Flee Temptation

FLEE TEMPTATION

Gen 39  Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.

The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, 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. 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. 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, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

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. 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.

13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.

But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

Temptation is the truth stretched, which then becomes a deceptive lie. Some common lies we listen to that convince us to yield to temptation are: 1. My situation is different, an exception to the rule. 2. This temptation is too strong to resist. 3. There is no way out except to give in.

Joseph was a young man, who had been sold into slavery by his brothers. He lived at least 400 years before the law, The Ten Commandments, was written. Nevertheless, Joseph feared and loved God. He had an intimate relationship with his Creator, God Almighty. Joseph talked to God and God talked to him, often through dreams. Joseph obeyed whatever God told him. As a result, God blessed Joseph by giving him success in whatever he did. Joseph’s success also benefited his master Potiphar. So Potiphar promoted Joseph to the head his house. For a slave, Joseph had it made.

Then Potiphar’s wife took a liking to Joseph. He resisted her enticements. He tried to avoid her, but one day she came after him, grabbed him, and begged him to have sex with her. What a temptation for a young man! What should he do? Should he obey her orders? She was the wife of his master. Furthermore, she had him by his cloak. He was physically trapped. Would he have to give in to her to make her stop? It seemed there was no way out of this temptation. But Joseph refused accept that lie. He found the way out and he took it. He ran, leaving his cloak behind.

1 Cor 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality

2 Tim 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Joseph did what these Scriptures tell us, and the result of running was that he was thrown into prison for the lie Potiphar’s wife told. The way out from sin can be very costly, like it was for Joseph. But it can still become an easy choice. It is entirely a matter of priorities. If our priority is to love God and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, then we will find the way out no matter what the consequence may be. On the other hand, if we really don’t have our relationship with God as a high priority; if comfort, or convenience, or money, or relationships, or what other people think of us, or anything else is more important, then it will be easy for us to believe the lies that the temptation is too strong, that our situation is an exception, that there is no way out. However, there is always a way out. We do not have to sin.

I Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

It is highly likely Joseph would eventually end up in prison if he did give into the temptation. Our sin will be found out. So what advantage was there for fleeing temptation? If you are going to do the time, why not commit the crime? The advantage is God is still with him.

Temptations will come and people may try to take advantage of us. They may test us to see if we will give into the temptation. But if we keep our focus and dedication to the Lord, He will prosper us in spite of what others do to us. During a time of suffering for doing right, God’s blessing may not be evident by the circumstances. That is why we must have a deep trust and love for God.

For example, how do you think Joseph felt in prison? He was faithful, he resisted, he refused, and he ran. He did what was right, and now he was unfairly suffering the penalty of someone who had done wrong! Furthermore, the one who did wrong was still running free and unpunished.

There are some of us here this morning that can identify with Joseph’s feelings. Our temptation may not have been sexual, but we chose to obey God rather than the temptation. We prayed, obeyed, and believed. We resisted, refused, and ran, but things haven’t turned out like we hoped. It appears we are suffering more for obeying God than if we had chosen to yield to the temptation.

The truth is found in Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Although, we may not immediately see the good, we see a beautiful example of this promise fulfilled when we read the rest of the story of Joseph. Joseph spent 14 years in prison, which did not seem like God was working things for good. But through a series of events orchestrated by God, Joseph’s time in prison led to his elevation to the second in command of all of Egypt. This position helped him to save his entire family during a famine, not to mention the rest of the known world.

Joseph summed it all up when he said to his brothers, Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

No circumstance will hinder what God wants to do in and through us. God will bless us if we remain faithful to Him through all our trials. So, it is always right to flee temptation regardless of the consequences.

Joseph became a model for all of us by the way he handled this temptation. “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” That was the statement of a believer who loves God! That was the statement of a man who realized that this sin would first and foremost be a sin against God, the God who loved him and met all his needs. “Go to bed with you? No way, I love God too much!”

Can we be like that? Yes, we can. Are we always like that? That might depend on what the temptation is and what our frame of mind is at the time. Too often, we deal with temptation the way we deal with dessert: “Another piece of chocolate cake? How can I resist? Another scoop of ice cream? Sure, why not?” While we can usually have a little dessert without doing too much harm, giving in to the temptation to sin is always harmful. It might not be harmful to our bodies, but it is always harmful to our souls.

Resist temptation, avoid temptation, refuse temptation, and flee temptation. Joseph did all those things, but he did something more important that prepared him for overcoming temptation. He didn’t allow the thought of sinning to enter into his mind. He focused on God, verbalized his faith and love for God, and the thought of sin became unthinkable to him. Therefore, he was able to act appropriately when the unwanted temptation came on strong. We need to do likewise; focus on Christ, pray and worship, verbalize our faith, and love God so much that sin is unthinkable to us.

2 Cor. 10:3-5 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

It is in the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ, where we find the real power and strength to overcome temptation. His love for us and the love He gives us for Himself is our motivation for resisting temptation, just as God’s love for Joseph and Joseph’s love for God were big motivating factors for him. We focus our minds on whom or what we love. Let it be Jesus.

Still, we must fight battles with temptation because satan still tries to destroy us. But Jesus, who has won the victory in this war, has not left us to fight alone. He gives us weapons to use. He gives us spiritual armor to fight this spiritual war and He tells us to put it on, because sometimes there is nowhere to flee.

Eph.6:10-18 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Just as Jesus used the Word of God to defeat the devil and overcome temptation, we also have that tremendous, powerful Word of God as our sword to use against Satan and all of his demonic forces tempting us. If we read It and sheathe It in our heart, then the Word will be there when we need It to overcome temptation.

Furthermore, we have the power of prayer that focuses our attention on God and enables us to do battle in the spiritual realm. Use it; pray continuously, on all occasions. We have the Holy Spirit who tells us whether we are acting according to what is right or wrong. We have the Lord’s authority, as God’s children, to rebuke satan in the Name of Jesus Christ.

We also have examples of people who overcame temptation in Scripture, men like Joseph, Paul, and John. We have the testimony of the martyrs, who were faithful in spite of persecution, many of whom died while refusing to give into the temptation to deny Christ. We have fellow Christians around us today to encourage us in the fight and help us in our weakness. We have the Spirit to tell us when to run away, or to use whatever tactics are necessary to resist. We have the promises of God and the power of one little word that can defeat satan; namely, the word “no”. That is all it takes if we really mean it.

Finally, don’t be confused with the immediate results from fleeing temptation. It is always the right choice regardless of what happens afterwards. Joseph, after doing what was right, gets dumped in prison. If we flee temptations, it may cost us our job, we may be jeered at school, we may lose a friendship, and we may be the only one who is doing right. If so, go ahead and be the only one! God will use us and reward us in His perfect time.

Again, if you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, you lack the power to resist temptation and suffer the consequences for doing right. Nevertheless, God still loves you and gave His Son as an atoning sacrifice for your sin. He wants an intimate relationship with you. He wants to live in you, empower you, and bless you.

Won’t you let Jesus deliver you from the bonds of satan and his tempting lies today? Give your life to Him by confessing Jesus as Lord, repent of your sin, and die to your sin-dominated life by being baptized in water. Then you will receive a new life, birthed by the Holy Spirit, who will take residence in you. Then, as a child of God, all of God’s promises become yours through Jesus Christ.

  December 2017  
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