It came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.”
You and I are vulnerable to Satan’s temptation not only after times of defeat but also after times of success. When we have experienced God’s favor, if we are not careful, we begin to think we are strong enough to withstand anything. Paul said, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). It was after Joseph’s successes that temptation came into his life.
Genesis 39:7 says, “It came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, ‘Lie with me.’” Verse 6 tells us that Joseph was well built and handsome. So it wasn’t his IQ that Mrs. Potiphar admired, okay? She looked at him and said, “Lie with me.” That translation is very tame. She was saying, “Joseph, have sex with me.” She wasn’t asking for dinner, romance, or flowers—just steamy, no-strings-attached sex.
How did Joseph respond? Verse 8 tells us, “But he refused.” Now, Joseph was no saint. He was a normal, hot-blooded Hebrew teenage boy. But Joseph refused. He didn’t give in.
We live in a culture that says we have no choice but to give in to temptation. But we do not have to give in to our desires. We have the ability to say no. The basis of sex education in our schools is, “We know teenagers and young adults are going to have sex, so we will teach them how to have safe sex.” But there is no way to safely sin against God.
Joseph understood that. He refused to have sex with his master’s wife. Notice the two reasons he refused. First, he said that Potiphar trusted in him. How could he violate his master’s trust and sin against him? But then Joseph gave a second reason for saying no. He said, “How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” (v. 9). Even if no one else found out, God would know. And for Joseph, the worst thing in his life was the thought of offending God. In the end, the only thing that will keep you from temptation is a love for God that is greater than the temptation.
You know what I find remarkable about Joseph? Joseph was cut off from his family and friends and in a place where nobody knew him. Nobody would know if he gave in to temptation. And perhaps most significantly, Joseph felt disappointed by God. God had given him a dream, but the dream had been shattered. He felt alone and abandoned by God, but he never gave up his love for God. Even in a strange, distant land, this teenage boy said, “I am not going to offend God. How could I do this and sin against my God?”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “When Temptation Comes” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.