How did Joseph handle temptation? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
There’s a story done about a study on a college campus. In this study, an attractive young woman would go up to various men on campus and ask them if they would like to have sex with her that evening. Many guys in the study actually said, “Why wait until this evening?” The women when approached by a handsome young man with the same question weren’t nearly as eager.
Most of us understand this. Guys think about sex a lot and it is the greatest area of temptation most of us feel. Joseph in Egypt is also a guy and he has older brothers who have families of their own, even if they are distant. He lives in a household where his Dad is presumably very active to bring about all those kids.
Joseph is away from those influences. He has been sold into slavery and if anyone had any understandable reason to go against God, Joseph did. It wouldn’t be right, but we can understand how Joseph could look at his evil of being a slave and think that God had abandoned him and why not return the favor? No one is there to see him after all. Why not become like the Egyptians and worship their gods instead of YHWH?
Yet Joseph does not do this.
Joseph is placed in the home of Potiphar and his wife takes a liking to Joseph. She tries to seduce him time and time again. The Bible doesn’t tell us what methods she used, but many of us guys know that women can be very alluring when they try to seduce. It’s not like Joseph could also go to another household and be a servant there. That freedom didn’t exist.
So he had to overcome this. Many of us guys can have this struggle. How many of us men, on a lesser level, have bought something at a store that we really didn’t need or even want just because the girl who sold it was awfully cute and it looked like she was flirting? Been there. Done that.
Joseph does everything he can to remain faithful. One day when Potiphar is away, his wife takes Joseph by his coat and asks him to sleep with her. This time she has gone too far and Joseph flees leaving his coat behind. Now the woman has a problem. She has the coat of another man right there. Thus, she turns the tables and screams and when Potiphar arrives eventually later on in the day, she tells him that the Hebrew slave tried to seduce her and fled leaving his coat behind. This leads to Joseph being thrown in prison as Potiphar is not going to disbelieve his own wife.
Joseph goes to prison then and while he is faithful to God even there, let’s look at what happened with him. Joseph remained faithful and his main reason was he didn’t want to dishonor not just his master, but God. Joseph has not abandoned God even though one could understand why he could think God had abandoned him.
Joseph could have also easily got some action in and as far as we know, he was a virgin at this time. Surely he would be curious and wonder what he’s missing. While that may be so, he still remains faithful.
Many of us are not as careful with temptation and allow ourselves to be tempted and then get surprised when we fall. As a single man again, I am looking for a new wife, but I am also setting up one rule being that if I have my own place, I will not have a girl I date come alone to be at my place with me and I will not be alone with her at hers.
When I work, if some ladies get off the same time as me, I walk them to their cars. Last night, one offered to drive me to mine. It’s a short ride across the parking lot, but I said no. It would not appear right for me to do that. I would not take another girl home either. There are women who can do that.
Why do this? Because I know how real the temptation is. It’s something I struggle with every day. Today, it can be harder than it was for Joseph. You want to see something sexual? Heck. Just open up your browser and you can in a few clicks. You can see something on your phone if you want to.
Sexual faithfulness is worth it. I hope to remarry someday and when I do, have a woman know that I preserved my eyes from seeing other women like that and saved them for when I could see her. It is my goal to make it to a future wedding night knowing that I remained faithful to God and to her and waited for that time. God is not opposed to His children enjoying the blessing of sexuality. He wants us to enjoy it in the way that is best for us, in a committed monogamous relationship of a man and a woman.
Joseph remained strong. In the end, he was used mightily of God. Today, we need to remain strong in a highly sexualized culture as well. Temptation is real, but Christ is there to help us overcome it always.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)