Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?
Casual sex will burn you. There is no protection against it. Marriage makes sexual pleasure honorable, but God will judge adulterers and fornicators (Heb 13:4). But before God judges you, those that know you, and your own soul, will punish you as well.
You know the answer to this proverb’s question. It is an emphatic, No! A man cannot take fire close to his body and keep his clothes safe. Fire that close will not only singe his clothes, it will burn them badly. And it is just as true that a man playing around sexually with another man’s wife will burn his life. There is nothing casual about sexual sin.
Solomon warned his son about the danger of the strange woman – a whorish woman or adulteress (Pr 6:23-35). He wanted his son to know that adultery would bring severe consequences, much the same as embracing fire will certainly burn a man’s clothes. The sin of adultery will burn your life as surely as fire in your bosom will burn your clothing.
How does adultery burn a man? The main point in the warning here is the adulterer’s reputation – he will not be innocent, because this sin cannot easily be forgiven or overlooked (Pr 6:29). Men do not despise a thief, if he steals due to hunger – his crime is understandable, even though he will be punished (Pr 6:30-31). But men do not understand or accept an outsider stealing personal intimacy with their wives (Pr 6:32-35).
The proverb asks a simple question: you know the obvious answer. A rhetorical question is a powerful tool of persuasive reasoning. You have no doubt as you visualize a man embracing fire in his bosom – his clothes will surely be burned! The image is to be transferred to adultery – the man holding another man’s wife will be burned just as surely. He will suffer severe and sure consequences for violating another man’s marriage.
You know the answer to the proverb, and you know its application. But many lie about this obvious lesson! Hollywood sells movies by appealing to sexual lusts and fantasies, so they never show the consequences of adultery; instead they work it into most every movie they produce. They want you to believe that fire will not burn your clothes. They are greedy liars directed by the devil to satisfy sinful lusts to fill their covetous purses.
Some psychologists say an affair can enhance marriage. The music industry by lifestyle and lyrics suggest it as the only exciting love. Soap operas would not exist without it. Romance novels create lustful fantasies for it. Nightclubs make a place to get it started. Euphemisms like “having an affair,” “having a lover,” or “playing around” hide its consequences. They lie! Adultery will hurt you as surely as fire will burn clothes. Run!
The greatest liar about adultery is inside you – your sinful heart inherited from Adam. If you give it the least freedom, your heart will tell you that you can get away with adultery and that the pleasure is worth it. Do you know your heart is this wicked (Jer 17:9)? If you do, you are partially protected. If you do not, you need to learn it. Then you need to reject every man or input that suggests or teaches that adultery is safe. It is not safe (Heb 13:4).
If you have committed adultery, you already know this proverb is true, unless God has turned you over to a reprobate mind and shut down your conscience (Rom 1:18-32; Eph 4:17-19). If you know you are guilty, and if you know you have sinned, God can easily forgive you through the Lord Jesus Christ. Never forget that He came into this world for sinners, and forgiven prostitutes were some of His followers (I Tim 1:15; Matt 21:31).
If guilt is crushing you, remember repenting adulterers and adulteresses in the Bible. God forgave David and used him mightily after adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband. The Lord Jesus accepted harlots into His kingdom, chose the adulteress of Sychar for the gospel in that city, forgave the woman taken in adultery by the Pharisees, and appeared first to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection. How could He be merciful to a sin God hates? Because He took the sin of adultery on Himself on the cross of Calvary. It will never again burn those who are found in Him (Is 54:4-12; I Cor 6:9-11).