Summary: Today’s sermon is going to review Joseph’s encounter with Potiphar’s wife and in doing so suggest that setting life boundaries in accordance with God’s word and avoiding and hating sin is the key to overcoming temptations.

Life Lessons from Potiphar’s Wife

Genesis 39:7-23

Online Sermon:

If you were offered an opportunity to sin and you knew no one could find out what you had done would you indulge in the sin? What if it was a sin that you had done before and got great pleasure from it or a sin that you have seen or heard from others that they are reveling in and getting intense gratification? As recovering sinners, we know that our wounded condition, one of self-blindness, comes from the pride of worshipping creation and the evil desires of our own hearts, rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25; James 4:13-15). We also know that sin drives a wedge between us and God for what does darkness have to do with light (1 John 1:5-9), especially when His own refuse to give up living like pagans (1 Peter 4:3) to embrace the holiness God requires (1 Peter 1:16)? And is it not shear utter foolishness to think a “secret” sin could ever exist when God knows and sees everything (Psalms 139)? Despite knowing all of this to be true, how many Christians everyday buckle under the weight of their temptations? Living in a fallen world where accountability is shunned, absolute truth can only be found in the eye of the beholder and pleasure seems only to be limited by one’s imagination; how can a Christian remain holy in such an environment? Today’s sermon is going to review Joseph’s encounter with Potiphar’s wife and in doing so suggest that while setting life boundaries in accordance with God’s word and avoiding and hating sin will invite persecution from this world, it is worth it for in doing so one will obtain favor from God whom will enable one to be holy as He is holy!

Temptations (verses 7-12)

After Joseph was sold by his brother to the Midianites, they in turn sold him to a man named Potiphar (37:12-36); one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard. Upon learning that God caused everything Joseph touched to flourish, Potiphar placed him in charge as head administrator of all “that was done in the house and field. Due to either his success or his rugged good looks, Potiphar’s wife soon “took notice,” lusted and daringly and shamefully asked Joseph to “come to bed” with her (verse 7). Joseph immediately refused her request on the grounds that it would not only break “the trust his master had placed in him but that in doing what she commanded he would be sinning against God.” Day after day she asked him to have sex with her and Joseph not only refused her request but refused to “pay attention” or be in the same room with her (verse 10). In hopes that secret opportunity would entice adultery, she masterfully setup a final ambush and sent all the servants outside. When Joseph came into the house to perform his duties, she commanded him to come to bed with her and forcibly grabbed his cloak. So “terrified with the possibility of his integrity being compromised,” Joseph immediately pulled away and ran from the house despite doing so meant he was leaving without his cloak!

One of the “life lessons” we can learn from this incident is that “temptation is not a part-time experience of the believer.” If he who “prowls around like a roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8) cannot get you to sin today he will simply try again Tomorrow and the next day. Just because one has become a born-again believer does not mean that the “old self” no longer entices that person to give into the evil desires that still exist in his/her heart (James 1:14; Ephesians 4:22-14)! The threat to holy living comes from “this world whose ways and thoughts can easily impinge on the child of God.” In wrestling with sin Apostle Paul asked the following question: why is it that the good I want to do I cannot and the evil I don’t want to do I do all the time? When we enter the world, we enter a spiritual battlefield of the mind. To overcome temptations Paul says to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). This is accomplished by taking temptations to God in prayer daily so that one’s mind can identify and surrender the depravity of the old self (Romans 1:28) that characterizes this world (Ephesians 4:23). It is by renewing the mind in the truth concerning God daily that one can not only resist constant temptations, but one can see the Devil flee from one’s presence (James 4:7)!

Another life lesson that we learn from Joseph’s temptation is that the reason why we avoid sinning is not to be based on the probability of our sin being made public but due to a genuine desire to remain in a good relationship with God. Even though 74 percent of males surveyed would commit adultery if they thought they could not be caught does not make adultery right in God’s sight. Joseph knew that even though there was no one else in the house to witness adultery he refused to have sex with Potiphar’s wife since God would see the sin and it would grieve and offend Him (Psalms 51:4)! Why would we think that He who rewards us for good deeds done in “secret” (Matthew 6:4) would not see and punish us for sins done in “secret”? The profound truth is the only secrets possible are those that are hidden from creation. When it comes to God nothing is a secret for, He is indivisibly present everywhere (Psalms 139) and His spirit communes with our spirit and knows our very thoughts (Romans 8:16)! Our motivation to not give into temptation then is not to be based on the probability of being caught, for that is a 100 percent guarantee, but a genuine desire to please God whom sent His Son Jesus to purchase us at the cost of His very life (1 Corinthians 6:19)! Those whom truly love God follow His commands and are not scared to ask God to search them for when sin is found they can repent, be cleansed (1 John 1:9-10) and continue to walk in the footsteps of their Savior (Colossians 1:9-14)!

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