“Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Of can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? ” (Pro. 6:27-28). At first glance, it seems an obvious statement. If you carry fire near your chest, your clothes will catch fire, and walking on hot coals will definitely scorch your feet. Nevertheless, although obvious, the admonition in the form of a question is a severe warning of the dangers of negligent behavior. What could the writer possibly be speaking of that would warrant such an emphatic statement of the perils of careless actions? The writer’s intent becomes crystal clear in the very next verse. Prov. 6:29, “So is he who goes into his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished.”
Wow! Now the question makes perfect sense and is one many people today should hear. While the verse explicitly mentions men, it is also applicable to women who feed their salacious appetites. These individuals defile their marriages by trying to satisfy their lustful desires for other married men and women. This adulterous behavior will not go unpunished by God. Heb. 13:4, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
I find it hard to believe how quickly people forget their marriage vows and allow their fleshly desires to corrupt their faithfulness to their spouse. Even if a single person is trying to seduce a married individual, their actions are equally dishonorable. Not only that, but their punishment for defiling the marriage bed will be just as severe. The problem is that we live in a world where the only thing that matters is us. We don’t care about the consequences of our actions and will try and justify it with some weak excuse – as long as we can satisfy our licentious cravings. The world will applaud us for “putting us first” and will gladly stand by and watch yet another marriage spiral into distrust and hatred, only to end in divorce.
The writer wants us to understand the severity of actions that cause disharmony in a marriage and thus uses fire to emphasize the point. We all have an innate fear of being burned, and most of us will do anything to prevent that kind of searing pain. Interestingly, he uses fire for another reason because it is a reminder of the eternal consequences of sin as well. Maybe it should serve as a wake-up call for those who are thinking of doing something like that or already are.
It is not too late to stop acting in such a sinful manner and repent. God is a merciful God and will forgive you if you genuinely mean it and give up the sin. We all make mistakes or even purposely act in ways contrary to the teachings of God, but unless we die in that sin, we can and will be forgiven. It only takes the realization that we are on a path to certain doom and the determination to cast aside the sin that is like fire next to our chest or jump off the hot coals.