In church, we almost never talk about the fact that God created us as sexual beings (Genesis 1:27-28 and 2:24-25).
We are relational beings just like God – and we relate in many ways, including our physicality.
Given by God, sexuality then needs to be stewarded and rightly directed. Attraction is not the issue – misdirected sexuality is, and it begins with sexual temptation (James 1:13-15).
Dwelt upon, temptation becomes lustful desire. Acted upon, desire becomes sexual behaviour. Lust starts in the mind before it gets to our feelings and then our actions.
How do we protect ourselves from wrong sexual choices that destroy our lives?
When it comes to young people and sexual temptation, I am always drawn to the account of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife in Genesis 39.
Doing the right thing is so difficult when temptation is available, strong and relentless.
But from this account, we can learn three things from Joseph’s strategy on how to overcome sexual temptation.
1. DODGE THE BULLET… & KEEP DODGING
You may not plan to be tempted, but you can plan not to be.
Joseph went out of his way to keep out of temptations (Genesis 39:8-10).
Being Potiphar’s second in command, Joseph likely knew when Mrs Potiphar had time in her schedule that coincided with the time there would be few people in the house: an opportune time to tempt him.
Identify when you are most vulnerable. Do you fall when you’re home alone?
In the movie Fireproof, a man destroys his computer to fight his porn addiction, illustrating Matthew 5:27-30 to avoid temptation and sin at all costs.
Downloading accountability software or abstaining from suggestive movies and novels is a starting point.
Make a covenant with your eyes (Job 31:1) because knowing about our weaknesses is not the same as dealing with them.
2. GET ACCOUNTABLE, EVEN IF IT’S AWKWARD
Make a covenant with others because sin grows in darkness, but wilts in the light, where iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17).
As far as possible, Joseph ensured there were others around when he and Mrs Potiphar were together.
Surround yourself with godly people and accountability partners who aren’t afraid to speak into your life.
Invite them to speak into your life and ask direct questions on sexual temptation and sin.
3. RUN LIKE JOSEPH
Joseph said “no” immediately. He didn’t reason with Mrs Potiphar when she caught him or go back for his cloak.
The best way to fight temptation is to flee it. Act decisively – no half-hearted actions (Colossians 3:5).
When temptation happens, process each episode with a mature believer from church or with your spouse.
Temptation does not go away with age, but there’s good news: While we can’t stop the birds from flying over our head, we can keep them from making a nest in our hair.
We can’t stop the enemy from bombarding our mind with thoughts, but we can decide not to dwell on them.
Always look past the bait to the consequences of the hook. Would my family be proud of this? Is this something that would cause my marriage – current or future – to suffer?
The allure of sexual temptation is its promise of intimacy, but what good is a liar making a promise that cannot be kept?
Spiritual intimacy with God is at stake (Matthew 5:8). The consequences extend beyond yourself, affecting those you love in ways you may not intend. Is it worth it to spend a lifetime regretting a few fleeting moments of pleasure?
Do a Joseph!
Pastor Ben KC Lee is married to Dinah and they are parents to a pair of young adult twins Deborah and Daniel. Ben serves as Elder and Senior Pastor of RiverLife Church. He is also the author of UNMASKED: Being authentic about sexuality.
This article is part of an ongoing series called How Not To Fall, which offers practical advice on how Christians can avoid falling into sexual temptation.
- Do you know when are the times or where are the places you’re most tempted?
- Do you have brothers or sisters in Christ whom you can open yourself up to for accountability?
- What does planning not to be tempted and fleeing from temptation look like? What are some practical steps you can take?