Genesis 39:9c …How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?
The background to this passage is the familiar story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. As you may recall, Potiphar’s wife found Joseph attractive and was trying to seduce him into having sexual relations with her. However, Joseph never relented and ended up in prison for standing firm.
What I love about this excerpt of the passage is how Joseph stood up. He could have leaned on his morality and refused. He could have refused out of fear of losing his position in Potiphar’s house. He could have even refused because he felt no attraction to Potiphar’s wife. Joseph refused for a higher and deeper reason. He did not want to go against God and His will. Joseph lived his life in such a way, that violating God’s commands meant much more than just breaking morality or being punished. Joseph had a relationship with God and he respected God’s commands knowing that they were for his (Joseph’s) greater good.
How many times could I avoid any type of sin if I would just take the attitude of, “How then could I…”? Most people, including me, read this story and particularly this excerpt of the passage and think about avoiding sexual sin. What if I applied this same excerpt to gossip? How about applying it to lying, or evil thoughts, rage, or any temptation that comes my way? How much stronger would I be to resisting temptation if I remembered whom I serve?
My aim of this thought is not to look at where we have failed. The goal is to inspire to have a change of heart and mind toward those things that tempt us. As Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Joseph had his mind on things above and not on himself. From that place, he was able to stand up to temptation by thinking about God and His commands. Joseph’s heart was in tune with God. That is how I want to be! I want to live my life in such a way that when those temptations arise, I can ask, “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”
When I am able to take the mindset that I need God’s help and it is God whom I serve, the power he has placed in me by the Holy Spirit will give me strength to stand up against temptation. Any other method; will power, self-control, discipline, avoidance, fleeing, etc. will eventually fail. Mind you, those are all good…we are told in scripture to have self-control and so on. However, those alone will not do it for me…otherwise, I would have never failed. Whenever I face temptation, I need this passage written on my heart. As a friend says quite often, “It gives me another tool in the shed.” When I am aware that it is God I am sinning against, it goes deeper than on the surface for me. I am able to stand stronger and keep temptation at bay.
“How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”
1. Upon initial reading of this excerpt, what is your reaction?
2. What are some ways you are able to overcome temptation?
3. When have you tried overcoming temptation on your own power?
4. Has it been fool-proof for you?
5. In what way can you apply this excerpt this week? What is a normal temptation for you where this can be of help?
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