“I can resist everything except temptation.”
— – Oscar Wilde
My second installment in our series on Joseph at Trinity CRC circled around the theme of temptation. I wonder what’s harder for Joseph in Genesis 39 – to give into the temptation to commit adultery with Mrs. Potiphar or to give into the temptation to give up on the God of his fathers? Think about it: Joseph is abandoned and sold into slavery by his own brothers. He is exiled to Egypt where his boss is the king’s chief of security (a.k.a. the country’s “Executioner General”). Who would blame Joseph for thinking, If this is how the God of my fathers treats the people of families with whom He has repeatedly made covenants, I don’t want anything to do with Him.
Yet Joseph resolutely sticks with the God of Israel, pursuing Godliness and fleeing from sexual temptation. Choosing to be faithful to God certainly plays a role in successfully resisting temptation. Although Joseph’s response to Mrs. Potiphar’s advances is spontaneous, it reveals serious forethought. In the moment of temptation, Joseph was prepared to do the Godly thing.
Even though I might know what the Godly thing to do is, I find ways to justify doing the opposite. I suspect that if Satan is unable to convince me that temptations don’t exist, he’ll settle for me becoming the master of exceptions. He loves for me to think, Yeah, that’s an important rule, but it doesn’t really apply to me, especially considering everything you’re going through right now.
It leaves me asking how can I be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading so that I, too, can be prepared when temptations arise. He prompts me to recognize the types of temptations to which I’m susceptible, whether it’s lust or pride or selfishness. He helps me investigate when these temptations are strongest so I can make a plan for how I can avoid those occasions, situations, and/or locations. And that says nothing about the strength I find in prayer and having an accountability partner.
Our gracious God provides us with plenty of ways to run like Joseph, fleeing from temptation. Can you and I run together?