Dr. Gary Baker is a freelance columnist for The and Paso Robles Press; you can e-mail him at [email protected]

One of the most amazing truths about the life of the patriarch Joseph is that he committed no sin. We know he was not completely sinless, but the biblical account of his life never mentions that he did anything wrong. Joseph is a good example of a godly man who pleases God by his conduct. The key to Joseph’s godly behavior is the fact that the Lord was with him (Genesis 39:2).

When a believer trusts in the presence and power of God in his life, he can overcome evil temptations. A godly man who loves God does not want to begrudge Him. This is a perfect description of Joseph’s character. The biblical account in 1. Genesis 39 tells us that Joseph’s master, Potiphar, had a wife who wanted to have a sexual relationship with Joseph. She was bold in her request, for she personally asked Joseph to go to bed with me: (Genesis 39:7). Joseph initially refused her offer, telling her that as his master’s wife, he had not been given permission to have sexual relations with her (Genesis 39:8-9).

She kept asking Joseph to commit adultery with her. Joseph’s response was to tell her that it would be a great evil and a sin against God to sleep with her (Genesis 39:9). This is the main reason why Joseph did not commit adultery and break the trust his master had in him. Joseph sincerely believed that this sin would deeply offend both God and his master Potiphar. Personally, I believe this motivation is one of the keys to overcoming any evil temptation. If we truly understand how sin affects both God and the people we sin against, it should not stop us from hurting others.

Lashing out at others is an expression of hate, not love. Joseph loved God and his master Potiphar, so he refused to sin against them. Understanding the harmful effects of sin should motivate a person to stop engaging in sinful behavior. The sad thing about this episode in Joseph’s life is that Potiphar’s wife slandered him and accused him of attempted rape (Genesis 39:10-19). This angered Potiphar, as expected, and caused Joseph to be thrown into prison (Genesis 39:20). I’m sure Joseph told Potiphar that his wife’s accusation was false, but it seems clear that Potiphar believed his wife, not Joseph. Several times in the Bible people suffer unjustly and unfairly. Good news: The Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy when he was put in prison (Genesis 39:21).

Lessons to be learned.

  1. Serious contemplation of the harmful effects of sin can motivate a person not to commit it. Love will never hurt people: Romans 13:9-10
  2. The desire for the prayer of God is the greatest prevention against committing sin.
  3. God will be with the believer and comfort him when he is persecuted for his righteousness. God blesses the righteous. This is the salvation Jesus gave in the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:6.

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