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Three Principles for Dealing with Temptation

If when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
—1 Peter 2:20

What does Genesis 39 teach us about saying no when temptation comes? Whatever the source of our temptation may be, this passage shows us three principles about how to resist temptation.

First, hunters are the hunted. All of us are hunting something in this life. Some are hunting wealth. Some are hunting pleasure. Some are pursuing significance. But while we are hunting, we need to remember that we are also being hunted by an enemy. First Peter 5:8 says, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Satan has an X on your back. You are in his sights and he has a plan to bring you down.

Second, sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do when you are faced with temptation is to run. Joseph understood that his teenage hormones couldn’t handle that situation, so he ran as far and as fast as he could. By the way, that is not a sign of weakness. Running is a sign of wisdom and strength. In 2 Timothy 2:22, Paul says, “Flee from youthful lusts.”

Third, obedience to God does not always result in a happy ending. Peter said, “For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:20–21). If you disobey God and suffer negative consequences, then that is not suffering; that is justice. You don’t get any spiritual reward for that. There are a lot of Christians who were lazy at their job and got fired or they were unfaithful to their mate and ended up divorced or they didn’t pay their taxes and wound up in prison. “Oh, I’m suffering for Jesus,” they say. No, they are suffering for their bad choices. They are not suffering for Christ.

Suffering for Christ is when you experience negative consequences for doing what is right. You obey God, yet you still suffer for it. That’s how Christ suffered, Peter said. When Jesus died on the cross, He wasn’t suffering for doing what was wrong, like the other criminals; He was suffering for doing what was right. And that is the kind of suffering Jesus plans for you and me.

God was preparing Joseph for the role He had planned for him, and that meant going through a time of suffering. But just as the final chapter in Joseph’s life had not yet been revealed in Genesis 39, the final chapter in your life hasn’t been revealed either. You may be suffering for doing right and wondering, “What’s going on, God? Why aren’t You rewarding me for obeying You?” Remember, just as in Joseph’s story, the final chapter in your life has not yet been revealed. And just as God was with Joseph, God is with you.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “When Temptation Comes” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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