Friday, August 15, 2008

Just Say No, Joseph!

It’s time to be honest. Temptation is difficult but sexual temptation is very difficult. That is why the story of Joseph in the Old Testament in Genesis 39 is so encouraging. From this story we learn four principles about dealing with temptation.

First, resisting temptation is founded in the priority of your life being your relationship with Christ over the reality of your circumstances. The reality of Joseph’s circumstances were difficult Joseph was the favored son of Jacob which caused his brothers to hate him (Genesis 37:3-4). He had a dream indicating that he would reign over his brothers which caused them to hate him even more (Genesis 37:5-8). His brothers plotted to kill him (Genesis 37:18). His brothers attacked him and threw him into a pit (Gen 37:23-24). His brothers sold him to slave traders (Genesis 37:25-28). His brothers made his father believe he had been killed by an animal (Genesis 37:31-35). Joseph was taken to Egypt and sold on the auction block to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s bodyguards (Genesis 37:36). But even under these circumstances, the Lord was with Joseph showing his continued commitment and obedience to God (Genesis 39:1-2).

Second, resisting temptation can become more difficult with success. Joseph had many successes. He had spiritual success (Genesis 39:3). Potiphar saw that the Lord was with Joseph and was blessing Joseph. He had vocational success (Genesis 39:4-5). Potiphar made Joseph the overseer of his house and all that he owned was put under Joseph’s control. As a result, the Lord blessed everything that Potiphar owned. Then Joseph had physical success (Genesis 39:6). Joseph was handsome in his form and appearance. Only three other men are described like this in the Bible…Saul, David and Absalom. These successes made Joseph a bigger target for sensual temptation. The more success we have the more susceptible we seem to become to temptation.

Third, resisting temptation requires a firm response. Potiphar’s wife propositioned Joseph sexually (Gen 39:7). Joseph directly and firmly resists due to his loyalty to his master and his greater loyalty to God (Genesis 39:8-9). Potiphar’s wife continued this seduction on a daily basis but Joseph resisted (Genesis 39:10). He would not listen to her, lie beside her, or be near her. So Potiphar’s wife resorted to desperate measures by grabbing Joseph and directly propositioning him sexually (Genesis 39:11-12). Joseph, having firmly resolved to resist, ran out of the house away from the alluring temptation, leaving his outer garment behind (Genesis 39:12).

Finally, resisting temptation does not always result with positive immediate results. Potiphar’s wife’s desire for Joseph turns to anger and she accuses him of attempting to rape her using his garment as proof (Genesis 39:13-18). As a result, Potiphar’s anger burned toward Joseph and he had him thrown into prison (Genesis 19-20). But even in prison, the Lord was with Joseph and ultimately would use this situation to raise Joseph to an even greater position and would use him to save many people from a coming famine in the land

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