Friday, March 21, 2008

Humanity in Sin Part 46: Joseph’s Integrity in Potiphar’s House

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 2nd March 2008 in Newton Life. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: Genesis 39

Genesis 38 recorded evil deeds of Judah’s sons, and Judah’s sin in prostituting with his daugher-in-law. God’s word is pure and like a mirror it shows how sinful we are. Genesis 39 records an incident that has happened in every generation and could happen in our lives. It becomes a great teaching for all generation, especially for the young people. The response of this young man is very different from what common people would do, so he becomes an example for all young people. But in preserving his purity and clear conscience before God, his action landed him in jail.

There is one same thing mentioned in the beginning and end of the chapter, that is that God was with him and prospered him in everything he did. Why did Joseph suffer so much? Many people do not believe in God because they see a lot of sufferings, so becoming atheists. When we discuss atheism, it is more important to discuss their motivation first before discussing their content.

However, the more Joseph suffered, the closer he was to God. This is a lesson for all Christians. When we suffer and call on God and there seems to be no answer, we should not abandon our faith. We need to learn from Joseph. In the midst of sufferings, he still did all his duties faithfully and lived a holy life as a young person. Joseph and Daniel are the only two people with no moral blemishes recorded in the Bible.

In His providence, God sent Joseph to Potiphar. Potiphar was able to see that Joseph was a trustworthy person. If we are trustworthy, we can solve the greatest crisis. Potiphar entrusted everything to Joseph so he became the chief steward Potiphar’s house. Potiphar was often out of the house. Other than his food at home, he did not need to care about anything else because he could trust Joseph in everything. Such a young person is a rare jewel. He was away from his family, his father who loved him so much. He was hated and sold by his brothers. But he was so faithful in the midst of sufferings that he earned the privilege of such trust from his master.

But the devil would not let him go. As Joseph was young, well-built and handsome, the master’s wife started to like Joseph. Man often could overcome everything, but fail at the temptation from a woman. This seduction is very difficult to overcome, especially when she offered herself freely. Many women make such mistakes when their husbands are not around. This is not only man’s weakness. When women are filled with desires, they would volunteer themselves.

But Joseph’s reply is a very important declaration in human history, “With me in charge, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house. He has withheld nothing from me except YOU, because you are his wife. How then can I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” This is a remarkable response for such a young man in sufferings. He made two important points. First, he knew his position in the house as a steward who had been entrusted by his master. The second is that he recognized that adultery as wickedness against God. He did not say that is a sin against her husband, but a sin against God.

The woman did not stop tempting Joseph. One day when nobody was in the house, she caught Joseph by his cloak. Joseph left his cloak and ran out of the house. Her unfulfilled desire turned into hatred. And hatred led her to harm Joseph. She lied that Joseph wanted to violate her and she screamed so he left. Joseph had to suffer false accusation because of his righteousness.

Do such great young men exist today? Why is the pulpit so powerless? Why is it that people are not willing to listen to Christians? If we are not living a holy life, we have no power in ministry. Holy lives would manifest the presence of God because God is holy. When we present ourselves as Christians before the church, we need to remember how we present ourselves when temptation comes. May God preserve us in His ways.


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