Tempt means to entice one to commit an unwise or immoral act. Something that tempts or entices causes one to be in a state of temptation.
Today we will look at three examples from the Bible that teach us important lessons about temptation and how we can be victorious over the temptations in our own lives. Our first example is about a young man named Joseph. You can find Joseph’s story in the book of Genesis. Joseph is one of the two youngest sons of Jacob, and he was about seventeen years old at the time of this story. Joseph’s brothers were jealous of their father’s love for him, and because of their jealousy, his brothers hated him. So they sought to do Joseph harm, and eventually, his brothers sold him into slavery to a man named Potiphar.
“1 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 Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.
2 And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
3 And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand.
4 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.
5 And it came to pass from the time that he had 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.”
At the beginning of Genesis chapter 39, we read that Joseph’s brothers treated him cruelly because they were incredibly jealous of their father’s love for him. So the brothers plotted to kill Joseph but instead sold him to an Egyptian household as an enslaved person. God did not abandon Joseph but had His hand on him, and Joseph quickly advanced in the house of Potiphar. Joseph feared God, and God was with him. So instead of keeping him as a mere slave, Potiphar made him his steward and overseer of his whole house.
“6 And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.”
While Joseph was in these prosperous circumstances, a great temptation met him in his master’s house. As a goodly person and well-favored, the Bible tells us that Joseph’s mistress cast her eyes upon him in lust and then tempted him. Now this temptation was not just a one-time occurrence, but it happened over and over. The Bible shows us; the greatest temptation came when no one was around.
10 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.
11 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.
12 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.
What did Joseph do when this temptation came at its strongest? He not only refused her, but he fled from her as he would have done as if someone were trying to kill him. Joseph escaped for his life! This behavior of Joseph, without doubt, is recorded for the instruction of all. We have to avoid the things that are themselves sinful and those that lead to sin. Any sin we commit is evil and separates us from God.
“18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
“2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”
We need to hate sin and love God’s laws with our hearts, souls, minds, and strength.
“5 But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the Lord charged you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
“9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons;”
What is sin? Sin is a willful and deliberate transgression against God.
“17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
Before we sin, there is always a temptation. Temptation is not a sin, but it is the testing point for sin. Joseph did not know that his boss’s wife would tempt him, but if he had given in and not fled, he would have sinned. What do we do when temptation meets us? Are we fleeing from the wrong, or are we giving in? What happens when the temptation to lie, get angry or do anything that transgresses God’s commandments challenges us?
Would you walk across a river where the ice was all broken up? No, you would avoid it. Would you take your money and throw it into the sea? No. Would you walk off the edge of a cliff? No, you would flee from the area. If we say we love God and follow Him, we will flee from doing anything sinful. We will stay as far away from sin as possible.
Our second example is about a man named Achan, whose story we can find in the book of Joshua. Before the Israelites would conquer Jericho, God commanded them not to take specific items from spoils because they were accursed. Achan was tempted in Jericho by things he’d seen and then desired to have, which God said not to take. Achan took the accursed items anyway and hid them in his tent. God told Joshua there was sin among the Israelites, and Achan finally confessed. God became very angry, and Achan’s action became responsible for the defeat against the Israelites when Joshua sent the men into Ai.
“21 When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.”
Achan was different than Joseph. When Achan became tempted, he did not flee, and what happened? The Israelites put Achan and his family to death. When we sin today, we, in essence, die, and we no longer have communion with God.
Our last example is our Lord Himself. When the devil tempted Jesus, what did He do? Jesus said, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” In other words, get out of here, devil! I am sure Jesus was not timid about this either. Instead, Jesus was forceful and commanding. He rebuked the devil amid temptation. Jesus knew we would experience temptation, so He taught us to pray in this way:
“13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”
“41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Do you think these commands are any less important today? No, we need to watch lest we enter into temptation or, in other words, SIN. We need to flee anything that looks, acts, or talks like SIN.
How have you been doing in your life? Have you been letting temptations lead you to sin? If yes, God gives you the power to defeat and overcome temptation through His Son. When we get saved and stay close to God, we can flee whenever the temptation arises.
1 Corinthians 10:12-14
“12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
13 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.
14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.”