The Enticement of Sinners
“My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent” (v. 10).- Proverbs 1:10-19
One of the most satisfying parts of any story is the point at which the villain gets what is coming to him. Master storytellers take their time building up an antagonist’s misdeeds until, at the climax of the story, the enemy finally receives his comeuppance. This is so satisfying that if the story is being told on the movie screen, one will probably hear cheers and applause from the audience when the hero defeats his foe.
The satisfaction that people feel when an evil person suffers the consequences of his action points to a universal moral framework that all people from every culture share. Even though this moral framework is not reflected perfectly in the laws of society, there nevertheless remains an assumption that people should suffer the consequences of their actions. This points us finally to a transcendent Lawgiver who has created a universe that reflects His own moral character, a character that will not be satisfied until justice is done.
Not every passage in the book of Proverbs reveals the existence of this transcendent Lawgiver—God Himself—but its teaching on the moral order of creation wherein, generally speaking, people reap what they sow, assumes that He is there. The Lord, who is the model of order, has established a universe in which people experience recompense in this life, at least in part. We see this in today’s passage. Proverbs 1:10–16 is a warning from a father to his son not to let wicked people entice him into shedding blood or thievery, not to allow them to fool him into thinking he should do such things. Although violence and theft are specifically mentioned, we can apply this warning more broadly to all manner of sin. We see this in v. 19, for it tells us that the fate that awaits those who commit violence and steal also awaits all those who pursue unjust gain, which can encompass the use of false weights and measures, exploitation of the weak to better one’s life, and so on (see Lev. 19:35–36; Deut. 24:14–15). The warning is meant to be applied beyond the specific crimes mentioned. It is a caution not to fall to the temptation to wrongdoing.
Why should we avoid the enticement of sinners? Because in thinking that we are gaining life by taking the lives of others, whether literally or metaphorically, we are actually taking away our own lives (v. 19). The ambush that we think we are setting for someone else is an ambush that will trap us instead (v. 18). We cannot sin and get away with it, for we will reap what we sow, often in this life but—if we do not repent—certainly in the next (Gal. 6:7–8).
Proverbs 1:17 shows us that following after sin is foolish by comparing those who follow evildoers to fowlers trying to trap a bird. Ancient fowlers would sneak up behind birds on the ground and throw a net over them; they would never throw it while the birds were looking or flying, for the birds would see it and escape. Similarly, if we think we will catch a true prize by sinning, we are foolish. We might get some kind of temporary satisfaction, but lasting satisfaction will finally escape us.
Passages for Further Study
2 Peter 2
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