I know it’s not best as a writer to quote clichés. But clichés exist for a reason. This is especially true of the saying, ‘Those who play with fire often get burned.’
We can apply this proverb to many areas of life, especially in the area of sexual temptations.
TOO MUCH SELF-CONFIDENCE
I think most people, even the youth, do not actively seek out opportunities to commit grave sins sexually. Nonetheless, when openings arise, many are too weak willed to resist the enticement.
This can often be because they rely too heavily on their own strength. They think they can get dangerously close and yet escape unscathed.
The Bible warns us in several places not to count on our abilities to avoid sexual temptations. Take for instance Proverb 6:27: “Can a man hide fire in his bosom, and his garments not burn?”
Here Scripture rightly compares our fleshly desires to a burning fire within. Put in the wrong situations and this fire can burn out of control. And as they say, ‘Those who play with fire often get burned.’
WHICH IS MORE IMPORTANT: PHYSICAL SAFETY OR SPIRITUAL SAFETY?
Imagine you take a long drive across the country but your car breaks down along the way in the middle of the night.
You are now hundreds of miles away from your destination. You need to wait until morning for your vehicle to be repaired, before you can complete your journey.
Where would you stay? With whom would you visit?
If you were seeking a cab to take you to a hotel, I am confident you would not search for the cab in the slums. You know better than to put your physical safety in jeopardy by going it alone there.
We all have a natural inclination in us to preserve our well-being and to not put ourselves in harm’s way… physically.
Life here on earth is not our desired destination. It is merely a temporary layover until we reach our eternal destination. Why don’t we remain just as weary on the spiritual realm as we often are in the physical realm?
Yet when it comes to our spiritual health, we often walk close to the edge of the cliff. We do not remain cognizant of our surroundings and alert to perils nearby. In short, we just don’t value our spiritual well-being as much as we should.
This remains unfortunate, since in the grand scheme of eternity, this lifetime is but a blink of an eye. Our eternal salvation depends on what happens in our lifetime here on earth. Yet, too many times, we think we get a free pass to eternal happiness in the afterlife, if we even think about it at all.
We think we can keep lighting matches and nothing will happen. But sooner or later, it will backfire. ‘Those who play with fire…’
PRACTICAL BIBLICAL ADVICE TO TAKE TO HEART
The Bible gives this advice about avoiding the occasion of sin:
“Do not look intently at a virgin, lest you stumble and incur penalties for her.
Do not give yourself to harlots lest you lose your inheritance.
Do not look around in the streets of a city, nor wander about in its deserted sections.
Turn away your eyes from a shapely woman, and do not look intently at beauty belonging to another; many have been misled by a woman’s beauty, and by it passion is kindled like a fire.” ~ Sirach 9:5-8
We can apply this same advice today.
For many, the temptation to lust looms large. We need to know where the devil is likely to ensnare you and keep away. We would do well to follow the advice God gave us here in avoiding the opportunities to lust after others.
Otherwise, before we know it, we will be in bondage to this vice and almost defenseless against the onslaught of impure images and pornographic materials.
When it comes to temptations of the flesh, such as lust, the solution is to flee, every time.
“[H]e who is unwilling to fly from danger, wishes to perish in it,” laments St. Augustine in his commentary on Psalm 5.
Or, as we might say, those who play with fire, eventually do get burned… by the flames of hell.
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