Temptations. Something that every believer hates. Across all denominations, despite our seemingly massive disagreements over doctrine and scriptures, we somehow agree that the biggest weapon that Satan throws at us is that of temptation. There is hardly any other way that he fights us and gets us to sin against God except by tempting us. He watches us, notes our weaknesses, fashions diverse weapons (usually in form of temptations) and attacks us.
We’ve often been told that all sins are equal. While all sins may seem the same, sexual sin is on a class of its own. While I’ll specifically be writing about sexual sin, all that I’ll be writing will be applicable to any temptation. Why? Because the source of all temptations is one person. I don’t promise to know all about temptations. I don’t promise to give steps to help anyone automatically stop falling into the same sin over and over again. The Holy Spirit supplies grace for that. However, I can say that the points could help us in our walk with God.
The man Joseph is the epitome of champions in overcoming sexual temptation. Thousands, if not millions, of sermons and books have been dedicated to Joseph’s triumph over Potiphar’s wife. And each time I hear a preacher talk about Joseph, something makes me feel that we might never fully understand what he went through in Potiphar’s house. We’ll hone in a little on the life of Joseph.
1. Don’t pray for temptations, but expect them
He said to his disciples, “Hard trials and temptations are bound to come, but too bad for whoever brings them on”
Luke 17:1 [MSG]
While many choose to be positive and confess that they are victors, the ugly truth still remains that we are tempted and that we often fall. A popular quote goes, “Proper prior planning prevents poor performance.” The student who never prepares for a test or an exam is bound to fail woefully. The believer who never consciously watches against temptation will fall repeatedly.
There is a need for us to be conscious. A brother might get too close and so attached to a sister that he never notices when the air changes around them. Two friends might play physically to the extent that they don’t sense when the devil begins to tug at their hearts and introduce unwelcome thoughts.
“Be sober and vigilant,” the Apostle tells us. Never lose your guard! Consciousness often prevents falling.
2. Stand your ground
[Joseph] said to his master’s wife, “Look, with me here, my master doesn’t give a second thought to anything that goes on here—he’s put me in charge of everything he owns. He treats me as an equal. The only thing he hasn’t turned over to me is you. You’re his wife, after all! How could I violate his trust and sin against God?
Gen. 39:8-9 [MSG]
Many times we forget who and whose we are. There is a need for us to actually stand and fight with what we know and what we have. What do we know? God’s word and his will for our lives! What do we have? His armour! “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Eph. 6:11
Somebody might say, “No! Don’t stand. Run!” How many times have you ran and still returned to the same sin? How has running helped? The sad truth is that we run and still harbor the thoughts of what we ran from in our hearts. These thoughts eventually drag us back to where we started.
Stand! But don’t stand without the armour. You’ll only be shocked by the intensity of his blows.
3. Repetition weakens determination
She pestered him day after day after day, but he stood his ground. He refused to go to bed with her.
Gen. 39:10 [MSG]
I see Joseph as a man, because that’s what he was — a man. He also had sexual urges. He wasn’t a god or a supernatural being. So, I won’t be wrong to say that he might have had days when the thought of how sweet her lips would have tasted occupied his mind. Or nights when he would roll endlessly in his bed trying to force thoughts of how shapely her body was out of his mind. Oh, how Joseph must have cried out to God for help.
“Dear Lord, help me! I can’t hold myself any longer! How beautiful she looks, how sweet her voice sounds to my ears! Help me, Lord, help me!“
Repetition weakens determination. You might think that you can fight that temptation when next it comes because you fought it the last ten times it came. Truth is that every time a hammer hits a lock, it weakens the strength of that lock. Each time a door receives a heavy blow, it gets weaker. It might not come down then. But it will come down eventually.
Your strength gets weakened when the same door of your life is constantly hit by the devil. How do you know when this happens? You begin to think about how you would have enjoyed an experience, or how it would have ended pleasurably.
On one of these days he came to the house to do his work and none of the household servants happened to be there. She grabbed him by his cloak, saying, “Sleep with me!” He left his coat in her hand and ran out of the house.
Gen. 39:11-12 [MSG]
By the time this happened, I’m pretty sure that Joseph had been weakened to the point that he could no longer trust himself around her. Notice that he no longer tried to reason with her. He didn’t bring any further argument against the beautiful woman that grabbed his coat, screaming for his touch and attention. He ran.
You don’t argue when you sense yourself weak. You run! Your flight this time will be scripturally acceptable. James says, “Resist.” Paul says, “Flee!” Truth is, you must know when you can no longer resist. You must run away. A lot of us run when we should stand and stand when we should be in flight. Joseph ran without saying as much as “Please, don’t do this.”
5. Abstinence could mean many things
But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God himself put it this way:
“I’ll live in them, move into them;
I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people.
So leave the corruption and compromise;
leave it for good,” says God.
“Don’t link up with those who will pollute you.
I want you all for myself.”
2 Cor. 6:16-17 [MSG]
In the 21st century, abstinence and sexual purity might mean weakness, foolishness, etc. But you know whose and who you are. A believer is nothing like the world. Traditionally, we used to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman. Today, it’s just a union between two people. Who knows, next decade it might be reduced to just any union.
You are a temple, and temples are dedicated places. Don’t ever forget that.
6. Fleeing might cost you dearly
Joseph’s master took him and threw him into the jail where the king’s prisoners were locked up. But there in jail God was still with Joseph.
Gen. 39:20-21 [MSG]
Sexual purity might not immediately translate to an awesome spouse or a great marriage even. We sometimes say to God, “Because I’ve kept myself, my marriage must make sense. No issues, just pure bliss.” But I find this funny at times.
You must understand that one awful result of faithfulness is pain. Refusing to participate in malpractice might result in an extra year or a bad GPA. Choosing not to take bribe might mean a sack from the boss. There is a price for purity.
“But God was still with Joseph.”
One pleasant reminder is that you have God. May the church never get to the point where she chooses earthly fulfilment over Him. When God is all that you have, then you have all that you’ll ever need.
7. Pleasure comes after pain
So Pharaoh commissioned Joseph: “I’m putting you in charge of the entire country of Egypt.”
Joseph was in charge of the entire country of Egypt. Pharaoh told Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but no one in Egypt will make a single move without your stamp of approval.”
One sad truth is that pleasure comes after pain. Sometimes we wish that things could be different. Sometimes we wish that pleasure comes the day we choose to follow God. Pleasure comes, but usually at the end.
You win, God wins.. and the devil loses. No sweeter thought!
I pray that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
PS.: Don’t forget to share. Someone else might need this.