- Be aware of your weaknesses – behavior occurs in patterns. For the most part, the average person is vague about this, but never ignorant of good and evil. Children are the most obvious means of revealing behavioral patterns; our son Caleb is a leader. Most first born or, as in our case, first born after a mega-gap (20-years) have leadership tendencies. This is a great quality to possess, but it can create variables that could be described as possible future weaknesses--- if not harnessed, and kept on a tight rope of discipline – they can become a trap for sin. There’s our first key – DISCIPLINE!
- Do our actions display a distrust of God - Can you imagine your husband disowning you; lying about your relationship, and exposing your chastity and honor--- instead of being your protector? Sarah had every reason to be aggravated, for this was not the first time. Abraham had been guilty of the same sin before, had been reproved for it, and was convinced of the foolishness of the suggestion which induced him to it in the first place - yet he returns to it! A good Christian may, not only fall into sin, but relapse into the same sin; through the surprise and strength of temptation and the weakness of the flesh. The beginning of any sin is like opening a faucet. There is no stopping the flow of what may come out.
- Flee from the temptation of sin - The Christian's security against sin is distrust of himself. We cannot fall by temptation if we cleave promptly to Him. Whether the world smiles or frowns, it is an enemy; but believers shall be strengthened to overcome it, with all its terrors and enticements. There’s our second key – OBEDIENCE!
Sarah was most likely with child when Abraham turned her over to Abimelech, or at least in expectation of being close to conception (according to the word of God); Abraham should have taken particular care of her. Instead, the king of Gerar sent, and took her to his house---in order to take her to his bed.
- The works of the flesh are manifest – “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,” Galatians 5:19 Notice that sin is called “a work,” thereby intimating to us the labor and toil; intimating is a perfect word for sin – our sin behavior likes to hide, as we maintain intimacy with our private and personal indulgence. The word intimating comes from the word “intimate,” which has a translation as "something intended to be worn next to the skin or in a private setting." Doesn’t that remind you of Adultery? There’s our third key – TRUST!
I read this expression once; “He that yields himself a servant to one sin, shall soon find himself a slave to many.”
Sarah did obey her husband, but we cannot excuse her for yielding herself to sin.
- Fear the Lord - The fear of the Lord, put into our hearts, will be the great means of safety. There’s our fourth key – FEAR!
Before men had the Bible to guide them, God often made known his will in dreams; and God interrupts this peril – “But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife.” Genesis 20:3
God detests the breach of marriage. God by His Holy Spirit restrains those who offend in ignorance, seeing to it that they do not plunge into greater offence... Adultery is a sin which exposes all who commit it to the wrath of God, both in this world and in the world to come – “…and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.” Genesis 20:7
But it is of great comfort to those that are honest; God knows our honesty, and will acknowledge it, though others may not. It was God who kept Abimelech from doing wrong, it was God who kept Abraham from suffering wrong, and it was God who kept Sarah from both.
- God is merciful – What a picture of God’s incredible forgiving, gracious spirit; Sarah is preserved, and Abimelech’s integrity and uprightness is proved.
I have never given this much thought, but after studying this chapter, I have come to the conclusion, that there is a great deal of sin devised and designed that is never executed. It is not from God that there is sin, but it is from Him that there is not more sin, either by His influence upon men's minds, checking their inclination to sin, or by His providence, taking away the opportunity to sin.
Abraham’s distrust of God is an example we may all do well to learn from; his undue care about life, his intent to deceive. He also threw temptation in the way of others, caused affliction to them, exposed himself and Sarah to just rebukes, and attempted an excuse. The conduct of worldly men is often a reproof to professed Christians. We often trouble ourselves, and even are led into temptation and sin, by groundless suspicions; and find the fear of God where we least expected it. Agreements to deceive generally end in shame and sorrow; and restraints from sin, though by suffering, should be thankfully acknowledged.
The Lord rebukes us, but He will pardon and deliver us, and He will give us favor in the sight of those with whom we cross paths with; and He will overrule our character flaws, when we humble ourselves, so that we prove useful to ourselves and others. There’s our fifth key – HUMBLE YOURSELF! Nothing in Scripture is written in vain; and it is our wisdom and contractual obligation to learn from it. Others have fallen, and so can we.
- Conception is a gift from the Lord - The judgment that Abimelech was under was removed upon the prayer of Abraham; “So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children.” Genesis 20:17 There’s our sixth key – ACKNOWLEDGE GOD IN EVERYTHING!
God is forgiving – Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands. Their sin could have been much worse, but God intervened in a most miraculous way. There’s our seventh key – CONFESS AND BE RESTORED!
Sin brings guilt and when we acknowledge our sin before God, He is quick to restore us with a calmness and peace.
There is so much more we can add to this Chapter, but I must conclude; I enjoyed reading about the kindness of this prince – Abimelech was most considerate and showed Abraham a level of humanity. See how unjust Abraham's jealousies were?
God’s word WILL refresh your approach to the basics of Christianity. Every day, I feel my spirit recharged and renewed after I study the Bible. In addition, prayers are our only way of talking to God; prayers need to be valued - the prayers from a good man were a kindness to a great man!
Power-pack your day with prayer – “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16
Don’t give up on those who fall into sin; if Abraham, a great man of God, could make wrong choices – it’s a possibility for us all. That’s a great reminder isn’t it? We should be grieved when we witness the sins of others, but more importantly, it should drive us to our knees, and give us renewed vigor to remain steadfast and in communication with God.
There are key ingredients we need to sustain us in the Christian life. From this Chapter in Genesis, I have come up with 7-Key Ingredients that will safeguard us from sin; DISCIPLINE, OBEDIENCE, TRUST, FEAR, HUMBLE YOURSELF, ACKNOWLEDGE GOD IN EVERYTHING CONFESS AND BE RESTORED.
I Love You