Because He Stood, I Now Stand
Genesis 39:7-8,10, “…his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, ‘Lie with me.’ But he refused…As she spoke to Joseph day after day, he did not listen to her to lie beside her or be with her.”
Relentless. Powerful. An unstoppable force of nature. I love waves. I love watching them. Love listening to them. And I love playing in them. One of my favorite beach activities is to run out into the surf and stand right at that point where the waves have just begun to crest. I face the incoming waves, plant my feet firmly in the soft sand, stretch my arms out as wide as possible, and then do my best to maintain my balance as the waves come crashing down. No matter how hard I try I find it impossible to stay planted in one spot. I get knocked back. Sometime I get knocked over, tumbling head over heals as the waves wash over me. Such is the force of the ocean wave. It never tires. It never wearies. Wave after wave, until I finally give up and call it quits.
Joseph found himself in a very similar situation. His initial refusal was followed by a wave of determined temptations. Joseph had said “no” but Potiphar’s wife would not be so easily deterred. She would not be turned aside. And so, like the waves of the ocean, she began pounding against him. Day after day she approached him seeking to seduce him with words of flattery and debauchery. She appealed to his manhood. She enticed him with her sexuality. She refused to be denied. Desire had ignited an inferno of passion and Joseph had become the sole object of her lust.
I really like what Joseph did in response. He recognized that sometimes our initial refusal has to be followed up with determined actions. It’s not enough to just say “no.” Temptation can be very, very determined. And if we are going to maintain our purity and win the battle against sin, we have to be equally intentional and persistent in our response. First of all, Joseph refused to listen to her words. Yes, he heard her words. He was a slave. He couldn’t just ignore her. But in this case, he made a conscious and willful choice about what he was hearing. We can’t fully isolate and insulate ourselves from temptation’s presence. In this world we will have to deal with temptation. But that doesn’t mean we have to listen. Don’t receive the lies. Don’t believe the false promises. Temptation offers much but only delivers death. Next time the voice of temptation comes calling, refuse to listen to it’s voice.
Secondly, Joseph refused to be alone with her. Temptation thrives in secrecy. It becomes stronger in isolation. On a very practical level, don’t allow yourself to be alone with the things that tempt you. Be purposeful. Plan ahead if necessary. Invite company over to the house. Shop at a different store. Find somewhere else to eat. Go to church. Surround yourself with godly people. In addition, find an accountability partner, someone with whom you can share your struggles. Find an older, more mature member of the same sex with whom you can be transparent and vulnerable. Someone who will listen. Someone who will challenge you about your choices. Someone who will pray for you, counsel you, and stand with you against your temptation.
Joseph refused her enticements. Potiphar’s wife refused to take “no” for an answer. She was determined that she was going to get Joseph. Joseph was determined that he would not sin against his God. In the end Joseph’s determination prevailed. We must remember that sin is a defeated foe. Jesus stepped into the ocean of humanity, planted His feet firmly in this human existence, and then stretched his arms wide. But whereas I was knocked back and knocked over, He stood immovable. He stood victorious. The waves of sin were powerless against Him. And therein lies my victory. Although I am powerless to stand against the waves of tempation I have linked arms with the One who could not be toppled by sin. His victory is now my victory. Because He stood, I now can stand.