This Sunday, 5th April 2020, we shall continue with our current series which in reflecting on the life and exploits of Joseph, observe some of the many similarities between his life and that of our Lord Jesus. And if in the first part of the series we were reminded that there are many ways in which Joseph is indeed a type of Christ, we noted in particular, that he was beloved of the Father’s heart. In the second part however, we shall see that among the many more similarities we are yet to investigate, he was also tempted by sin, but did not succumb. Therefore, he is a foreshadow of He who was without sin.
The primary reason why Joseph was able to resist the temptation of Potiphar’s wife and not sin is clearly announced in Genesis 39:9 when he says, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”. Evidently, it was the fear of God that kept Joseph from sinning. In Deuteronomy 10 verse 12 speaking to Israel, that commonwealth into which we have now come it says “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul”. The fear of God is the basis for our walking in His ways, serving Him, and, yes, even loving Him and Joseph had the fear of the Lord.
For the unbeliever, the fear of God is the fear of the judgment of God and eternal death, which is eternal separation from God. However, for the believer, the fear of God is something much different. The believer’s fear is reverence and awe of God. It is this reverence and awe that is the motivating factor for us to surrender to the Almighty God. Something Joseph did and in doing so, something which also typified Jesus who was to follow, fully surrendered to His Father.
In times of temptation and trial, the fear of the Lord must be our motivating factor. That in such times, we should hold Him in such reverence and awe that we surrender our sinful will to His perfect will for us. For many people the motivating factor is not the fear of God, rather the fear of being found out. However, all that we do, whether it be known to man or not, is known to God and therefore we make it our aim to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2 Cor 5:10).
It doesn’t mean that we shall not be tempted. Joseph was tempted as too was Jesus. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin”. (Heb 4:10). That temptation and by the grace of God, the good choices we make at such times, is character forming and in Sunday’s message, I shall elaborate further on this point; it being so important that we be people of good character in these testing times in which we are living.
However, for now let me sign off with this thought. We must all have the fear of the Lord, just as Joseph did. It is not enough to give the outward appearance of being people of good character to those who do not know what we get up to when no-one else is looking. When we sin, we sin against God and one day, before the judgement seat of Christ, account will be made for the things done in the body, whether good or bad.
Remember also though, that for the believer the motivating factor is our reverence and awe of God and our aim is to please Him. Our motivation is not the wrong kind of fear… our motivation, our aim is to be pleasing to God, whom we love. And importantly, even when we fail to do so, Jesus Himself, in being able to sympathize with our weaknesses, having been tempted in all points as we are, yet being without sin, makes intercession for us… and who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
May God bless you and keep you always.
Yours in Him