Potiphar’s wife was surely one bad girl of the Bible! She set her eyes on what wasn’t hers and it was all downhill from there. Sin was crouching at her door and she surely didn’t rule over it. She eyed Joseph. She spoke words of seduction. Spurned, she persisted. Then the opportunity arose to get what she wanted and she seized it. Outmaneuvered, she accused and maligned. We certainly don’t have anything in common with this woman, or do we? I may not have exactly done the things Potiphar’s wife did, but I most certainly have faced temptation and fallen to sin. Long before Potiphar’s wife was a temptress, she was tempted. She was attracted to Joseph by the desires of the eyes and the desires of the flesh. James tells us that each of us is tempted when we are lured and enticed by our own desires. “Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14- 15) We have an enemy in common with this bad girl of the Bible – the flesh. But we can experience victory!
We don’t have to go much farther than Galatians 5:16, our memory verse this week, to find an answer to what to do to walk in victory.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
As I look at this truth, it seems to me that Potiphar’s wife didn’t have a chance at defeating the flesh. She didn’t seem to have any inclination toward God. Look at how Joseph responded to her blatant proposition. He must have been tempted; after all, he was a man and here was a beautiful woman seducing him. He even told her how wrong this was. She was the wife of another man but more importantly, this “great wickedness” was a sin against God – that in itself should be a deterrent to satisfying the desires of our flesh. Isn’t Joseph a great example for us in resisting temptation! But his words didn’t faze his master’s wife in the least. She kept following after the desires of her flesh because that’s what the natural man does. Without the Spirit of God living in you, it’s impossible to walk by the Spirit. But praise God! We who are in Christ don’t need to follow after the desires of the flesh. We can walk by the Spirit.“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” (Ephesians 1:13) Have you heard the word of truth, the gospel of salvation? If you’re not sure, would you stop here and read this.
So what does it mean to walk by the Spirit? If we read Galatians 5:16 in the Amplified translation, I think we’ll find our answer.“But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]“. Walking by the Spirit,then, is being filled with the Spirit (controlled), led by the Spirit (guided) and obedient to the Spirit (responsive). And what happens when we walk by the Spirit? “then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).“ I read this recently on preceptaustin.org and thought I’d share. “So what are we to say about “walking by the Spirit?” Mystical? Yes! Mysterious? Yes! Something possible for only a few select “super saints”? No! Can this really be my experience? Yes! What does it mean practically? The short answer is God commands us to walk by the Spirit and what He commands, He always enables, providing the desire and power. (Philippians 2:13)” We can walk by the Spirit!
But how can we know if we are walking by the Spirit? Are we being controlled by the Spirit or controlled by the flesh? We find our answer after Paul’s exhortation to walk in the Spirit. “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:19-23) As we finish up our study of Potiphar’s wife this week, there’s one question I need to ask myself. What is evident in my life – the works of the flesh or the fruit of the Spirit?
~~What will you take from our study this week? We’d love to hear from you. Simply go to our Women in the Word Facebook page and request an invitation. Join us Monday as we look at the life of Jochebed.
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