When my wife and I are out ministering, we often ask believers what they do to avoid falling into the temptation of sexual sin. One of the number one responses that we hear is run like Joseph! If not Joseph, run like a Kenyan gold medalist! If you don’t know the story of Joseph, here is an excerpt that inspires that response:
3 When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So he left in Joseph’s care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” 8 But he 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. 9 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?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. 11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties ,and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.
However, despite reading that passage numerous times, many believers still admit that when the rubber meets the road, the hormones seem to override their desire to do the right thing. As a result, a God-given conviction is traded for a brief moment of pleasure. Explosive emotions can override convictions. When Esau was overcome from hunting he sold his birthright. That is just a brief example of explosive emotions overriding convictions. So how do we cement our convictions so that we are not swept away by thrill? Rather, contextually, the question begs: How did Joseph do it? As you read Genesis 39, Joseph didn’t seem to even struggle with Potiphar’s wife’s seduction. He seemed suave, in control and very cool, calm and collected. Some say that Potiphar’s wife was possibly unattractive for Joseph. I doubt it. The top guys in government often married the best of the best. And part of the criteria for picking the best was a trophy wife. I would bet that Potiphar’s wife would turn on a corpse! She must have been a figure-smashing good-looking hottie. You say, Ernest that doesn’t help our discussion. In fact it makes it tougher. How on earth did Joseph do it? He was clearly a heterosexual for he later married Asenath (who I also believe was a lovely lady). To answer that question, you need to really study Genesis 39 keenly and pick out key principles that will reveal the hidden treasure of running to overcome sexual temptation. Before Joseph ran from the alluring Mrs. Potiphar, he had set these principles in place. I will call these principles “Before-you- run” strategies.
- Before you run: Is the LORD with you?
Joseph would not have the will to run if the LORD was not with him. Look at Genesis 39:3-4 “3When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did.4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant…”
The only way that the LORD was with Joseph is if Joseph was walking with the LORD. Joseph was able to flee the future temptation because his walk with God was a foundation for all of life. Walking with God means having a personal relationship with God and obeying his commands. Joseph was walking with God despite his predicament of being a slave in a foreign land. Joseph was walking with God despite being sold by his own brothers for very little silver. Joseph’s obedience was not pegged on his temporary terrible situations. It was pegged on who God was regardless of what he was going through. Theologians often parallel Joseph to Christ. When some Christians hears the phrase “God is good!” they only reply “All the time!” if they are having an easy time. Beloved, God is good all the time (even in the bad times). As a result, some Christians only have an easy time obeying God when things are going well for them. When suffering checks in, they check out of the faith. Beloved, if you gave your life to Christ, you must know that Jesus Christ did not suffer only so that the Christian would not suffer but also and moreover that WHEN the Christian suffers, he or she would overcome. He not only picked the cross for us; he also showed us how to pick up ours. Christ is not only the Hero that saves us from pain; He is also the exemplar of how to handle pain that is sure to come. Some Christians like to fight God when they go through pain. Beloved, if you fight with God and win, know that you’ve lost. The LORD is with you if you obey him, in both the good times and bad times. If you don’t adopt this principle like Joseph did, you will falter when the day of sexual temptation comes. You will naively see it as another bad day where God has abandoned you and you will fall. Many believers caught in the trap of sexual sin cannot run because, unlike Joseph, the LORD is not with them. Are you born again? How is your walk with God? Is the LORD with you?
- Before you run: Are you about the business God gives you?
Joseph got a job as a slave and he worked his way up. See what Genesis 39:4 says: 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.
Joseph was about God’s business before temptation struck. It may seem inconsequential to sexual sin but it is not. Believers have often slipped into pornography, masturbation, pre-marital sex when they had too much time on their hands. That idleness often led to wickedness. I don’t get surprised when I hear someone say that ever since they got their hands to do something productive, they have had less time for mischief. Joseph wasn’t lazing around in a hammock, sipping some iced-tea when Potiphar’s wife made her move. He was working. Her sexual advances came in-between him and his work goals. He possibly may even have reasoned that a sexual escapade with Mrs. Potiphar could make him lose his job. He was the boss of the slaves remember. He may possibly even have thought that a sexual fantasy with Mrs. Potiphar could set a bad example to his subordinates if they ever caught him ogling. Work gives you purpose. And when one is burdened with glorious purpose, one will not allow the temporal pleasures of sin to get in the way of business. It was a lack of purpose that got King David to fall into sin with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife. The Bible says in 2nd Samuel 11 that when Kings went out to war, David remained at home. When he remained at home when all the men were at war, he saw a naked woman from his window. If he was out at war (purpose) as he was meant to be, even a naked woman in the battle field would not stop him from fighting. Why? Because his life would be at stake! In the midst of purpose, all the naked women in the war-field wouldn’t stop a King who was fighting for dear life! Royalty only succumbs to poverty outside the arena of purpose. Pursuit of purpose and lust don’t live in the same estate. Similarly Beloved, get engaged in purpose and the LORD will reveal to you how sin can ruin a beautiful story that God is writing. Many believers caught in the trap of sexual sin cannot run because, unlike Joseph, they are not about the business God has brought their way. Are you about the business God has given you?
- Before you run: Have you counted the cost against God?
Despite being about God’s business and working diligently, honestly and faithfully, Joseph’s biggest worry wasn’t losing his job. See what Genesis 39:9 says: 9 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?”
Joseph’s worry wasn’t his job. If he said, “How can I do such a wicked thing and miss my bonus?”Potiphar’s wife would have promised him an assured salary increase and retirement perks once his time was done. It would have sounded like an attractive offer. But Joseph’s concern was deeper. He counted the cost of something that even Potiphar’s wife could not offer- a right standing with God. All the money in the world cannot buy you the forgiveness of sins. All the hiding of your secrets cannot take away the guilt of iniquity. All the beauty in the attractive Mrs. Potiphar could not make Joseph acceptable before God. He needed the beauty of holiness and not the beauty of curviness. He needed the approval of God and not the charm of sin. When sin comes your way Beloved, is your cost revealed in phrases like these: I may get pregnant, I am not ready to be father, I may be caught, I don’t want to feel guilty, I may get an STI. All those reasons only stem from fear and pride, Beloved. None of them is rooted in love. Joseph’s response was rooted in love because he counted the cost against God and not against himself. He dared to ask “What does God think about this?” as opposed to “What if the condom fails?” While you may think that a condom will save you from the worst repercussion of sexual sin, Joseph knew that there is no condom for your soul. Joseph knew that the worst repercussion of sin is to be separated from fellowship with God (Isaiah 59:1-2). Many believers caught in the trap of sexual sin cannot run to save themselves because unlike Joseph, they have not counted the cost against God? What God thinks about sin is more important than what any celebrity, person of interest or human being for that matter says about sin. Have you counted the cost against God?
- Before you run: Have you kept sin at bay?
You see, all these principles that Joseph observed meant nothing to Potiphar’s wife. As far as she was concerned, free eye-candy was walking around the house and she needed to get some. Whether this eye-candy was the religious type of the bad-boy type, she wanted it and she wanted it now! Just in case you forget, Joseph was a hunk- alpha male score 10/10. He made the Egyptian mamas drop dead like the Egyptian mummies. See Genesis 39:6 “…Now Joseph was well-built and handsome.” As he stretched his hand to clean the ceiling, all Potiphar’s wife saw was the bulging biceps. As he lifted the heavy stuff off the floor, all Potiphar’s wife saw was abs, abs, abs, absolutely fine! (By the way, guys, if you want to do your wives a favour, hit the gym. I’ve been doing it for a while now and let me just say it pays off #PG21) Back to the story. As you can see, Mrs. Potiphar was after him- cougar style- teeth, claws and all. However, read Genesis 39:10: 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.
Joseph not only refused her sinful invitation, he also refused TO BE WITH HER. Joseph avoided being around her. Joseph stayed clear from the seductress. Joseph knew that he can fall prey to her seduction. The Bible says she spoke to Joseph day after day. Her words must have been flirtatious and so Joseph stayed away so that he may not hear them. He didn’t stay near her because he was a guy with brakes and self-control. No! He refused to even be with her. He knew that one day the allure of Mrs. Potiphar’s charm would break his walls if he didn’t stay clear. Joseph in wisdom knew what Solomon taught in Proverbs 6:25-29 which says: Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes, 26 for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life. 27 Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? 28 Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? 29 So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished. And because of this, Joseph kept sin at bay. He didn’t flirt to see how far she would really go with her games. He refused to be with her. A born-again guy wrote to me the other day of how he felt horrible for making out with this lady from his church. He repented and returned to God but when she invited him to her place for dinner much later, he went. Guess what? He fell again! He didn’t keep sin at bay. Have you kept sin at bay? You can’t expect to flee sin if you present yourself to it glazed in honey and melted butter. You will be devoured. And the Bible says in Proverbs 6:26 that you will be reduced to a loaf of bread. So according to the Bible #TeamMafisi is also known as #TeamBoflo. Watch out, Team Boflo. You can’t run from sin like Joseph if you choose to hang around it. Many believers caught in the trap of sexual sin cannot run because, unlike Joseph, they have not made the decision to keep sin at bay. Have you kept sin at bay?
- Is the LORD with you?
- Are you about the business God gives you?
- Have you counted the cost against God?
- Have you kept sin at bay?