Published October 16, 2014
Before beginning a new chapter in Joseph’s amazing life, remember from where he came. He was not the oldest son, but he was the favored son. He was so despised by his brothers for his position in the family hierarchy that they plotted to kill him, before settling on the idea of selling him as a slave and claiming his death was from wild animals.
This brotherly betrayal changed Joseph’s life drastically. Yet even in his despair he chose to do the right thing, and God honored this. Even in these dire circumstances God blessed him.
Temptation and refusal
Notice that twice in the first three verses the Bible says that the Lord was with him. He fabulously succeeded as a slave. Because of his righteousness, God blessed him. His Egyptian master Potiphar noticed the witness of Joseph’s life, and understood that God was blessing Joseph, so he continually rewarded him until he was second in command of the prosperous household Joseph managed his home.
Joseph oversaw Potiphar’s farm, and was literally in charge of almost everything in Potiphar’s life, save one – his wife. God even blessed Joseph with good looks. The Modern King James version says, that he “was beautiful in form and beautiful in appearance” (v. 6).
Potiphar’s wife noticed this as well, and she began to tempt him. Repeatedly she tempted him, and each time he refused. Once he even went so far as to explain to her his position that it would be a sin. He didn’t say it would be a sin against Potiphar, who was her husband, but rather a sin against “GOD.”
For Joseph righteousness meant adultery was against the rules. For Joseph lying with his master’s wife was a deep moral wrong. Possibly he could have committed the act and never gotten caught. Perhaps she would have tired of her plaything, but for Joseph this act would disappoint God, and he was not going to cross that boundary.
The Bible says that Joseph didn’t listen to her temptations. It even goes so far as to say that he wouldn’t “be with her.” This means he avoided her. There is an easy lesson here: Avoid sin.
Angering the monster
Several years ago during seminary, my wife and I were picnicking with another couple at a pond on a farm in southern Louisiana. As you might expect being near a body of water that far south, there was an alligator present on the other side of the pond.
She was sunning itself. She was eerily still. There was no movement at all, so while our wives readied the picnic feast my buddy and I found our way across the pond to examine this monster.
As we closed in, there still was no movement at all. I never saw what my friend was doing while I was searching for a stick to poke her, but suddenly out of the corner of my eye I see a large rock descending upon this most dangerous of God’s reptiles. Immediately the stillness abated and we found ourselves facing the open angry mouth of pure death.
We ran. We ran past the picnic with our wives. We ran past our car. We ran knowing in our minds that whoever was the slowest was surely going to die.
God was merciful because He spared two seminary boys that day, but the moral of this story is exactly Joseph’s point. Avoid the gator. We should have stayed on the opposite side of the pond with our sandwiches and beautiful wives.
Were Joseph to lie with Potiphar’s wife, his sin probably would have been discovered. Sins usually have that end, but even if it weren’t discovered for him God’s blessing would have ended that day. History might have been completely different, but to this point in his life Joseph successfully avoided the temptations.
Be sensible and vigilant, because your adversary the Devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone he may devour. (MKJV)
1 Peter 5:8
Satan was looking to destroy the witness of Joseph by tempting him with Potiphar’s wife. Satan is using temptations on you and me as well. He wants to destroy us. He wants to shame our God.
Sometimes the temptations are weak, and we can easily overcome them because the consequences outweigh the rewards. Joseph worked in the house when there were others around. He could easily deflect the temptation, because to fall into adultery the consequences were sure. He would be caught.
When temptation finds you
But then one day, he entered the house to work and found it empty. Potiphar’s wife found him. Perhaps she arranged the empty house, or it might have just been a coincidence. It doesn’t matter, but Joseph was alone with his temptation.
She grabbed his garment and offered herself to him. Joseph ran. He fled.
The moral of this story is obvious. We run from the temptations. Flee from them. Run as fast as we would from an angry gator.
Joseph ran. He ran so fast from his temptation that he left his coat. This is the second time in his life that he finds himself without his coat.
But flee youthful lusts, and follow righteousness.
2 Timothy 2:22
Verses for further discussion:
Proverbs 28:13; James 4:17; 1 Corinthians 15:33; 1 Corinthians 10:13-14; 1 John 3:4; Proverbs 4:23; Romans 13:14; Galatians 5:19-21; Matthew 5:28; Galatians 5:16; Matthew 7:23; 1 Thessalonians 5:22; Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Romans 5:8; Romans 10:9-10 and 13.
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