Genesis 39. I AM JOSEPH – I am tempted. 

The issue of temptation is at the centre of Genesis 39, and at the centre of what makes us human.

We looked specifically today at sexual temptation, but what Andrew taught us applies to all temptation.

1. Intensity

Joseph is now finding that things are looking up – he’s living in his master’s house, he has everything he needs and Potiphar’s wife wants him. He now has supreme access to absolutely everything; but from the perspective of God being in control, this was trouble. The temptation was constant – day after day, Potiphar’s wife invited him to sin. Joseph isn’t just saying no to her advances, he is choosing to disobey one of his masters. Intent on getting her way even if Joseph won’t yield to temptation, this temptation isn’t yielding to him. Temptation never gives up. It never sleeps. It never slacks in its intent, it dominates our hearts and minds and we can only assume that it was for the same for Joseph in this story.

Temptation is all around us. Sometimes though, we’re not even aware that it is a problem for us…it has become so much a part of our lives that we’ve relaxed and don’t realise we should be seeking to overcome it. For others, the voice of temptation is so loud in our lives and we have given in to temptation. So whether we ignore it as we wander closer and closer to the fire until we fall in or we jump straight in without thought, the battle we fight is the same.

2. Integrity

Joseph’s response is really inspirational, but we need it in context. We’ve seen his failures, his arguments, his being raw material – he isn’t a faultless hero striding effortlessly through life, he  has come from failure allowing God to shape him along the way and equip him to react to the fight differently.

Integrity, for Joseph, meant having God at the centre. Looking after the small issues, maintaining his values. He was not only tempted to commit adultery but to put his own desires before his desire for the Lord. But he chose to ask himself the tough questions. How can I let my master down? How can I sin against God? These were Joseph’s priorities.

Joseph refused to be in the same room as Potiphar’s wife. He took into account the situation and put a distance between himself and temptation. There is no problem that dominates your life as that of the trio of temptation, failure and sin. Temptation and sin are a daily battle. You decide to fight it. Every day, you choose to value your integrity. Bringing Christianity right up to your face and saying, “these are my values”.

Saying “this is my issue”. How much do you want to overcome this temptation? How serious are you about dealing with this sin? You put a distance between yourself and sin. Being intentional about placing your values above your feelings. There are industries out there who are working to destroy your walk with God. If you struggle with internet pornography would you be willing to sell your computer in order to flee from the temptation?

Consider this – Doing the right thing carries a cost. But choose to do something about this – it’s better to be set apart through integrity than a sinner through duplicity.

PS: Livewireians – we are on Twitter – check the #nh2011 feed (!/search?q=%23nh2011) or the accounts of the ‘Twits’ on the team!