“Now one day he went into the house to do his work, and none of the household servants were there. She grabbed him by his garment and said, “Sleep with me!” But leaving his garment in her hand, he escaped and ran outside.” (Genesis 39:11–12)
Potiphar’s wife commands Joseph to sleep with her the way she might command any of her other slaves to move the furniture or bring in the groceries. Put yourself in Joseph’s position and think how easy it would be to rationalize the sin. Denying her would certainly bring negative consequences.
But Joseph has the courage to make the right and difficult choice, and he gives us two reasons for it in v. 8-9: 1) Joseph has respect for Potiphar and refuses to cheat him, and 2) adultery would be a sin against God.
So, he refuses…several times. He changes his schedule, so they’re not alone together. But one day she corners him and sets the trap. Many years later, Paul would write: “Flee sexual immorality!” (1 Corinthians 6:18) I guess Joseph is a literalist because he fled…but she nabbed his robe. She uses his robe as “proof” of the incident. Joseph just doesn’t have very good luck with robes, does he?
How did Joseph defeat temptation? Well, first he was pragmatic – he tried to avoid her. In last week’s sermon, we talked about sin “looking for an opportunity” in our lives…Joseph tried not to give one. But you can’t just “outmaneuver” sin.
There’s more. I think it is important to note that Joseph mentions the sinful nature of the offer. It shows that Joseph very clearly felt the presence of God in his life and wanted to honor Him.
That’s the key to overcoming temptation: we have to want to please God more than we want the sin. Circumstances don’t make me sin. Difficult people don’t make me sin. It’s me, my own heart, because I want what I want more than I want to please God.
Join us Sunday as we continue our sermon series on Joseph with my message, “From Bad to Worse.”