Summary: We often think of heroes as those who run to the fight... but often heroes are those who engage in "organized retreats".
OPEN: One of my favorite stories from Revolutionary war involves the "Battle of the Cowpens".
Toward the end of the Revolutionary war, the British General Cornwallis had captured Savannah, Charleston and Camden in South Carolina - and in the process he had defeated and imprisoned much of the Southern Continental Army. Now, his intention was to crush any further resistance as quickly and thoroughly as possible. And for that task, he assigned the hated and feared Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton and a crack army of the best British soldiers. Tarleton was hated by the revolutionaries because of his unscrupulous and ruthless tactics.
The Continental Army still existed, but it survived mostly by running away from any pitched battle with the British. A portion of that army was under the command of General Daniel Morgan, and Morgan kept retreating and evading the British until Morgan could find the place he wanted to fight. When he made his decision, he sent out an appeal to any remnant of Revolutionary forces to meet him at a place called the “Cowpens”.
There, General Morgan organized his men into 3 lines.
· The first line was made up of special sharpshooters who, as the British attacked, picked off Tarleton’s best troops and officers. THEN they were to retreat 150 yards back to the 2nd line…
· At the 2nd line, Morgan’s standing orders were to get off two volleys and THEN RETREAT again another 150 yards to the 3rd line of defense.
· Sometime during the confusion of battle, a flank of Morgan’s forces got the impression they were to retreat still again, and the British forces - mistakenly believing that the Continental army was beaten and demoralized broke ranks and began a wild charge at the retreating forces
· Morgan’s managed to rally his flank and ordered them to turned and fire into the English forces. The unexpected volley exacted a terrible toll
· The Continentals then followed this with a bayonet charge;
· and ultimately other portions of Morgan’s army surrounded the British, resulting in the surrender en mass of some of England’s finest soldiers.
The Battle of the Cowpens is considered to be one of the turning points of the Revolutionary war that ultimately led to the British surrender at Yorktown 10 months later.
But notice: these heroes of the Revolutionary war won their battle… by running away.
APPLY: The story we’re reading in Genesis 39 tells of a hero that ran away.
A hero named Joseph.
And what did he run away from?
He ran away from Potiphar’s wife.
He was a handsome man
She was a desperate housewife
You could make a TV show out of something like this… (pause)
But unlike the perverted themes of today’s television shows, this desperate housewife didn’t get the man she desired - because he never stood still long enough for her to get close to him.
HE KEPT RUNNING AWAY.
Day after day, she kept after him but he never allowed himself to be alone with her.
Now, there are those who believe that “real” men are those who are mature enough to handle sexual temptation. They believe “real men” can watch sensual TV shows, read racy magazines, go to R rated movies, visit those Internet sites… and it won’t bother them.
But that’s a lie.
They can’t handle it.
It takes its toll on their lives
ILLUS: I once read the story of a young man who asked his preacher when he thought he would be mature enough to withstand temptations of the flesh.
The preacher paused for a moment and then wisely replied "I wouldn’t trust myself until I had been dead 3 days."
The Bible is quite clear this is one battle you can only win by running away from it.
1 Corinthians 6:18 says “FLEE from sexual immorality…”
In the book of Proverbs, Solomon repeatedly told his son to avoid adulterous women
Proverbs 5:8 “Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house”
Sexual temptation is a minefield for us men.
And God knows it so He tells us
- Don’t go there
- Stay far away
- In fact RUN AWAY! Run away from temptation!
ILLUS: Billy Graham was once commented on the scandals that had destroyed so many tele-evangelists. And (speaking about the temptations of sex, money and pride) he said:
“Those are the three areas I think Satan attacks God’s servants on. I was told that many years ago by an old clergyman, and I never forgot it. And I learned from that moment on that I would be tempted in those areas.
So I never rode in a car with a woman alone. I never have eaten a meal with my secretary alone or ridden in a car with her alone. If we sit in here and I dictate something to her, the door is open.”