The Pitfall of Temptation
Remembering what is at stake helps us overcome temptation.
In the previous session, we examined the first pitfall faced by a young Joseph as he was betrayed by his brothers. In his immaturity, he had been only too happy to share God-given dreams that showed his exaltation over his brothers and even his parents. Joseph’s brothers became jealous and angry, which resulted in a plan to kill him. His brother Reuben persuaded the others to put Joseph into a pit and leave him there to die.
God intervened and Joseph was sold to some Midianite traders.
At this point in his story, Joseph must have felt he was delivered by God for a greater purpose. He was sold to an Egyptian official named Potiphar — he had been lifted from the pit in the wilderness and put in charge of Potiphar’s house.
Be careful when things are going well. (1–7)
Things were going quite well for Joseph and it would have been easy for him to compromise his integrity or beliefs. Satan specializes in temptation and the deception that goes with it. He will tell us we deserve to satisfy an ungodly desire; no one will ever know; no one will get hurt. Those are all lies!
The Bible warns us in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”
When Potiphar’s wife desired a sexual relationship with Joseph, he faced the pitfall of temptation.
Resist temptation by having standards and convictions already in place. (8–10)
In order to stay true to God, we need to live by a set of convictions established before we face a crisis. The road to destroying integrity starts with the smallest of compromises.
Joseph was already a godly young man. He was fully aware God had something special in store for him, and he didn’t want to see God’s plan short-circuited by giving in to temptation. He also was loyal to Potiphar and didn’t want to betray his trust.
The pattern for victory over temptation is found in James 4:7: “Submit yourself to God, resist the devil and he will flee.”
When nothing else works, run! (11–12)
The Apostle Paul instructed Timothy to “flee youthful lusts” (2 Tim. 2:22). That is exactly what Joseph did repeatedly. I’m sure the pressure from Potiphar’s wife escalated over time. When the pressure became too great, instead of giving in, Joseph ran. He did the right thing.
His integrity remained intact, but that obedience contained consequences. It landed Joseph in prison.
In his journey so far, we have seen Joseph go from the pit to Potiphar’s house and now to prison. Sometimes God delivers us when we do the right thing. Sometimes He doesn’t. But God always has a plan. Even though Joseph ended up in prison, the Bible says in Genesis 39:21 God was with Joseph and showed him mercy even in prison. God was in the process of making Joseph the kind of man He wanted him to become.
How have you responded when faced with temptation? Do you have established convictions that will help you stand against temptation? Read 1 Corinthians 10:13, and write its meaning in your own words.
By Don Fugate
Fugate is senior pastor at Foxworthy Baptist Church in San Jose, California.