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the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 39

Simeon's Horae HomileticaeHorae Homileticae

Verse 9


Genesis 39:9. How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

THE grace of God is equally necessary for us in every situation of life; in adversity, to support us; and in prosperity, to keep us—We should have been ready indeed to congratulate Joseph on his advancement in the house of Potiphar, as though his trials had been ended: but we see that, if his former path was strewed with thorns, his present station was slippery, and replete with danger—His history is well known, and need not be insisted on: suffice it to say, that when tempted by his mistress, and importuned from day to day to commit sin with her, he resisted her solicitations with unshaken constancy, and rejected her proposals with indignation and abhorrence—The reply, which through the grace of God he was enabled to make, leads us to observe that,


Sin is no light evil—

The world in general imagine sin to be of very little moment—
[Sin universally prevails, and, except where it greatly interferes with the welfare of society, is countenanced and approved—The customs of the world sanction the practice of it to a certain extent in every one, whether male or female; though the greater latitude of indulgence is allowed to men—The very education that is given both to our sons and daughters, tends only to foster in them pride and vanity, wantonness and sensuality, worldliness and profaneness: let but these dispositions assume the names of ease, elegance, and gaiety, and they instantly lose all their malignant qualities; and, instead of exciting our abhorrence, endear to us the persons by whom they are indulged—Too many indeed will not submit to any restraints, but will even justify the grossest immoralities—They impose upon their excesses some specious appellation; they call drunkenness, conviviality; and whoredom, youthful indiscretion—Thus they commit sin without fear, persist in it without remorse, and even glory in their shame, when, through age and infirmity, they can no longer follow their former courses—]
But, if viewed aright, it will appear a dreadful evil—
[Can that be light or venial which cast myriads of angels from their height of glory into the bottomless abyss of hell?—Is that of trifling importance which in one moment ruined the whole race of man, and subjected them to an everlasting curse?—But if these effects be not sufficient to convince us, let us behold the Saviour in the garden of Gethsemane, or on the hill of Calvary: let us behold the Lord of glory bathed in blood, and expiring under the curse which our sins have merited; and we shall instantly confess with Solomon, that they are “fools, who make a mock of sin”—]
Not however to insist on this general view of sin, we observe that,


Considered as an offence against God, its enormity is exceeding great—

This is the particular light in which it struck the mind of Joseph—Though the iniquity to which he was tempted, would have been a defiling of his own body, and an irreparable injury to Potiphar his master, yet every other consideration seemed to be swallowed up in that of the offence it would give to God [Note: David viewed his sin in this light, Psalms 51:4.] —Sin is levelled more immediately against God himself—It is,


A defiance of his authority—

[God commands us to keep his law; and enforces his commands with the most awful and encouraging sanctions—But sin says, like Pharaoh, “Who is the Lord, that I should regard him? I know not the Lord, neither will I obey his voice [Note: Exodus 5:2. See also Psa 12:4 and Jeremiah 44:16.] ”—And is it a light matter for a servant thus to insult his master, a child his parent, a creature his Creator?—]


A denial of his justice—

[God threatens that “the wicked shall not be unpunished”—But what does sin reply? It says like them of old, “God will not do good, neither will he do evil [Note: Zephaniah 1:12.] ”—And shall it be thought a trifling matter to rob the Deity thus of his most essential perfections?—]


An abuse of his goodness—

[It is altogether owing to the goodness of God that we are even capable of sinning against him—It is from him that we receive the bounties which administer to our excess, and the strength whereby we provoke the eyes of his glory—And can any thing be conceived more vile than to make his goodness to us the very means and occasion of insulting him to his face?—]


A rejection of his mercy—

[God is continually calling us to accept of mercy through the Son of his love—But sin “tramples under foot the Son of God;” it even “crucifies him afresh, and puts him to an open shame”—It proclaims aloud, that the glory of heaven is not to be compared with the gratification of our lusts; and that it is better to perish by self-indulgence, than to obtain salvation in the exercise of self-denial—What terms then can sufficiently express the enormity of that, which so blinds and infatuates its wretched votaries?—]
It is not possible to behold sin in this light, without acknowledging that,


We ought to flee from it with indignation and abhorrence—

Instead of tampering with it we should flee from it—
[Sin is of so fascinating a nature that it soon bewitches us, and leads us astray—As “a man cannot take fire into his bosom without being burnt,” so neither can he harbour sin in his heart without being vitiated and corrupted by it—Had Achan fled from the wedge of gold as soon as ever he found a desire after it springing up in his heart; and David turned away his eyes the very instant he saw Bathsheba, how much shame and misery would they have escaped! But the breach, which might easily have been stopped at the first, presently defied the efforts of an accusing conscience; and a flood of iniquity soon carried them away with irresistible impetuosity—Thus also it will be with us; if we parley with the tempter, he will surely overcome us: we must resist sin at the first, if we would oppose it with success—]
Instead of loving it, we should utterly abhor it—
[The grace of God enabled Joseph to reject with abhorrence the offers proposed to him; and to prefer a dungeon with a good conscience before the indulgence of a criminal passion, or the favour of a seducing mistress—Thus should we turn with indignation from the allurements of sin—We should “make a covenant with our eyes,” yea, with our very hearts, that we may close, as much as possible, every avenue of ill—Instead of palliating sin, we should new it in all its aggravations; and especially as an offence against a just and holy, a merciful and gracious, God—Nor should we ever forget, that, though it be “rolled as a sweet morsel under the tongue, it will prove gall in the stomach;” and though it flatter us with its innocence, “it will bite as a serpent, and sting like an adder”—]


Those who think lightly of sin—

[We well know that the generality of men have much to say in extenuation of their guilt; and, if they had been in the situation of Joseph, would have accounted the greatness of the temptation a sufficient excuse for their compliance with it—But to what purpose shall we palliate our guilt, unless we can prevail on the Judge of quick and dead to view it with our eyes? We may indeed weaken our present convictions, but we shall only secure thereby, and enhance, our eternal condemnation—Let us remember that “fleshly lusts war against the soul [Note: 1 Peter 2:11.] ;” and that either we must mortify and subdue them, or they will enslave and destroy us [Note: Romans 8:13.]: for, even though the whole universe should combine to justify the commission of sin, not one who yields to its solicitations, shall ever pass unpunished—]


Those who begin to see the evil of it—

[It is an unspeakable mercy to have any view of the malignity of sin—To see how much we have deserved the wrath and indignation of God, is the very first step towards repentance and salvation—Let not any then turn away from this sight too hastily, or think they have discovered the evil of sin in its full extent—This is a lesson we are to be learning all our days; and it is only in proportion as we advance in this humiliating knowledge, that we shall be qualified to receive and enjoy the Saviour—It is necessary indeed that, while we look at sin, we look also at Him who made atonement for it; for otherwise, we shall be led to despair of mercy; but, if we keep our eyes fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and see the infinite extent of his merits, we need never be afraid of entertaining too bitter a remembrance of sin—The more we lothe ourselves for past iniquities, the more shall we be fortified against temptations to commit them in future, and the more will God himself be ready to preserve and bless us—]


Those who, like Joseph, are enabled to withstand it—

[Blessed be God, there are many living witnesses to prove, that the grace of God is as sufficient at this day, as ever it was, to purify the heart, and to “keep the feet of his saints”—Let those then who are enabled to hold fast their integrity, give glory to him, by whom they are strengthened and upheld—But let them remember, that they are never beyond the reach of temptation, nor ever so likely to fall, as when they are saying, “My mountain stands strong; I shall not be moved”—Let us then continue to watch against the renewed assaults of our great adversary—Never let him find us off our guard, or draw us to a parley with him—Let us suspect him, and he shall not deceive us; let us resist him, and he shall flee from us: and the very assaults that he shall make upon us, shall terminate in our honour and his own confusion—]

Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Genesis 39". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/genesis-39.html. 1832.
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