On fighting sin: Joseph in Potiphar’s house

January 23, 2016

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Friday Night Devotional by Jeremy Birch, 1/22/2016

The story of Joseph in Potiphar’s house (Gen 39) is one that offers strong encouragement in our day-to-day, moment-to-moment fight against sin. Joseph, after being blessed by God with success in his new station in Egypt, was faced with persistent, pernicious temptation to immorality that would dishonor both his earthly and heavenly masters. Here are some lessons we can draw from the example of our brother Joseph:

1. Consider your neighbor.

Joseph, in refusing the advances of Potiphar’s wife, answers her, “Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house… and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife.” Joseph recognizes and reminds both his temptress and himself of the ways that sin dishonors his fellow man, and he refuses to allow any such dishonoring to take place on his account.

2. Consider your God.

Joseph then tells the temptress (and himself), “How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” Joseph understands that sin is above all an offense against holy God. Work to cultivate a fear of offending God, and then, as Joseph did, remind yourself in the moments you face temptation. In considering your God and considering your neighbor, you will set yourself up for obedience to both the greatest commandment and the second, which is like it: Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.

3. Flee

When the temptations from Potiphar’s wife reach their height, Joseph “left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside.” James admonishes us in the New Testament: Do not be deceived; we are tempted when we are carried away and enticed by our own lusts. Do similarly as Joseph to not allow exposure to temptation for any longer than is necessary—fight for the purity of your soul at the point before lust is conceived and sin is birthed (Jas 1:14-15)! God promises a way out from any temptation (1 Co 10:13). After reminding yourself of love for God and love for neighbor, will you then choose escape?

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