Chapter 37 ends – Meanwhile the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard…Joseph’s life pattern was established –up down, up down. Favourite son turned to slave. Then Potiphar saw that God was with Joseph and so promoted him within the household. In the end, he didn’t have to worry about anything, except what to eat. What a life. And what a life for Joseph. Still a slave but a favourite slave and entrusted with everything Potiphar had.
Everything was going smoothly – and according to plan. Wait a minute – what was the plan? The dream was Jacob and the family bowing down to Joseph. Joseph on a pedestal and everyone bowing down to him. Joseph must surely have thought, I wonder – is this part of the plan?
Then began the temptation. Notice I said began… Potiphar’s wife started taking notice of Joseph. She saw that he was handsome and well built. How could she resist him? A slave – one ‘born’ to do her bidding. She had married Potiphar and he had done so well for him she could indulge her every whim. No one would deny Potiphar’s wife of anything her heart desired. And her heart did desire it.
So the invitation was given – Come to bed with me! I said invitation but it was slightly more than that, wasn’t it? Her being the mistress of the home and all that it meant? He refused. He didn’t succumb to the temptation. He didn’t rationalise it away. He didn’t start feeling sorry for himself or that he deserved it for all that he had been through and allow him any self-pity - that no one else liked him anyway. No, he refused.
She kept on day after day; he refused her demands and even kept away from her. That’s the best way of dealing with temptation – run away. What was his reasoning? How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God? He called it what it was – a wicked thing – a sin against God. Oh, that today we would recognise sin for what it is in the sight of a holy God? That’s how we overcome temptation – recognise it for what it is. Even if we can do it in secret, even if no one finds out – it is still sin and it is wicked in the eyes of the Lord. God hasn’t changed – it’s we who have moved the goal posts.
What Joseph knew and what we so often forget is that we may go ahead and sin but the guilt remains to haunt us. Our own conscience is damaged forever. We lose our integrity, and if you lose your integrity, it is nigh on impossible to get it back – and the worse thing is it represents the real you.
Giving in may seem enjoyable and even justifiable in the short term, but in the long term, it is like a virulent cancerous growth.
The Good News is that God can forgive. If we confess our wicked sins to Him and ask Him to forgive us, He will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He gets rid of all the guilt and sets us free. However, it’s so much better to maintain our integrity intact in the first place.
The tragedy was that, though he withstood her advances, she was still able to have him thrown in prison for ‘slighting her’ and keeping his integrity.