3 Ways Out to Escape Temptation
Bear Grylls is a survival expert, former British special ops officer, and Chief Scout for the British version of Boy Scouts. In his television shows, Bear demonstrates ways to survive and find a way out of dangerous situations. I am even a bigger fan of Bear after seeing his video testimony about his Christian faith. In his devotional book, Bear talks about one of his favorite survival characters in the Bible – Joseph.
Joseph, the son of Jacob/Israel, grew up as the favorite son despite being the 10th of twelve sons. Joseph did not work in the fields, tattled on his brothers, had dreams of greatness, and received a multi-colored robe from his father. The famous colored robe signified that Joseph would receive more inheritance than his brothers.
In response, Joseph’s brothers threw him in a pit and sold him to a traveling group of Egyptians. The brothers lied to their father, saying that Joseph was killed by a wild animal and showed him a torn robe stained with blood. As Israel wept over his son, Joseph had to find a way to survive.
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The Apostle Paul wrote to the new believers in Corinth,
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
As you read this article, is there a specific temptation that has lingered or felt almost too powerful to resist? Every day men face temptations, but remember that God will provide a way out for you. Here are three “ways out” of temptation, as seen in the life of Joseph.
1) Physical “Way Out” – Get away from the temptation.
Joseph was a young man of amazing abilities (wisdom, intellect) that his owner, Potiphar, quickly realized. Potiphar put Joseph in charge of the whole household, but there was one problem – Potiphar’s wife wanted Joseph to make love to her. Joseph resisted temptation by running out of the house.
“Flee” is the old King James word I think about in this situation. The Greek word for “flee” simply means to get away quickly, but in my mind, I think of someone running away so quickly he is almost ready to take off in flight! Fleeing is what people do when they are in danger (like seeing a snake or are about to be hit by a car in a parking lot).
The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians Christians to flee from sexual idolatry (1 Cor. 6:18). In 2 Tim 2:22, Paul told Timothy to flee from youthful lusts. Sexual temptation is especially powerful for young men and for any man who fantasizes about a woman. God provided Joseph a way out, and it was to flee out of the house. Don’t be overconfident in your ability to overcome sexual temptation that has tripped up even the strongest men (i.e., Samson and Delilah, David and Bathsheba).
2) Intellectual “Way Out” – Choosing to live for future blessings instead of yielding to the temptation of giving up.
Joseph escaped Potiphar’s wife, but she claimed he attacked her. Joseph was sent to jail where once again his abilities and wisdom were recognized. Eventually, Joseph was called upon to interpret the Pharaoh’s dream of seven years of great harvest and seven years of great famine. If Joseph had given in to the temptation of sulking and being angry, he may not have made friends with the Pharoah’s cook and not seen God’s way to get him out of jail and into a place of great prominence (second behind the Pharaoh).
When he traveled across the Roman Empire, the Apostle Paul resisted the temptation of giving up as he was constantly opposed, beaten, and arrested.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5)
Keep saying no to the temptation of giving up. Only by persevering can you have all the blessings God has intended for you.
3) Emotional “Way Out” – Choosing to resist the temptation of revenge and find a stronger emotion as your way out and forgive.
Joseph had been wrongly terribly beaten by his brothers. Joseph was taken away from his family, suffered as a slave, and lived for years as a prisoner. Despite being in a position of high power and influence, Joseph was tempted to seek revenge against his brothers when they came to Egypt wanting to buy some grain.
Dressed as an Egyptian and going by his new name, Zaphnath-Paaneah, Joseph was not recognized by his brothers. The brothers were confused and fearful when Joseph demanded that they bring their youngest brother Benjamin to him. Joseph also had his servants hide some silver cups in the brothers’ bags to set them up as thieves who could be arrested when they returned to Joseph’s courts
Joseph was so caught up with his emotions that he almost went through with his plans for revenge. God did provide another way out for Joseph. When Judah pleaded with Joseph to spare Benjamin and have mercy on their old father, Joseph’s heart was touched and realized that his love for his father and brother was enough to forgive his brothers.
“I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting.
7 And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 45:4b-8)
I hear many men talk about an unfair situation that happened ten, twenty, thirty, and even fifty years ago. Men, God is the ultimate judge and will not be mocked. God has blessed you with someone who loves you (parents, wife, children, friend). You may think you need justice, and your revenge is warranted, but no matter what happens, you will not take away the scars of the hurt, and you will likely regret all the time wasted on the effort. So let go of seeking revenge and God will provide a “way out” of the temptations in your life.
Paul Arnold is a husband, father, grandfather, and currently serves as a chaplain to a senior living facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He hosts several podcasts – Man to Man (career advice for men) and Pardon the Confusion (Sports) that are found on iTunes and www.redcircle.com
I love how at the end you say “God has blessed you with people who love you”. Diverting your attention to the blessings of relationships that are current, instead of remaining focus what another did is a good way out. Thank you for writing this,