Four Men Face Temptation: Part One; Joseph and Job
"Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death."
The word "temptation" is used in a rather loose sense in our time. We may say "I'm tempted to trade for a new car" (when our old one is needing extensive repairs). This is not really the bible use of the word "temptation". In the bible, temptation is either: 1) an enticement to evil thoughts, words or deeds, or 2) a severe trial or affliction. In Genesis 22 we have the account of God tempting ("testing" in the NKJV) Abraham by the command to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice.
Jesus taught His disciples to pray: "do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." Since the Garden of Eden, men and women face temptation from Satan. Two articles will deal with temptation in the lives of four men--the sources of temptation, how they endured temptation, and the rewards of endurance. Article one will deal with Job and Joseph.
Job had to endure a severe temptation when he lost all his possessions (he was very rich), lost his servants and children, and lost the moral support of his wife and the compassionate understanding of his friends. Add to this pitiable picture a devastating bodily condition that made him miserable. Job's response to these overwhelming trials was to pray repeatedly to God and to ask for help and understanding. He never lost faith completely--look at his faith, as expressed in 19:25-27 - "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!" God blesses His children who endure trials.
The final chapter of the book of Job reveals that Job's endurance to his trials resulted in a very happy ending. Verse 12 of Chapter 42 begins with the words: "Now the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning...". His abundant possessions, his beautiful children, and his long life all attest to the blessings from a God who blesses His children who endure.
Joseph was a young man, "handsome in form and appearance" (Genesis 39:6b), when he faced his greatest temptation. He had already been tested by the cruelty of most of his jealous brothers, who would have been glad for his death. Death was narrowly averted, however, and enslavement in a foreign country became his situation. In that setting the young man became steward in the house of Potiphar, an officer in the Pharaoh's guard. In Potiphor's house Joseph's qualities soon became apparent to his master and soon Joseph was in charge: "he (Potiphar) made him overseer of all his house, and all that he had he put under his authority" (Genesis 39:4). Potiphor's house and all that he had was blessed by God. Blessed people often bring blessings to others! Joseph's character and his handsome appearance was not unnoticed by Potiphar's wife. Her repeated advances included "longing eyes", invitations to "lie with me", and taking hold of his garment when they were alone together in the house. Can any man resist such temptation? Joseph did. He told her he would not commit such great wickedness against his trusting master (her husband, Potiphar) nor against God. Every sin one commits with another person immediately involves sin both against man and God. Joseph "left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside" (Genesis 39:13). There are times when we must "stand our ground" in certain temptations. This situation with this woman and Joseph is not one of those times. Joseph realized that he needed to run away from this woman and this temptation. Paul warned the young preacher Timothy to "flee...youthful lusts" (2 Timothy 2:22). We may need to "run away"--to put distance between ourselves and the source of temptation! Joseph's Old Testament story is a perfect example of fulfilling this New Testament command. Joseph's refusal to sin with her resulted in her lying and causing Joseph to be thrown into prison. The rest of Joseph's wonderful story, told in Genesis, chapters 40 through 50, show the working out of God's promises to His people through the life of Joseph. There is no way to estimate the good that is accomplished each time we resist temptation in any form. The blessing to our own life and character, and the blessings we can then provide to others are products of successfully enduring temptation!
Two passages in James come to mind: James 1:12 - "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." James also teaches Christians that the end results of resisting temptation will produce in us joy and perfecting patience. James 1:2-4 - "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."
H.R. Palmer, in his song "Yield Not to Temptation" exhorts us:
"Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin;
Each victory will help you some other to win;
Fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue,
Look ever to Jesus, He'll carry you thro'.
Ask the Savior to help you, comfort, strengthen and keep you;
He is willing to aid you, He will carry you thro'."