TRUSTING GOD … WHEN TEMPATION CREEPS IN!
“When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. The LORD was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. Potiphar noticed this and realized that the LORD was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did. This pleased Potiphar, so he soon made Joseph his personal attendant. He put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned. From the day Joseph was put in charge of his master’s household and property, the LORD began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake. All his household affairs ran smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished. So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn’t worry about a thing—except what kind of food to eat! Joseph was a very handsome and well-built young man, and Potiphar’s wife soon began to look at him lustfully. “Come and sleep with me,” she demanded. But Joseph refused. “Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.” She kept putting pressure on Joseph day after day, but he refused to sleep with her, and he kept out of her way as much as possible. One day, however, no one else was around when he went in to do his work. She came and grabbed him by his cloak, demanding, “Come on, sleep with me!” Joseph tore himself away, but he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house. When she saw that she was holding his cloak and he had fled, she called out to her servants. Soon all the men came running. “Look!” she said. “My husband has brought this Hebrew slave here to make fools of us! He came into my room to rape me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream, he ran outside and got away, but he left his cloak behind with me.” She kept the cloak with her until her husband came home. Then she told him her story. “That Hebrew slave you’ve brought into our house tried to come in and fool around with me,” she said. “But when I screamed, he ran outside, leaving his cloak with me!” Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s story about how Joseph had treated her. So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained.“ (Genesis 39:1–20, NLT)
Two cars were involved in a horrific car accident. Both of cars were wrecked but miraculously neither driver was hurt. After they both crawl out of their respective cars, the one driver, a woman, says to the other driver, "So, you’re a man... That’s interesting. I’m a woman. Wow! Just look at our cars! They’re wrecked, but fortunately we‘re unhurt. This must be a sign from God that we should meet and be friends and live together in peace for the rest of our days." The man, looking at the attractive woman replies, "I agree with you completely. This must be a sign from God!" The woman continues, "And look at this, here’s another miracle... My car is completely smashed, but this bottle of wine didn’t break in the crash. Surely God wants us to drink this wine and celebrate our good fortune." She hands the bottle to the man. He opens it, drinks half the bottle and then hands it back to the woman. The woman takes the bottle, immediately puts the cap back on, and hands it back to the man. The man said, "Hey! Aren’t you having any?" She replies, "No. I think I’ll just wait for the police to arrive..."
Duped by the wiles of a shrewd, but unscrupulous woman! Joseph was almost duped by such a woman. However he TRUSTED GOD and was able to come through unscathed. Yes? Not really, from a lowly slave to the manager of Potipher’s household and then suddenly thrown into prison for nothing that he had done wrong. In fact, just because he had done the right thing! Talk about a roller coaster ride! Despite where he landed there is much we can learn from Joseph about TRUSTING GOD WHEN TEMPTATION CREEPS IN!
We have over the past few weeks been learning from Joseph’s experience what it means to trust God. By way of introducing the series, we scanned Joseph’s entire life and discovered what it meant to …
TRUST GOD … IN ALL OUR LIVES … You may recall that we a said we can trust God if we …
REMEMBER THAT GOD …
• WORKS SOVEREIGNLY
• WORKS STRANGELY
• WORKS SLOWLY …
IN ALL THAT HAPPENS IN OUR LIVES
Then last week as we looked at the events leading up to Joseph becoming a slave in Potipher’s house, we will saw that …
WHEN YOUR DREAMS GO DOWN THE DRAIN …
YOU CAN TRUST GOD IF YOU REMEMBER THAT …
• GOD ENGINEERS THE CIRCUMSTANCES
• GOD ESTABLISHES THE REASON
• GOD ENSURES THE TIMING
Today we consider the rise and fall of Joseph’s tenure in Potipher’s Palace, as we learn how to…
TRUST GOD WHEN TEMPTATION CREEPS IN
Today we will see that Joseph learnt that …
TRUSTING GOD IN TEMPTATION MEANT
• REALISING YOUR VULNERABILITY
• RECOGNISING WHAT TEMPTATION IS
• RELYING ON GOD’S ASSISTANCE
To help us understand this we will use what Paul said to the Corinthians and weave it into the experience of Joseph. Paul said… “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (1 Corinthians 10:12–13, NLT)
FOR JOSEPH TRUSTING GOD IN TEMPTATION MEANT
… REALISING YOUR VULNERABILITY
“If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13a, NLT)
Or as Eugene Petersen paraphrases it … "Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence." (1 Corinthians 10:12, The Message)
What Paul is saying? Don’t fool yourself! Don’t be overconfident; thinking it can never happen to you; that is a recipe for disaster! Given the right circumstances, any of us are capable of messing up, particularly when things are working for us.
Joseph must have had to pinch himself on numerous occasions to believe this was actually happening to him. Travelling on the back of a camel, or standing as an exhibit in the slave market, or even being shoved through the slave’s entrance of Potipher’s palace, and a palace it must have been for one of the high-ranking officials of Egypt, it would have been beyond his wildest dream to imagine that all this could have happened to him. He was now the overseer of Potipher’s entire estate. He was at the top of the heap. He had all the privileges and perks that any slave could ever dream about. He had an employer that trusted him completely. He had power, prestige and privilege … the lot and even more.
Joseph had worked his way to the top because of his obvious ability and remarkable talents made all the more outstanding because as the Word of God says … “The LORD was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master.” (Genesis 39:2, NLT)
But here is the problem, when we achieve success; we want to keep it at all costs. We will do anything to maintain the status quo and not spoil the party. So when temptation crept in to spoil Joseph’s success in the form of an Egyptian Desperate Housewife, Joseph could have easily rationalized succumbing to her overtures. He was a normal, healthy young man as the word says “Joseph was a very handsome and well-built young man,” (Genesis 39:6b, NLT) Anyway Egypt in those days was sexually promiscuous and everybody was doing it and to refuse to comply could be the end of his lucrative position, to acquiesce could mean even further privileges.
Beloved, there is an old saying that goes like this … “When your cup runs over … watch out!” Whether it is economic, social or even spiritual success, you become more vulnerable because you have so much more to lose.
C. S. Lewis made these insightful observations: “No man knows how bad he is until he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. That is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is....Christ, because He was the only Man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only Man who knows to the full what temptation means.” (CS Lewis, ‘Today in the Word’, November, 1998, p. 24)
Despite the fact that Joseph must have fully understood the price he might have to pay for maintaining his purity, what made him say No? WHAT KEPT JOSEPH STEADY?
• HE HAD A DREAM. A dream that he had never lost despite what had happened to him; a dream that God wanted to use Him and that dream kept him not only alive during the hardships he endured, but it also kept him morally pure. He would do nothing that would jeopardize that dream.
• HE HAD A SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY to Potipher, to his fellow-slaves, to his family, even to Potipher’s amorous wife. He knew that Potipher had trusted him … “But Joseph refused. “Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.”” (Genesis 39:8–9a, NLT). He knew that many, not just those involved, are affected by the fallout from moral failure.
• HE HAD AN OBLIGATION TO GOD who had done so much for him. Notice he goes on to say… “It would be a great sin against God.”” (Genesis 39:8–9a, NLT). David years later in his confession after committing adultery with Bathsheba said … “Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight.” (Psalm 51:4a, NLT) All sin, even the tiniest sin, is first and foremost a sin against God, an affront to His Holiness.
Beloved, when temptation creeps into your life, don’t think you are strong enough to handle it, remember you are vulnerable and cling like Joseph to all that will keep you from shipwrecking your life on the rocks of moral failure. Many have done so and lived to regret it!
FOR JOSEPH TRUSTING GOD IN TEMPTATION MEANT
… RECOGNISING WHAT TEMPTATION IS
“And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted …” (1 Corinthians 10:13b, NLT)
The first thing that I want us to consider is the words …
He will not allow … Hello! What does that say? What have we been saying throughout the series? God is in control of all the events of our lives … Yes! Even the temptations we face! Does that mean that God causes the temptations we face? No! Listen to James … “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.” (James 1:13, NLT)
GOD DOES NOT TEMPT US, BUT HE DOES ALLOW TEMPTATIONS TO COME INTO OUR LIVES. From whence does temptation come? Primarily TWO SOURCES…
• OUR OWN DESIRES … “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” (James 1:14–15, NLT)
• SATAN … When Satan challenged God that the only reason that Job was a blameless and upright man who feared God was because God had blessed Him in abundance. So God allows Satan to tempt Job by taking away the blessings.
SOME THINGS WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND.
The first thing we need to understand is that while temptation is Satan’s primary weapon to try to destroy Christians, GOD USES TEMPTATION as well as trials TO DEVELOP YOU. We should take note of is that the word in Greek ‘peirasmos’ can be translated both as trial/test or temptation and is only distinguished by examining the context.
The second thing we need to understand is that both are neutral, neither good nor bad. Therefore we need to understand that TEMPTATION IS NOT SIN. To be tempted is not to sin. How do we know this?
The writer of Hebrews says... “He was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin. ” (Hebrews 4:15, NCV). The Bible tells us that Jesus was indeed tempted by Satan in the Wilderness. But Jesus was without sin. Therefore temptation is not sin. Sin comes when we yield or give into temptation. Remember what James said about being carried away by our desires.
The third thing we need to understand is that although God is sovereign over all the trials and temptations we face and does not keep us from, He uses trials to grow us to be more like our Saviour Jesus Christ and there is purpose behind every problem we encounter. However, GOD DOES HOLD US RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CHOICE WE MAKE. Whether we ask God to help us from being drawn or sucked, by our own will, into sinning or we just succumb to the temptation and sin.
Fourthly, GOD WILL PROTECT US AGAINST TEMPTATION and our own desires so that we will not willingly yield to the temptations that are presented to us as we live in this world that has a predisposition towards evil and rebellion against God’s Laws! This is confirmed by the Psalmist who prays …
"Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips. Don’t let me drift toward evil or take part in acts of wickedness. Don’t let me share in the delicacies of those who do wrong." (Psalm 141:3-4, NLT)
Finally, notice that because GOD CONTROLS THE trials and TEMPTATIONS WE FACE we have the wonderful assurance that “… God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT)
Remember that whilst Joseph was grateful for all God had done for him, he was still a work in progress. So God allows Potipher’s wife to tempt Joseph. God had a reason and Joseph made the right choice but it was not easy and …
FOR JOSEPH TRUSTING GOD IN TEMPTATION MEANT
… RELYING ON GOD’S ASSISTANCE
"When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure." (1 Corinthians 10:13c, NLT)
In order not to succumb to the temptation presented to him, Joseph did three things …
1. STAY AWAY FROM THE SOURCE OF TEMPTATION!
Paul cautions us … “Don’t give the devil any opportunity to work.” (Ephesians 4:27, GW)
Peter emphasizes this as well … "Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping." (1 Peter 5:8, ‘The Message’)
How did Joseph do this? … The Bible says … “She kept putting pressure on Joseph day after day, but he refused to sleep with her, and he kept out of her way as much as possible.” (Genesis 39:10, NLT)
“There is a saying forewarned is forearmed.” Ask yourself some searching questions such as: When? Where? With whom? Seek out the characteristic circumstances that lead to temptation and then stay away from them. Follow the advice of Solomon … "Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path." (Proverbs 4:26, NLT)
I need at all times to guard my mind. A battering ram may hit a fortress gate a thousand times, and no single blow seems to have any effect, yet after constant pounding the gate finally gives in. In similar manner, failure is an accumulation of small mental indulgences and tiny compromises, the immediate consequences of which were, at the time, totally indiscernible. No, we can’t avoid all temptation, but in Martin Luther’s words, “You can’t keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair.” (Luther)
A man consults his doctor and says “Doc! I think I’ve
broken my arm in two places. What should I do?” The doctor replies, "Well then, stay out of those places!"
We cannot regularly put ourselves in the face of temptation and not be affected. When faced with temptation, we need to take the good doctor’s advice and "stay out of those places."
This means practical things such as staying away from anything that will encourage the thought process and act as that battering ram at the gate of your mind. Magazine racks, video stores, advertisements, TV programs, images, people, and places that tempt.
Remember the wisdom of God’s Word … "Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life." (Proverbs 4:23, NCV)
2. SPRINT AWAY FROM THE SOURCE OF TEMPTATION
A senior pastor was cautioning his new assistant pastor on some of the potential temptations and pitfalls that arise within the ministry. He warned him that he should avoid any situation where he found himself alone with a female member of the congregation. The assistant pastor quite self-assured and said, "I do most of my socializing in groups, there is safety in numbers." The wise senior pastor responded, "Yes, there may be safety in numbers, but there is greater safety in Exodus!"
This is what Joseph did and what we should do … “One day, however, no one else was around when he went in to do his work. She came and grabbed him by his cloak, demanding, “Come on, sleep with me!” Joseph tore himself away, but he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house.” (Genesis 39:11–12, NLT)
Twice Paul admonishes his young charge Timothy
“But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:11, NLT)
“Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.” (2 Timothy 2:22, NLT)
Notice what Paul suggests is not just to run but to refocus! To refocus your attention away from the temptation. Trying to resist the temptation only reinforces it in your mind and drives it deeper into your thoughts thereby becoming more alluring.
Have you ever noticed that when you have to fast for a blood test and cannot eat after say 20h00, how hungry you get just after 20h00? The more we try to deny ourselves something the more we crave it!
3. SUBMIT YOURSELF FULLY TO GOD
"So give yourselves completely to God. Stand against the devil, and the devil will run from you." (James 4:7, NCV)
The Bible assures us that for those who belong to Christ by virtue of receiving His free gift of forgiveness through His death on the Cross as a payment for the PENALTY for their sin, for those who daily submit to the Lordship, the management of Jesus over their lives by being led and controlled by the Spirit … there is help to overcome the POWER OF SIN in daily living.
To have victory over sin in my life, to not give in to the temptations that assail me, I need to be fully submitted to Christ in every area of my life.
in my personal life,
in my church life,
in my civic life,
in my business life,
in my recreational life,
in my family life,
in my spiritual life.
My spiritual pulse needs to be strong. My daily walk with the Lord needs to be in excellent shape. If I am not walking in step with the Holy Spirit, I am an easy target for the schemes of the Devil! To overcome temptations power we must fix our eyes on Jesus! Remember you are not alone in your struggles. Not only does God understand our weaknesses but is always on hand to help us especially when we need it most. Heaven has a 24 hour help line and emergency service. Genuinely ask God’s help to do the right thing and he will help you.
Do not be like the man was trying to lose weight. One day he arrives at his office with two dozen donuts. His colleague asks him why he bought all those donuts if he's trying to diet. He answers, "Well, as I came to the corner there the donut shop was. I said to God that if He wanted me to buy some donuts then He would provide a parking spot right in front of the donut shop. And on the eighth time around the block, there it was!”
ASK GOD TO HELP YOU TO…
• STAY ALERT TO THE TACTICS OF SATAN!
• AVOID THE AMBUSHES OF TEMPTATION!
• FINISH STRONG THROUGH GOD’S HELP!
"… let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us."
(Hebrews 12:1, NLT)
So where did it get Joseph? Yes he learned some valuable life lessons. He …
• REALISE HIS VULNERABILITY
• RECOGNISE WHAT TEMPTATION IS
• RELY ON GOD’S ASSISTANCE
But … “Heaven has no rage, like love to hatred turned, nor Hell a fury like a woman scorned” (Wm Congreve)
In spite of his best efforts, Joseph ends up in prison. But as someone suggested if he had given in he would have ended in a far worse prison. Through it all, with God’s help, he maintained his character and his commitment. But what is more … PLEASE BE PATIENT GOD ISN’T FINISHED WITH HIM YET … or you for that matter. Therefore, remember when facing temptation … “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12, NLT)