"Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, do not stray into her paths"
This chapter of Proverbs contains 27 verses and they are all pointing to this verse. The command is in this verse. All the rest of the verses are designed to help you realize that you must do what is in this verse. This is the verse that will produce understanding if you do it. There are two separate commands which are crucial to turning back the destructive urges of lust.
do not let your heart turn aside to her ways
The heart is your mind, will, and emotions. Essentially what Solomon is warning about is that if your mind begins to think about all that this woman can do and what she is like – especially in intimate encounters – then you are finished.
You must think about other things. As the Apostle Paul said, you must think about positive, righteous, good, and lovely things. We all have control over our thoughts. Most of us do not exercise control over them, but we can stop thinking about one thing and start thinking about another thing anytime we want. It is when we let our mind graze on whatever it wants that we can get in trouble. The advertising culture that we live in today believes that most people will not exercise any mental discipline. They believe that people will let their mind go wherever the advertisers take it. The wise person does not do this. They realize that there are mental pathways that are destructive to a full and enjoyable life, even though they seem delicious at the moment.
Gather up a list of positive things that can be thought about when the wrong images are presented to your mind: great family trips; wonderful times with your spouse; enjoyable times with friends; great victories; hobbies; vacations; special times of learning and growth; accomplishments yet future, etc.
I believe that this same principle would apply to any temptation of a fleshly nature. This would include overspending, envy, slothfulness, anger, greed, bitterness. One cannot allow one’s mind to become occupied with the living out of sin. If you indulge in your mind, then you are moving toward engaging in the actions. Sin is crouching at your doorstep, ready to pounce.
It is not that God does not want you to have a good time or enjoy life. He just knows that the temptations to move outside of His moral boundaries are enticing but will not satisfy. Life in its fullness does not exist down that road. In fact, that road is a dead end.
do not stray into her paths
Here is the second admonition in regards to beating back the temptation posed by the strange or adulterous woman. Do not go where she goes. Don't arrange it so that you will bump into her.
The word paths could also be understood ways. In other words, don't allow yourself to become seduced by her way of acting and living.
Remember, temptation is only effective because you want to be tempted. There are many temptations that do not affect you because you have no interest in that temptation.
This is what the Apostle James says: "Each one is carried away by his own lust." It is your own strong desire that pulls you to the place of compromise. Recognize those temptations that have a strong pull on your life and don't put yourself in a position to bump into that sin.
Alcoholics should not sit in bars; thieves should not hang out in stores full of carelessly watched merchandise; young virile men should not hang out with loose women; angry people should not be around those who constantly disagree with them; lazy people should not do their planning in bed, etc. While each of us has to learn to win against the temptations that seek to pull our lives in the wrong direction, it is best to avoid the primary source of the seduction if possible – especially in the area of lust.
Remember that the way to beat the seduction to destruction is to be careful what your mind is allowed to freely think about. It is unwise to let your mind feast on the fulfillment of lust. That is why pornography is so destructive to the ability to resist temptation. It is designed as a mental feast on lust. It directly violates the admonitions in this verse.
Second, get away from where a willing, loose woman will be. You can't fall if you are not there. She will find another person who will fall victim to her charms; it does not have to be you. Our culture sends that repeated message that it is not a big deal to give into lust. It is a big deal and reaps a whole harvest of consequences: mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. It is a big deal that you win this battle.
God devotes the better part of two chapters to the discussion on avoiding the problems of lust, adultery, and seduction. This is a life-killer that most young men face. They must beat this or they will destroy the potential for their own happiness. Solomon writes that at the end of this temptation are the ways of death. In other words, separation from all that is life. This happens mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Our culture has become a licentious culture bent on pushing young men into this form of living death by giving them every opportunity to be turned aside to this soul-killing way of life. Don't let it happen to you.
I am the father of three girls and am raising them to be righteous young ladies. I have warned them about the nature of lecherous young men, as well as the problem of pornography and lust in our culture. I have told them if a young man has a problem with pornography, that young man will need to constantly work a Scriptural program of memorization and meditation as well as confession to win over the temptation to lust. This is serious for it threatens the ability to enjoy life. If the problem of lust is not dealt with effectively, it will color a young man's whole life and twist his ability to interact with the opposite sex and change his ability to enjoy married love.