Watch for the subtle nature of temptation

I encourage you to watch for the subtle nature of temptation

All of us who have fallen to temptation would have noticed how subtle it often is. Sometimes it’s brazen and in your face. Sometimes it stealthily sneaks up, surprising you in ways you never expected. Other times it comes in the most innocently attractive packages imaginable.

Scripture teaches many lessons regarding the chameleon nature of temptation; lessons which can help us identify it while raising our ability to see temptation for what it really is. Plus, there are lessons to strengthen our resistance against its seductive allurements.

Genesis 39 unfolds the account of Joseph being tempted by Mrs Boss. An almost sordid little affair, which, had Joseph responded differently, could have been disastrous.

  • :1 Joseph was promoted from slave to property and business manager for Potiphar the Egyptian.
  • :3 “The Lord caused all that Joseph did to succeed.” Plus, the Lord also “blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake” (:5).
  • :6 “Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.”
The seen was set

Joseph was in a privileged and luxurious place, and he realised that it was due to God’s mercy. It probably seemed to Joseph that the wrongs done to him by his brothers were history, and the good times were coming on.

  • :7 “After a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, ‘Lie with me.’” Mrs Boss was watching, no doubt in lustful preparation for the attempted seduction. She made her not-so-subtle move, and Joseph resisted.
  • :9 “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”Joseph recognised temptation for what it really was, “sin against God.” Herein lays one of our greatest failings, to see temptation as God sees it.
  • :10 “she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her.” Temptation often perseveres over prolonged periods, using all the available angles and arguments to justify why sin should be surrender too.
  • :12 “she caught him by his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me.’”  Temptation can be quite tenacious, not giving up easily; it wants victory, even getting assertive at times. Temptation is often impressively adaptive in its subtle and not-so-subtle approaches.  Remember, victory is its goal, you are simply a means to its end; sin!
  • :12 “But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.” Subtlety and courtesy had run their course. Joseph took the only path available – he ran.
Reality check

Satan abides by no rules; he doesn’t care how he gets you to sin. Therefore, Christians need to become students of themselves and the processes of temptation. Understand how sin works to distract you from obedience to Christ. Don’t assume that by ignoring temptation, it’ll go away – it won’t. Learn to identify what arouses the initial vulnerability to sin. Become situationally aware, noting what produces the environment for temptation. Watch for patterns of greatest vulnerable.

While learning all this about yourself, submit it to God, and wash it all in Scripture and prayer. Prayer that asks; “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13). Practice Jesus instruction; “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Acknowledge that “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Look for God’s way of escape, and take it.

Today, watch for the subtle nature of temptation; openly walk with the Lord through it and away from it, in His strength. Offer to help someone else do the same, using your lessons for their blessing and the Lord’s glory!


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