With my devotions this morning have been reading Jonathan Edwards' sermon "Temptation and Deliverance", about Joseph and how to flee temptation. Edwards talks about the things that would have led Joseph down the road into sin, ratcheting up the pressure at each step:
- he is young
- he has unexpected prosperity
- Potiphar's wife is his superior
- She pursues him persistently and seductively
- She does so when he is alone
Edwards comments that Joseph's fleeing is like someone running away from being assassinated, escaping for his life. He goes on:
Sin is an infinite evil, because committed against an infinitely great and excellent Being...If we were duly sensible of the evil and dreadful nature of sin. we should have an exceeding dread of it on our spirits...Men's lusts are like strong enemies, endeavouring to draw them into sin. If a man stood on a dangerous precipice, and had enemies about him, pulling him and drawing him, endeavouring to thrown him down; would he, in such a case, choose or dare to stand near the edge?...Would he not endeavour, for his own safety, to keep at a distance?
I think of it like this: if there is a place that is notorious for people getting mugged, we are foolish if we go there. But there are places of temptation, both physical and in our imaginations, where we know we are likely to get spiritually mugged by evil; seduced, subdued and, eventually, spiritually assassinated. We are fools if we go there, too.
Our society in the last 30 years has ditched almost all previous ways of distinguishing good from evil. As a result it celebrates lust and licentiousness. And it surrounds us with it, most particularly on the TV. It becomes harder and harder to identify evil as evil when the world celebrates it as freedom. Joseph decided he wasn't even going to let the thin end of a wedge in the door. He endeavoured, for his own safety, to keep at a distance from the precipice. Humanly speaking it lost him everything that was on offer from the world. But God was with him, showing him kindness and granting him favour in the prison.
Praying today: lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.