Purity demands that we know ahead of time what we will do when temptation comes. 

— T.W. Hunt

I was recently posed the question, “How should singles resist the temptation to fulfill our physical desires outside of marriage?”  This question makes it sound as if all singles struggle with the temptation of physical desires.  For those of you who don’t struggle with this temptation, Praise God!  For the rest of us, the Bible gives us some practical instruction and lessons on how we may be able to handle this and other temptations.

temptation, n. – the state of being tempted especially to evil.  (M-W.com online dictionary)

evil, adj. – morally reprehensible.  (M-W.com online dictionary)

It is not very difficult to find present-day examples of singles (and married people) who struggle with physical desires, and being tempted by morally reprehensible things.  Every day there’s a story in the news about somebody dealing with an “inappropriate sexual relation.” 

As singles, a common notion is that “once I get married I won’t be tempted anymore” (to fulfill physical desires because they will all be met).  That is the “hope” for all of us, but it is only a “hope” unless we learn to take measures while we are single in order to guard ourselves from acting upon our temptations.  Our desires physically are probably going to be the same, whether single or married, and if not fulfilled these desires can lead to action—ones with disastrous and life-long repercussions.

David and Joseph

King David and Joseph will always be remembered—King David often for his infidelity and Joseph for his “heroism” in fleeing from sexual temptation.  Although they lived 900 years apart, they each led remarkably similar lives:

  • Shepherd in their youth
  • Not valued by their siblings 
  • Lives were spared
  • Took advantage of opportunities
  • Follower of God and found favor with God
  • Became very powerful

The difference between them came when they faced a similar temptation and how each handled the situation.

David

As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath.  He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”  Then David sent for her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her.

— 2 Samuel 11:2-4

Joseph

His master's (Potiphar) wife took notice of Joseph and said, "Come to bed with me!"

— Genesis 39:7

And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.  One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside.  She caught him by his cloak and said, "Come to bed with me!" But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

— Genesis 39:10-12

This scene with Joseph may seem so foreign to us, an attractive (assuming), married, powerful, woman makes advances toward a handsome, well-built man and the man runs away.  Sadly, it is a scene rarely shown on television or in the movies these days.  Joseph obviously had some amazing qualities that gave him the strength, virtue and integrity in order to withstand constant solicitation and sexual advances.

Although Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 6:10-18 to believers—to be “strong in the Lord” and to “put on the armor of God”—was chronicled over 1900 years later, Joseph seemed to have clothed and protected himself with armor in all of his decisions and actions.  How can we follow Joseph’s example and live a pure and godly life?  A good starting place is to arm ourselves with the armor of God.