“This Great Wickedness Against God” (Part 2)
In the television series Temptation Island, unmarried couples are placed on a Caribbean Island to see if they are able to avoid temptation while separated from each other and surrounded by temptation. Sexual immorality is not isolated to a particular island. Someone has said that temptation to commit sexual immorality is like a telemarketer. Once it has your number, they will proposition you at the most inconvenient time. It will keep trying to persuade you even after you have said no. It will be persistent in coming after you again and again. It will come to you in a way that is most appealing. However, no matter how good the sales pitch, there is always a hitch.
Nature of Sexual Temptation
No marriage is so strong that adultery is not a threat. Even Solomon in all his great wisdom and a thousand wives knew He was vulnerable. His father David, a man after God’s own heart, gave into this sin. Temptation comes to the godly and ungodly alike. Even to the young and the old. A young preacher asked a good, strong Christian man who was well into his eighties, how old was he when the temptation to sexual immorality ceased. The octogenarian’s reply was, “I will be sure to let you know when that day comes. In the meanwhile, I will not feel safe from such temptation until I have been dead and in the grave for at least four days.”
▸ Appeals to Natural Desires
Joseph had to be a young man is his early twenties when Potiphar’s wife cast her longing eyes upon him. The Living Bible says that she “made eyes” at him. Joseph may have trusted and followed God, but He still was a young, red-blooded man. He has God-given hormones coursing through his veins. The appeal to the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes has been a tool of the Devil to entice men and women to fall in love with this world from the beginning (Gen. 3:6; 1 John 2:15-17).
God created sex. Sexual desire is healthy and natural. However, sex has been designed for married couples only. “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord…” (1 Cor 6:13b). The Corinthians saw sex as a natural right just like the need to eat food, “Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods” (1 Cor. 6:13a). Paul goes on to explain the proper view of the body in relation to Christ.
“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:15-20).
“So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her” (Gen. 39:10). Since the temptation to sin is often repetitious, the denial to commit sin must also be repetitious. Joseph had the courage to keep saying “NO!” Her persistence would not wear him down. Delilah wanted to know the source of Samson’s strength, so she persisted until she wore him down and he told her. She knew how to nag Samson and appeal to his emotions. Delilah said, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and have not told me where your great strength lies” And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death, that he told her all his heart” (Judges 16:15-17a).
The key is to say “no” the first time and truly mean it. And continue to say no consistently. The more the temptation is repeated the more consistently one must repeat “no!”
▸ Comes When Alone
Although Joseph clearly said no, Potiphar’s wife was not listening or simply did not care. But Joseph as noted in verse ten, he would not lie with her or be with her. Of course, he would have to be in her presence from time to time. But he would not be alone with her. She wanted what she wanted and was seeking an opportunity to seduce him. “But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, that she caught him by his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me’” (Gen. 39:11,12a). The master and all the workers were away from the house. They were alone. A perfect opportunity. “No one will have to know.” Being alone gives strength to the temptation and is an aid to the temptress. He could have reasoned that no one would know. He could have lamented that no one cared. After all his family sold him. God had allowed him to be enslaved in Egypt. And furthermore, Egyptian culture was different. Remember, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”
The problem with being alone is there is no one else to be unaccountable to. However, Joseph believed in God and God would know. Believing in an all-knowing and all-present God can keep a man and woman from sin. Be sure your sin will find you out (Num. 32:23). If Jonah could not run and hide from God what chance did Joseph have?
Today it is wise from men and women to make themselves accountable. One way is to set boundaries. Do not put yourself in the position with the opposite sex where you will be alone with them. Former Vice-President Pence had a rule not to meet with a woman for a business meal alone. He was castigated for this. Some viewed such as a slight against working with women. However, such an attitude could prove to protect the reputations and the souls of one another.
▸ Targets the Beautiful
Words describing a man’s handsome appearance are found four times in the Old Testament with regard Joseph, with Saul and with David and with Absalom. “Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance” (Gen. 39:6b). Although the temptation to sexual immorality is universal in scope, those who are more attractive attract the attention of tempters and temptresses more often. Potiphar’s wife noticed Joseph’s good looks or sex appeal. She treated Joseph like a thing, not like a person.
Often the temptation to sexual immorality begins with a look which leads to lust. The sin of lust often can lead to adultery. Samson was a he-man with a she-problem. Most of the times he failed in life are marked by the words: “Now Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines” (Judges 14:1). “Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her” (Judges 16:1). David’s sin with Bathsheba began with a look. “Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her” (2 Sam. 11:2,4). Jesus warned, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart…” (Mt 5:28). Job said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman? (Job 31:1).
So if you are attractive, be careful not to be tempted or an unnecessary tempter. (On a side note, this old, bald-head, big-nosed, pot-bellied preacher is doing all he can not to be a source of temptation to all the ladies out there. It just one of the sacrifices I am willing to make).
▸ Uses Current Culture as a Standard
As ancient monuments can attest, ancient women of Egypt were somewhat loose in their morals. Joseph’s own brothers had fallen to sexual temptations. Today, sex has become so common that every New Testament Christians are living with each other and having sex before marriage. So, let me take a moment to give you the low-down on shacking up. Regardless of the time and location of the temptation: God’s Standards Are Absolute – They Don’t Change. “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4).
▸ Comes When Weak
The temptation to sexual immorality came when Joseph was at his weakest. He was a slave. He was young. He was far from home. He was very successful, and he was alone. Yes, being successful is one the most common factors today in men and even women giving into sexual immorality. To keep from sin is to determine ahead of time how you will deal with temptation. Do it while you are strong. Temptation will find you when you are at your weakest.
– Daniel R. Vess