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Presentation 57. Some years ago the media reported that Salvador Dali's painting of the crucifixion, housed in the Glasgow Art Gallery, had been slashed.

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Presentation on theme: "Presentation 57. Some years ago the media reported that Salvador Dali's painting of the crucifixion, housed in the Glasgow Art Gallery, had been slashed."— Presentation transcript:

1 Presentation 57


3 Some years ago the media reported that Salvador Dali's painting of the crucifixion, housed in the Glasgow Art Gallery, had been slashed in several places with a knife. People were appalled. Who would want to destroy a valuable work of art? There is a greater vandal at work. He regularly defaces something infinitely more valuable than a painting. Satan wants to destroy the image of God in man. All that is good and wholesome can expect to experience the attacks of his fiercest temptations. This is particularly so in the lives of those who have begun to take God seriously. Introduction Presentation 57

4 In order to understand the significance of Joseph's temptation to immorality we need to remind ourselves of the background against which it is set. First, Joseph was a man who had a reputation for being a servant of God. In v2 we read that ‘the Lord was with Joseph’ and in v3, that Potiphar recognised that fact and that ‘the Lord gave him success in everything he did’ so much so that he advanced Joseph in his household. Joseph was made Potiphar’s personal attendant and steward over his whole household. This process of recognition and advancement did not come overnight. Joseph was about 17 years of age, when sold into Egypt. He was thirty when Pharaoh promoted him having been in prison for just over two years before that. Background to The Temptation Presentation 57

5 Eleven years of hard work. Eleven years of faithful service in Potiphar's house. Eleven years for the full measure of God’s blessing on his life to be recognised and acknowledged. It can take a considerable period of time for the effectiveness of our witness and the blessing of God upon our lives to be recognised by ungodly men. But it was, when Potiphar’s eyes were opened to God at work in Joseph causing him to take the God of Joseph seriously that the temptation struck. Behind this his temptation is an attempt not only to discredit Joseph but Joseph's God. While it takes a long time to build an effective witness It is something that Satan can destroy in an instant. Background to The Temptation Presentation 57

6 Satan knows that if the testimony of God’s people can be undermined, then the God they represent is unlikely to be taken seriously. A charge that Paul brings against his own people, the Jews: “As it is written, God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Rom 2:24 Time and again God’s work has been undermined because a believer, at the height of their influence, has succumbed to some sexual sin. I can think of a church leader, whose sexual sin made headlines in the daily newspapers. He had streams of tears running down his face because he had brought God's name into disrepute. Significantly, it was a concern for God's name [v9] that was a principal argument used by Joseph to resist this temptation. Background to The Temptation Presentation 57

7 Now consider the nature of this temptation. One of Satan's techniques is to try and persuade us that the particular temptation facing us is quite unique, that it is fiercer and stronger than any human can possibly bear and therefore should be yielded to - after all we are only weak mortals! Satan is not very original. He draws down the same temptations from his arsenal again and again. Peter reminds the early church of this. After describing the devil as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour he writes, “resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Pet.5.9 The Nature of The Temptation Presentation 57

8 The temptations, which we face are therefore not unique. Christians around the world are being exposed to exactly the same temptations. Indeed, the temptations, which we face have already been overcome by others. When temptation whispers, “I am too strong for you”, we must stare it in the face an call it a liar. “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it”. 1 Cor 10: 13 God always provides a way out. We can’t say, 'I couldn’t escape the temptation’. The Nature of The Temptation Presentation 57

9 The Nature of The Temptation However, it was not easy for Joseph to escape from this particular temptation. First because it appealed to his natural instincts. It is important to distinguish between instincts, which are natural and those, which are unnatural. It is unnatural to kill, killing is not a part of our God given-constitution. But sexual sin appeals to what is natural inasmuch as it appeals to a God-given appetite and desire. However, because something is natural does not mean that it is always right. The great justification for so much sexual sin is that: ‘it is natural – merely the fulfilment of God-given instincts’! Presentation 57

10 Was this the argument used by Mrs. Potiphar: 'Joseph you are not a child any longer. You are a man with a man's appetites. Are you not lonely and unfulfilled? Don't you feel the need of a sexual relationship?’ The problem with this reasoning is that it sets one good over against another, natural instinct and desire are set over against purity and the revealed will of God. The sexual appetite is natural and God-given but God intends us to find sexual fulfilment only within the marriage bond. The Nature of The Temptation Presentation 57

11 This temptation was also strong because of the environment in which it was made. Joseph was away from home. A good home can have a restraining effect upon the behaviour of children. When youngsters leave home they are more likely to succumb to all sorts of temptations. No one is watching, who will tell your parents or the people you grew up with. Temptation whispers, ‘This is a perfect opportunity for no one will know!’ Some Christians think, ‘I can step briefly out of the will of God and then step back in again. No one else will know’. No one? What of God whom they are sinning against? The Nature of The Temptation Presentation 57

12 When professing Christian young people go off to university or go abroad on holiday, they are often tempted to behave in a way that they would not dream of behaving in at home! Or think of the Christian executive, who travels a great deal on business. He may end up doing things abroad that he would never do in his home town! Why? Many people still have a tribal view of God. They think of God as the one they worship, when they are at home with their family but do not consider him to be Lord of all the earth. Joseph did hold such a view and that helped to keep him from falling into temptation. The Nature of The Temptation Presentation 57

13 This temptation was strong because of the one who made it. Potiphar's wife was an important, powerful and influential woman. She was used to getting her own way. She could have been a valuable ally to Joseph in his bid for freedom. How many of the decisions which we make are not governed by principle but by expediency? And so when we are tempted to do wrong by our employer, our best customer, our best friend or our partner, we tell ourselves; “Although I do not really want to do such a thing I will yield to this temptation because my livelihood depends upon it, or I will do it because I do not want to give some cause for offence." The Nature of The Temptation Presentation 57

14 Two young people, Sunday school teachers, both worked part-time in a supermarket. The manager told them they would need to work on Sunday. The girl agreed. She valued her job and thought it would not matter if she missed just one Sunday at church! The boy courteously refused, making it clear that his service to God was a prior commitment. He had always been willing to work extra hours but could not agree to do so on Sunday. He was told he would lose his job but he stood firm and was sacked. He committed his cause to God. He too needed the money. Jobs were not easy to come by. Half an hour later the manager returned, apologised for intimidating him and said he could keep his job and he would never be asked to work on a Sunday again. The Nature of The Temptation Presentation 57

15 Joseph had to wait much longer than half an hour for God to vindicate him. But his story demonstrates that the only defence against expediency is the stand of faith. A belief that God works with a long-term perspective. It is better to do what is right even if that means suffering in the present. If we wait long enough God's vindication will come. Had Joseph succumbed to this temptation, he would never have been Prime Minister of Egypt, he would not have seen his father again, nor would he have been the deliverer of his people! The Nature of The Temptation Presentation 57

16 The strength of this temptation also lay in its persistence. This woman came to Joseph repeatedly. This too is one of Satan’s strategies, to bombard us again and again. Temptation can be like the relentless like the drip, drip, drip of water. Satan uses one argument after another. He attempts to wear down our resistance. He promises that the pressure will stop once we yield to the temptation. Satan whispers, “Make life easier for yourself! You might as well yield now rather than put ourselves through further excruciating agonies!” The Nature of The Temptation Presentation 57

17 Does Joseph have a remedy for dealing with this particular temptation? Y Yes cf. v12. He ran out of the situation. There comes a time, when you do not stand to reason with temptation or argue with it, you simply have to run from it. This is particularly true of sexual temptation. Paul gave a similar instruction to Timothy. He said, ‘Flee youthful lusts’ 2Tim 2.22. Don't hang around. Don’t hum and haw and allow your resistance to be worn down. The Response of Flight Presentation 57

18 We cannot control the tempting circumstances in which we find ourselves. Young people may quite truthfully say; ‘But we didn’t know it was going to be that kind of Birthday Party'. We do not always know. We are not responsible for knowing but we are responsible for the way in which we react after we find out that we will be exposed to a variety of temptations. It often takes f ar more courage to run away, than to be a lemming and follow the crowd. If you ever find yourself in Joseph's situation, do as he did regardless of the cost. The Response of Flight Presentation 57

19 Joseph needed no time to work out his reply. Temptation does not give us the opportunity to call 'a time out' so that we can consult with our Christian friends or thumb through our Bibles to find a response. When this particular temptation first presented itself, Joseph knew exactly what he would do. We need to know, where we stand and why? Whom we serve and why? The Psalmist said, “Your Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you”Ps 119.11. It was a knowledge of scripture that equipped our Lord to cope with his wilderness temptations, “It is written... it is written... it is written...” Matt.4.4-7. Preparation is more than half the battle in overcoming temptation. The Response of Flight Presentation 57

20 Joseph recognised that sin invariably hurts others cf v8-9. He knew that he owed a moral debt to Potiphar. He also remindsed Potiphar’s wife that she too had duties towards her husband. The sin that she suggested would hurt both Potiphar and herself. Had she thought of the damage to her family? Speak to children from broken families, the product of adultery, and sense their lostness, frustration, rejection, hurt, and anger. God will not hold adulterous parents guiltless for the harm done to their families. Often one partner will excuse their adultery by saying, 'I only wanted to be happy.' But God asks, 'Does your personal happiness excuse you from inflicting pain upon others‘? The Response of Flight Presentation 57

21 What was the greatest restraint in Joseph's life? He viewed all sin as an offence against God. Cf v9. 'How could I,' he asks, ‘I who have known so much of the grace of God and the blessing of God, wilfully do something which would hurt his heart’. The best way to guard against falling into temptation is to develop your love for God. Be constantly aware of all that he has graciously lavished upon you. When your heart is warmed by his love and grace you too will ask, 'How can I offend, hurt and disappoint him?’ The Response of Flight Presentation 57

22 There is nothing more certain than this, Christians will be assaulted by temptation. We dare not think that there are some temptations that we are immune to, or that are so remote that they will never come knocking at our door. The story of Joseph teaches us both to be prepared for attack from temptations and to act decisively in our rejection of them even if our action in the short term could appear to do us great harm. Conclusion Presentation 57

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