Focal Passage: Genesis 39:3-12
What is the difference between a temptation and a test? We know God tests people (Hebrews 11:17), but does not tempt (James 1:13). A good definition might be: A test is hard to do and aimed at increasing faith, while a temptation is easy to accept and is aimed at pleasure.
Too often we fail to overcome the temptations in our lives because we place ourselves where we shouldn’t be. A mother might hear a noise in the kitchen and call to her young son, “Where are you?” To which he replies – holding the cookie jar – “In the pantry.” She asks, “What are you doing in the pantry?” His response? “Trying to resist temptation.” The best way to resist temptation is to stay out of the pantry.
Joseph had to be in Potiphar’s house. He daily faced Potiphar’s wife and her tempting him. Yet, Joseph established the standards and convictions that he needed. He knew God was blessing him. This reminds us of what is written in Ezra 7:9-10, “[T]he gracious hand of his God was on him. Now Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Ezra studied God’s Word, and he sought to obey what he studied. Joseph knew God’s teachings, and he determined to obey them.
First Corinthians 10:13 says “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.” The phrase “a way of escape” in the Greek rings true for these circumstances; not that we will escape temptation, but God has provided a place of landing on the other side.
I can personally attest to the fact that God is faithful to control the circumstances He allows in our lives. He sets the fences (Job 1:12; 2:6) around these temptations. Sometimes we are forced, like Joseph, to endure the temptation.
Joseph resisted the temptation, yet it still left him facing trouble. We may pay a price for standing strong, but God will honor it in His time.