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Sunday School Lesson - January 30, 2022
"The Pitfall of Temptation"
Genesis 39:1-12
 
The Point:
"Remembering what is at stake helps us overcome temptation."
Temptation comes in many different forms. One thing that should help us to resist temptation is to remember that God is watching everything we do. 
In today's study, Joseph modeled what it means to live with that truth in mind: God is watching our every move. Joseph's aim was to keep himself clean in the midst of a dirty culture. 
You may not be tempted in the same way Joseph was, but you will face temptation. We all do. 
Joseph's approach to temptation can help all of us. 
Genesis 39:1-7:

1  And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. 

2  And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 

3  And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. 

4  And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. 

5  And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. 

6  And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the break which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured. 

7  And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. 

 

KEY WORD: Blessed (v.5) -- To be favored with resources or granted good fortune because the Lord takes the initiative to make a person successful in keeping with His plan.   

At the end of our last session, Joseph as being hauled off to Egypt with a broken hart. Disowned and sold into slavery by his own brothers, he had little hope that the dreams he once shared would ever come true. Rather than seethe with anger and seek revenge, however, he chose to bloom where he was planted and to trust God to see him through. As he experienced great success, he also would face new temptations and new challenges. 

In spite of Joseph's circumstances, God was at work in his life. The young man could not take credit for the continual success he experienced. Several times in this passage the biblical writer made it clear that God was with Joseph. 

   >> "And the Lord was with Joseph, and he as a prosperous man" (Gen. 39:2)

   >> "His master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand" (v.3)

   >> "The Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake" (v.5)

In additional to Joseph's good works, he was also blessed with good looks. "Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured." 

At least one temptation came through Potiphar's wife. She had fixed her eyes on Joseph, and she was probably used to getting whatever she wanted. Would Joseph sacrifice his integrity for whatever momentary pleasure she could offer? This moment of decision would define his life forever. 

Genesis 39:8-10:

8  But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; 

9  There is non greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

10  And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.

Adam and Eve faced forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden, and now Joseph faced his own forbidden fruit: the wife of a powerful man. Joseph would not take the bait, though; in fact, he tried to talk sense into the immoral woman, calling attention to the blessings her husband had given to him. 

She was off limits and Joseph knew it. Joseph even reminded her why she was off limits: "Thou art his wife." She was "forbidden fruit" that he should not - and would not - pursue. He knew what was at stake, and one wrong move would mean disaster. 

Joseph refused to fall under her spell and shielded himself from her arrows. 

How did Joseph muster the inner strength to refuse? How did he stand firm when so many other men fell into the trap of sexual temptation? Joseph's "secret" was that he made a decision long before that day - a decision to pursue God above all things. He had already determined to please God with his life. What was foremost in Joseph's mind was not how Potiphar would react, but how God would. "How then can I ... sin against God?"

Many Christians live as if they will never have to deal with temptation. This is not reality. The wise course is to 'pre-decide' what you will do when temptation appears. God's word provides the guide and the standard. 

See Psalm 119:9-11

Set your standards high and commit to them now. Like Joseph during a faith-stressing season, be resolved to trust the Lord. 

Genesis 39:11-12

11  And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. 

12  And she caught him by his garment, saying, lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out. 

KEY WORD: Garment (v.12) -- The Hebrew word served as a general term to describe any article of clothing a person would wear, but here apparently an outer garment. 

Joseph may have been a slave, but he lived and worked in an enviable position as a slave. Yet, as Potiphar's wife grabbed hold of Joseph, he knew that his situation was over if he didn't sprint out the door. She had made similar advances before - in fact, "day by day" (v.10) - but perhaps others were in the house on those occasions. It appeared this occasion was different, so that Joseph sensed only one option: run. In an aggressive moment, his cloak was ripped from his body, and he escaped to safety, leaving "his garment in her hand," Joseph was fleeting immorality. 

Running from temptation is a key to our survival when facing spiritual warfare. If we focus too heavily on this topic, however, we could miss the forest for the trees. More important than running away from sin is the daily decision to walk closely with Jesus. 

 

Jesus came to earth so that we could walk near to him. As Jesus prepared to complete the task for which He came - being the sacrifice for our salvation - He assured His disciples that His going would mean the Spirit's coming, and this would provide to be far better.  God is with us at all times, and His Holy Spirit leads us into the truth. 

 

We should not simply focus on what we're running from, but on who we're running toward. The pursuit of God is a far more appealing goal than the mere avoidance of sin. 

For more information on today's lesson, attend Sunday school at our church Sunday January 30, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. We will be glad to have you.