Bad Girls of the Bible: Potiphar’s Wife

Bad Girls of the Bible | Liz Curtis Higgs

Nameless and shameless, that’s our Bad Girl of the week. Scripture doesn’t tell us her age, her physical description, or her background. We know only that she was married, she was Egyptian, and she was definitely Bad to the Bone.

Egyptian Pyramids

Chapter 2: Bored to Distraction
Genesis 39:1-23

In Pharaoh’s court, Potiphar served as “commander of the royal guard” (CEB), but behind his back, people called him the “chief butcher” (EXB). You know this executioner wouldn’t hesitate to lop off the head of any man who tried to play patty cake with his wife.

Enter Joseph, a handsome young Israelite, despised by his brothers. They “sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites” (Genesis 37:28), who in turn sold him to Potiphar, no doubt for a tidy profit.

His brothers treated Joseph like dirt. His new owner considered Joseph mere property. But God had a bigger, better plan. “The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered” (Genesis 39:2).

Joseph didn’t prosper because he was good, but because God is good and chose to bless this young man no matter where he landed—in a ditch by the side of the road or in a wealthy Egyptian household.

Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Even Potiphar noticed that the Lord gave Joseph “success in everything he did” (Genesis 39:3). Wow. For Potiphar to give God credit, Joseph must have honored God first, praising the Lord every chance he had.

The Holy Spirit is nudging me, even as I type those words. Go and do likewise, Liz. When blessings come, we’re to lift up God and not ourselves, glorify his name and not our own, spread his fame, rather than seek it for ourselves.

Potiphar put Joseph in charge of everything he owned, inside and out, and the Lord blessed it all. The only thing Potiphar had to worry about was “the food he ate” (Genesis 39:6). Falafel, anyone?

Falafel, an Egyptian Food

Meanwhile, Mrs. Potiphar had an appetite of her own. And look who came along to satisfy it: Joseph, that “well-built and handsome” Hebrew slave. He was definitely “attractive” (AMP), assuredly “strong and good-looking (NLV), and right there under her roof.

Naturally, she “took notice of Joseph” (Genesis 39:7). Who wouldn’t? Like Eve gazing at that forbidden fruit, Mrs. P eyed her household’s delicious newcomer.

Later Jewish commentaries give her the name Zuleika, which means “fair, brilliant, and lovely” in Arabic. Was she beautiful? We can’t be sure, but clearly she thought she had something to offer. Her suggestion to Joseph cut right to the chase: “Come to bed with me!” (Genesis 39:7).

Hard as it is to confess, in my Former Bad Girl days—a few details here—I was every bit as brazen as Potiphar’s wife, propositioning men whenever and wherever the urge struck.

No, I’m not kidding. And no, I’m not proud of it.

What I am is grateful. Grateful for a God who gently washed those words out of my mouth with the finest soap imaginable, then scrubbed away my sins with his love, his mercy, and his grace.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord. Thirty years and counting, and I still can’t say it enough. Thank you.

"What can wash away my sin?"

As for Joseph, did he take advantage of Mrs. Potiphar’s salacious offer? He did not. Instead, he told her, “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). Joseph didn’t call her wicked; he called adultery wicked. And he made it clear Who would be dishonored if he said yes. Good lessons there.

Even with Joseph’s strong witness, Mrs. P didn’t give up. She “spoke to Joseph day after day” (Genesis 39:10), until he refused “even to go near her” (CEV).

Have you ever wanted something as badly as this desperate Egyptian housewife did? It’s easy to judge her through the lens of time—and hard to admit we may have something in common with her. Blind ambition. Unquenchable desire. A driving sort of need that refuses to be ignored.

Mrs. P waited until an opportune moment when the house was empty, then made her move. This is the one verse we’ll unpack.

She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. Genesis 39:12

Speak No Evil, See No Evil, Hear No Evil

She caught him… Genesis 39:12

As much as Joseph tried to speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil, Potiphar’s wife would not be denied. She “grabbed” (CEB) and she “took” (WYC). In Hebrew, taphas means “to lay hold of, to seize,” with a secondary meaning of “to grasp in order to wield,” like one might grip a sword and use it as a weapon.

Was she trying to control Joseph? Prove who was mistress and who was slave? Or was Potiphar’s wife merely determined not to let him slip through her hands yet again?

When we don’t get what we want, the temptation to reach out and snatch may seem too great to resist.

Resist, beloved. God brings us what we need, not what we want.

…by his cloak… Genesis 39:12

The Hebrew word, beged, simply means “apparel,” used for everything from the rags of a pauper to the robes of a priest. Egyptian slaves wore only the most basic linen clothing. Whether you call it his “robe” (CJB), his “outer garment” (NET), his “coat” (CEV), or simply his “clothes” (GW), Mrs. P grabbed a handful.

She wanted the man, not his threads. But she settled for less, then hoped for more.

Mrs P's Bedroom

…and said, “Come to bed with me!” Genesis 39:12\

Second verse, same as the first. This is exactly what she told Joseph earlier. We see nothing creative here, not even an attempt to woo him with her charms or flatter him with compliments.

Instead, her demands are quite explicit. “Lie down with me” (CEB). “Make love to me!” (CEV). “Have sex with me!” (NET). In Hebrew, it’s a single word, shakab, meaning “lie.”

However brief the message, Joseph got it. And quickly got out.

But he left his cloak in her hand… Genesis 39:12

Further proof of Joseph’s swift departure. She was still “hanging onto his coat” (CEV) when he “tore himself away” (TLB), “leaving her holding his clothes in her hand” (VOICE).

How much of his clothing was left behind is debatable, though what matters is he left it. Had I been Joseph, I would have gotten into a tug of war, trying to save my clothing, leaving myself vulnerable to temptation.

Joseph was smarter than that. He didn’t just leave the room; he left the building.

House on the Nile River

…and ran out of the house. Genesis 39:12

This Egyptian home on the banks of the Nile may help us imagine Joseph as he “escaped and ran outside” (GNT). Now what? The poor guy was always losing his clothes. First when his brothers stole his coat of many colors, and again when Mrs. P snatched his robe.

But Joseph was still fully dressed in what mattered most: “For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10).

Potiphar’s wife was covered with a mantel of shame. Joseph was covered in the righteousness of God.

You’ve read the whole story. You know what comes next. She hung on to his garment and accused Joseph of making fools of them all—the Hebrew word, tsachaq, means “to laugh”—complaining first to her household servants, and then to her husband, who “burned with anger” (Genesis 39:19).

Was he angry at Joseph for betraying his trust? Or furious with his wife for chasing away a good and godly man whose presence in their household had brought about untold blessings?

Verse 20 tells the tale. This head executioner, this butcher, didn’t put Joseph to death. He put him with the king’s prisoners. He let him live, and in a royal prison, where once again, “the Lord was with him” (Genesis 39:21).

The moral of this story? Even a Bad Girl cannot outsmart our good God.

Down to Egypt

Here’s Our Discussion Question

The tawdry story of Mrs. P demonstrates what can happen when we have too much time on our hands—or not enough attention from loved ones. Boredom, restlessness, and a sense of entitlement can lead to trouble with a capital T. When you have an hour to spare, are you sometimes drawn to questionable choices in movies, novels, or other forms of entertainment? What steps might you take to steer clear of those things that appeal to your flesh at the risk of your spiritual growth?

Since I’ve already confessed an ugly part of my past, let me give the Lord the glory he deserves for a beautiful victory. More than a dozen years ago, I was speaking about our Bad Girls at a Christian women’s retreat. When I closed with an altar call, inviting women to come forward and lay their burdens before the Lord, I felt a strong urge to step down from the platform and make a silent admission of my own.

Lord, I can’t do this! I’m the speaker…

It was no use. The Holy Spirit would not let me wriggle out of this.

Though the worship leader gaped at me, she kept playing the piano as I put aside the microphone, walked down a few steps, then knelt at the altar and asked God to deliver me from something I knew was not edifying: romance novels. Not the wonderful Christian variety; the other kind. However interesting the characters, however exciting the plots, the fact is, many scenes in those paperback novels didn’t take my mind or heart anywhere they needed to go.

God is faithful. I removed the books from my house, and he removed the desire from my heart. Please hear no judgment from Lizzie about your reading preferences. This was something God asked me to do, and so (for a change!) I actually listened and obeyed. Even so, God alone deserves the credit.

Now it’s your turn

My question is now your question: What steps might you take to steer clear of those “questionable” things in your life that appeal to your flesh at the risk of your spiritual growth?

One of the reasons why I never hold back is so you won’t, beloved. When we speak the truth, we cast aside shame and the power it has over us. Share you thoughts under Post a Comment below.

If you want to check it out, Mrs. P’s purple Pinterest board is positively priceless.

Next week, we’ll visit Sodom and Gomorrah with Lot’s wife in Chapter Three…eee!

Your sister, Liz

Your Sister in Christ, Liz Curtis Higgs

Just released…

The Women of Christmas | Liz Curtis Higgs  Barnes&

Thinking about The Women of Christmas for a Bible study? You’ll find 8 short chapters and a 12-page Study Guide at the end of the book—ideal for a 4-week or 8-week study.

Thinking about The Women of Christmas for gift giving? The nativity story unfolds verse by verse, inviting those you care about to enter into the season in a life-changing way.

“Liz Curtis Higgs ably mines the Scriptures, revealing undiscovered treasures in the familiar story. Through the pages of this powerful little book, we get to peer into the hearts of these women and find our own hearts melting at the beauty of God’s grace.” —Nancy Guthrie, author of the Bible study series Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament

49 Responses to Bad Girls of the Bible: Potiphar’s Wife

  1. Sandra Schoger Foster September 11, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    Wow, Liz, you told it like it is, and very well at that. I can relate… and I’m also still saying “thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord!!!”
    Love and hugs,
    Sandra Schoger Foster

  2. Jennifer September 11, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    Thank you for sharing Liz. My problem is I let the computer take away bible study time…then I found your website and I feel I am doing better. Not there yet but doing better. I say thank you Lord everyday!

  3. Bonnie camacho September 11, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    Thanku so much for study .love the word .bible study is great .Thanku u .

  4. Alicia September 11, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    Thanks Liz!
    This hit home for me today.. and yes I can relate. Thanks for telling it like it is! You reminded me what a Wonderful God we have and how much he loves us.

  5. Christina Anderson September 11, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    I can certainly relate! I was raised a Christian, but after my first divorce I got “mad” at God and went my own way. I married an atheist the second time and that one didn’t work out either. I lied and committed adultery in order to marry my third husband, also an atheist. He and none of our friends believed anything. I had a few affairs while I was married to him, simply because I was so lonely. He ignored me, wouldn’t talk to me, virtually forced me out of our house and to live in our barn. I only slept in the house. But his actions don’t justify the affairs. God woke me up big time! I had four strokes in 2003 and I am a walking miracle. I am not paralyzed, my eyesight isn’t impaired, and I ride and hike every week. God also took me out of that Godless marriage and placed me in a house of my own in a town I don’t really like. I have disability/retirement. And I confess that even after the strokes I had affairs. I used men to get what I wanted. And then one day God simply opened my eyes to the kind of life I had led and was leading. I broke down in tears, and I stayed broken. I told all the men I was “hanging out” with that I no longer believed in casual sex, and that I wouldn’t be “rolling in the hay” with them any more. I have lost most of my so-called boyfriends, but I don’t miss any of them any more than I’d miss a wart. I volunteer in order to keep busy. I was the director of Boulder Valley School District Adult Education Program for a number of years prior to the strokes and worked with every agency in Boulder County. I was BUSY. Now I kind of feel like I am on the shelf. I have too much time on my hands. But I spend it in volunteering, in reading, in hiking whenever I get the chance, and also in riding. If God has a further use for me He has not shown me what it is yet. But I know He is faithful and that I have to be also. I confess that I hate where I live. Pray every day asking God to let me leave this neighborhood and this town IF it is His Perfect Will for my life.
    Thanks Liz!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 11, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

      You’ve come a long way on a very hard road, Christina. Praising God that you are waiting on him now. He DEFINITELY has a further use for you. In the meantime, keep breathing, keep volunteering, study words in Scripture like “contentment” and “peace,” and allow the Lord in his perfect timing show you what’s next. Praying as I post!

  6. Bev September 11, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    A recovering bad girl too. Praise be to Jesus, He gets all the glory. I love the Word as well and your Bible studies are frosting on the cake. Love you and God bless you!!

  7. Cindy September 11, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    My tweener and I are loving these devotions – and the pinboards are a perfect way to wrap up our mutual devotional time…I wish you could be here and see her delight in reviewing Mrs. P’s fashion choices and Eve’s thoughts about what Adam might like for a gift! Thanks so sharing so wonderfully!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 11, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

      LOVE that you are sharing this with your daughter, and that the Pinterest boards are a fun way to make a connection. I had SO much fun doing them! Thanks, Cindy.

  8. Nadine September 11, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    Thank you for sharing this. I right now am struggling with my past and my present. I spent my whole life adulterous inappropriate always trying to get mens attention the wrong way, cheating on my husbands and from a very young age looking for attention and getting attention from bad boys or inappropriately. I am going through a restoring the heart class right now and also been dealing with my best friend for twenty years Tally, who I told I found him attractive five weeks ago and my life has not been working well since. I have been saying out of my mouth things that would keep him in our lives. The truth is he loves Jesus and I am really struggling with healing and wholeness I need from years and years of abuse from the past. Hard to know if the enemy is against me in this or God just doesnt’ want me to be with him and spend anytime with him. I am praying for clarity for both of us. I want what God wants and I have said things that have definitely lead Tally on and now struggle inside completely conflicted about it all. I haven’t dated and been alone for a long time now.;.. because I guess maybe inside I feel that God is saying he wants me alone. I have two kids with two different fathers and sometimes that is hard enough to deal with. I want what God wants and I don’t know what that is. I know he wants to heal me of the hurt and the abuse of my life, I no longer want to walk wounded anymore… I am tired of being alone, but want whatever God wants, I just need to hear his voice and have him help me with the truth of what he wants, I don’t want to be my own worst enemy. I want to walk in his ways.. and need his help to get me and my children back on the straight path. It’s never too late right? I want to be walking in his will and need his help… Dear Lord, Abba Daddy, my heart hurts this morning, starting this restoring the heart class last night makes me realize that a lot of women have been abused.. including me and in many different forms and ways… I need your healing touch on my heart from all of this in your way and in your time. I know you have healed some of this God, but I need your help… I am not able to do this on my own and I ask that you please stop the enemy from coming at me and my family right now so that I can hear your will for our lives. Show me if you want Tally to continue to remain in our lives and father I am sorry if I acted in appropriately ever. I am sorry I just encouraged my son to like India .. that was wrong I should be leading him to the path of holiness, please forgive me. Jesus, I need more of you and less of me… Please help me… I love you and want to do right, there are areas that I still struggle with and I need you to be gentle with me please and merciful. I pray you fix my messes and help me be a better mother and person Lord.. and deliver me of any unholiness or purity going on in my life. Please make a way of escape out of the areas of my life you don’t want me in anymore, from sharing the cable with the upstairs tenants to Tally to whatever you want Lord, please help me and please be Lord over my life.. I ask you to help me be a better mother and help my children strive for holiness and purity. I too had read books that were inappropriate romantic novels and all kinds of things.. But I don’t do any of it anymore…. I need to know where I am not in his will though… I love you Jesus and thank you for this blog and please heal us, restore us and set us freee, I ask in Jesus name.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 11, 2013 at 8:31 pm #

      Nadine, you have much to work through, and I am by no means an expert. But I would encourage you to 1) seek professional Christian counseling, 2) focus on the LORD right now, rather than seeking earthly companionship, and 3) understand that the enemy is definitely AGAINST you, but God is assuredly FOR you. Your prayer to your Abba Father is precious and demonstrates your desire for changes in your life. One step at a time, beloved.

  9. Kathy September 11, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    Wow Mrs. Potiphar needs help! What an example NOT to be. When I’m all alone, I fight the urge to watch tv and turn on worship music. I love to sit and listen but I usually eat. I wish I could stop! If only food wasn’t so good! Lord help me fight that battle and drink water. Oh to be skinny!

    • Jo September 12, 2013 at 10:37 am #

      Hi Kathy,
      lol…sounds like me, only I struggle with spending too much time in front of the computer. But I also think too much of food. As well as being skinny. Something that has been helping me deal with this is Lysa Terkeurst “Made to Crave: Satisfying your deepest desire with God and not food” I read a chapter a day and then began her devotion book, I am doing this with someone else as well. It is a fun read, but honest, deep and so needed for us girls with food issues as well as that longing to be skinny!

  10. Ann September 11, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    Ah, yes. Thank you, Liz–I love the Bad Girls books and I’m glad you’re doing this Bible study this fall. Thank you, too, for your comment on Jesus working to deal with things in your life even now! He recently convicted me on the same thing–romantic novels, but mine were the Christian variety. Not saying there’s no good in them–just that they weren’t good for me. Took time and mental energy needed elsewhere. Another thing He’s dealing with me is the amount of sleep I get (or don’t get!) To have that clear mind, to have the energy for the things to which He has called me…that’s what I want. And I know that’s what He’s moving me toward. Thanks again for the great study!

  11. Sandra (Sandy) Wall September 11, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    “God brings us what we need, not what we want”. What a powerful statement. People say we live in a “microwave society”. NOW! NOW! NOW! I am not happy so let ME change the circumstances so I am happy. Happiness is so fleeting. It is the inner joy that I want to achieve in my life with Christ. Is it happening? I guess it depends on the day….(right ladies?). I have been struggling and I am finding it is because of my health. Because of what has been happening on the inside of me has been affecting me without me realizing it. In speaking with the doctor on Tues. I have to be on insulin because my blood is “inflamed” which causes a lot of stuff to not function properly in my system. I am thinking much clearer which is a wonderful feeling.

    Why am I sharing this? Does it have anything to do with the question? Glad you asked. I believe that when your mind is not in it’s right “frame of mind” or “working properly” you can fall into all kinds of traps. For me it is not liking my husband of 32 years. Everything seems so overwhelming that I want out. Dumb, right? That is what happens when your mind is not working properly. I will think there is someone out there who will treat me better…..not that my husband treats me awful. HE IS WONDERFUL. He cooks, cleans, etc., etc. Many of my friends are jealous of it. But my personality is hugs and being held. I do not get that and I feel very lonely because of it. There goes the mind…”Oh, he is good looking. Great hands. He looks like he is a comforter”. You know where the mind goes from there and you become dissatisfied with your life. So, I wonder why Mrs. P was looking around? Needs not being met? Feeling not very important or needed? Just a thought.

    I used to read romance novels-non-christian. God convicted me of reading these books. “Why can’t I have a man like these books read?” Compare, compare, compare. ME,ME, ME.

    So, to steer clear of putting these kinds of thought in my mind, I no longer read these kind of books. If I need to read a romance novel, it is christian based books. I now read more thriller or “who-done-it” books.

    While I was reading some of the statements that the other women wrote, I was really sad. But I did not feel alone in the struggle of life. “In the day” women had women to talk to. Now we are all so busy and disconnected. I have learned that I can not depend on ladies,friends, or others for my fulfillment (in talking and sharing). I have to learn how to connect with God to fill these needs. I do have a lot of pride, too. When I need someone to talk to (Godly women/friend) I need to call and let myself cry so that I can heal and see correctly. When I do this, it helps in my spiritual growth to see correctly how God sees me.

    I do not know if this all makes sense, but as Joyce Meyers titled book, “Battlefield of the Mind”, our minds are in a battle and the only way I can win this battle is to stay connected with Godly women, and most important, stay connected with God.

    Back to the statement “God brings you what you need, not what you want”. God has brought me medicine so that I can think clearer and christian fellowship through this blog. Medicine is not what I want, but it is what I need. A close christian friend is what I need, but not always what I want. God provides these for me because HE knows what I need more then what I THINK I need.

    Thanks for your openness Liz and your study. Bloggers, thank you for sharing your heart with all of us.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 11, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

      A sound mind is a GOOD THING, Sandy, absolutely. And medicine to help you think more clearly is truly a gift from God. Sounds like you have a good man. Cherish him, knowing he, too, is a gift from the One who loves you and knows what you need.

  12. Laurel Shaler September 11, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    Hey there Liz! Been a long time since I’ve posted because of lots of things the Lord has been up to in my life that has kept my quite busy. But, I really wanted to reply to this one. 🙂 When you asked your question at the end, I couldn’t help but think about the color grey. Or gray. Whichever you prefer. I have made the decision (and keep having to make it because while my spirit is willing, my flesh is weak) to not live in that color shade. In other words, I strive not to do anything that is even a bit questionable. I want everything I say, think, or do to reflect Christ. Purity. Light. I don’t even want a smaggem (I made that word up…if it is used enough, it will be placed in Webster’s dictionary!) of darkness to taint the white. OF COURSE, I mess up regularly. But, like you, I thank God that He is faithful and just to forgive ME and cleanse ME of all unrighteousness. Bless you, sis!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 11, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

      I hear exactly what you are saying, Laurel. I think many of us live in gray/grey zones. So right to seek the light!

  13. Robin September 11, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    Thank you for mentioning details that I haven’t noticed, although I’ve been familiar with this story for years. The first thing that I’m specifically thinking about are the same words being used to describe Joseph as his mother, Rachel–sent me right to my Bible! Second, I’d never noticed that his clothing, his cloak, was a part of his story in two separate instances. Third, Joseph’s response in Genesis 39:9 contrasts against David’s heart cry in Psalm 51:4.

    Now on to the discussion question of the week: Sometimes I simply have to keep things out of my home. For instance, I can almost describe myself as addicted to a particular type of cookie–in order to keep myself from making them and eating them, I have to make sure that I do not have all the ingredients available. Sometimes I have to practice the discipline of not watching what I want because the movie brings to remembrance issues that have been confessed, repented, and forgiven–watching just stirs up guilt feelings with which the enemy can have a field day–why give him more opportunity to attack? Also, my husband & I try to avoid choosing R-rated movies. At times there are movies that I would like to watch but pass because of its rating. Of course, even choosing television shows from premium channels (example HBO) can be a challenge.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 11, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

      Such wisdom, Robin, stopping sin at your doorstep. Well done. The tricky part (for me, anyway) is doing what God asks me to do, without imposing the same limitations on others, or judging them for making different choices than mine. Some things matter a great deal; others really do not. Grace, grace, grace is the street I want to live on!

  14. Lina September 11, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    Thanks Liz… Oh, I am surely convicted and will take care of that item as soon as I get home! My mind went immediately there and then just as quickly as I decided something must go, I had a back up plan. Scary stuff that temptation to do wrong!!

  15. Barb Smith September 11, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    This is a perfect example of another reason we all love you so much and know God is using you the way He does. You reveal your utmost secrets and sins so that we know we are not alone. I too led a very promiscuous life before coming to Christ. I have been alone now for 12 years and have my moments where I think….I could easily be tempted to go back to those ways and every time I even get close to thinking it or struggling with it-God provides a way out even before I get to that point. He knows our weakness and so does Satan which is why we remain so tempted. Thank you once again and Praise God for your intervening and sharing in all our lives !

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 11, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

      It’s my joy to open God’s Word with you, Barb, and to open my life as well, with the goal of helping my sisters get honest with themselves, with the Lord, and with one another. Although spoken in another context, these words from Scripture ring so true: “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.” 1 Chronicles 29:17

  16. Susan Ireland September 11, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    I did everything !!! and went to church on Sunday, confess take communion and then go and live the same way– until one Sunday it was like the Holy Spirit was sitting on top of me and I could feel a tug – I went forward , I can say a lot of self righteous people have this look , like oh no there goes my image of a perfect family. So many people are lonely and some have done things they did not like, because they thought they had to. I take one day at a time, I lean on other Christians and they lean on me. I talk with many people in other countries and I cry for them. How did this start ? well I thought I knew everything about the evil world , but I was wrong , I was scammed for thousands of dollars because the devil is a liar , and he only comes to steal and destroy. But what he meant for bad a Pastor in Kenya set me straight , he lectured me and turned me in the right direction – they call scammers in Africa “dirt devils” – I do not judge anyone !! If you need to fall on your face everyday and plead for mercy from God – do it !! God knows your heart – love you Liz – God bless you

  17. Susan Gruener September 12, 2013 at 2:54 am #

    Liz, I am so loving this bible study! I love your great insights and words of wisdom (and humor). 🙂 I love your openness and honesty as well – it ain’t easy telling on ourselves! 🙂 I received two of those romance novels you spoke of, for free in the mail years ago. I didn’t order them, but I love to read, so…I read one and it wasn’t so bad. The next one wasn’t so ‘good’. I realized then and there I needed to get rid of them – it had to be a Holy Spirit thing! 🙂 The sad thing about it, they were such great stories…but into the trash they went! God always honors our obedience, and I’ve never looked back.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 12, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

      No question, some romance novels are perfectly fine. Alas, some of the ones I reached for many years ago were not so fine. Wise is the woman who knows the difference and chooses well, seeking to please the One she loves.

  18. Paula Gershoony September 12, 2013 at 3:35 am #

    It seems like my life is constant drama. Drama that I do not bring on myself. My son ran away 6 years ago. My father just passed away 3 months ago. My grandpa is not a believer and has brain cancer. I have lived with chronic leg pain for over 13’years. Big issues that I can not control. I know it all is in God.s hands. I am in the word day and night. But I try to self medicate by smoking. I know my body is a.temple of the holy spirit and I do not want to smoke but I just continue to not stop. I make an excuse that it calms me but the truth is that it is an addiction. I want to be.around for my kids and.future grandchildren. I feel so guilty that the Holy Spirit is dwelling in this body. And how dare.I do the.temple that my Lord so graciously blessed me with. Please pray for me to break this bondage. BLESS you Sister Liz

  19. Tina W. September 12, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    Liz- Thanks for sharing about your struggle with romance novels- I’ve had to give them up too! I used to try to just skip the R rated scenes because I wanted to see how the story ended. Then I just thought- there are so many wholesome, uplifting books to read, why am I wasting my time on this kind?! I just praise the Lord for dealing with me with His amazing grace! Thank you for writing the kind of books that are encouraging and entertaining at the same time!

  20. Julie Sunne September 12, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    Oh, my–what a wonderful study and what a loaded question, Liz! I am definitely a black-and-white girl–“doing” what is right is most important. However, having a right heart is something entirely different.

    Oh, for the Lord to lift this heart of judgement from me–this critical nature directed almost exclusively toward those closest to me! I am so forgiving and understanding with others, just not some in my family. My judgmental attitude comes from good intentions–wanting to see my loved ones desire a deep and intimate walk with the Lord as I have been blessed to discover. However, such a spirit as mine does nothing to encourage their faith.

    Help me, Lord, to lay down my spirit of condemnation and judgement. Remind me of 1 Peter 3:1. Help me to live a life of love, not criticism. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the love and forgiveness and guidance you offer, Father. In Jesus precious name. Amen!

    And thank you, my dear sister in Christ.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 12, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

      Such a heartfelt admission, Julie, and one that many of us identify with. I, too, am often kinder to strangers than I am to my own dear family. What’s up with that?! Forgive us, Lord. Again, and again, and again.
      “Lord, hear my voice.
      Let your ears be attentive
      to my cry for mercy.
      If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
      Lord, who could stand?
      But with you there is forgiveness,
      so that we can, with reverence, serve you.” Psalm 130:2-4

  21. Lisa September 12, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    I too know that I struggle daily with the effects of sin and a connection to this world. When I get off of work at night (I teach 3 year olds in a Christian school), I give myself permission for “me time”…something that I admitted to in your last post. And, that time usually includes sitting in front of the television, watching less than soul edifying shows. I know that I should be turning off the tv, and spending time getting my soul, head, and house back into order. Isn’t it amazing that people who are so in love with God let the devil take over their heads and minds? I pray that I can resist the temptation to do what seems right for me now, and look forward to what is good for my future! Thanks for the reminder, Liz!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 12, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

      Thanks for your honesty, Lisa. We are in this together. Lord, hear our prayers for mercy and a fresh start this very day.

  22. Elizabeth Duncan September 12, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

    I definitely echo what a few other ladies have said about treating their families unkindly. This has been a life-long struggle for me, first as a child in my nuclear family and now as a married adult. I am married to a spectacular man, who showers me with undeserved grace time and again… but I am constantly snapping at him, yelling, even name-calling, and it’s hard not to hate myself for it. I feel like a hypocrite, calling myself a Christian when I treat my own family that way.

    A group of older ladies in my church put on a mentoring group for us younger ladies awhile back. One of them mentioned this struggle and said something like, “If my own family doesn’t think I’m kind, it doesn’t matter one little bit what any of you at this table think of me.” I remember it striking a nerve, because I think most people would call me kind… Only my husband really sees the flip side to me, and I am trying to be better for him. Still. Most days it feels like a losing battle.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 16, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

      Your sisters are cheering you on in this battle, dear Elizabeth. God has used the words of an animated character (Thumper) to teach me a valuable lesson on this subject: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” We’re listening, Lord!

  23. Terri Orchard September 12, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

    Wow…….Why have I thought that all these years, I was the only bad girl. Thank the Lord that He forgave me and my husband loves me enough to forgive my past. I, too, cannot thank the Lord enough for all the ‘2nd’ chances He has blessed me with..

  24. MaryAnn September 13, 2013 at 7:22 am #

    I hear you on the romance novels. The Lord recently convicted me of the same thing. It has meant no longer reading several authors who had been favorites. I will still see their new works, as patrons in the library I staff will still want me to get them for them. It is my desire to stay away from them. There are plenty of excellent choices from Christian authors that tell just as good a story without the aspects God has called me to stay away from.

  25. Linda Weems September 13, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    Oh Thank God for cleansing me from a bad life.I wanted something I didn’t have always,not realizing God had already given me the best.I could never be happy Till God cleansed and made me who I am now.Thank You God!!!!Thank you for this wonderful story.It is so meanful

  26. Linda H September 14, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    I came to my marriage as bad girl, but so thankful for my husband who loved me through that time. The Lord has blesed our life. I have fallen in love with Christian authors who like you Liz tell a story that shows God’s amazing love. I try to fill my time with books like that or studies to keep my mind focused on the Lord. I just have to quit eating while doing this! Loved the reminder that God gives what we need not always what we want!
    It is not our strength, but the Lord’s to keep me on the right path!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 16, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

      It’s definitely GOD’S strength that keeps ALL of us on the right path, Linda. Walking together, grateful for his grace.

  27. Phyllis September 18, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    In my home and at school I was told that I was stupid, fat and would always be alone. I learned to put up defenses quickly in life and I was quick to strike back in any mean way I could. I drank, smoked, sex, to drown out the accusations about myself, and to keep from the reoccurring nightmares I had. I had a child out of wedlock, and had nowhere to go because My mother wouldn’t let me come home or allow me to speak to family or friends about this, so I allowed my child to be adopted.
    I became more angry, hurt, and hateful. I married a Very loving, christian man when I was 21. Before we were married I let him know all about myself and what he could expect. He married me anyway. I was hateful to him as well as everyone else, including our daughter.
    One day while I was reading the Bible, I began to think about my attitude and the fact that this way of living was not working for me. I thought to myself, “what satisfaction are you really getting out of treating people this way?” I had always been in church and had ask Christ to save me and been baptized so many times I was on a first name basis with the frogs in the pond. I still wasn’t sure I was saved. I begged God to make me different, but the next day I would be just as bad if not worse. after another 18 yrs, of this I said I would never ask him to save me again. My Mother-in-law said I crucified Christ again every time I continued to ask and doubt. My Pastor said I wanted God to sky write it.
    When I was 49 God put me in counseling with a very Godly Lady. God used her to show me why I behaved the way I did, and introduced me to God’s grace and love. She ask me if I knew the Lord, I said yes, (though I wasn’t sure), We became very close. She became my mentor, friend, mother. One day she ask me how I knew I was saved. I said because I ask Jesus into my heart. She said, but how do you know you are saved? I repeated the answer, and she relentlessly ask me to tell her how I knew. I didn’t want to talk about this but she insisted. I told her I wasn’t sure because I didn’t know if I had enough faith, and when I ask, there was always the question in my mind, “did he do it?” She took me to Gal. 2:20 and ask me to read it (I am not a King James only person but it is in the King James the way God wanted me to hear it.) I am crucified with Christ, never the less I live, yet not I but Christ Liveth in me, and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God…
    She said, “,stop, whose faith?” I said, “Jesus faith” I said, “Do you mean I don’t have to work up the faith to be saved?” I can’t ever remember such joy and relief! I Didn’t have to do anything, just accept it all from Christ. He even gave me the measure of faith I needed to believe! The grace, love, and assurance that I received from God through my Loving Councilor has made me a different person.My poor husband says he has a new wife, my daughter says she has a new Mom, and my I now have many friends. Praise God, Praise God!!!!
    Thank you for the opportunity to share this with you.

  28. cathy gross September 18, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    What I need to walk away from or break a tie from changes as I walk with Him. Once it was country music…too much heartbreaking need a man stuff there. It’s Ok now but not then. I have had to ask for Him to break ties with people in my past I had a spiritually unhealthy connection with. It’s funny, but I love them as much but in their proper place now. I can live with my past only because He has forgiven and forgotten it all. If others remember, it stands as a record for the world to see what God can do when a life is given to Him.

  29. cathy gross September 18, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    What I need to walk away from or break a tie from changes as I walk with Him. Once it was country music…too much heartbreaking need a man stuff there. It’s Ok now but not then. I have had to ask for Him to break ties with people in my past I had a spiritually unhealthy connection with. It’s funny, but I love them as much but in their proper place now. I can live with my past only because He has forgiven and forgotten it all. If others remember, it stands as a record for the world to see what God can do when a life is given to Him.

  30. Julie Ann September 19, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    I want to thank you and a very special lady in our church that has a heart for ministering to women like ourselves that struggle daily with “life”. After a long “dry” spell of feeling pretty much nothing as far as the presence of God in my life, I am hearing the Word in a new way again with a breath of fresh air and realize once again that it is not God that moved away from me, but myself that moved away from Him by not drawing close to Him through His Word. I was doing all the right things, going to church, praise team and any other Christian events possible, but none of those things can take the place of being in tune with God through his written Word. As women, we all have our struggles, and anything that takes away from your time with God is a stumbling block, whether its books, movies, shopping or even going to Christian events. God’s Word tells us in Romans 12:2 that we are not to conform to the world, but to be transformed and let God renew our minds so we know what is good, pleasing and perfect to God. We can’t recognize sin and temptations if we aren’t seeing it through the eyes of God. I love what one lady spoke of earlier about controlling our minds. In order to think clearly and deal with certain issues in our lives, we have to let God be in control of all of us, including our minds, but it’s up to us to learn the Word and “hide it in our hearts” so we don’t sin against Him. What we need to walk away from will be different for each and every women. It is anything that distracts us from spending time with our Creator and Father and making up our minds to spend that time, instead, renewing our minds so that we are aware of anything that could lead us down a path that leads to self destruction and most of all separation from Him.

  31. Paula Gershoony September 28, 2013 at 5:28 am #

    WOW this truly pierced my heart from where I was just 12 years ago. I was an 80″s girl the big hair bands were in and so was POT and coke. I dabbled with coke for a.year or so but my true love was POT. And oh cigarettes. By the grace of God, my husband and our home church Calvary Chapel I now am drug free and was so healed that I walked away from it no longing for it or drug rehab and have no desire for any of it. EXCEPT cigarettes. My dad recently passed away and I picked.them up again. My 10 year old son is so distraught from my dad dying he is afraid husband and I will die like his Papa. And I am his mother smoking taking that risk everyday that I will get cancer.And be.taken away as well. Please pray for me to quit. To want to quit. And be obedient to God that my body is.His home . Pray I clean my souls house. Ashamed

  32. Beth S. October 4, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    I am a little late on reading this blog post! However, I am so glad I took the time this morning to catch up a little. First let me say that I adore your presentations, Liz! I heard you first in Wooster, Ohio a year ago last week at the Women’s Day Away conference at Wooster Grace Church. You signed several books for me that day, and I treasure our conversation that morning. This past August my daughter and I heard you speak again at the Women of Faith Conference in Indianapolis! Wonderful, as always. Thank you for being such an inspiration to all women!

    Back to those things we need to rid ourselves of in our lives, or at least temper. I don’t read romance novels. I don’t smoke or drink or use drugs. I do overeat however, and that is affecting my overall health. I can’t seem to get a hold on eating healthier and using portion control. The other thing is wasting time on the computer. While I do teach online courses and I must use the computer for my work, I DON’T need to spend so much time on Facebook, blogs, pinterest, and other sites. I can fritter away time like nobody’s business, then STILL have papers to grade or lectures to plan. I have considered deleting FB completely, but I would lose the connection with relatives across the country. We share so much, news, pictures, family updates, and I don’t want to cut the connection.

    As I type this, I know what the solution is…turn these issues over to God. Ask for His help with portion control, with eating to relieve stress, and to limit my FB time to maybe just 15 minutes in the morning and 15 in the evening. I need to quit fighting Him and focus on what is important in my life.

  33. Tammy October 5, 2013 at 1:52 am #

    If we are honest we have all been ugly, we have all been desperate, and we have all been selfish in fulfilling our desires, the degree to which we do it just varies. Instead of learning what not to be I want to learn what to be. Joseph chose God and good, nowhere does it say that it was easy. Choices are put in front of us multiple times per day, and at the end of the day I hope I too can say that I chose to honor God. We are all a work in progress, I am thankful we have and serve a loving and patient God! Again thank you Liz, your honesty and openness is refreshing and it is freeing to lay our shame at the foot of the cross.

  34. Steffennie February 2, 2014 at 1:50 am #

    Maybe I’m just not a good Christian, because for me I love romance novels and I don’t feel bad about them. If there is something I don’t want to read then I just skip it. But I don’t feel bad. My mom has always said that I should be cautious in everything I do and ask myself if I would still do it even Jesus was sitting right next to me. After all He basically is so if something makes me feel uncomfortable when I visually picture Him sitting next to me then I know I need to stop. I don’t know, like I said maybe I’m just not a good Christian.