Temptation is an enticement to evil or to sin. Everyone has faced it—even the Lord Jesus Himself. In and of itself, therefore, temptation is not sin; it is our response to it which leads us either in the paths of righteousness or down into the quicksands of disobedience.
The actions of Potiphar’s wife demonstrate how temptation expresses itself. Her approach was first subtle. She began in her mind to look at Joseph differently. The eyes are a gateway into our souls and the path through which many temptations come. A lustful heart begins with lingering eyes.
Her eyes having ensnared her soul, she lost any notion of modesty. How could she proceed to such a barefaced invitation to adultery? The answer is that she was clearly feeding lust at the level of her imagination, which is bound to increase the chances that we actually do what we’ve been thinking about. Sin is always ready to break forth in an instant, driven by blind, furious, and nearly (though never totally) irrepressible desires. There comes a point where we have gone so far down the road in our minds that all we need is the occasion—and so when the occasion arises, so does the outward sin.
You and I can learn from the misdeeds of Potiphar’s wife. Be sure that what you allow your eyes to look at and your mind to dwell on will sooner or later affect how you act. Temptations, and the desires they awaken, will be fed or they will be fought. Are we prepared to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) instead of feeding lust or other sins? Are we willing “to enter the kingdom of God with one eye” (Mark 9:47), or is eternal life not worthy of such a price?
What temptations do your eyes and your mind face today? While each is a dangerous invitation to sin, it also provides an opportunity to choose obedience. Pray for wisdom and boldness to recognize those moments, and respond to those temptations in a manner that leads you in paths of righteousness.
Cain and Abel
1Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten1 a man with the help of the Lord.” 2And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7If you do well, will you not be accepted?2 And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for3 you, but you must rule over it.”
8Cain spoke to Abel his brother.4 And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?” 10And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. 11And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. 12When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.5 14Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod,6 east of Eden.
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