God’s Harlots

Before we play the harlot with Idols, we play the harlot with God.

“For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness.” (Proverbs 7:6-9).

“Simple,” means lacking sense, unwise, foolish. An empty-headed man heads out in bad company down the path of temptation. Paul says in Ephesians 5:16 (KVJ) “redeem the time.” Spend your time profitably, renewing the mind, mending habits, progressing in sanctification, growing up to mature manhood. 

How valuable are self-discipline, self-control, constant Godly employment and positive pursuit of God? They are the preservatives of God’s blessing from sin and danger. Idleness and habit. Bad company and an empty mind. Courting sin and tempting the tempter. These are dangers that beset us on every side. 

Looking at unholy things will lead to touching unholy things which will lead to tasting unholy things which will lead to consuming unholy things and unchecked the unholy thing – the idol, lie or false comfort will consume you. It will eat away at your friendship with Jesus bite by bite until there is nothing left. 

Repent and believe. Open your eyes and look at your habits and rituals, your daily liturgies. Where are your affections? Where is your comfort? What are you filling up on? Grace? Or the offerings of the world like this young man did with the harlot? Are you walking in the counsel of the wicked? Are you Standing with sinners? Are you sitting with scoffers and mockers of God and His Law?  Is your head empty? Are you tempting temptation? Are you easily taken in by putting yourself in a position to be tempted?

“She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait. She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him, “I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you (Proverbs 7:11-15).” 

The young woman allures her victim with the garb of sanctity. She doesn’t play the harlot with man till she’s played the hypocrite with God. Sin comes closely on the heels of spiritual pride – all act without true belief. The offering the young woman mentions is the Peace-offering, in which, the majority is returned to the offeror, to feast upon with friends. 

This law of charity and generosity is abused as an opportunity for gluttony and excess. It was a pity that the peace-offerings should thus become, in a bad sense, sin-offerings, and that what was designed for the honor of God should become the food and fuel of a base lust. But this is certainly not the only example of this religious hypocrisy. The Israelites, after their miraculous deliverance made a golden calf and gathered around it to worship God in name only, using it as an opportunity to satiate their lusts. 

And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play,” (Exodus 32:6). The Apostle comments on this in 1 Corinthians 10:6–8 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. But we didn’t take the way offered us. We use the grace and feast of God’s blessing for sensual license and self-gratifying sin. We test Jesus. We grumble.  We need to take heed. God says eat and drink, but do it before Him, in His name, to His glory.  

Let us guard our hearts. As we celebrate before the Lord, as we learn to rejoice before Him, as we learn to suck the morrow out of the bones of blessing, let us at the same time be vigilant. We often do not know what spirit we are of and when we rise up to play, if it veers toward self-gratification, fornication, drunkenness, debauchery, etc., then let us remember the twenty-three thousand who fell. 

God calls us to celebrate before Him, but this is to be done in a spirit of Holiness, selflessness and generosity. Let us not use the liberty of God’s Grace as libertines or antinomians – who have no law, no ethical restraint – self-gratifying in every sensual way. 

Let us offer ourselves as sacrifices to the lord, let us heap our idols up here and rise up to play with the same holy, generous, loving spirit of our Lord Jesus and not like the harlot, tempting temptation and relishing licentiousness. 

Let us learn at our father’s table, what true feasting and festivity look like, so that rising up to play we don’t use the feast of God’s blessing as the harlot did, for her own pleasure, but us use the feast of God’s blessing for God’s glory. 

The harlot “seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him, (Proverbs 7:13) and “With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him,” (Proverbs 7:21). In this we see that temptation and sin are affectionate. Temptation and sin are patient and kind. Sin prepares for us, lures us in with decadence and excellence. We are deceived to think that sin is always tawdry, low and degraded. Egyptian cotton sheets, roasted lamb and scented candles sound pretty nice. Sin is hard to see as sin when it smells like mulled wine. Sin is rarely repulsive – it’s almost always pleasant in appearance. Think of Eve in Genesis 3:6,

“the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise.” The fruit that leads to death doesn’t sound so bad.  

The real deception of sin is that it offers real pleasure. It assaults us with kisses and flattering words. It isn’t always cruel and vile, but often is very affectionate. Eve grew in wisdom as she chewed the tasty fruit. The problem is that we are in an abusive relationship with sin. It draws us in with tenderness but always produces death. Its sugar-coated poison. When hemlock tastes like double dark chocolate, it’s hard to why it’s bad. When iniquity is so nice, how could it be bad?

 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy,” (Proverbs 27:6).

The kisses of an enemy are meant to appease the heart in order to hide the hurt that has or is to come. A villain must bring you into intimate fellowship before they can stab you in the heart. Like Judas in the garden, it was a kiss that Judas used to betray His friend Jesus, think of the affection over an extended period – the long toil of deceit necessary to stab Jesus in the back. 

Sin is rarely presented as raunchy and vile. It can be, but more often, especially once you’ve matured a little, raunchy and vile sin is easier to avoid. Sin, most often, deceives us with kisses. It softens our defenses through affection. We all have an ongoing relationship with sin and though it no longer enslaves us, it sure is reliable and willing to comfort us – anytime, anywhere. 

So many of us are not at war with sin, but an abusive relationship with it. It entices us with affection but leaves us with black eyes, shame, brokenness and confusion. But is so ready the next morning with a kind word, a tender look and promises to not hurt us again. And delivers real pleasure, so we forget for a time the real pain. Sin deceives us because the pleasure it offers isn’t illusionary – its real pleasure. But its fleeting. It’s temporary. It costs us so much on the backend. It’s the deal that is always too good to be true. Your abusive sin – what is it? Porn? The bottle? The needle, cigarette, frying pan, soda can or television? Is it your hand-held distraction? 

What sin has enticed you and lured you into an abusive relationship – a cycle of pleasure and pain? What promises you goodness but only delivers brokenness? What offers itself to you freely like the harlot in proverbs but is always a trap of death and shame? But there is another way. The way of the cross, the way of self-denial – not of pleasure but of fleeting pleasure – abusive pleasure, pleasure that draws near with a kiss to stab you in the back.

Moses knew the way, “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” (Hebrews 11:24–26). But one greater than Moses is here, and He is the way, the truth and the life and at His right hand is pleasure forevermore. The greater prophet Jesus who chose the way of the cross for the Joy set before Him. 

Ours is not a faith of don’t taste, don’t touch, don’t look. It’s a faith in which our chief end is glorifying God by enjoying Him – forever. In the wind and work and food and drink and embrace of loved ones. In fellowship and praise. In confession and restoration. 

Let us enter the way – the narrow gate – let us enter our Father’s presence and taste and see that God is good. Overflowing with yes and amen. Sin, in the beginning was a tree of no in a vast garden of yes. And it is still so. 

“With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life. And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death,” (Proverbs 7:21–27). 

We come now to the end of the matter. The simple empty-headed man, like so many of us, has tempted temptation. Sin was all too ready and welcoming. The woman has allured him with a pietistic religious façade – offering the sacrifices of God as self-gratifying sin offerings of iniquity.

Like Judas, the woman has drawn near to the man through affectionate lies and though pleasure was found for a time, the lasting fruit is death and destruction. The young man is hunted. Sin has hunted him down. It has laid a trap for him. Like a sparrow or ox or deer – the empty-headed young man has been lured, and at times – all too willingly. Sin, like a skilled bowman or trapper or rancher – remember ranchers are the most patient and affectionate of hunters – always affectionate, methodical and forbearing hunters. This is what Satan is like. He is a prowling lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Sin is a smooth operator. The skilled hunter, crouching at our door seeking to rule over us (Genesis 4:7).  The lady leads the empty-headed young man down the path of death. Sin hunts us with fine speech and delectable pleasures – promises of delight and but in the end it’s the path of death – her only fruit is a pile of dead bodies – a rotting heap. 

We are prey for sin, Satan and death and sadly, all too often, oh so willingly Don’t be like the empty-headed fool, fill your mind with the truth. You need a rescuer. A defender. A friend and confidant to keep you on the true path. You need a protector and redeemer. Someone who will defend you, keep you from the prowling lion – everyday – who will guard and keep you. He had better be strong – the strongest – he better be good – the goodest. We need another path, another way around the sin, through the traps, out of the eventual grave of sin we’ve so justly earned. 

His name is Jesus. The lion of Judah, the friend of sinners, the beloved son of God, the pure lamb, the victor, the mediator – the God man. Put yourself in the way of sin and you will fall. Go unguarded for one minute and you will be hunted down like a dog. Let sin lure you in, let affection grow between you and sin, cover your idols with pietistic religious hypocrisy and they will drive the knife into your heart with a kiss. We are here to seek another way – to seek the way, the truth and the life. His power, goodness, righteousness and grace. Open before you is the peace of God, the feast of heaven, the living water, the Hightower and fortress of God – Jesus Christ. Our defender and redeemer. So open the gates of your heart to let Him in. 

Author: Michael Kloss

There is a Sunday conscience, as well as a Sunday coat; and those who make religion a secondary concern put the coat and conscience carefully by to put on only once a week. - Charles Dickens

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