Taken Captive by Lust

January 20, 2024

red rose on gray surface

”The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the treacherous are taken captive by their lust.“

Proverbs 11:6 (ESV)

Proverbs 11 makes much contrast between two kinds of people - the righteous and the wicked. Their differences are highlighted in their characteristics as well as their consequences. The righteous is mentioned as having character traits such as humility and wisdom (v. 2), integrity (v.3), blameless (v. 5), upright (v. 6), while the wicked are described as proud (v. 2), crooked and treacherous (v. 3). The consequences of the righteous is deliverance (v. 6, 8), favour (v.10), and blessing (v.11), yet the wicked are said to “fall by his own wickedness (v. 5), walk into trouble (v. 8), or overthrown (v.11). It is the characteristic and consequence in verse 6 that bears expounding here.

Treachery and Lust Defined


Verse 6 mentions two important terms that we need to define: Treachery and Lust. Treachery may be defined as betraying someone’s trust or hiding something from someone who ought to be aware of it. We are familiar with myriads of examples of treachery around us: A rebel spy who pretends to be the king’s trusted adviser, a husband who is sleeping with another woman while hiding it from the one he vows never to cheat on, and a friend who betrays private struggles of his hurting friend to others to score points in their weekly marites sessions. Lust can be described as disorderly loves - love not meant for a person because it is not for him to love or to desire unto. Examples of this also abound: a man who looks at a woman and imagines sexual advances towards her, even though she is not his wife, a man who runs after fame or applause by doing untoward things to gain such things, and a person who craves for and obssesses for attention in her social media follower count. Yet, what does it mean that the treacherous are taken captive by their lust? I posit three theses that the passage tells us about their relationship and how it relates to us believers.

Thesis 1: Treachery is rooted in lust

At its root, treachery is birthed by lust. Verse 6 makes it clear: the treacherous //are taken// captive by their lust. At first glance, this connection may be quickly glossed over. However, looking at real-life occurences of treachery and lust shows a dangerous mixture that poisons the person possessing them. Genesis 3 makes it clear in the garden, where the woman’s lust for the forbidden fruit led to treachery against God. David’s refusal to confess to Uriah and his subsequent “murder” was rooted in his lust for Bathsheba. A man who is having an affair with another woman tends to hide this information from his wife. Lust leads to treachery.

A Christian might say, well I am in Christ, sin has no power over me. Though I may struggle with lust from time to time, I will not be treacherous to Christ or my loved ones! Yet, notice the examples given: two of them were Bible characters who were either sinless (the woman in the Garden of Eden), or a man after God’s own heart (David). Second, and most important, this passage teaches us that treachery is assured in unchecked lust.

Thesis 2: Treachery is assured in unchecked lust.


Verse 6 not only describes the treacherous as taken by their lust, rather, it says that they are taken captive by their lust. The word captive denotes chains, slavery, an inability to get free from. This means that a person who has unchecked lusts will surely find himself unavoidably betraying the ones he loves, from God to his family. However, the problem we have as Christians is that we tend to treat lust and the resulting treachery as something unavoidable or difficult to let go. Our reasoning is: time will come when we will be free, in the mean time, I am in the process of being changed.

I remember two young adults that I counseled. They had “fallen for each other” in unethical circumstances. Their response: to have exclusivity in their relationship while hiding this fact from their loved ones - with the excuse that it will hurt the others. The problem is, when confronted, they turned to deception, betraying the trust of their loved ones towards them. Their reasoning is: “it’s unavoidable, we can’t help it if we have fallen for one another.” Yet, the passage makes it clear that it is not something meant for the reader. There is hope.

Thesis 3: Treachery is avoidable only if we are delivered from lust.


Thankfully the proverb does not start of with treachery. It actually starts of describing the upright being delivered because of their righteousness. This is good news for the proverb reader! Why you may ask. First, the contrast shows us that there is another kind of life, another way. We don’t have to be slaves to our lusts. We don’t have to become treacherous. God is describing a kind of life you can have, that you must have.

Yet, how does one be righteous and delivered from lust and treachery? The proverb does not answer, but Scripture as a whole testifies to the answer: Jesus Christ the righteous. He has paid for your lust and treachery, so that it may no longer take you captive. You are now free in Christ. Walk in the newness of life! (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Some of us right now may be struggling with lust, and as a result have become treacherous. Maybe you are lusting after someone not your spouse. Maybe you are lusting after a member of the same sex. Maybe you are lusting after pornographic visuals and are hiding this fact from your loved ones. Oh, cast your sins to Christ. Let Him change you, transform you, and deliver you. Confess your sins to Him, and He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9).


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