Upsetting the Enticement of Evil (Proverbs 1:10)
My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. —Proverbs 1:10
It does no good to pretend it’s not true. Evil really is enticing. It really does appeal to our desires at times, which is why we need proverbs like this.
Why Does Evil Entice Us?
Everybody wants to be happy. It’s not wrong. God made us that way. That’s why Jesus can appeal to our happiness in the Sermon on the Mount and be totally righteous: “Blessed [happy] are the poor in spirit . . . Blessed are those who mourn . . . Blessed are those who are persecuted . . . Give . . . pray . . . fast in secret, and your Father . . . will reward you” (Matthew 5-6).
The effect of following Jesus is happiness of the greatest kind. That’s what he’s getting at in this sermon. But it’s not immediate or easy. It requires enduring persecution and giving things up in this present life. In the end, however, the price is overwhelmingly outweighed by the product: infinite joy forever in his presence is not worth comparing to the meager things we have to forego to get there.
Evil entices us by offering happiness, too. But the happiness it offers is of a much shorter duration and lower grade, and the ultimate cost for getting it—eternal judgment—far outweighs the return. It still entices us, though, because it offers this happiness immediately and with little friction. It’s not hard to get pleasure out of evil. And tempters, like “good” salesmen, usually do a very good job of masking over the problems you’ll have with their product.
So evil can be very easily and very genuinely enticing.
How Do Proverbs Like This Help?
Proverbs like 1:10 help us by reminding us not to buy what sin is selling. They help to “slap us out of it” when we’re tired of waiting and want to take a little dip into some of sin’s immediate pleasures. It’s easy to forget the risk, so the author reminds us not to follow. Just a few verses later he spells out why: following sinners leads to death (Proverbs 1:19).
So sin promises gain but in the end leads to great loss. You keep none of what you gain, and you lose so much more. Sinful happiness seems easy, but it’s cheap, unloving of others (see v. 11), and short-lived. It’s stupid. But thank God for his words of wisdom that help us all-too-easily-tempted sheep avoid the deceit of sin and, instead, wait patiently and righteously for his much greater reward.