We're living in an "anything goes" culture — one that encourages people to create and foster their own baseline of morality. While self-restraint and biblical values once took center stage, the current situation looks radically different.
There's a deeper focus on the self today, with the notion of self-control — defined as "restraint exercised over one's own impulses, emotions, or desires" — taking a less prevalent place.
Listen to today's devotional podcast about how we can live a moral life amid a confused culture:
But while culture incubates an arena in which we each seek our own individual whims, the Bible calls us to look to God's moral guidelines as the basis of our lives and existence.
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There are some powerful lessons we can take away from Proverbs 5. This chapter speaks specifically about the issue of adultery, warning against its impact on the human heart and soul.
But there's a broader lesson in the text about the true power of self-discipline. Proverbs 5:21-23 (NIV) makes it clear that a lack of discipline will result in potential problems:
"For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths. The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly."
The overall message of the text centers on avoiding adultery. But the broader lessons within can help us also think through our culture's general refusal to seek God's will — and the pitfalls in our lives that can come from doing things our way and not His.
Proverbs 5:11-14 (NIV) speaks of the regret one experiences when he or she ignores Solomon's warnings about adultery:
"At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, 'How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or turn my ear to my instructors. And I was soon in serious trouble in the assembly of God’s people.'"
The message about discipline is powerful. If we seek our own morals and our own path forward, it's clear we're avoiding the standards, correction and discipline God has set in motion.
Culture tells us to live as we see fit, but Proverbs 5:21 tells us that our "ways are in full view of the Lord." He sees the decisions we make and the choices we embrace.
And in the end, His standards truly matter, but if we're struggling to meet or understand those standards, we can ask for His help and guidance. There's true power in that hope.
I'll leave you with the last two verses in Proverbs 5 (verses 22-23), which offer us some food for thought:
"The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly."
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