Temptation. It is no respecter of persons. David, one of the greatest men in the Bible was disgraced by failing when faced with temptation. Even our Savior Himself faced temptation, though without sin.
There is nothing new under the sun, but changes in our society have brought a new intensity to the level of temptation that we all face daily. Social media often presents an unrealistic view of the lives of others, making their lives seem attractive and glamorous, and our own dull and uninteresting. The modern workplace presents complex challenges to integrity. And companies employ a wide array of advertising opportunities to constantly remind us of everything we need and don’t have. How do we stand in an onslaught of constant temptation to gossip, covet, lust, lie and take advantage of one another?
Though there are many examples of how to correctly deal with temptation throughout Scriptures, the one we will discuss here is a young man named Joseph. We find an account of his temptation in Genesis 39. Verses 7-13 give a brief summary of the temptation and Joseph’s response. In this account we see Joseph, a young man who was tragically sold into slavery by his own family, but finds himself in a favored position in his master’s house. Verse seven tells how his master’s wife attempts to seduce him into a adulterous relationship. Here is a young man, no doubt vulnerable because of separation from family and loss of freedom. But it is important to note his initial response to this temptation. Verses eight through nine reveal Joseph’s character as even in the midst of temptation he keeps in mind his blessings and his responsibilities.
Joseph points out that his master trusts him:
“Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife..”
Notice Joseph’s reference to “my master”. The tricky thing about temptation is that it appeals to some selfish desire. But here Joseph thinks of someone other than himself. This is key in overcoming temptation. Sin is selfish, but righteousness always looks beyond self and is concerned with the rights and well being of others. He considers here both the blessings and trust bestowed on him by Potiphar, and also his responsibility to act justly toward Potiphar. He refused to trample upon the rights of Potiphar to satisfy a selfish desire.
“How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”
Not only does Joseph consider this as a matter of relationships among humans, but he correctly realizes the spiritual implications of this human affair. To sin against one of God’s creatures is to sin against the Creator Himself. Compare this to David’s statement in Psalm 51:4. No doubt Joseph, who demonstrated a deeply held belief in divine Providence recognized the ultimate source of the favored position he occupied in Potiphar’s house was not Potiphar, but God Himself. Viewing these blessings no doubt gave Joseph great resolve in resisting this temptation. And ultimately realizing his moral accountability to God seems to be the ultimate reason Joseph refuses to yield to this temptation.
How many lives would be improved, how many scandals avoided, how many financial, marital, and even political crises could be avoided if we would all simply remember these simple thoughts:
- I have been blessed with the trust of others.
2. I have a duty to never betray this trust.
3. I have been blessed by God.
4. I am morally accountable to God for my actions.
In summary, you can’t covet the forbidden while being thankful for the legitimate blessings in your life. I hope these simple thoughts are a blessing to someone,