Joseph was sold into slavery into the land of Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh. After Joseph had worked in Potiphar’s service for some time, Potiphar’s wife set her eyes on him and wanted him to be involved in sexual immorality with her. She told him, “Lie with me.” He refused and said unto her. “Behold my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he has to my hand, there is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back anything from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God.” Genesis 39: 8-9.
She persisted and continued pestering him day after day to lie by her or to be with her but he refused vehemently. Being consumed with her sinful passion of lust, and probably after attempting all other means of seduction and enticement to lure him to lie with her had failed, she plotted what could be regarded as her final deadly assault which was to use force on him to do her evil wish. So, one day when Joseph went into the master’s house to do his duty, and there was no one else around (probably part of her evil plot), she caught him by his garment, saying, “lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand and fled, and got him out. Genesis 39: 10-13. This implied he fled and left the scene half-naked. What an escape!
Joseph, a young man in his twenties was not only able to resist her seductive talks and actions but was able to free himself from her adulterous grip and snare of the lonely scene and also flee from her. What a great victory over one of the greatest and deadliest temptations and challenges plaguing humanity of all ages from time immemorial. The temptation of sexual immorality is a satanic snare that most youths have fallen headlong into and are destroyed for life. Sexual immorality was what cut short the life of Samson the strongest man that ever lived, Judges 16:1 – 31. It was what ruined the peaceful family of King David the killer of Goliath, a man known as one after God’s heart, 2 Samuel 11:1-27. Sexual immorality was what robbed Rueben, Joseph’s eldest brother of his blessings and heritage as Jacob’s first son, Genesis 49: 3-4. Sexual immorality was the cause of the destruction of two great cities of Sodom and Gomorrah of old, Genesis 19:1-29. It was what cost Amnon, a young and promising son of David his life, 2 Samuel 13:1-33. It was what had cost the downfall of many great men, mighty men of war, noblemen, powerful men of God, kings, and princes. Acts of sexual immorality such as fornication, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, incest, masturbation, lesbianism, sensuality, impure and degrading passions have been the subtle but powerful weapon satan has been using from the time immemorial to carry out his three cardinal agenda to kill, steal and destroy humanity and their destiny, John 10:10. How did Joseph manage to escape and did not get involved in it?
HOW JOSEPH OVERCAME
HE HAD THE FEAR OF GOD: Among the things we have pointed out concerning Joseph so far was his great faith in God and his living in the awareness of the invisible presence of God with him. His statement of refusal to Potiphar’s wife’s sinful demand that “…how can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” further confirmed all these and also revealed him as a young man that had the fear of God. To have the fear of God implies among others to know and understand fully who God is, especially His holiness, righteousness, and justice, as a counterpart of His love and mercy, to obey Him, trust him alone, and to regard him with holy awe and reverence. His knowledge and understanding of these truths greatly helped him to acknowledge God in everything, helped him to make the right choices and determination not to sin, and adhere to his decision, Psalm 34, Proverbs 16:6.
No one who believes in God knows and understands these truths of His divine Attributes and lives in the consciousness of His Invisible presence everywhere and every time will not run away from sin as Joseph did. Anyone comfortable in living a life of sin and wickedness does not know God and has no fear of God, Psalm 36: 1-4.
HE UNDERSTOOD WHAT SEXUAL IMMORALITY IS AND THE REPERCUSSIONS OF COMMITTING IT:
Joseph’s response that “…how can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” revealed he had an in-depth understanding of what sexual immorality is and its implications. He had the knowledge and understanding that sexual immorality of any type with anyone that one is not legally married to as husband or wife are transgressions of God’s law and are therefore sins. He knew also that committing sexual immorality with any married person’s spouse at all, especially those close to you such as your employer, colleagues, employees, friends, neighbors, those who trusted you, under any circumstance at all is a grave and heinous sin against God, and the innocent partner who has been defrauded, 2 Sam 12:9 – 10, Exodus 20:4, Romans 1:24-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Psalm 51:4. Finally, he must also have known and understood that sexual immorality defiles and pollutes one’s body, soul, and spirit Proverbs 6:32-33; 1 Corinthians 6:18. King David learned his lessons on the evil of committing sexual immorality in a hard way, He suffered the repercussion of his adultery with Bathsheba, the wife Uriah the Hittite for life, 2 Samuel 11: 1 – 4; 12: 9-14.
HE OPERATED UNDER THE GRACE OF GOD:
Joseph believed in God, loved, and feared God greatly. This helped him to live a life of total trust, obedience, and consecration unto God. Among the things enjoyed by true believers whose lives are surrendered and who are committed to doing things in total obedience is the grace of God. One noticeable thing about Joseph’s life was the physical and spiritual manifestations of the grace of God upon his life. The physical manifestations were the uncommon favor of God on him anywhere he got to, which singled him out and made him enjoy the presence of God and made him gain favor in the sight of men and to prosper in whatever he did. The spiritual manifestations were the uncommon grace to achieve and overcome great life’s challenges that had crushed several others. God’s grace upon his life contributed to his victory over the grave sexual immorality temptations Potiphar’s wife subjected him to. He is a perfect example of the extent the grace of God could manifest in the lives of a true believer, one whose total trust is in God and lives a consecrated life unto Him.
HE DWELLED IN THE LOVE OF GOD: Joseph told Potiphar’s wife, “behold my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he has to my hand, there is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back anything from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God.” Genesis 39: 8-9. This statement portrayed Joseph as a very faithful, grateful, honest, loyal servant as well as one of high integrity. Faithfulness, loyalty, gratitude, honesty, and integrity are among the characters of true believers having a genuine love of God in their hearts and are led by the spirit of God. Love of God in one’s heart makes one love others like one’s self and constraints one from doing anything evil to them.
Anyone who genuinely believes in God and dwells in the love of God will develop Christ-like characters which are the characters of love and fruits of the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8; Galatians 5:22-25. God’s love in Joseph’s heart enabled him to be able to love and be grateful to Potiphar his master for entrusting his household unto his hand. This love and gratitude developed into faithfulness, respect, loyalty, and devotion. Love is truly the fulfillment of all laws.
HE WAS PRINCIPLED:
Joseph out rightly rejected Potiphar’s wife’s demand to commit sexual immorality with her the very first day she made mention of it to him, Genesis 39: 8. However, Potiphar’s wife did not relent but continuously talked to him about it (verse 10). This she did with the intension of breaking his resistance because she knew that hearing certain enticing and seductive words repeatedly have the power to break one’s will. However, Joseph would not bulge, he had made his decision not to sin against God and there was no going back on that. Therefore nothing anyone said or did could change that decision. When she eventually came up with her ploy to use force to achieve her evil aim, Joseph did not fall for it either. She held his cloth but he freed himself from her grip and he left his garment in her hands instead and fled (verses 12-13). What a principled and disciplined soul! This is integrity at its peak; remaining true to one’s words and maintaining one’s stand to the end without changing no matter what happens. He has set his face like flint to do only God’s will as Jesus did, Isaiah 50:7.
HE WAS NOT LUSTFUL:
Potiphar’s wife shamelessly lusted after Joseph a slave in her household and tried everything possible including violence to make him succumb to committing adultery with her, however, all her evil ploys failed because Joseph was not lustful among others so he did not fall into that temptation. Lust could be defined as a very strong inappropriate desire for someone or anything. According to the Scripture, all temptations that a man falls into are birthed by his lust, James 1:14-15. Lust is part of the activities of the flesh and is of various types. They include, youthful lusts, 2 Timothy 2:22; lust after evil things, 1 Corinthians 10:6; the lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes, 1 John 2:16; lust of concupiscence, 1 Thessalonians 4:5.
Joseph had no trait of lust such as wanton eyes, lustful thoughts, images or imaginations, immoral talks in him because he lived a lifestyle of a spirit-filled believer. This implies he allowed the spirit of God to direct and influence his life that he destroyed the power of sin and the works of the flesh and walk in his fellowship with God. The great love, long-suffering, meekness, faith, and self-control he exhibited are all part of the fruits of the Spirit that helped him to overcome the grave temptation of sexual immorality he faced considering the fact that so many things that have caused many to give in to sexual immorality happened to him such as:
(1) He was a hot-blooded, single, good looking, successful, and well-favored young man and he was different and outstanding from all others around him. These are topmost qualities that lead many youths to think highly of themselves and lead them to commit sexual immoralities. However, Joseph did not!
(2) He was a slave, owned wholly by the Potiphar’s and was by law bound to obey all instructions while disobedience could be grave; yet he disobeyed the evil demand and did not allow the fear of what could happen to him for disobedience to his master’s wife make him disobey God’s Law.
(3) He lived on the same compound with his tempter. This implied he saw and attended to his seducer everyday yet he did not lust after her. Nearness or closeness of environment is one of the things that bond people to each other. But this was not so with Joseph, he was near physically but was not familiarly, no single attachment to her. He maintained his Hebrew identity. He did not mix pleasure with duty.
(4) He saw her every day and she spoke to him day by day to be with her or lie with her but he refused. What one sees and what one hears are two in-gates to the human heart. Therefore, Potiphar’s wife intentionally spoke to him day by day to get to his heart and break his will power but he kept his heart with all diligence by not taking any of her talks to heart, and neither did he set his gazes on her. Like Job, he had made covenants with his eyes not to lust after other women. King David saw the nakedness of Bathsheba, wife of Uriah once, and fell into the sin of adultery with her, 2 Samuel 11:2-4.
(5) Potiphar’s wife created a lonely/secluded environment whereby only herself and Joseph were at home on the day she held him by his garment to force him to lie with her. This she did because she knew a secluded/lonely environment gives false secrecy and helplessness to the victim. Joseph did not fall for this Joseph knew that nothing done is hidden before God because He is everywhere present. He put up a struggle and fled from the scene.
(6) She held him by the cloth; this implied she held him from a very close range having contact with him in order to weaken his defense mechanism. He could not be weakened by touching, he refused to be subdued, he wrangled himself out of his garment, freed himself from her grip, left his garment with her and fled. What an example for us to follow.
To be continued here,