Running away doesn’t quite seem to be the strong Christian thing to do. Surely we should be advocating to stand and fight! The armour of God in Ephesians 6 is designed for the soldier facing the enemy. It is supported further in v13 where we are told to ‘stand’. But the Bible does tell us to run from immorality and lust. 1 Cor 6:18 “flee from sexual immorality”, and 2 Tim 2:22 “flee from the evil desires of youth”. So Joseph was actually doing the right thing in running away.
Potiphar’s wife lusted after handsome Joseph and pursued him vigorously and relentlessly. His verbal rejections and attempts at reasoning with her only made her more determined. Her final attempt was carefully planned. All the other servants were outside the house and she grabbed hold of his cloak and wouldn’t let go. Joseph knew that the time for reasoning had past and he could either hang onto his cloak and dishonor God, himself and his master, or give us his cloak, his modesty and run away; keeping his honour intact.
Joseph may well have been tempted by Potiphar’s wife. He also knew that if he stayed that attraction could turn to lust and then to sexual immorality. So, he had to get out immediately. That first glance at a pretty woman/attractive man isn’t sinful. Sexual desire isn’t the product of the Fall, but what we do with it often is. As Martin Luther once said, “You can’t stop the birds flying over your head, but you can stop them building nests in your hair.”
What temptation are you susceptible too? Gambling, food, alcohol, drugs, internet pornography, lust? There are times when we need to put ourselves out of the way of that temptation as quickly as possible. How? By taking drastic action. Turn off your computer or TV. Go home a different way that doesn’t take you past the betting shop, pub fast food outlet, sweet shop, or where you know drugs are easily available. If you are faced with sexual temptation at work, on a course, at a conference, or your next-door neighbor then take avoiding action and don’t place yourself in situations where you are likely to meet them alone.
Today, what is it you need to run away from? To put distance (physical and/or emotional) between you and that temptation. Ask Holy Spirit to show you, and ask him to give you the strength to do it and go on doing it. Even if it is costly and embarrassing – Joseph had to leave his cloak behind. Better to run off naked (embarrassed) than to stay and allow temptation to overcome you.
Prayer: Lord Jesus I know I need Your strength to resist temptations that I see all around me. It may not be Potiphar’s wife, but what tempts me is just as real at times. If standing and fighting isn’t working then help me to run away – to put as much physical and emotional distance between me, and what the enemy is tempting me with as possible. Help me to take whatever drastic action I need to so that I can be faithful to You and Your word. Amen.
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