Saying "No" to the devil

It is so easy to say “No” to the devil, the world and our sinful flesh, or is it?  As pastors, we preach that the new person in us will live to serve and obey God and his commands, but how often in our ministries do we deal with children of God whose old self has claimed too many victories.  It is easy to sit in the pew on Sunday morning or in the desk of 8th Grade Confirmation Class and nod your head whenever the pastor talks about staying away from the devil, the world and our sinful flesh, but it is much different when we actually step on the battlefield itself.

What a joy it is to preach the account of Joseph and his dealings with Potiphar’s wife.  Joseph not only was led by the Holy Spirit to say “No,” but he did it even though it meant that he was going to have to bear another cross as he was going to be tossed into prison again. Why did Joseph continue to say “No” to Potiphar’s wife?  Was it because he was afraid of getting caught and losing all the perks and privileges he had gained by being Potiphar’s top servant? Joseph’s answer reminds us that our lives of service are not about being good just so we don’t get caught, but rather serving God as Joseph said, “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”

This is a wonderful text to remind us of the battlefields that we as saint/sinners face each and every day.  Joseph gave a wonderful witness of why he would not and could not commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife, but the devil didn’t stop because he was so strong.  It tells us “and though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.”  He faced the daily “landmines” that the devil and his sinful nature were placing all around him, but God’s grace and strength were able to lead Joseph to not only say, “No” to her sexual advances, but he even refused “to be with her.”  And what did Joseph get for being a faithful servant of Christ?  He was sent to prison because of her false accusations.

There are many different “battlefields” that we Christians are entering every day.  Joseph’s battlefield was his work place.  Think of the many temptations that people face on a daily basis, and the consequences they might face for resisting those temptations.  Jobs might be lost or job promotions might be passed by as you point out the shady business practices of your company to your boss.  Friendships might be strained or even lost when you point out the sins that they are living in.  People might label you as intolerant and hateful because you refuse to accept the sinful ways of this world.

Like Joseph, we need to recognize that we are not living our lives to gain earthly perks and pleasure.  We live our lives to thank and praise our God who in love sent his one and only Son so that we might have an eternal life with him.  Like Joseph we need to ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen the new person in our hearts so that we might respond to the temptations of the devil, the world and our sinful flesh just like Joseph did, “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”


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