So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her. Genesis 39:10
Joseph was a remarkable man. He persevered through 13 years of slavery and imprisonment to become the second most powerful man in the world. His story is one that we can glean a lot of information from about how to live a successful and prosperous life. The temptations that he faced during all those hard times were great. But despite all the temptations, the bible never faults Joseph with any great sin. Somehow, amongst his evil brothers, Joseph was able to develop such character that would enable him to endure 13 years of misfortune, until the time he was put into Pharaoh’s house.
Think about all the temptation he faced. Before he was sold to slavery, he faced the temptation of compromising what he knew what was right, so he could fit in with his brothers. Surely he was like any little brother, who looked up to his older siblings. It’s not easy being labeled as the ‘favorite’ or the ‘goody-two-shoes.’ Nobody likes that. Joseph was also faced with the decision as to whether or not to tell his father about the bad things that his brothers were doing (Gen 37:2). I’m sure he was tempted to keep his mouth shut in order to fit in with his brothers. After he was sold by his brothers, he was tempted with bitterness and anger. He then faced the temptation of being a ‘just-get-by’ slave instead of working ‘as unto the Lord.’ He overcame those temptations and became great among the servants of the house. Potiphar made him ruler over his house and I’m sure Joseph had to resist the temptation to be full of pride. And then the temptation came which has sunk the strongest of men – sexual temptation. Potiphar’s wife (who I am sure was a young, beautiful woman, since she was the wife of a powerful and rich man) set her sights on Joseph. Her aggressiveness tells us that she was a confident woman that had probably done this before and was not accustomed to being refused. Joseph, who was a slave at the time and without hope (in worldly standards) to ever being free, being the master of the house, in whom Potiphar completely trusted and did not bother to look into his work, could have taken this opportunity to indulge, and could of convinced himself with many a good reason to do so. Why should he obey God, when God allowed him to be sold away from his home by the hands of his brothers in to slavery? Why should he not enjoy the pleasures of this world after all the hard work he had done for Potiphar? Why should he be refused the pleasures of life because of the evil that someone else has done? Besides, she was the one who was initiating this! But Joseph didn’t give in. He resisted her time and again. He avoided her. Until finally she caught him alone in the house. She skipped the small talk and went straight to the point: “Joseph, come lie with me!” When he turned to walk away, she grabbed his clothes and ripped them off. He fled from her naked.
The question to be asked here is, how did Joseph resist temptation time and time again? He didn’t have a church family to help him. He didn’t have an accountability partner. He didn’t even have the bible. He didn’t have anyone of his same faith for miles around. So, what did he have? I think the biggest reason he was able to resist is that he must have had a strong understand that God was with him. It was God who made him to prosper in the house of slavery. It was God who gave him strength day-to-day. The fact that his mind was stayed upon God is clear when we see his response to the wife of Potiphar: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” He was concerned with offended the God who was always there for him, even in the dark times.
But besides the understanding that God was with him, what else did Joseph do to help him resist temptation?
1 – He decided ahead of time what he would do. He knew that adultery displeased God. When he was a boy listening to his father’s instruction, he decided that, by the grace of God, he was going to live a life that was pleasing to God. This was a decision that he made at some point in his life earlier and didn’t have to question what was right when the situation arose.
2 – He avoided ‘temptation zones.’ It bible implies that Joseph normally did not go in the house except when the other men where in the house. It only happened that one day they were not there. But Joseph seemed to usually be careful to avoid her or to only be around her when other people were around. This made it impossible for that temptation to be fulfilled.
We also need to consciously steer clear of places and people that we know will be tempting to us. This is especially true regarding sexual temptations. If you go on a date to McDonalds to eat instead of your apartment to watch a movie, no matter how strong your sexual desires are, you aren’t going to fulfill that temptation in the middle of McDonalds. Steer clear of places that serve alcohol if you are tempted to drink. Stay way from people who do things that tempt you. You’ll make life a lot easier on yourself.
3 – Run away. The bible never says that you get more brownie points for enduring temptation in the midst of it if you don’t have to. There is no reason to sit in the fire if you can get out. If you find yourself in a tempting situation, RUN – literally if you have to.
Overcome temptation. Just like Joseph, you will be promoted to an office of high honor. You’ll be blessed. And remember this spoken by the apostle James: Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12