“Overcoming Sexual Temptation”: Genesis 39:1-20
Dr. Gary M. Barker
Article published in the Paso Robles Press 3.24.21
One of the amazing truths about the life of the patriarch Joseph is there is no recorded sin that he ever committed. We know that he wasn’t perfectly sinless but the biblical account of his life never mentions that he did anything wrong. Joseph is a wonderful example of a godly man that pleased God in his behavior. The key to Joseph’s godly behavior is the fact that “The Lord was with Joseph” (Genesis 39:2). When a believer relies on the presence and power of God in his life, he can overcome evil temptation. A godly person who loves God doesn’t want to displease God. This is a perfect description of Joseph’s character. The biblical record in Genesis 39 informs us that Joseph’s master, Potiphar, had a wife that desired to have a sexual relationship with Joseph. She was bold about her desire because she personally asked Joseph to “lie with me”: (Genesis 39:7). At first Joseph refused her offer and told her that as the wife of his master he hadn’t been given permission to have a sexual relationship with her (Genesis 39:8-9). She didn’t stop appealing to Joseph to commit adultery with her. Joseph’s response was to tell her that to have sex with her would be great wickedness and sin against God (Genesis 39:9). This was the main motivation for Joseph to not commit adultery and violate his master’s trust in him. Joseph sincerely believed this sin would deeply offend both God and his master Potiphar. I personally believe that this motivation is one of the keys to overcoming any evil temptation. When we truly understand how sin will affect both God and the people we sin against, it should prevent us from hurting other people. Sinning against other people is a manifestation of HATE, not LOVE. Joseph loved God and his master Potiphar and as a result refused to sin against them. Understanding the harmful consequences that sin causes should motivate a person to stop committing sinful behavior. The sad part of this episode in Joseph’s life is that Potiphar’s wife slandered him and accused him of attempting to rape her (Genesis 39:10-19). This resulted in Potiphar becoming enraged as expected and putting Joseph in prison (Genesis 39:20). I’m sure Joseph told Potiphar that his wife’s accusation was not true but it seems clear that Potiphar believed his wife and not Joseph. Many times in the Bible people suffer unfairly and unjustly. The good news is the “Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy” when he went to prison (Genesis 39:21).
Lessons to be Learned.
- Thinking seriously about the harmful consequences of sin can motivate a person to not commit it. Love will never hurt people: Romans 13:9-10
- The desire to PLEASE God is the greatest prevention against committing sin.
- God will be with a believer and comfort him when he is being persecuted for being righteous. God blesses righteous people. This was a beatitude of Jesus given on the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:6.