Yesterday, in Genesis 39 we saw Potiphar’s wife demonstrate that sin is often Perception-driven and that unchecked sin produces boldness. Now we will let Joseph show us the proper response to sin and temptation.
1. He Refuses (vs. 8)
Joseph’s first and continual response is to refuse to give in to temptation. Notice, though, the reasons that he gives for his refusal are some of the same reasons that others would give in favor of the sin: “my master has no concern about anything in the house…he has put everything that he has in my charge… he is not greater in this house than I…nor has he kept anything back from me…” Joseph saw rightly that the situation was full of providential blessings, not divine markers pointing him into further sin. Beware the temptation to read circumstances as infallible road signs. Furthermore, Not only did Joseph refuse the woman’s advance, but as vs. 10 says, he refused her day after day… even refusing to be with her. He doesn’t let sinful temptation stay in his presence. That’s just foolishness. We must consciously and zealously avoid any temptation (more on that later).
2. He Recognizes Sins True Nature (vs. 9b)
Joseph knew that sin is ultimately, “great wickedness and a sin against God.” We have a tendency to think that the little sins that don’t have any visible victims aren’t a problem. But the problem is huge, and the problem is our view of sin and our view of God. We serve an infinitely Holy God. Even the tiniest sin that we could think of becomes an infinite offense, not because of the size sin itself, but because of the One against whom the sin is committed. It is the one whom is offended that determines the Magnitude of the offense. In our own lives, we must see BOTH that our sins are an infinite offense AND that the offense is against God. In God’s eyes, there are no small sins, and all sins are against Him.
3. He Runs! (vs. 11-12)She lays the perfect trap: no witnesses around, husband isn’t home, and no one will know. Plus, if he doesn’t give in, his career can be in jeopardy. In the face of extreme temptation, Joseph gives us the proper response: he flees. Notice what he doesn’t try to do: he doesn’t try to reason with her. This isn’t the time to try and be a noble evangelist and convert her to Christ. This isn’t a time to try and pull out the Bible and do a word- study on “pornea” in the NT; he rightly sees that the situation is critical and he needs to get out. When temptation reaches a boiling point the best thing to do is to flee from that temptation.
We must recognize the chinks in our own armor and flee from situations that might exploit those weaknesses. Recovering alcoholics are taught never put themselves in situations where they might be tempted to drink. When they find themselves in sticky situations, they are taught to leave immediately. As recovering sin-addicts, we must use the same approach. We must never put ourselves in compromising positions of temptation. But, when those temptations do arise, we must flee immediately.
Joseph gives us a great example to follow regarding sexual purity and proper perception of sin. Like Joseph, our vision of sin and of God must be biblically informed if we are to properly judge the extent of our offense. May we be ever vigilant in avoiding temptation and quick to flee when the scene becomes deadly.
Jon English Lee