Sometime this week you will be making a decision that will impact your spiritual life, and the lives of those around you. You’ll wrestle with it. You’ll be tempted to do the wrong things – and you will face an outcome.
In a recent news story we became familiar with 41 year old James Hooker, who left his wife and three teenage kids. A week later, 18 year old Jordan Powers moved in with him. She had been his student at the High School where he taught. They are now being interviewed on GMA, Dr. Phil, and other places. What will he think about this decision in 3 years? What would he have thought about it 3 years ago?
“All men are tempted. There is no man that lives that can’t be broken down, provided it is the right temptation, put in the right spot.” ~Henry Ward Beecher
Joseph’s Family background was rough, and yet he emerged with great faith. How would that faith be demonstrated when he faced powerful temptation? Read Genesis 39 for the famous story of his encounter with his bosses’ wife.
Here are some strategies for overcoming temptation we learn from Joseph.
Remember Your Enemy. Our enemy is the Father of Lies and often when we are tempted we find ourselves falling for those lies. Excuses and rationalizations can sound so reasonable when we are being tempted – but later they do not sound so smart.
“Men try to kid themselves that sin isn’t quite as sinful as it really is and that they aren’t quite as bad as they really are. We are too quick to forget that sin will very rarely present itself to us in its true colours saying ‘I’m your deadly enemy and I want to ruin you forever in hell.’” ~J.C. Ryle
Or as my erudite friend Danny Dodd used to say, “The devil don’t come to you ugly!” Just think of all the excuses and blaming that Joseph could have done. Instead, he believed the truth about his situation.
Remember God’s Presence. Genesis 39:2 says “The LORD was with Joseph”. He’s been betrayed by his brothers, ripped apart from his family, taken to Egypt as a slave, yet all the time, that is not what defines Joseph. What defines Joseph is this – “The LORD was with him”.
Nothing makes it easier to resist temptation than a proper bringing-up, a sound set of values – and witnesses. ~ Franklin P. Jones
We have a witness! The Spirit of God lives within you and that truth can give you power to overcome.
Remember God’s Provision. We are going to fall short of the mark at times – and maybe often.
“Victorious living does not mean freedom from temptation, nor does it mean freedom from mistakes.” ~E. Stanley Jones
Two promises from God:
(1) He knows everything. Hebrews 4:13 “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
(2) He’s sticking around anyway. Hebrews 13:5, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
When we remember God’s provision we can overcome temptation with thanksgiving. Joseph said “How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” Do you live with that same awareness? Maybe there’s a sin that God’s bringing to mind right now. God knows!
Remember to Run! Sometimes we must take radical action to get away from strong temptations. We have to take the “way out”. (Leave behind people, places, friends that can drag you down. Leave behind bad habits and unChristian ways.)
Don’t sit down with your temptation. Don’t listen to it. Don’t entertain it. Get out of there – refuse to have anything to do with it. Go to extreme measures. Running away is a sign of courage, strength and obedience to God. (unattributed quote!)
2 Timothy 2:22 “Flee the evil desires of youth.”
James 4:7 Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
The Tempter tells us that giving in to our temptations would make us happier, make our future brighter, help us overcome the stress and strain in our lives right now. But he lies!
We never know what is just around the corner. For Joseph it is some time in jail before he can see what God is doing. Who knows how God plans to use you today? How many generations of people will be impacted by your decisions?
What do you gather from Joseph’s run?