OVERCOMING TEMPTATION AND LUST (LESSON 1)
This month's lesson is going to be on overcoming temptation and lust. How would you define the word temptation? (Get definitions from class)
Temptation is when we are drawn to something or someone and we have a desire to do something (usually something evil or sinful) because we think that there is a prospect of pleasure or advantage in finally obtaining the thing we want.
And how would you define lust? A lot of people think that the word "lust" only has to do with things of a sexual nature. But "to lust" after something really can mean to eagerly desire and long for any worldly thing.
Temptation and lust oftentimes go together. The Bible tells us in James 1:14, "Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." So, basically, we have to in our hearts lust after something to be tempted by it. A lot of times we will say, "The devil made me do it" or "My friend talked me into it." But no one will be tempted by something unless they secretly wanted it in the first place.
* What are some of the temptations that you guys struggle with? Well, the Bible has a lot to say about why we struggle with temptation and lust, and, fortunately, the Bible also shows us how we can overcome these things. Tonight we are going to read about a young man in the Bible, someone who was about your age, and we are going to see what he did when he was in a tempting situation.
(First give quick background of how Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, and then pick up the story here) Genesis 39:1-4, "And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmaelites, which had brought him down thither. And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.
Genesis 39:5-6, "And it came to pass from the time that he made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had that the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not aught he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well-favored."
This man Potiphar trusted Joseph so much that he made him his right-hand man. Joseph was in charge of Potiphar's money, his business affairs, everything. But now as we will read, Joseph is about to be seriously tempted. Genesis 39:7, "And it came to pass after these things that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me."
Here Joseph is, far away from his family in another land. He's probably lonely. He's a young good-looking guy, full of energy and normal feelings and emotions. And now this woman is straight-out asking him to be intimate with her! And I would imagine that a man of power like Potiphar probably had a very beautiful wife. Let's see what Joseph did.
Genesis 39:8-9, "But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; there is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife; how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?"
Joseph turned Potiphar's wife down. He rejected her offer. He overcame the temptation. What can we learn from Joseph so far? We can learn that one way to overcome temptation is to remember whom you would be sinning against. Did Joseph say, Mrs. Potiphar, I can't disrespect your husband by being involved with you"? Did he say, "Ma'am, I'm worried that you might become pregnant or I might catch an STD"? No, Joseph realized that if he gave into temptation and committed this sin, that he would be sinning against God. That knowledge and desire to please God is what kept Joseph from giving in to temptation.
What about you? When you are tempted, do you sit there and think about it and consider the odds of whether you can get away with something and fantasize about how fun the sin will be? If so, it is no wonder that you struggle and give in to temptation. You need to put God and your relationship with God first! If you do, you will not be so likely to fall when you are tempted.
* Now back to Joseph. Have you ever noticed that temptation doesn't just go away? Even if you are victorious one day, there is a good chance that that same temptation will be back before you know it. Let's read on. Genesis 39:10-12, "And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her to lie by her, or to be with her. And it came to pass about this time that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand and fled and got him out."
This woman hounded Joseph day after day. She was not going to take "no" for an answer. Maybe she taunted him by saying, "If you were a real man..." Perhaps she wore sexy outfits. And how did Joseph handle the temptation? Did he try to become Mrs. Potiphar's friend? Did he say, "Well, maybe I'll just hang out with her"? Do you think he thought to himself, "I'll just give her a kiss, but I won't let things go too far"? No. We read that Joseph fled! He ran out of there as fast as he could. He did not even want to be in the same house with this temptation!
Joseph did just what the Bible tells us we should do to overcome temptation. 2 Timothy 2:22 tells us "Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart." We are to FLEE from temptation. Sometimes we will say, "Oh, I just could not resist the temptation." But God gives us the power to overcome any temptation. 1 Corinthians 10:13 reads, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
God always gives us a way to escape temptation. For Joseph the way to escape was the front door. But Joseph had to walk through the front door. God wasn't going to make him magically float out. God gives you the escape -- But you have to move yourself away from the tempting situation.
* Now back to the story. Have you ever noticed that those very things that at first tempt you will later attack you? What do we mean? At first temptation whispers, "Come get me. You will love what I have to offer. I will make you happy and satisfy your needs." But then later that same temptation will call out to you, saying, "Look at you. You're worthless. You're weak. You're pathetic. You are nothing but a sorry sinner." Temptation is like poison covered in candy coating.
Let's see how Potiphar's wife turned on Joseph. Genesis 39:13-17, "And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and was fled forth, that she called unto the men of the house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in a Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice; and it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out. And she laid up his garment by her until his lord came home. And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me. And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out."
When this woman couldn't control Joseph, she lied on him, accused him, talked about him, and got him in trouble. And he didn't even give in to the temptation. But the same thing happens to you and even worse if you do give in to temptation. For example, how many people who gave in to the sin of sexual immorality later feel cheap and used or end up with something they didn't bargain for? And how many people who gave in to the temptation of alcohol and drugs later become addicts or slaves to those substances where what was once fun now imprisons you and steals your life?
This is the pattern whenever we are drawn away and give in to any sinful temptations. At first it offers fun and excitement. Then later, it accuses you, enslaves you, and takes you farther than you wanted to go. James 1:15 reads, "Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." It all starts in your mind with a thought. Then a thought leads to an action. Then that ungodly action leads to death. Maybe not physical death, but if you go against God's will and give in to your sinful will, something is gonna die. Either way, we lose. And the Bible warns us that temptations come with a high price. Proverbs 6:27-28, "Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?"
Because Joseph resisted temptation and always remained a man of God, God later blessed Joseph in many ways. If you read the rest of the account, you will see that Joseph eventually became the right-hand man to the most powerful ruler in Egypt. He was even higher ranking than Potiphar, the man whom he once was a slave to. Joseph was lied on and even imprisoned for a time, but God never forgot about him, and God always watched over him and blessed his life. But God would not have been able to do those great things in Joseph's life if Joseph would not have overcome temptation and lust.
You, too, can have victory over sin and temptation. And do you know why? Because the Bible says in1 John 5:4, "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." If you have true faith in the Lord and have been born again and have accepted Christ's gift of dying on the cross for your sins, the Bible says you can and will overcome whatever this world throws your way.
So how do we overcome temptation? Run away from it. Turn your eyes when you see it coming. Call on the Lord. And do not give place to the devil to start with!