Recently I have been working through Genesis 39 and the story of Joseph. I have been thinking about Potiphar’s wife and how she demonstrates some common sin-related themes. I thought I could jot down a few notes regarding sin and temptation:
1. Sin is often perception-driven
In verse 7 we see that she “cast her eyes on Joseph.” We must remember that whatever we expose our eyes to can often be the beginning of our undoing. We can look back to Genesis 3 and remember Eve who “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes… she took the fruit and ate.” Staying in Genesis, we see in chapter 38 Judah is tempted to sleep with Tamar because he saw her veiled face and believed she was a prostitute. What about David and Bathsheba? (2 Samuel 11) “When David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.” We must always be careful of what we expose ourselves to; of what we focus our gaze upon.
Humans were designed with a desire and capacity to look upon something and to worship it. The problem comes when we place our vision, and ultimately our worship, on something other than the Crucified Christ. When anything other than Christ occupies our vision, we will be led astray and will wander down the path of sin.
2. Unchecked sin produces boldness
In verse 12 we see that Potiphar’s wife “caught him by the garment.” Sin will lead us to do things that we would never do in our right mind. It lures us in with false promises of happiness and fulfillment, and we are subtly convinced to commit further sins. Cain was jealous and angry with his brother Abel. When those sinful desires weren’t corrected and repented of, he then murdered his own brother. Look at King David. He stole another man’s wife. Then, when he is unable to cover his tracks, he has that man killed. He commits several heinous sins that he would never have done when in his right mind. His lustful desires brought about a boldness for sin that led him into further sins.
Unchecked sinful desires lead us into further sin. We must beware of our sinful desires and snuff them out before they give birth to further sins and, eventually, spiritual death. James 1:15 says, “Then desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” Unchecked sin can lead us down the path toward spiritual death. We must constantly be on the lookout for signs of sin in our own lives.
What idols occupy your vision? What desires run unchecked in your heart? Ask yourselves these things and constantly guard your heart. Check back tomorrow to see how Joseph demonstrates the proper response to sin.
Jon English Lee