Summary: This Sermon from Genesis 39, shows 6 possible areas of temptation Joseph faced because of Potiphar's wife. It also includes some strategies for overcoming temptation.
(This is a brief outline of a sermon that was preached at the Peoples Church, Sri Lanka, on 16th October 2016.)
Every child of God faces temptation. That’s a given fact! As we look at the scriptures, we see that Esau gave up his birthright for stew, Ananias and Sapphira made shipwreck because of money, Samson lost his anointing because of a lady, Saul lost his Kingship because of cattle and the Prophet Elisha’s servant Gehazi lost his calling because of silver and clothes!
1 John 2:16 says, “For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does- comes not from the Father but from the world.”
Whenever temptation comes our way, satan will use it to target our faith, our character, and to wreck God’s plan for our life.
Today, I would like to focus on the temptation Joseph faced as Potiphar’s wife attempted to seduce him into sexual sin. It came at a time when he had found great success in Potiphar’s household and business. The story is found in Genesis 39:6-12 and in this encounter, I can think of at least 6 types of temptation that Joseph had to face. They are;
1. NATURAL TEMPTATION
Everyone of us has natural desires that God has given us, which include the desire for acceptance, sex, food and more. The Bible says “Now Joseph was well built and handsome” (v 6). He was a very normal, attractive, strong young man and would have faced temptation like anyone else, for scripture says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man” (1Cor 10:13). Joseph was no exception!
Today, we too are tempted on every side through billboards, magazines, videos, pornography and many other ways. How comforting it is to know that Jesus can give us strength to face all temptation for Hebrews says, “We have one (A high priest) who has been tempted in every way, just as we are yet was without sin” (Heb 4:15). Yes, Jesus understands our temptations and he will help us through them!
2. INFLUENTIAL TEMPTATION
“After a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said “come to bed with me!” (v 7)
This was sexual harassment in the workplace and it involved the first lady; the Chairman’s wife! She was a lady of great influence and would most probably have used her powers often against people. To therefore resist would have been difficult and dangerous for Joseph! But, resist he did, even though he knew well what she could do because of her influence! As we know, she exacted her revenge to the maximum (vs 20)!
Are you facing temptation because of some influential person? How are you coping with it? On the other hand, maybe you are a person of influence. If so, are you using it to hurt others?
3. PROMOTION TEMPTATION
“No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me…” (v 9)
Joseph had risen to a place of trust with Potiphar and been given full Executive powers in Potiphar’s business. He clearly knew that promotion comes from the Lord. But with promotion comes new challenges as Joseph soon found out!
God’s desire is to bless our work and this may well lead to promotion. When that happens, let’s be careful that we learn to handle the temptations that come with it, especially pride and arrogance! We may also want to please our boss and our company more than we please God. We may give all our time to find greater success and make more money at the expense of neglecting our family. Our integrity could go out the window unless we let God stay in control of our hearts!
4. PERSISTENT TEMPTATION
“She spoke to Joseph day after day” (v 10)
Yes, some temptations hit us repeatedly, especially in our weak areas. Whenever our church is in a period of fasting and prayer, I find that good food seems to be around wherever I go! That’s persistent temptation!
Potiphar’s wife kept persisting, hoping that Joseph would yield one day. Thank God, he didn’t.
Are you being tempted to yield to something that is coming against you repeatedly? How can you overcome it? Are you seeking help, prayer and counsel?
Ilustration - There is a story about a man who repeatedly asked the Pastor to pray that the cobwebs in his life would be removed. After quite a number of such prayers, the Pastor got tired of removing cobwebs and prayed that God would kill the spider that was making the cobwebs! We have to put to death anything that comes against us repeatedly to bring dishonor to our Lord.
5. PERFECT SETTING TEMPTATION
“She caught him by his cloak...” (v 12)