Text verses: Genesis 16:1-2
The definition of deception is “the act of being deceived” or “causing one to believe an untruth.” Many times we use the synonyms – fool, hoodwink, trick, mislead, beguile, etc.
The flesh of man is a great deceiver. The flesh’s main goal is to lead a Child of God back into the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
The Apostle Paul gives great light in Romans 7:15-24 concerning the attributes of the flesh. Paul said sin dwells in the flesh:
“Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” (Romans 7:17)
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” (Romans 7:18)
Paul later wrote, in Galatians 5:17, that there is a great war between the flesh and the spirit. By “the flesh,” Paul is referring to the pull of the old man, which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts:
“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;” (Ephesians 4:22)
Paul’s words, “the spirit,” makes reference to man’s regenerated spirit; not speaking of a war between the flesh and the Holy Spirit, but between the old man and the new man.
King David wrote of the Child of God’s weakness in the flesh, “…he remembereth that we are dust” (Psalms 103:14).
Paul sums it up in 1 Corinthians 15:10a, “But by the grace of God I am what I am…”
The Child of God must understand – first, that the old man has been crucified (Romans 6:6-11); the power of sin have been broken.
But secondly, as long as we are in the earthly tabernacle (our physical body), the old man tries to carry us back into sin; tries to get us to serve sin.
“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7)
Yet, Paul tells us in Romans 8:2:
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
We are free, we don’t have to sin. But to not sin, we must abide 24/7 in Christ (John 15:6-10). That is, we must walk in His Love, obeying His Commandments; we must walk as Christ walked (1 John 2:4-6).
Thirdly, we must understand:
“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
What our text verses in Genesis provides for us is a great picture of Sarai, a Child of God, being deceived by her flesh. She entertained the lies of her flesh, as she thought she would never give Abram a child, even though God had promised Abram an heir (Genesis 15:4).
Therefore, Sarai took matters into her own hand – “Abram, since God hath restrained me from bearing…” She told the truth, for God is the Author of all life at His appointed time. (See Ecclesiastes 3:1; Job 14:5, etc.) But Sarai’s problem was that she did not believe God, at her age, to send an heir through her. Therefore, she took the Promise of God and tried to do it her way – which never, ever works. God demands all the glory; man cannot see the whole picture, only the past, and the present, as it happens.
In Genesis 16:2, Sarai told Abram to “go in” to her hand maiden, who they had picked up in Egypt (Genesis 12:16-20, especially see verse 16).
“And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.” (Genesis 16:2)
Of course, Abram put up no resistance, for his flesh was also guiding him. So Sarai gave Hagar, her Egyptian hand maiden, to Abram to be his wife. Abram went in unto Hagar, and she conceived (verse 4).
However, the results were disastrous. Things happened in Hagar’s heart that Sarai had not even considered – Hagar despised Sarai after she was with child (verse 5).
Sarai had depended upon her husband to guide her in this matter of taking Hagar to be his wife in order to bear children for him.
At this point, most women would say – how stupid it was of Sarai to throw a young and beautiful maiden into the arms of her husband. Yes, that action was foolish. But how many women even today are throwing their own husbands into the arms of a strange woman by their own actions? How? By getting out of their God-ordained role as wife. (See Titus 2:4-5; Genesis 3:16; Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 Peter 3:1-7; etc.)
Sarai may have never even thought that Abram would take up her offer. When a husband is walking in the flesh, be careful wives, what you place before your husband – filthy books, movies; internet pornography; too much familiarity with women friends; etc.
So Sarai blamed Abram, “the LORD judge between me and thee” (Genesis 5d). They were both guilty. However, Abram should have said – “No wife, we are going to believe God and wait.” Abram, being the head, was responsible to stop Sarai’s request, and to refuse to take Hagar as his second wife.
The problem that God presents to the reader of Genesis 16 is that Abram and Sarai were walking by sight and not by faith. Note what Paul wrote in Hebrews 11:6:
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
You can’t please God when the flesh is directing the traffic. The end will be misery. It was for Sarai for the next 14 years, living with Hagar and her son Ishmael in Abram’s house. This was a constant reminder of Abram’s and Sarai’s sin of disobedience.
Even though God had the solution to Abram’s and Sarai’s sin, the effects lingered the rest of their lives (Galatians 6:7-8). Sin and rebellion always pay; the results are never pleasant. But, they are used of God to conform His Children for the future.
Men, you can justify most any action of the flesh, by the reasoning of the flesh, as Abram did. You can say as Adam said to God:
“And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” (Genesis 3:12)
But it did not work for Adam, nor for Abram, nor will it work for you. It is the husband’s responsibility to guide the wife and family. God holds the husband responsible for his family’s instruction in the Word of God, and by example daily in his own behavior.
Abram’s marriage to Hagar, and having Ishmael, caused Abram great sorrow on down the road. (Read Genesis 21:9-14.)
My prayer is:
Help me, O God, to read and study Your Word and take heed to Your Ways. Help me, O God, to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ; that I might pattern myself like Christ; that I would walk even as Christ walked. In Jesus’ Name, Amen