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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Joseph and Temptation

In a previous post, I discussed Joseph's first dreams.

I'd like to say a little about Joseph's temptations in this post.

Joseph apparently yielded to temptations to pride early in his life. He seemed to consider himself to be better than his half-brothers. His father, of course, encouraged this, and was one source of the temptation. I believe all of us are tempted to pride, probably on a regular basis.

Joseph was tempted to have sexual intercourse by Potiphar's wife, (Genesis 39) and refused. He suffered for this, and probably knew, or guessed, that he would suffer. She must have been a strong-willed woman, used to getting her way.

Why did Joseph succumb to the first temptation, and not the second? I can only speculate, but here's my theory -- the best way to defeat temptations is to decide previously that you won't yield. I Corinthians 10:13 says "13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." (ESV) One of those ways of escape is to have the question settled in advance. I speculate that, as to most of us, pride came along to tempt Joseph before he was mature enough to have his mind made up to resist it. He could have resisted, but he didn't. Somewhere, before Potiphar's wife came along, probably before he ever entered Egypt, I think Joseph had decided that he wouldn't be guilty of sexual sin. He resisted successfully.

I am reminded of the story of Daniel, who refused to eat food that didn't fit Jewish dietary regulations (Daniel 1:8). I believe Daniel made up his mind about this question early. He also had made up his mind about praying to his God. (Daniel 6) He would do this, even if tempted not to. So, when his very life was threatened, if he wouldn't stop, he didn't stop praying.

Pride is a subtle temptation. It can come to us in so many ways that it is difficult to defend against. I believe we should pay more attention to sins of pride than we do. I hope I'm not being proud in urging this . . .

By the way, it looks like I'm writing a series on some thoughts from my devotional reading. We'll see where that goes.

Thanks for reading!

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