Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Danger of Immodesty

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says women who want to avoid inappropriate relationships will avoid temptation.

Nancy: Watch out for these romantic settings and times and places where you may find yourself tempted to give your heart to someone other than your mate, or you may tempt someone else to give their heart to you when it doesn’t belong to you.

Over and over again I hear from women who have put themselves in situations like this and end up making very foolish, deadly decisions.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Tuesday, September 22, 2015.

Yesterday, we looked in the book of Proverbs to observe the portrait of a foolish woman found there. By studying that portrait you can learn some wisdom, and Nancy’s going to show you how.

Nancy: We’ve been talking about two kinds of women—wise women and foolish women. We want to be wise women who built up our homes and the lives of those around us.

We do not want to be foolish women, because the foolish woman tears down her house. She tears down the lives of the people around her.

During these days we’re doing a study through Proverbs 7, which is one of the most complete descriptions of a foolish woman that you will find anywhere in God’s Word. We’ve looked at the first several verses, and we’ve seen that this dad is warning his son about certain kinds of women to avoid.

He says in verse 5, you want to be kept away from a “strange woman.” Now, that word strange is not used, in this older translation, in the sense that we use it today. It’s a word that means “loose; a woman who is turned aside from the right way.” Some of your translations say “an adulteress.” She’s an immoral woman.

We’ve seen that, though most of us may not consider ourselves to be and may not indeed be immoral women, yet there are characteristics of a foolish or an immoral woman that we see in this chapter that may be true of us. If you have those characteristics or seeds of those traits in your heart, you increase the chances of becoming exactly the woman who is pictured here.

We’re moving now into verse 5, this father is saying, be warned about this strange woman, this loose woman: “From the stranger which flattereth with her words.”

That word flatter means “to be smooth.” Here’s a woman who has smooth talk. This dad is saying to his son—and moms and dads need to warn their sons today—be careful about women who come at you with smooth talk, talk that covers up a heart that is not pure. The speech may sound okay, but what’s underneath is dangerous.

It’s interesting to me that the first characteristic of the foolish woman described in this passage has to do with her words—the power of the tongue. It doesn’t start with her behavior. It doesn’t even start with her heart attitudes, though those are coming, and in the next verses we’ll see descriptions of her heart attitude.

The Scripture says that whatever is in the heart is what comes out on the tongue. That’s what comes out of the mouth. The way we talk is a dead giveaway to what’s in our hearts.

So if you want to know what’s in your heart, look at the way that you talk. Examine your speech.

There’s much about that in the Scripture, but here we’re particularly looking at a woman who uses her tongue, ultimately, to ensnare other men around her. It’s smooth talk. We see here the power of the tongue to destroy and to tear down our homes.

The Scripture says that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21 ESV). That’s a sobering thing.

I don’t exactly know what all the statistics are, but I’m told that we women speak something like three times as many words a day as men. If that’s true, we need to be three times as careful what we say.

The foolish woman with her tongue ultimately destroys, wrecks the lives of men around her.

One of your translations refers in this verse to seductive words. She flatters with her words. It speaks here of seductive words. We see this thread going through the book of Proverbs.

In the second chapter of Proverbs, it speaks of a woman who flatters with her lips. In chapter five, reference is made to a woman whose lips drop as the honeycomb. Her words are smoother than oil. Smooth—they seem to be sweet words, but actually they are damaging and harmful words.

Toward the end of this chapter, we read something else about this woman’s speech. It says, “With her much fair speech she caused him to yield” (v. 21).

She conquered this man with her tongue. She may have been half his size, but she had incredible power over him because of her tongue—her flattering words, her seductive words.

“With the flattering of her lips she forced him” (Prov. 7:21). Or as one modern translation says, “She seduced him with her smooth talk” (NIV).

As we move on in the passage, we see a picture being described. Let me read verses 6–9 and start to get the context here. The author says,

For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, and beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, passing through the street near her corner.

Whose corner? The corner of this loose woman. He went through the street near her corner.

He went the way to her house, in the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night.

What a picture is painted here! This is a setup for trouble. You have not just a foolish woman, but a foolish man as well. They’re like magnets.

By the way, watch out for the kind of people that your children are attracted to, because so often “like attracts like.” If you find your daughters being attracted to foolish young men, be careful, and begin to warn your daughters about this.

They’re drawn to each other. You find them going the way to her house. It’s almost like he can’t stop himself. He’s got a foolish heart, so he’s being drawn toward a foolish woman.

But we’re not focusing on the men in this session. We’re focusing on the characteristics of the woman. See what she does—she preys on simple men.

This man is young. He may not just be chronologically young; he’s immature. He may be an older man in age, but he is immature. He lacks judgment. He’s careless. He’s morally unstable. He’s a man “void of understanding.”

Notice in this description that both of them are at the wrong place at the wrong time. The Scripture gives incredible detail here. In verse 9 it says it’s in the twilight, it’s in the evening, it’s in the black and dark night.

I mean, how many ways can it say that this is night time? It’s a dark place. He’s going the way to her house. He apparently knows what kind of woman she is. And we’re going to see that she’s on the lookout for men just like him.

The application to my heart from this verse is (God showed me this years ago as a young teenager, and I’m so thankful): Stay away from places and situations where the natural thing would be to do something wrong.

You may not do anything wrong, but stay away from the place where in just a certain set of circumstances, you or that other person might naturally be tempted to do something wrong. Teach your children to stay away from those kinds of situations.

She should never have been alone with a man other than her husband, particularly not at night, in the middle of the night. Not alone. This is a setup for disaster.

Watch out for these romantic settings and times and places where you may find yourself tempted to give your heart to someone other than your mate, or you may tempt someone else to give their heart to you when it doesn’t belong to you.

Over and over again I hear from women who have put themselves in situations like this and end up making very foolish, deadly decisions. Let me read to you some of the kinds of things that women have written to me.

One woman said:

I have struggled with Internet addiction. At one point I was on my computer up to fifteen hours a day. It was my way of escaping my empty, lonely marriage.

By the way, I think that’s what this woman in Proverbs 7 was probably doing. She didn’t know about the computer, but that can be your dark night, your place of rendezvousing.

In the last months, I’ve curbed my Internet usage. I realized I was neglecting our six children.

How with six children you can spend fifteen hours a day on the computer, I don’t know.

I decided to make some changes. However, I met a wonderful man through a chat room. We’ve met face to face several times now, and I’m considering leaving my husband for this man.

Another woman wrote and said, “My pastor and I are very close. Just yesterday he acknowledged in a counseling session that he was very attracted to me.”

Now, this is obviously a foolish man. I don’t want to pick on pastors, because many, many pastors are godly, wise men. But in this case, this was a man in the ministry, and he said, after telling her he was attracted, that he would never act on his desire because he knew that would hurt.

Well, it was very foolish of that man to say that to that woman. She said, “Now I feel deeply attracted to him. Help me, Lord, to let go of this, and give me wisdom in setting boundaries.”

Now, if I didn’t read the next sentence, you would think he was the only foolish one in this equation. She said, “Help me, Lord, to have wisdom in setting boundaries. I cut his hair and give him a massage once a month.”

She’s a foolish woman. Let me say, she was a foolish woman. I was able to contact this woman after she wrote this, and God did a beautiful redemptive, restorative work in her life, in her marriage.

What she wrote there would is no longer be true of her, to the best of my knowledge. But what I had to say to her when we talked on the phone was, “You have made some very foolish choices to put yourself in a wrong situation, a situation where it was natural to have an ungodly attraction.”

She was naive initially, not realizing where this would lead her. That’s why we need to become wise women, not naive.

I find that many women today don’t realize how foolish some of these choices are. That’s why we need to get into the Word of God, get the Word of God into us, so we can become enlightened and understand what some of these choices do to us and where they will lead us and how destructive they will be to the people around us.

The passage goes on to tell us in verses 10–15,

And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtle of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, “I have peace offerings with me; this day have I paid my vows. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning; let us solace ourselves with loves.”

Let’s just unpack some of those verses one phrase at a time and see what some of the characteristics of this foolish woman are and how she lures this man into her trap.

Again, we’re not saying that he’s without responsibility. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He set himself up for this. That’s why the Scripture says he’s “simple” or “foolish.”

But she becomes the woman who ultimately destroys him and tears him down.

Verse 10 says, "There met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtle of heart.” As we go on in this passage, we see that she’s a married woman. These characteristics can be true of married women or single women. We have both in the room today.

This particular woman is married. The problem is that she is not focusing her love, her attention, her devotion on her husband. The reason for that, I believe, as we go on in this passage, we’ll see that she is not satisfied with what God has provided her.

As a result, she’s not channeling her love, her efforts, into her husband. Rather, she’s pouring herself into another man.

I believe this woman would find that if she would channel all this effort and attention and admiration she’s going to give to the man who’s not her husband, if she would channel it into her husband, she might discover that her own marriage could become more of what God intended it to be.

Now, in verse 10 we see that this woman is dressed in the attire of a harlot. Notice that it doesn’t say she is a harlot. She’s a married woman, and we’re going to see that she is actually a religious woman, but she’s dressed like a harlot.

It’s interesting to me that in this passage, the outward manifestation is what is talked about first. It goes on to say in this verse that she’s subtle of heart. As we’ve said before, what’s in the heart will invariably come out, not only in the way we talk but also in the way that we dress.

Women, one of the things that so grieves my heart today is how few Christian women understand the meaning of dressing modestly, and how we have so lowered the standard.

Because of a very immodest, suggestive culture, we find ourselves blending into the culture—fitting into the culture rather than holding up a standard, the beautiful standard of God’s woman who, with a pure heart, expresses that outwardly, in dress that is modest, discreet, and wholesome.

That’s why as parents it is so important to be teaching your children how to dress in a way that is modest and appropriate.

I’ll never forget when I was a teenager and I was getting ready to do a piano recital we were having in our home. I came downstairs dressed for the recital. And let me tell you, it was not my heart to be immodest—at least, I didn’t think that it was; I wasn’t conscious that it was.

But as I came downstairs all dressed for this concert, my dad came up to me and quietly pulled me aside and said, “Honey, I don’t think that dress is modest.”

Now, it wasn’t everything about the dress. He got a little more specific, which, as a young girl, I needed to know what was not modest about this dress. How I thank the Lord, as uncomfortable as that moment was, for a dad who loved me enough to teach me the ways of wisdom.

You see, we’re all born foolish. That’s why we have to be instructed in the ways of wisdom, to learn a heart of wisdom. That moment years ago has so helped my consciousness, to realize that the men around us are seeing things in ways that we women don’t see.

Men—you’ll see this all the way through the Scripture—first are drawn through the eye gate. Something that, to me as a woman or to you as a woman, might not seem to be suggestive or immodest can have the result in a man’s heart and mind of creating thoughts and ideas that are not pure.

The tendency for women today is to say, “That’s their problem. They’ve got those dirty minds. They need to get over that.”

Women, that’s a foolish way of thinking. The wise woman says, “That’s my problem. I am responsible to dress and to talk and to carry myself in a way that helps the men around me to move toward purity.”

Now, what they do with that, they’re responsible for. They have to deal with their own issues before God. But, women, we are responsible for the way we dress.

It’s hard in a public setting like this to be as specific and as explicit as we probably need to be in teaching our daughters. But get specific when you talk with them.

Don’t do it in a way that embarrasses them and points them out in public. Be willing to have the courage to stand strong on these matters with a gracious spirit and with a heart of love and compassion, knowing that ultimately you are protecting your daughter from the wrong kind of men.

You’re going to hear from your daughter, “But, Mom! Everyone else dresses this way.”

I don’t know how you handle that in your family, but in our family, when those kinds of issues would come up: “But, Mom! But, Dad! Everyone else . . .” I’m telling you, we were in a Bible-preaching church. We were in a Christian school.

In many ways we were in a very protected environment, but my parents had ways that they believed God wanted our family to live that were just different from everyone else around us. Their way of dealing with those kinds of reactions on our part was:

But you aren’t everyone else’s children. You belong first to the Lord, and then God has put you in our home. God has given us the responsibility of leading you and shepherding you. We want God’s best for you. That’s why we’re going to insist that, whether you understand it or not, whether you agree with it or not, you are not the parents in this home. God has given us that responsibility.

You don’t have to raise your voice to say that. You don’t have to get into an argument to say that. But you do have to be firm and say, “This is the way it’s going to be.”

As you do, teach your daughters the heart behind this—so they won’t just conform outwardly but the moment they’re out of your home their heart will lead them to do what they’ve been wanting to do all along.

Your goal is not just to get your daughters to dress modestly. Your goal is to have your daughters have a heart that so loves Jesus that they want to reflect in every way possible His beauty, His wholesomeness, His purity.

Now, we see that this woman who is dressed seductively is “subtle of heart.” It speaks of a woman who is crafty and secretive in her motives and her intent. She has a hidden agenda, and she actually sets out to ensnare, to trap this man.

Most women would not admit to doing this. But, women, I think we can be honest with each other and say, deep in all of our hearts, there are those moments when we know that our motives are not pure.

Oh, they may not be to actually live out immorality, but maybe to draw attention to ourselves in a way that is not appropriate. So guard your heart.

One of the prayers I pray probably more often than any other in my life is, “Oh Lord, please guard my heart. Help me to guard my heart.”

If you have a pure heart, that will manifest itself in the way you talk, in the way you dress, in the way you relate not only to men but even to other women, to children, to others around you.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss, who will be right back to pray. That teaching is part of the series "Becoming a Woman of Discretion." 

None of us are born as a woman of discretion. We all need to be growing by God’s grace. So I hope you’ll get a copy of a booklet Nancy wrote on the topic. Just like the series, it’s called “Becoming a Woman of Discretion.” As you take time to go through this booklet, you can be asking God to show you any way you’ve been acting like a foolish woman. It’s a tool God can use to teach you discretion and wisdom. We’d like to send you a copy when you support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size this week. We’ll send one booklet per household for your donation. Ask for the booklet "Becoming a Woman of Discretion" when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit

One mark of a foolish woman is busyness. How does a frenzied lifestyle lead us into unwise choices?

Nancy: You just see women who is here, there, and everywhere, always having to be involved in activities. Let me tell you, it can be church activities that keep your heart away from your home. There is nothing wrong with church activities, but if you have to be in the church every time the doors are open and every time there is a need in your church you have to be the one to fulfill it, it may be that you are covering up a restless, foolish heart—not content to rest, to be quiet.

Now, I'm not suggesting that the wise woman will not be involved in serving and ministering to others. Again, it's a matter of, "Where's your heart?" Are you content within the sphere that God has assigned to you?

Leslie: That will be our topic tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts. Now here’s Nancy to lead us in prayer.

Nancy: Let’s bow our hearts in prayer. I’d like us to stop here and let God search our hearts. Be honest and open with Him, and say, “Lord, is there subtleness in my heart? Is there impurity in my heart? Do I have motives or thoughts toward other men that are not appropriate?”

Then ask the Lord to show you specifically, even in relation to this matter of dress and clothing and modesty. That’s a sensitive area, and I don’t want to speak where Scripture doesn’t speak.

But God will show you, if you have an open heart, if there are things you are wearing or allowing your daughters to wear that are not wholesome and pure and modest.

If God shows you that the standard for your life maybe looks okay in this world—maybe it looks really conservative according to this world’s standards—but it’s not the standard that God would want you to have, would you again just agree with God?

Say, “Lord, if You’ll show me what it means to be modest, to be chaste even in the way I dress, that’s what I want to be true of me.”

Oh, Father, again we pray that You’d make us wise women, that we may build our houses and that You may be glorified through our lives. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted.

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