Integrity and Purity

Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Temptation, Warriors of Grace

Introduction

Joseph in Genesis 39 in his dealings with Potiphar’s wife provides men with an excellent example of what it means to walk with integrity and purity before the Lord. The Lord’s presence with Joseph enables him to find favor first with Potiphar and the keeper of the prison. While Joseph’s refusal to lie with Potiphar’s wife results in his being wrongly imprisoned, his personal integrity is not compromised.

Explanation of Genesis 39:6-23

Genesis 39:6-23 records the scene between Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. Genesis 39:6 says that Joseph was handsome in form and appearance which gives the reason Potiphar’s wife was interested in him. Joseph’s refusal to lie meaning sexually with her contrasts sharply with the behavior of Reuben and Judah (35:22: 38:15-18). His integrity does not permit him to betray his master by committing adultery.

Joseph rightly recognizes that to give in to Potiphar’s wife not only would be an offense against is master, who has trusted him with everything he owns, but would equally be an offense against God. Joseph exercises authority without seeing this as an opportunity to betray or exploit others. Joseph consistently rejects the advances of Potiphar’s wife. One day Potiphar’s wife in the course of Joseph’s normal work catches him by his garment and Joseph fleeing leaves his garment in her hand.

While Potiphar is still absent Genesis 39:13-15 explain that his wife convinces the men of her household to side with her. She uses three elements to bring her case against Joseph. First she places some of the blame of her husband for he was responsible for Joseph’s presence in the household. Secondly by emphasizing Joseph’s non-Egyptian origin, she exploits a long-standing racial tension that existed between native Egyptians and foreign from Canaan. Finally she portrays Joseph’s action as being directed against the entire household and not simply her.

Potiphar’s wife uses Joseph’s garment as evidence Genesis 39:16 says. Potiphar’s wife tells to her husband with significant variations what she has already told the men of the household. Once again she focuses on the non-Egyptian background of Joseph, her husband’s poor judgment in bringing him into the household and Joseph’s exploitation of her.  The swiftness with which the narrator reports the imprisonment mirrors what happened in reality. As a slave, Joseph had no legal rights. While the reader is not immediately conscious of the significance of Joseph being imprisoned where the king’s prisoners were confirmed (V.20) this will prove significant for future developments. Even in prison Joseph prospers (v.23).

Integrity and Purity

Joseph refused to sin against the trust given him, the woman’s husband and God himself. Joseph’s integrity was one of fabric. He was faithful in all relationships, which meant he could resist being unfaithful in this instance. This story is not just about sexual fidelity Joseph’s life was a web of moral accountability. He saw his moral life s a unified, integrated whole. His overall faithfulness has helped him reject this massive temptation. We must understand that little sin pave the way to big sins and that Joseph was on no such path. It was the power of this quality of his life as a whole that enabled him to resist the woman’s advances.

The great deterrent to falling to the sexual siege was Joseph’s awareness that God was with him—not because of the narrator’s voice over but because this is what God has repeatedly promised Joseph’s forefathers and had been his personal awareness all of his life. The grant deterrent to Joseph’s sinning was the awareness that God sees all and that a sin that no one knows about, committed behind lock doors in a dark room, is actually done in the presence of a holy God. Joseph believed this, This personal realization and conviction of this truth is the strongest deterrent to sin that there is. King David invoked it after the horror of his own sin ravaged soul: “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:3; 4a).

Joseph continued to resist Potiphar’s advances but she was not giving up. “And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her” (v.10). Her dialogue plumbed every angle, but he paid her no heed. The Mrs. Potiphar’s of today are at once material, phantasmal, and ubiquitous- in airbrushed photos, celluloid, videos, and luminous TV screens. Those who are wise refuse to lie beside her or to be with her (v.10).

Conclusion

We learn from Joseph that temptation to sin is everywhere.  The story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife teaches us that to walk as men of integrity, we must take seriously the fact that the  presence of the Lord goes with them wherever they go. Integrity and purity are in the details of life. The Gospel has been given for such a reason—to guard believers against sin and temptation so that men might be men of integrity. The Lord provides a way of escape out of every temptation but the men  must walk through the way of escape by running into the arms of safety in Christ.

In order to fight against sin and temptation men must daily appropriate who they are in Christ by taking every thought captive to the obedience of the Word of God. Men must preach the Gospel to themselves not just in the midst of temptation but before temptation even begins. It would also be helpful for men to close Christian brothers they can call to pray with them and encourage them in the Lord. While accountability and living in community in a local Church are important- the best way to fight against sin and temptation is to grow in the grace of God by growing in depth of understanding and insight of the Gospel and its implications on one’s life. By growing in the grace of God men will be able to fight against sin and temptation through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit and be a man of integrity and purity.

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Headship: Chauvinism, Culture, and Service

Posted by on Apr 17, 2012 in Temptation, Warriors of Grace

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Eph 5:22-24)

Ask any six couples what they think these verses mean and you’ll likely get fourteen opinions. Like anything else involving gender rolls, mindsets regarding terms like “headship” and “submission” usually has a more to do with cultural biases and personal experience (or tragedy) than it does reality as defined by the Bible. I think most people tend to approach the question of headship in one of three ways. The first one will emotionally strangle your wife; the second will emasculate your husband; the third is dangerously risky but ultimately rewarding.

Chauvinist

The male chauvinist view of headship looks at and thinks about women in a certain way, and uses these verses to justify it. Male chauvinism in the western world has its roots in Greek philosophy. Almost all of the most notable Greek philosophers were chauvinists.

Perhaps the most telling example of the mindset of the ancient Greeks regarding women is their myth regarding the origin of sin and misery in the world. Whereas in the Biblical account, woman is created as a completion of man and the finishing masterpiece of God’s creation (since man by himself was the only thing that God had made that He said was “not good”), the Greek myth has her given to man as a curse.

Originally, the Greeks believed, the earth was populated only by men (that is, males), who lived in perfect bliss and harmony before angering the gods. As part of his punishment, Zeus, king of the gods, orders woman to be created. The first woman – Pandora – is then given “seductive gifts” by the gods. Pandora of course goes on to open an urn or a jar (“Pandora’s Box”) and unleashing upon the world all of the evils from which it now suffers.

The implications of this story are clear: women are a burden. They are a curse. Less severely, they are inherently inferior to the original, superior creation of men and exist to serve and please them. While this sort of thinking is directly contrary to the teachings of Scripture, like so many other elements of Greek philosophy it made its way into the church.

Using verses, like these in Ephesians, there have always been men who seek to justify biblically what is ultimately a pagan view of women. I call these men “Christian Chauvinists.” The Christian Chauvinist is easy to identify since his attitude toward women is that they ultimately exist to serve and please him.

  • He will often have close emotional or even physical relationships with several girls. The girls will always be young and naive, and preferably without a watchful father. He will assume the role of “spiritual leader” in these girls’ lives and warn them away from anyone – specifically other men – whom he considers to be a threat to his control, usually under the guise of “looking out for them” or “being an older brother.”
  • He has a lust problem. He usually has a pornography problem. Male chauvinism is at the heart of male use of pornography. It’s the idea that those women are there to perform for you and serve you.
  • If he has been married for any length of time, his wife and often his daughters will be brow-beaten. They will not be joyful, will not be flourishing, and will not be giving of themselves for ministry.
  • He is often threatened by the idea of the educated or opinionated mature young lady. He will discourage or forbid the women in his life from seeking higher education, and usually lacks the courage and maturity to engage in lasting and meaningful relationships with women who are more mature or accomplished than himself. As a result, the Christian Chauvinist almost exclusively seeks out relationships with young ladies significantly younger than himself.
  • Other men know him when they see him. Thus, the Christian Chauvinist will only be close to men who are too passive to call him out.

At the heart of this kind of chauvinism is a deep-seated selfishness that, when he gets married, results in a brow-beaten unhappy wife who is unable to flourish and thrive within her marriage. She will bend over backwards to please her husband, often being willing be accepting or even embracing of his sin in order to be “submissive” and please him. Submission in this home is a one-way street.

In the next post in this series we’ll swing the opposite direction and look at the second incorrect view of headship: the cultural view.

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