Running Like Joseph

Run, Sister, Run“Just one more kiss, then I’ll go.” He promised, his eyes smoldering with unspoken desire.

“I don’t know,” Kristen glanced down, “It’s late and we said we wouldn’t hang out here when my roommate was out…”

“Of course. I totally agree.” He stroked her hair, “It’s just that you are so beautiful, I can’t bear the thought of leaving you right now.”

All her good intentions melted at the sound of his deep voice. “Okay,” She sighed with a dreamy smile.

What do you think happened? Did Kristen give in to temptation with her charming date, or do you think she was able to resist sexual temptation with her steamy date? The Bible tells us of a similar incident, where a child of God was faced with overt sexual temptation. And instead of giving in, he ran. What made young, handsome Joseph run in the face of sexual temptation? How can we learn to run like Joseph?

He had a close relationship with God beforehand (Gen. 39: 2-5)

Joseph was a scared kid, pampered by his father, when his brothers sold him into slavery and he ended up in Egypt. Raised to believe in God, he didn’t abandon his faith when life got ugly, instead God became his pillar of strength. It was his close relationship with God that got him through the tough times and allowed God to use Joseph to save lives all across Egypt.

Joseph’s faithfulness was rewarded by God blessing everything he did. “His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had.” It was from this solid foundation with God that Joseph was able to recognize, resist and run from temptation. He trusted that God knew best, that keeping himself pure and honoring his master’s marriage bed were right, no matter what the immediate consequences. He resisted temptation and let God handle the rest.

 

He addressed the temptation as soon as it happened (Gen. 39:7-9)

“Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” 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?”

How many times do we, females especially, not address certain types of behavior because we are worried what others will think? We don’t want the inappropriate guy in class to think we are a goody-two-shoes, so we don’t ask him to stop with the dirty jokes and racy comments. We don’t want the guys at church to think we are a prude, so we don’t address the overly familiar hugs and touches from that older guy. Or, even worse, we like the attention, so we don’t ask the guy to leave your house at a decent hour, so he ends up staying later and later by default. We are a people who prefer to avoid things, rather than address them head on. But glorifying God and living a life of purity doesn’t just happen by default, it is an active choice to recognize temptation, address it and run away if necessary.

He recognized temptation as sin (Gen. 39:9)

A powerful, wealthy woman expressed her overwhelming desire for a young handsome slave, yet instead of being flattered or shy, Joseph immediately saw the sin. Because he walked with God daily, he was able to discern what was going on and address it. “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”

So many times, when faced with temptation, we linger. Or we tell ourselves that it is okay to pause for a minute, because we haven’t sinned yet, we can enjoy the moment, the possibility of temptation. Because we know we would never actually do the deed…. Wrong. That is the lure of temptation. Lingering, making excuses, is the first step toward sinning. Joseph recognized that. And as flattered as a teenage guy would be when hit on by an older woman, a woman who could make his life as a slave much easier, he saw the temptation from God’s perspective and knew dabbling in it would lead to sin.

 

He took steps to have accountability (Gen. 39:10-11)

“And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her. But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.”

Gill’s Commentary explains that after Joseph took every step a slave could take to separate himself from his tempting mistress. He refused to speak with her, did not listen to her invitations and made it a point never to be alone with her. Joseph took clear steps to separate himself from the source of his temptation.

One thing that really impressed me while studying this passage is that Joseph’s answer to sexual temptation was clear in both what he said and what he did. Every day she approached him with a sexual invitation. The first day he said no and explained why. All the days that followed, he lived out his no and proved the why. What a powerful testimony to everyone in that house.

He ran rather than sin against God (Gen. 39:11)

Because he was a slave in her household, he could not just change jobs or leave the premises. As a rich Egyptian woman, with nothing to really occupy her time, she could focus single-mindedly on ensnaring the handsome young slave boy. And eventually she found a moment when he was alone doing his job and she pounced. “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.”

In that moment, Joseph didn’t have to stop and decide if this was sin, he already knew exactly what would and would not honor God, and so he ran. Regardless of how she would react to his rejection, or how the men of the house might mock him, or what consequences he might get as a slave running from his mistress, he ran.

And Joseph did face consequences. She did not handle rejection well, accusing him of rape and landing him in prison. Yet God was with him, even in the prison, and from that lowly place, elevated Joseph to the second-most powerful position in the kingdom of Egypt. God can do great things with a faithful person who chooses Jesus over sinful sexual gratification.

Running from temptation isn’t something we choose to do on the spur of the moment, while being faced with hot temptation. Running from temptation is the result of a close relationship with God, recognizing temptation as sin, addressing the temptation head on, and honest accountability. Joseph’s story didn’t start with running, but it ended with him running from sin because his story started with God.

The Reason We Run

We all know it, Joseph said it to Potipher’s wife, the reason we run is because we cannot sin against God. As his daughter, dearly loved and called to righteousness, we cannot commit this grievous sin against our Lord. So we run.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 says, Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

As a daughter of God, saved by the blood of Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit, we must recognize, resist and run from sexual temptation. Run like Joseph.

  • Run, even if it means establishing specific boundaries for telephone time or physical contact for your boyfriend.
  • Run, even if it means walking away from emotional affairs with guys in relationships or single guys who aren’t willing to actually date you.
  • Run, even if it means setting clear boundaries on acceptable locations and positions for kissing.
  • Run, even if it means breaking off communication with an old guy friend to honor your new husband.
  • Run, even if it means establishing a curfew so you aren’t alone with your dates past a certain hour.

 Run like Joseph.

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