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Handling Temptation Like Joseph

But Joseph refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. Genesis 39:8-10

We are daily faced with temptations. Some are small, some are large. All threaten us. Some will destroy God’s best plan for your life. Joseph, a young man in his early twenties, was faced with a destiny altering temptation. Would he participate in “secret” sin? Or would he resist? Notice how Joseph handled this temptation.

First, Joseph resisted temptation and refused sin.  He was not passive. He took an active stand against temptation. Joseph refused repeated temptations. He would not indulge in even just a “little” sin. If we will defeat temptation, it is because we are actively resisting and refusing with the power of the Holy Spirit. Resisting sin is not a matter of “letting go and letting God.” Resisting sin is a matter of “Getting God (‘s power) and getting going.”

Second, Joseph saw the temptation as a sin against another person.  For Joseph, this would be a sin against his master who had treated him so well. Most sins, even seeming innocent ones, harm those in our church, our current family or our future family. Remember how Achan’s sin affected the whole nation? Similarly, Proverbs says that righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people (Proverbs 14:23). Giving into temptation will always harm others in some way.

Third, Joseph saw the temptation to sin as a wicked thing. By definition sin is a wicked thing. We don’t use that word much today, but sin is wicked. The strategy of temptation is to make sin seem attractive in the moment. But like a worm for a fish, the hook is hidden under the bait. Take the bait and the hook has you. Part of growing in holiness is actually hating sin and calling it wicked.

Fourth, Joseph saw the temptation as sin against God. All sin is against God, even “victimless” sin and sin that seems to only affect you. The God who made you, loves you, and has the best plan for you. He lives within you and wants to bless you. He is grieved and offended when we sin. That is part of what the fear of God means –  fearing God’s disciplining hand.

Fifth, Joseph fled from temptation. He ran out of the house. The only way to handle some temptation is to flee, to run away. Paul commands Timothy, “Flee the evil desires of youth” (2 Tim 2:22, see also Proverbs 6:8, 1 Cor 6:8, 10:14, 1 Tim 6:11), There will come times when we are not to stand and fight a tempting situation but should immediately make a hasty retreat.

Sixth, Joseph accepted the painful consequences of unjust suffering. After being falsely accused, Joseph spent over two years in a jail. Resisting temptation will cause suffering. Some of that suffering will be against our flesh that wants to sin. There still is a bent toward sin within us. We will fight sin until we die. Some of the suffering might come from “friends” who want us to sin along with them. If we refuse their entreaties to sin, we may be ostracized.

Seventh, Joseph was blessed because of his integrity. Because he resisted sin and kept his integrity, God was able to exalt him when the time was right. Eventually, he was raised from prisoner to viceroy (2nd in command). God’s road to blessing always goes hand in hand with resisting sin.

Can you think of temptation you are facing? How is it wicked and a sin against God? How is it a sin against other people? Can you flee? Are you willing to resist the bait? How does God want to change you?