Today, from Chuck Swindoll. Abstain from sexual immorality. Flee youthful lusts. Run from sexual sin. We're never told to argue with it or reason with it or try hard to resist it.
We're not even told to pray for extra strength regarding it. We're told to run from it. Get away.
Get out. Sometimes we tend to think that sexual temptation is unique to our generation. After all, biblical characters didn't have access to the world wide web, let alone other forms of modern temptation. But today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll reminds us about a timeless story in which a young red-blooded Israelite was seduced by his boss's wife.
Remember, his name was Joseph, and the seductress was Potiphar's wife. As we examine the biblical record over the next three programs, Chuck will bring practical application to life. Chuck titled his message, The Integrity of Moral Purity. The longer you live, the more you realize that there is nothing quite like the Word of God to sustain you. You'll be in a place where you know no one else, thousands of miles from home. You may have a small copy of maybe a New Testament or a little Bible you carry with you. You open it, and wherever you turn, you find truth to live by.
I remember being 8,000 miles from home, going through all the withdrawals of being away from my wife and family for 16 months, and my sister sent me a book, and it was so meaningful for me, I devoured it within a matter of, really a matter of days. But I remember she inscribed in the front of it these words, Whom have we, Lord, but thee? Soul thirst to satisfy. Exhaustless spring. The water's free.
All other streams are dry. It reminded me that though I am far away from those I knew and loved, He is right there, speaking to me words to guide me. At that time, today we encounter a section of scripture that is intimate.
It is raw, but it is real. You'll not have trouble identifying with much of it, because in one way or another, you've been there, and whether you realize it or not, you will be there again. It's the story of a man who sustained his moral purity when no one else was looking and no one else would know, except the one tempting him. We'll read of it in Genesis chapter 39. It's one of those chapters that grip you when you realize the Bible does speak to us in today's terms. I'll be reading Genesis 39 1 to 12 and then 16 to 20 from the New Living Translation. We're not in a hurry.
We'll take our time. When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did. This pleased Potiphar, so he soon made Joseph his personal attendant. He put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned. From the day Joseph was put in charge of his master's household and property, the Lord began to bless Potiphar's household for Joseph's sake. All his household affairs ran smoothly and his crops and livestock flourished. So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn't worry about a thing except the kind of food to eat. Joseph was a very handsome and well-built young man, and Potiphar's wife soon began to look at him lustfully. Come, come and sleep with me, she demanded. But Joseph refused. Look, he told her, my master trusts me with everything in his entire household.
No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing?
It would be a great sin against God. She kept putting pressure on Joseph day after day. But he refused to sleep with her, and he kept out of her way as much as possible.
One day, however, no one else was around when he went in to do his work. She came and grabbed him by his cloak demanding, come on, sleep with me. Joseph tore himself away, but he left the cloak in her hand as he ran from the house.
Verse 16. She kept the cloak with her until her husband came home. Then she told him her story. That Hebrew slave you've brought into our house tried to come in and fool around with me, she said.
But when I screamed, he ran outside, leaving his cloak with me. Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife's story about how Joseph had treated her. So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king's prisoners were held, and there he remained. Chuck titled his message The Integrity of Moral Purity. On April 9, 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged by the Nazis. He was only 38 years old. A beloved man, certainly by his fellow prisoners, he had endeared himself already as a pastor and counselor and certainly as an author.
His native country, Germany, loved him. He distinguished himself in the writing of a number of books, some of which could be called classics, such as The Cost of Discipleship, Life Together, Ethics, and Papers from Prison. But there is one work that he released that I rarely hear about, though it is among my favorite of Bonhoeffer's works. It's so small, it would almost remind you of a booklet, one word title, Temptation. In it, the man offers a description that is as good as I've ever read outside of James 1, 13 to 15, and other portions of the scriptures. Listen to his very clear, vivid description of temptation. In our members, there is a slumbering inclination towards desire, which is both sudden and fierce. With irresistible power, desire seizes mastery over the flesh. All at once, a secret smoldering fire is kindled.
The flesh burns and is in flames. It makes no difference whether it is sexual desire or ambition or vanity or desire for revenge or love of fame and power or greed for money. Joy in God is extinguished in us and we seek all our joy in the creature. At this moment, God is quite unreal to us and only desire for the creature is real. Satan does not here fill us with hatred of God but with forgetfulness of God.
How insightful a statement. We don't hate God, we just forget him. The lust thus aroused envelops the mind and will in deepest darkness. The power of clear discrimination and decision is taken from us. It is here that everything within me rises up against the word of God. There's not a person sitting here today or hearing me now or has ever cast a shadow on this earth who has not experienced this slumbering inclination towards desire. And there is not a person except Christ who is not yielded a few times, perhaps often, to its cry for fulfillment. Of all the different categories of temptation, the most aggressive, then the most scandalous is sexual temptation.
It is not an exaggeration to say that it is in a category by itself. You question that, you need to read 1 Corinthians 6, 18 to 20, for it states, all other sin is outside the body but sexual sins are against the body. You can work through the passage on your own but it puts it in a category that reveals how it impacts a person. You are not quite the same after yielding to sexual sins. Due to its aggressiveness, some of the strongest commands in the Bible are used for standing against it. Words like abstain from sexual immorality, flee youthful lusts, run from sexual sins. We're never told to argue with it or reason with it or try hard to resist it.
We're not even told to pray for extra strength regarding it. We're told to run from it. Get away.
Get out. It's amazing how that works. You cannot run and lust at the same time.
It works. The God who made us knows what he is talking about when he says run from it. And all of that brings us to one of these finest examples and personal integrity in the realm of moral purity in the entire Bible. His name is Joseph. His admirable story of victory over temptation is found in the 39th of Genesis.
If you haven't yet turned, please turn with me to the chapter. Joseph is by now a young adult, single, 20-something. He has been through the fire of adversity.
That fire has been blazing in recent years. Growing up, he was hated by his brothers, all of them. Abandoned by them, in fact, sold into slavery to a group of strangers in a caravan on their way to Egypt. The brothers knew none of those men they sold him to for 20 pieces of silver. Joseph wound up on the slave block in Egypt as an abject slave. He was seen by a man named Potiphar, who's the captain of Pharaoh's Guard.
Quite likely Potiphar was a wealthy man, had a nice home, and needed help in his household, and he saw this young slave as the answer to his need. Joseph's story is another rags to riches story of success. But his success had nothing to do with luck.
Will you please, if you've not already, take luck out of your vocabulary? There is no such thing. God is the secret of Joseph's success. And punctuated through the chapter and later, you read again and again, God was with him. God's hand was on him. God was there.
He saw him. He protected him. At the same time, Joseph worked diligently. And the success he experienced, he earned the hard way. He worked for it.
As with many promotions, privileges come alongside, and with privileges, more and more secrecy, less and less oversight, and you're able to enjoy privacy. Joseph certainly did. By now we would use our colloquial statement, he had it made. And don't miss the concluding comment before we get to the temptation. We read Joseph was a very handsome and well-built young man. Nothing wrong with that, just isn't fair, but there it is. Chiseled features, young Jewish man, muscular.
It is only said of three others in the scriptures, King Saul, David, David's son, Absalom. So this is a rare trait, this characteristic of physical attraction. What seems subtle and surprising in detail is in fact an eloquent turning point in the narrative, for it is that which attracts the eye of Potiphar's lustful wife, whose name is never given. And she began to make her moves toward him in no uncertain terms. She sees him attractive, handsome, quite a catch. She says to him, come lie with me. She is not the subtle type.
She's about as forward as a Mack truck. And she comes after him fully loaded with lust. She has one interest and that's his body. She couldn't care less about his soul or about the outcome. She wanted him in that bed with her. So she drops the bait.
No one is there to hear her except Joseph. It's interesting. Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish essayist, is spot on when he wrote, adversity is sometimes hard on a man, but for one man who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred who will stand adversity. You see, when you are prosperous, temptation is around the corner. You read nothing in his days of adversity of being tempted.
But now that he has it made, he becomes the object of Mrs. Potiphar's attention. But Joseph refused. Will you remember the three words? But Joseph refused. He said no. And he meant it. If you question that, read on verses 8 and 9, what a powerful, powerful message.
Joseph refused. Verse 8, look, he said. I even like the opening. Look. Almost as if he's saying look, lady. Or listen up, Mrs. Potiphar. My master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you because you're his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing?
It would be a great sin against God. No. Here's why. My master, your husband, trusts me. Whether he's around or miles away, he trusts me.
I hold the keys to every room around here, the gate outside. I'm the one that oversees the crops and the cattle. I have a responsible position.
Furthermore, I serve a God who is all seeing and he sees everything I do. Please notice what he calls the act. Not an affair, not our little secret, but this wicked thing. Out of date, though it may be, that is exactly what sex is outside of marriage. It is a wicked thing.
Nothing wrong with sex itself. It just needs the proper context to be preserved for the marriage of a man with a woman. Joseph meant it. He wasn't playing games with her.
He was saying no in no uncertain terms. Clarence Edward McCartney, for years the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, has written a number of books. One of them is The Greatest Man in the Bible, and he lists Joseph as one. And in that particular chapter, he writes this. This was no ordinary temptation. Joseph was not a stone, a mummy, but a red-blooded young man in his late 20s.
And it was not one temptation on one day, but repeated temptations. There's an old story that tells how when Joseph began to talk about his God to the temptress, she flung her skirt over the bronze bust of her God that sat on a pedestal in the chamber and then said, Now, now God will not see. Joseph answered, My God sees. Truly, Joseph learned to exercise integrity, one when tempted.
You're listening to Insight for Living. Chuck Swindoll titled today's message The Integrity of Moral Purity. And to learn more about this ministry, just visit insightworld.org. There's still much to learn from the story that's recorded for us in Genesis 39.
And as a compliment to today's message, we'd like to point you to a helpful resource. Chuck wrote a biography on today's hero. It's titled Joseph, a Man of Integrity and Forgiveness. Joseph rose from the pit of prison to the pinnacle of power. And along the way, Joseph walked with God and held on to his integrity with each step. In many ways, Joseph's life has proved that living with integrity is possible. So let God show you, through Joseph, how to trust him during the challenges of this year.
Again, Chuck's biography on Joseph is titled Joseph, a Man of Integrity and Forgiveness. To purchase a copy, call us. If you're listening in the United States, dial 1-800-772-8888 or go to insight.org slash offer. You often hear me say that Insight for Living is made possible not through the purchase of books and other resources, but through the voluntary donations of friends like you. And your gifts truly make a difference. For instance, one of your fellow listeners recently left a message for Chuck. It said, I'm so very thankful and blessed to be able to listen to Insight for Living. I'm in a season of grief. My husband passed away September 2021.
I grieve my loss, but I'm thankful knowing without a doubt he is in heaven. Thank you Chuck for preaching about the seasons of life. Those who give to Insight for Living make these sacred connections possible. And we're grateful to those who support this nonprofit ministry. To give a donation today, call us. If you're listening in the United States, dial 1-800-772-8888 or give online at insight.org slash donate. Join us when Chuck Swindoll describes the integrity of moral purity, Wednesday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, The Integrity of Moral Purity, was copyrighted in 2021 and 2022. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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