteress will find nothing but destruction in her arms. He will stumble into her trap as an unsuspecting animal is captured by the slaughterhouse or the hunter’s snare (vv. 21–23). Only those who are prepared beforehand and know her wily ways can hope to escape. The father in this passage is warning the son now, before it is too late. The son cannot hope to resist her if he starts down the path to her house, for she has been an instrument of death to the souls of a veritable army (vv. 24–26).
Death comes to all who give in to an adulterous woman or a man who is an adulterer (v. 27). Adultery and sexual immorality leave disease and destroyed families in their wake. Even worse, as Jesus teaches us, they will bring those who engage in them impenitently straight into hell (Matt. 5:27–30). Such sins—indeed all sin—must be avoided at all costs, and the way we do that is to be alert lest we allow a temptation to blossom into fuller evil. Matthew Henry comments, “The flames of lust, if not quenched by repentance and mortification, will burn to the lowest hell. Therefore stand in awe and sin not.”