In this account of Joseph we see that Joseph is a man of integrity. In fact Joseph’s response to Potiphar’s wife, i.e. ‘how then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God’, tells us that he seems to have a good understanding of what God expects of him. He is not willing to compromise. Are we compromising, allowing ourselves to do certain things because the world shouts at us that if we do it we will feel good? Feeling good is not the same thing as being good.
God’s grace is also evident. God is blessing Joseph in everything he does, and his pagan masters understand that he is blessed because God is doing the blessing. I believe that it means that Joseph is living out his faith in God in such a tangible way that his masters have no choice but to acknowledge God’s hand in his life. May our lives reflect what Christ has done for us in a way that will inspire our non-believer friends to give glory to God.
Joseph sets an excellent example of how to deal with the temptation of sexual sin: flee from it! How do you and I deal with it? We are bombarded with this temptation inside our house when we switch on our television or surf the Internet, and when we leave our house it doesn’t get any better. Advertising companies like to use images that might get our thoughts going in directions they should not go. Jesus said, ‘But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart’. May God helps us to be people of integrity in both our thought-life and our actions.
If it feels like your personal Bible study is in a rut, try doing what I am doing here. I am surprised by how the Scripture lingers in my thoughts throughout the day.
In this chapter, human defiance of God continues but God’s grace abounds too. God is truly God in the way He deals with the problem of sin.
God’s rejection of Cain’s sacrifice is the Bible’s first recorded example of God’s disapproval of religion. By this I mean that the God of the Bible is more interested in a relationship based on his commands than on religious activities that have the veneer of a right relationship with God. God looks at my heart (‘The vital center and source of one’s being, emotions, and sensibilities.’ – Answers.com), and if my heart is given away to Him and His purpose for me, my religious activities bring honor and glory to Him. And He is deserving of my expressions of honor and glory: He created me, He created me in His likeness, He extends grace to me, He extends mercy to me, and He has saved me from an eternity without Him through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Just look at the wonderful way God deals with Cain.
- God warns Cain “But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” Since God is God, I think it is safe to assume that He knew what Cain was planning on doing. Instead of making Cain follow His commands, He wanted Cain to choose to do His will. Unfortunately, Cain chooses to commit murder. As I read these verses, I was reminded of a verse in 1 Corinthians that says “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” God warned Cain to master the temptation that was coming his way. Lord, please give us the strength to follow the way out You will provide when we are tempted so that we can stand up under temptation.
- Despite Cain’s lack of repentance for what He has done to his brother, God extends him the grace of His protection after Cain complains that God’s judgment on him was too harsh. In Psalm 103 we read “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” Lord I am humbled by your grace and love.
The rest of the chapter shows us the sad legacy of Cain’s unrepentant heart. Not only is one of Cain’s sons, Lamech, the first recorded bigamist in the Bible (a deviation from the created order of things – God made Adam only one helper), he kills ‘a young man for injuring’ him. Parents exert great influence over their children. Lord help us to create a home environment in which our children’s hearts will develop into fertile soil for the seeds of the gospel.
Satan, in the form of the serpent here, is very cunning. Christians often underestimate him. It is fascinating and enlightening to see him at work in this chapter. In chapter 2 we read,
- And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
Look at both the serpent and Eve’s choice of words in chapter 3.
- Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
- The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ “
- “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
First Satan sows some doubt by saying ‘Did God really say’. Then to add to the thoughts of doubt, he proceeds to misquote God (‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’) to make the deception complete. We never have to doubt God’s words but it would be important to know what they are, otherwise we would not know how to answer the ‘Did God really say’ question when we are confronted with it . . .
I find it interesting that in Eve’s response she (1) does not call the tree by its proper name, (2) she adds words to God’s command (‘you must not touch it’), and (3) she does not fully quote God’s punishment for disobedience: “you will surely die”. The eventual outcome is quite disastrous. We have to be careful with words (I am now speaking to myself too!), especially when it comes to God’s words. Every word in the Bible has its place and purpose. We read in 2 Timothy that “Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.” We shouldn’t let this age’s tendency to be careless with words influence how we read and remember God’s words. It can have eternal consequences . . .
Satan finishes the deception off with a blatant lie (‘You will not surely die’), and a false promise (‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’). Unfortunately Eve and Adam fall for it and choose against God’s command – causing the punitive part of God’s command to go into effect. Satan did not make them do it: they chose to do it, against God’s instruction. Satan is both a liar and a destroyer.
I think we learn from this series of events part of the action plan on how to resist temptations (deceptions from Satan): if we know God’s words, and we have chosen to follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit will enable us to both identify and reject temptations as foolishness when they come. However, if we are not familiar with God’s words, we make it much easier for Satan to sell us a lie.
Until tomorrow . . .