Updated: Jun 22
She caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house. Genesis 39:12 ESV
One of the things the Lord asked me to let go of as I grew closer to Him, was unwholesome entertainment. Just a few weeks after purging my movie and music collection, a new movie that was a spin-off of an old favorite came out. I wanted to see it so bad! My excitement was dampened when the Holy Spirit whispered a warning to me. I put the idea aside, giving myself time to think and pray about it.
In the meantime, every social media outlet and advertisement reminded me what an interesting movie it would be. I wrestled with it for a week rationalizing that it was PG-13, the movie reviews were good, and that I was mature enough to watch a movie and not be affected. So, I watched it.
Although this movie was innocent by the world’s standards, the movie brought about thoughts and feelings I was trying to rid myself of. My short-lived enjoyment of the film triggered a setback in spiritual progress that I did not expect. Although it may have been okay for another Christian to watch this movie, the Holy Spirit knew my heart and what I needed and I ignored His warning.
In Genesis Chapter 39, we see Joseph face a temptation that continually pursues him. Potiphar’s wife is attracted to Joseph and demands Joseph to lie with her not once but every day after meeting him (vs.10). I can only assume that this was a temptation for Joseph because his reasoning in refusing her did not include her being unattractive (vs. 8-9).
I am sure that her persistent coaxing caused Joseph to exercise a great deal of discipline and reliance on God. I imagine Potiphar’s wife justifying her request by saying things like, “No one will know”, “Everyone does it” or “It is not that bad”. Maybe, because of Joseph’s close relationship with the Lord, he was not as prone to this temptation as I would imagine most would be. Joseph was so firm in his resolve to stay pure that he fled the house to cut off the temptation completely (vs. 12).
What an inspiring example Joseph set for all of us struggling with temptation! If you have been walking with the Lord, you know that giving in to temptation of any kind just isn’t worth it. Temptation always overpromises and underdelivers! I wish I could say that I have such a firm resolve when I am tempted, but as you see from my story that is not always the case. The enemy knows our weaknesses and will lurk at every corner to trap us, but Genesis gives us a helpful hint to what may have aided Joseph.
But he refused and said to his master's wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” Genesis 39:8-9 ESV
Joseph looks back in thankfulness for what he has been trusted with. His position and favor in Potiphar’s house is a gift of kindness from God. He has earned God and Potiphar’s trust and refuses to break it. He knew that with God, he did not lack. I wish I had looked back to look at God’s faithfulness to heal and transform me. If I had, I would have been reminded that I’m not missing out, I’m protecting my freedom.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 NIV
Temptation is a lie telling you that you lack something good. It masks itself as something that will bring satisfaction but when you give in, the tables turn on you. Shame and regret settle in and you wish you stood your ground. This can become a gripping cycle that has us chasing fulfillment in the wrong place, leaving us wanting more. Sometimes, the greatest gift is the freedom to say, “I don’t need that”. Refusing to sin frees us from its control and allows us to bask in God’s generous nature. He is our Father who delights in giving good gifts.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11 ESV
When we choose a wholesome life that honors God, we are choosing a life of peace, contentment, and favor. We are choosing fulfillment by intimacy with the Lord. We are choosing a life that lacks nothing good.
Take a moment to think about how the nature of temptation and the nature of God’s generosity has affected your life. What would it look like for you to have a more wholesome resolve to refuse sin?