In no uncertain terms, the Bible teaches children of God to “flee fornication” (I Corinthians 6:18). To flee is to run away from a place or situation of danger. What is involved in fleeing? In Genesis 39:7-13, Joseph’s dealing with a seductress, Potiphar’s wife, teaches us much about fleeing fornication.
To determine is to decide conclusively with firm resolution. Joseph’s example of overcoming the temptation of fornication teaches us that we need to first determine and decide to do the right thing. Joseph was firm in his determination when Potiphar’s wife first tempted him: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God” (verse 9)? Much of Satan’s work is already complete if you are not first determined within your own will to say no to a sin. Be like Job, who was clearly determined to do right: “I have made a covenant with my own eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman” (Job 31:1)?
Remind yourself of the seriousness of this sin. First and foremost, it is, as Joseph said, “sin against God” (verse 9). But it is a sin against others, not only the other guilty party. Consider the consequences upon family and friend and the cost to influence. And it is a sin against one’s own body: “he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18). Remember too that fornication has close cousins: uncleanness and licentiousness. Pornography, dancing, and suggestive language fall into these categories, and they too are sins against God and others. Don’t forget the seriousness of fornication as well as its long arms.
Answer: Uncompromising “No”
Joseph initially refused Potiphar’s wife’s seduction and then continued to reject her every attempt: “So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her” (verse 10). There is no negotiation to be had; the answer must firmly be “no”.
Don’t hang out near that which tempts you
Joseph rejected not only her temptation to lie with her but also “to be with her” (verse 10). Joseph understood the danger of being near her. Perhaps it could be an avenue through which she could chip away at his will. Regarding the seductress, wisdom says “remove your way far from her” (Proverbs 7:8). Avoiding known danger zones is part of fleeing.
Get yourself out
Even with every effort to avoid this sin, the temptation may come unexpectedly, very boldly and seemingly forcibly. One might excuse it with a “how could anyone resist?” Potiphar’s wife was determined to lie with Joseph such that when he was in the house working with no other men inside, “she caught him by his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me’” (verse 12). Joseph “left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out” (verse 12). Determined and uncompromising, Joseph fled for his spiritual life. If you find yourself in a place where the only thing left to do is to physically escape the situation, then do it and do it quickly.
Fornication is so prevalent today. It is practiced without shame by an unholy and perverse generation. It, along with its insidious, related sins of uncleanness and licentiousness, is a most destructive type of sin. Let us learn in Joseph’s example how to overcome. No wonder Paul said “flee”!