Monday, February 6, 2017

Temptation: A Time to Fear, and Run!

Unlike his older brother, Judah, who lived to satisfy himself and yielded to his lusts, Joseph was able to overcome the seduction that came his way because he lived to satisfy God. In Genesis 39, Joseph shows us two weapons (among many that can be listed) we should store in the arsenal against temptation, if we desire to satisfy God....

1. A heart that fears sinning against God (Genesis 39:6-9) 

We learn that not only was Joseph prosperous but, “…Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.” And as this handsome Hebrew rose to prominence in the household of Potiphar, Potiphar’s wife “cast her eyes upon Joseph and said, ‘Lie with me.’”

How does Joseph, away from home and around 17 years old, with raging hormones, handle this offer? He had every opportunity to take advantage of this woman who was throwing herself at him. I mean, who was watching him, right? But amazingly, the Bible tells us, Joseph refuses. Responding to Potiphar’s wife Joseph says, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Unlike his brother, Judah, Joseph feared sexual sin because it was a sin against the God who was with Joseph. At the outset of this narrative we are told, “the LORD was with Joseph.” (Gen. 39:2) Had he given in to her wooing, Joseph would be dragging the LORD into the bed of adultery with this woman. Think about that.

It’s the same for a Christian. Now anyone who commits sexual sin, sins against God, period, whether they are Christian or not. But it’s a stricter judgment for Christians, because if or when you sin sexually, you drag the LORD, who is with you and in you, into your sin. That is a terrible thing. Yes, we are inundated with a visually pornographic culture. The temptation to sin sexually is heightened today because of the ubiquitous nature of the invitation. But we ought to think of it this way.

If Joseph, approximately 1,400 years before the Cross could say when faced with sexual temptation, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” how much more should we who live on this side of the Cross have the same or an even more heightened attitude against sin? It was because we did great wickedness and sinned against God, that God sent His Son Jesus to die, taking upon Himself the punishment and curses for our sin. We read, for example, of all those curses listed in Deuteronomy 28, and all the other curses for sin in Scripture: all of which was laid on the pure Son of God, Jesus Christ, who bore the penalty for the sin and wickedness of those who would believe in Him. Jesus died to cleanse us and set us free from our wickedness so that we may live in newness of life and not sin against God.

2. Feet that flee from sin at any cost (Genesis 39:10-20):

Joseph’s talk about sinning against God didn’t seem to have any effect on this seductress. She didn’t give up. “Day after day,” the Bible says she tried to lure him into an affair, but Joseph refused. Then one day, no one was in Potiphar’s house: neither Potiphar nor the other servants. And his wife stayed home. Josephus, the historian, surmises that she feigned sickness and stayed home from a state function just for this.

So, Joseph comes in. She seizes the moment and makes her offer even more impudently, taking hold of Joseph by the lose fitting Egyptian garment he wore, saying, “Lie with me.” Not willing to waste a moment, the Bible says Joseph “…left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.” His feet took charge and he ran from the sin before him, even at the cost of running out half-naked. With his lose fitting garment in her hand, he didn’t have much else on. He was willing to take this embarrassment, knowing that God saw, rather than the shame that would have come had he sinned with her, against God.

While Joseph is on the run from sin, Mrs. Potiphar immediately calls to the other male servants of the house and makes up a tall tale: Joseph tried to rape her; she screamed but no one came; Joseph ran away; left his garment with her. She holds on to Joseph’s garment until Mr. Potiphar comes home. She tells him the same tall tale, fools her husband into believing her, and gets Potiphar fuming mad. Potiphar takes Joseph and puts him into prison, “where the king’s prisoners were confined.”

Joseph goes to jail for running away from sin. And that’s okay, because he did the right thing and was living to satisfy God and not man.

Randy Alcorn in his little book Purity Principle says, “Purity is always smart [wise]. Impurity is always stupid.”1 Joseph was wise in running away from sin and remaining pure. And so should we be.
As a Christian, are your feet swift to run away from sin? If not, there is still hope. You can begin to condition your feet to run away from sin, because of the power against sin that God gives you, through the Holy Spirit. However, our reaction when faced with great temptation, will depend on how we allow the Holy Spirit to condition us, and how we obey the Spirit’s conditioning when faced with little temptations. Do you have filters on your computers and smart phones? What about boundaries in relationships? I highly respect and love people who at the very outset of a dating or courting relationship say “No physical intimacy in this relationship until marriage.”

If we want to live with the constant hope that comes from satisfying God, when sexual temptation comes your way: fear God, and run away from sin.

© Kenny Damara, 2017

1 Alcorn, Randy. The Purity Principle: God’s Guardrails on Life’s Dangerous Roads. CO: Colorado Springs, Multnomah Books, 2003.

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