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WINNING YOUR BATTLE WITH TEMPTATION
Intro: One day a father said to his son, "Now, son, don't swim in that canal." "OK, Dad," he answered. But he came home carrying a wet bathing suit that evening. "Where have you been?" demanded the father. "Swimming in the canal," answered the boy. "Didn't I tell you not to swim there?" asked the father. "Yes, Sir," answered the boy. "Why did you?" he asked. "Well, Dad," he explained, "I had my bathing suit with me and I couldn't resist the temptation." "Why did you take your bathing suit with you?" he questioned. "So I'd be prepared to swim, in case I was tempted," he replied.
Many people I’ve their lives just like that. They expect to sin and so they live their lives in such a manner that they actually excite sin and make it easier for them to fall. Whenever we play with temptation, it is easy to drift into great danger. A woman was bathing in the Gulf of Mexico. She was enjoying the comfort of relaxing on an inflated cushion that kept her afloat. When she realized that she had been swept about a half mile out from the beach, she began to scream, but no one heard her. A coast guard craft found her five miles from the place where she first entered the water. She did not see her danger until she was beyond her own strength and ability.
The remedy for this is found in Romans 13:14, "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof." Our text today speaks about a young man who faced a fearful time of temptation. Instead of falling, like so many do, Joseph weathered the storm of temptation and won a great victory in his spiritual life. He stayed clean in a situation where many others would have fallen.
Now, the fact is, every person in this room faces temptation in one form or another. And, the fact is, most of us want to live clean lives. We want to please the Lord. We want to win over sin! To do this, we need to know how to win the war over temptation. This passage gives us some insights into just how to do this. Today, I would like for us to look into the experiences of young Joseph. I want to preach on this thought: Winning Your Battle With Temptation.
I. V. 1-6 THE TESTIMONY JOSEPH EXHIBITED
A. V. 2a He Had A Personal Testimony - The Bible is very clear that Joseph had a personal relationship with God. He knew the Lord and was walking with God by faith. (Note: This is the starting point for true spirituality and personal holiness. When an individual has a personal, faith relationship with God, they have the potential to live for Him and to live like Him. That is why it is so important for each of us to search our hearts to be sure we are in a personal, faith relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, 2 Pet. 1:10; 2 Cor. 13:5.)
B. V. 3 He Had A Powerful Testimony - Joseph’s faith was not just lived out in his heart, but it was lived out before everyone around him. Everyone could see that something was different about the life of Joseph.
1. Men Saw God In His Walk - The way Joseph lived among the Egyptians marked him as different. Those around him saw the difference. Can men see the difference in us? They should be able to, Matt. 5:13!
2. Men Saw God In His Work - Joseph had the Midas touch! The Lord blessed Joseph and all he did. When our walk with the Lord is as it should be, men will see the hand of the Lord and His activity on our lives, Pro. 16:7.
C. V. 4-6 He Had A Prosperous Testimony - As Joseph walked with his Lord and worked for Potiphar, the Lord continued to bless him and use him for His glory. The Lord made it clear to all who were looking that He was blessing and using Joseph in a great way.
(Note: Here was a young man who had his priorities in the right order. He loved his God and he walked with Him faithfully. While this is the right way for everyone to live, we also need to understand that this makes you a prime target for attack. The devil likes nothing better than to defeat, destroy and devastate real men and women of God, 1 Pet. 5:8! He isn’t too concerned about those who are merely nominal Christians, and who don’t live the life. He isn’t concerned about those who talk about Jesus but who don’t live like Him! He is after those who run hard after God. He wants those who want to live holy lives. He wants those who are in the fight! He wants you! A life lived for Jesus is a life that will be attacked, 2 Tim. 3:12.)
II. V. 7-19 THE TEMPTATION JOSEPH ENDURED
A. The Character Of The Temptation - Despite Joseph’s walk with the Lord and holy lifestyle, temptation still stalked him. These verses have much to teach us about how temptation can come to us as well.
1. V. 7 It Was Subtle - Potiphar’s wife began her temptation of Joseph by first “casting her eyes” upon him. He was a handsome young man, v. 6. This proved to be his Achilles Heal. (Note: When temptation comes into your life or mine, it will seldom appear as a full blown invitation to sin. Most of us would quickly see through that and would avoid it altogether. The Tempter is far more subtle than that! He will attack us is small ways that, on the surface, might not appear evil. I mean a teenage boy might have been flattered to know that he had caught the eye of a sophisticated, beautiful Egyptian woman. Temptation is almost always subtle in the beginning, but if it is not stopped at that point, it will quickly escalate into outright sin! (Ill. The temptation of Jesus, Matt. 4:4-11. At first, Satan tempted Jesus to do things that, on the surface, didn’t appear to be evil.) (Note: Beware of the subtlety of temptation and sin. If evil is tolerated, to any degree, it won’t b e long before you are in over your head! A woman was bathing in the Gulf of Mexico. She was enjoying the comfort of relaxing on an inflated cushion that kept her afloat. When she realized that she had been swept about a half mile out from the beach, she began to scream, but no one heard her. A coast guard craft found her five miles from the place where she first entered the water. She did not see her danger until she was beyond her own strength and ability. That is what the flesh and the devil want to do to you!)
2. V. 7 It Was Shocking - Potiphar’s wife came right out and propositioned Joseph! This was a blatant offer of sexual sin! (Note: Joseph wasn’t the only one being tempted, but he was the only one fighting temptation. It is interesting to see how temptation worked in the heart of this woman. First, she looked at Joseph in a way that was inappropriate for a married woman, then she fed the fantasies in her mind until they became realities! That is why sin must not be tolerated, even within the thoughts of the mind! They may begin there, but they will grow until they become reality! The very thoughts of the mind must be brought under the control of the Lord, 2 Cor. 10:5. Satan knows that outward sin begins within man’s heart, Matt. 15:19, James 1:14-15. He knows that if he can get our minds to dwell on evil, it is but a short step to get us to live out that evil!) The whole point here is that if the devil can get our minds to accept the subtle temptation, we will cave in when he comes against us with the full frontal assault!
3. V. 10 It Was Sustained - She offered herself to Joseph every single day! She is a woman completely consumed by her lust for this young man. His refusals did nothing more than make him more desirable to her. (Note: Joseph was a typical teenage boy. He had the same desires that inhabit all teenage boys. It must have been a difficult time in his life as this beautiful, older woman repeatedly offered herself to him! Yet, he remained firm in his resolve to be faithful to his Lord.) (Note: What we need to learn here is that temptation is not going to go away! Neither age nor time will make temptations vanish. As long as we are in these bodies, we are going to be tempted to sin against our Lord. Satan knows our weaknesses and he exploits them. He will repeatedly attack us in an area time after time. We can resist, yet he still attacks us. When the temptation subsides, we tend to let our guard down, and here it will come again! Temptation is a relentless force that we will battle for the duration of our lives! That is why we must never let our guard down and we can never think we have our sins conquered! Sin and temptation are always waiting to attack us and to overcome us, Gen. 4:7.)
4. V. 11-16 It Was Strategic - Whether this woman set this up or not we do not know, but there came a day when no one was in the house but Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. She saw the opportunity to fulfill the fantasy in her mind and she made her move. (Note: This is how temptation works! It will entrench itself within our minds so deeply that it becomes the center of our thoughts. It relentlessly pressures the mind to act on the desire. Then, when it sees an opportunity, it pushes us to bring our thoughts to life! You can see this progression in the temptation and fall of King David - 2 Sam. 11:1-4. He saw her. She filled his thoughts. He took her into his heart and then into his arms!) (Note: The pages of the Bible are filled with many examples of temptation: Eve, Adam, Cain, Abraham, Lot, Esau, Israel, Peter, etc. we should never think that we are going to be immune to it! Temptation hounds us all and it will master you if it isn’t handled properly. In this area, Joseph sets a great example!)
B. The Character Of The Tempted - By watching Joseph and how he conducted himself during this attack, we can learn how we too can stand when temptation stalks us.
1. V. 8 He Met It With A Firm Refusal - When the temptation came to him, Joseph was ready with a firm, “No!”. The Bible doesn’t say, but I am almost sure that Joseph had already settled this matter within his heart. He had already made the decision of what to do when temptation came. He had already decided that he would go with God and stay away from sin! When we allow our minds to be unprincipled and uncontrolled, we run the risk of being unprepared for the attacks of sin and Satan. When temptation comes after you, it is hard to say “No!”, and mean it in the heat of the moment. But, if the decision has already been made, it is far easier to stand! That is why you have got to guard the mind and protect it from all the things that would enter it, pollute it and weaken your ability to mount a strong defense! (Note: I want to teach you one word that will help you in this matter of temptation. It is the word “No!”. Learn it and use it! It will help you! Spurgeon said it like this: "Learn to say no. It will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin." This was the strategy Daniel and the 3 Hebrews boys adopted in Babylon and it worked like a charm. It still will!)
2. V. 8-9 He Met It With A Faith-based Refusal - First, Joseph refused on the grounds that Potiphar had placed Joseph in a position of power because he trusted him. He refused to violate that trust. However, at the very foundation of Joseph’s refusal was his walk with His God. He knew that committing adultery with this woman might bring pleasure in the short term, but in the long term, it would mean violating the trust Potiphar had placed in him and it would cause a breach in his relationship with his God. And, even if Potiphar never found out, Joseph knew that God would know and he knew that Joseph would know. For Joseph, that was a price far too high to pay! His integrity before men, his walk with God and his ability to look into the mirror without guilt were worth more to Joseph than a few moments of physical pleasure! (Note: Before you give in to that temptation and do that thing that looks so enticing, take a moment to think about the consequences. What will happen to your testimony in the eyes of others when they find out? What will happen to your walk with the Lord? Will you be able to live with yourself?) (Note: For Joseph, the fear of the Lord was a powerful motivator! I realize that few people walk with that in their minds in our day. However, fearing God will keep you out of a lot of trouble! When you know that you will pay the price of chastisement, of being shelved and of a loss of fellowship with Him, it is worth saying “no” to a few temptations along life’s way!)
3. V. 10 He Met It With A Faithful Refusal - Every day this woman tempted Joseph and every day he steadfastly refused her advances. He didn’t resort to mind games like, “Well, if the Lord didn’t want me to do this, He would just take it away from me.” He just faithfully stood for the Lord and against the evil! (Note: We need to get this truth: Temptation is going to come and God is not likely to take it away! He will strengthen us and enable us to stand against it, but we are going to have to fight it and learn to take a stand! Not everything that you are offered in life is good for you. You need the wisdom of God to be able to choose that which is pleasing to him and to refrain from that which is not!) (Note: There is something very important to notice in verse 10. Joseph refused to listen to her words and he even refused to be with her. He came to the place where he physically avoided her! This is a great step in avoiding sinning through temptation. Don’t flirt with it! Don’t try to prove you can handle it! Never come to the place where you think you have it whipped! If something is a temptation to you, then avoid it like the plague! Don’t be foolish enough to think that you can handle temptation and sin. They will show you short order that they can handle you, 1 Cor. 10:12.) (Ill. On the TV show "Hee Haw," Doc Campbell is confronted by a patient who says he broke his arm in two places. The doc replies, "Well then, stay out of them places!")
4. V. 12 He Met It With A Final Refusal - When the big day came and this woman allowed her thoughts to find physical expression, she grabbed Joseph and said “Lie with me!” It was time to make a decision and he did! He spun out of that robe and ran out of the house, leaving her holding the garment! Joseph literally ran away from Potiphar’s wife to preserve his character. (Note: You cannot have it both ways! You can either give into sin and pay the price for your pleasure, Prov. 5:11-14. Or, you can run from temptation and protect your testimony!) (Ill."What are you doing, son?" the shopkeeper asked a little boy whose eyes were on a large basket of apples outside the storefront. "Trying to steal one of those apples?" "No sir," replied the boy. "I'm trying not to.")
(Note: Before we leave this thought, I want to point out a few facts about temptation:
1. Temptation is never from God - James 1:13 - Potiphar’s wife tried to blame Joseph and Potiphar for her lust, 13-18. Some people even try to blame God for their sins, but God is not responsible for the things that tempt you! God tests His children, but He always sets the test up so that we can pass. Satan tempts us, but always to make us fail! Temptation is never from God!
2. Temptation is always from within - James 1:14-15 - Temptation always comes to us based on the things we already want. Just like a fisherman baits his hook with the proper bait to attract to the kind of fish he wishes to catch, Satan baits the hook of temptation with the very worm he knows we will like!
3. Temptation Must Be Handled Properly - 1 Cor. 10:13 - God will make a way out of temptation, but we must be active in finding the door out! Here are a few suggestions for dealing with temptation:
a. Deal with it Immediately - Don’t allow it to linger in your life and grow out of control. As Barney Fife would have said it, “Nip it in the bud!” Get before God and ask for His help!
b. Deal with it Realistically - Understand that sin is more powerful than you are. It will destroy you if it has an opportunity. Do not give it that chance! Jesus said this ti His disciples, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”, Matt. 26:41.
c. Deal with it Ruthlessly - Whatever you have to do to avoid the temptation is in order! Remember what Jesus said about this matter - Mark 9:43-48. Regardless of what you have to do, get away from it! (Ill. During the Falkland’s War England’s Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, ordered the bombing of the British airstrips in Port Stanley to prevent them from being used by the enemy!) (Ill. Logger with his foot caught in a long wooden shoot!)
d. Deal with it Consistently - Learn to be consistent in your resistence. If you aren’t, you will be caught off guard and overcome! (Ill. The same wind can send one ship east and another west. Which way the ship goes is determined by the set of the sails!)
e. Deal with it Confidently - We have the Lord’s great promise in 1 Cor. 10:13. God will make a way of escape, just be sure you look for it! Most of give into temptation, not because we can’t get out of it, but because we don’t want out of it!
III. V. 20-23 THE TRIUMPH JOSEPH EXPERIENCED
(Ill. I will be brief here, but I want you to know that Joseph benefitted from his stand against temptation and sin. Let me point out three ways in which this is true.)
A. V. 21, 23 He Triumphed In His Relationship With The Savior - Notice how the Bible says that the Lord continues to be with Joseph and to bless his life. Those who stay true to the Lord can be assured of His smile upon them and upon all they do. Those who stray from the path of righteousness will find themselves alienated from God and from His blessings in their lives. This is worth far more than any pleasure sin might offer! (Ill. This was Paul’s fear - 1 Cor. 9:27)
B. V. 20-23 He Triumphed In His Relationship With His Own Self - Joseph’s integrity was intact. His reputation in Potiphar’s house had been undermined, but his character remained intact! He had successfully weathered the storm of temptation and he had retained the ability to look into the mirror without guilt! Friends, that is worth more than any thing sin can offer you!
C. V. 22-23 He Triumphed In His Relationship With Sovereignty - It may look like all Joseph got for his refusal of this woman was trouble. After all, he was thrown into prison. However, because he stayed true to the Lord, he was still in the center of God’s will for his life, even though it may not have appeared so on the surface. Before many years could pass, Joseph would be raised up by the power of God and would sit as second in command to Pharaoh. The best you can do is stay close to God, live holy and trust Him to being His best into your life in His time. Getting God’s best is always worth more than what sin can give!
Conc: Men who trap animals in Africa for zoos in America say that one of the hardest animals to catch is the ring-tailed monkey. For the Zulus of that continent, however, it's simple. They've been catching this agile little animal with ease for years. The method the Zulus use is based on knowledge of the animal. Their trap is nothing more than a melon growing on a vine. The seeds of this melon are a favorite of the monkey. Knowing this, the Zulus simply cut a hole in the melon, just large enough for the monkey to insert his hand to reach the seeds inside. The monkey will stick his hand in, grab as many seeds as he can, then start to withdraw it. This he cannot do. His fist is now larger than the hole. The monkey will pull and tug, screech and fight the melon for hours. But he can't get free of the trap unless he gives up the seeds, which he refuses to do. Meanwhile, the Zulus sneak up and nab him.
Friend, you are smarter than a monkey! Satan wants to trap you and he wants to destroy your life! Don’t let that happen! If you are save today and you battle with temptation, know that there is help for you in the Lord. Get to Him and get away from the evil! If you are lost, don’t let Satan destroy your life! He will tell you that you don’t need Jesus or the church to make it to Heaven. Don’t listen to Him! If you need the Lord today, whether it be for salvation, forgiveness, help to fight temptation or to thank Him for a victory over sin in your life, get to God right now. Let go of the sin and the thought of the thrills temptation is promising you and get to God today, while there is time!