|LIFE IN JESUS-MINISTRIES
|THE RIGHT STUFF: Sexual Purity
Charles H. Dyer
I AM REVEALED
Feb 03 2013
THE NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT THE INNOCENT
While growing up I loved watching the police shows on television that were based on true stories. One program would
begin, “The story you are about to see is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.” Well, the same
is true of the story I’m about to share. The names…and some details…are changed to protect innocent individuals,
churches, and groups. But the story is tragically true.
“John” grew up in a good, moral home. He was the typical boy next door a mother wants her daughter to date…clean-
cut, friendly, outgoing, handsome, intelligent, church-going. After graduating in the top 10 percent of his high school
class John went to his state’s public university. There he started dating “Christy” a vibrant Christian woman who
had also enrolled at the university. They first met in a meeting organized by one of several Christian groups on campus.
John and Christy seemed to be the model couple. Both were outspoken Christians who regularly attended church and
who became highly involved in the campus group where they had first met. Both enjoyed backpacking and cycling. Both
took their studies seriously and did well academically. No one was surprised when John and Christy announced their
engagement at the end of their junior year.
John and Christy completed college and got married the same summer. They both found jobs in another city, moved
their meager possessions, found a church where they felt comfortable, and started their new life as husband and wife.
Both became actively involved in their new church, and the people loved them. They seemed like the perfect
role models for the youth…a good example of how God intended marriage to work. The “icing on the cake” came a few
years later when their first child was born.
But all was not well in John’s life. He harbored secrets he was too ashamed even to share with Christy, secrets that
dated back to his first year at the university. The campus had over 20,000 students, and was located near a large city.
The size of the campus and the city gave John an opportunity to explore “the other side of life” in anonymity. It began
with easy access to pornography. John found sexual release masturbating as he stared at the pictures of naked women.
John’s fascination with “soft-core” pornography produced an intense, but short-lived, pleasure. Eventually all the naked
bodies looked the same. His level of sexual satisfaction dropped. John then sought more “hard-core”
pornography. The pictures and videos included men and women engaging in sexual acts. Again John felt the rush of
intense sexual pleasure…and again it gradually faded with time.
Like a drug user being forced to take ever-increasing doses of narcotics to achieve the same high, John found his
appetite for more sexually explicit material growing. He started slipping into gentlemen’s clubs that featured “adult”
entertainment. The need for more explicit images to reach the same level of physical satisfaction continued. Though he
knew it was wrong, John even tried to convince Christy to engage in premarital sex to satisfy his growing appetite. She
refused, and her stand for what he knew in his heart was right flooded him with guilt.
He went home from those dates and threw himself on his bed in tears vowing to the Lord he would never look at another
pornographic picture or video…but he always did. No one knew of his secret life, so he had no one to hold him
accountable. He finally rationalized his obsession with pornography by convincing himself it was only a temporary tool to
satisfy his sexual urges until he and Christy got married. Then he wouldn’t need to look at any more pornography.
During the first six months of their marriage John avoided all pornographic material. His physical relationship with Christy
was as pleasing as he had always imagined it would be. It all seemed to be turning out okay…until John found himself
home alone one evening watching a movie on television. Though the television station edited the movie for content, the
sexual overtones brought back the arousal John had felt when he watched pornographic videos. He found himself
mentally replaying those earlier films that had burned themselves into his memory.
Within a week John was back viewing pornography. He waited for the sexual arousal…but after masturbating he felt
disappointed. Having held a real woman in his arms, the video images no longer brought the same sense
of satisfaction. The beast within him was again growing and demanding to be fed…but now it would take more than
mere pictures or videos to satisfy his addiction.
Some men have extramarital affairs to fill their unresolved sexual fantasies. Others seek out prostitutes. For some
reason John took an even more vile and despicable route – rape.
Perhaps his decision came because all the pictures and videos presented women as nothing more than sex objects
designed to fulfill a man’s basest needs. Perhaps his decision came because he sought anonymity for his actions.
Perhaps his decision came because even prostitutes were reluctant to perform the sex acts he had seared on his mind.
For whatever reason, John began stalking innocent women.
The police knew they had a serial rapist on their hands. Same part of town each time, same basic method of
entry, same perverted need to show pornographic videos to the victims before the rape. But no one suspected
John…until the night he was caught.
One alert apartment dweller saw someone in the shadows and called the police. The police arrested John before he
even realized they were closing in. “There must be some mistake!” he protested as they handcuffed him and took him to
the station to be booked. His colleagues at work, his neighbors, and his friends at church could not believe
the charges. “The police must have the wrong man! It can’t be John – we know John!”
And Christy was shocked and devastated.
But the police had the right man. His fingerprints matched those taken from the apartments where the previous rapes
had been committed, and his DNA found on his victims proved his guilt. Everything John had struggled so hard to
hide in the dark recesses of his “other life” now made the front page of the local newspaper.
At the trial John’s family had to endure painfully graphic testimony of the vile things he had done. The “other side” of
John was dirty and ugly. As victim after victim took the stand to testify, the horror of his actions grew. Innocent lives
marred and scarred to satisfy the basest needs of a man who worked so hard to present himself to others as a model
Today John sits in a cell in a maximum security prison. His family is shattered, his children are growing up without their
father in the home, his church friends still struggle with feelings of hurt and anger. Much like a mudslide sweeping down
a hill, John’s arrest, trial, and conviction swept away his facade of decency and exposed the sin that lurked just beneath
THAT COULD NEVER BE ME
Your first response to John’s tragic life might be, “It could never happen to me.” And in one sense you are probably
correct. Most individuals do not resort to such extreme acts. But be careful before you lower your guard. You are
vulnerable to sexual temptation. And the consequences can be just as deadly to your physical, emotional, and spiritual
The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, which was struggling with serious moral, personal, and interpersonal
problems. In the middle of his letter he taught the people of Corinth a history lesson that focused on the children
of Israel in the wilderness. Paul reminded his readers that a number of sins (including “sexual immorality”) destroyed an
entire generation of Israelites in the wilderness (I Corinthians 10:6-11). He then applied this lesson to the church in
Corinth. “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (I Corinthians 10:12).
Buy why devote an entire chapter to the danger of sexual immorality and the need for sexual purity? Isn’t lying…or
pride…or greed just as bad? In one sense it’s true that all sin is evil in God’s sight. Every sin is an affront to God’s
holiness. And yet, we must focus on the importance of sexual purity for two reasons.
First, the Bible says there is a sense in which sexual sins are in a different class from most other sins. Paul
explained this distinction to the church at Corinth…a city with a reputation for sexual excess. (One euphemism for a
prostitute in Paul’s day was a “Corinthian girl.”) Paul cut through the niceties and underscored the bottom line. “Flee
from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own
body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from
God?” (I Corinthians 6:18-19). Sexual sins desecrate God’s living temples on earth.
Second, we must focus on sexual purity because sexual temptation in our society is rampant…and
growing exponentially. A few years ago parents worried about “girlie” magazines flaunting bare breasts or movies that
presented sexually suggestive scenes. Today every conceivable type of pornography is freely available to anyone with
an Internet connection. We live in a society in which condoms are distributed in school clinics and where the idea that
schools should teach abstinence as an answer to teenage pregnancy and AIDS is ridiculed. Sexually transmitted
diseases are increasing at an alarming rate among today’s teenagers…and the only sure solution is sexual purity.
Christians can become desensitized to the danger by all the sexual images bombarding them every day. Much like the
proverbial frog in the kettle, we don’t realize the effect all the advertising and programming is having on us…until it’s too
late. The number of Christians falling into the trap of sexual immorality is too great to ignore. And the results are
TAKING PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
Society has elevated “victimhood” to unprecedented heights. We are not to blame for our actions because we are
“victims” of our ethnic background, family dysfunction, economic, social, or educational disadvantages. If anyone ever
had the opportunity to justify his actions by claiming to be such a victim, it was Joseph. His story, recorded in Genesis
37-45, is an important reminder that life is a mixture of circumstances that are often beyond our control – and our
response to those circumstances, which is within our control. Joseph chose to respond appropriately, regardless of his
Joseph was born into a home that we would euphemistically call “blended,” but that might better be described as
dysfunctional. The quarrels, plots, deception, intrigue, and infighting among this extended family sound like a modern-
day soap opera. Joseph’s father, Jacob, had two wives and two concubines, each of whom bore him children.
Jacob was a weak, ineffective husband and father. His daughter Dinah was raped, but he kept quiet about it
and refused to act (Genesis 34:5). Instead, he got upset with two of his sons when they acted to avenge this evil deed
(Genesis 34:6-7, 25-31). Jacob’s oldest son had sexual relations with one of Jacob’s concubines, and though Jacob
knew of it, he did not rebuke his son at that time (Genesis 35:22). Joseph grew up with a father who did not model
character or strength of conviction.
Joseph could also claim to be a victim of interpersonal conflict with his brothers. As the firstborn son of Jacob’s favorite
wife, Joseph received special attention from his father. The breaking point for the brothers came when Jacob gave
Joseph “a richly ornamented robe” signaling his favoritism toward Joseph. “When his brothers saw that their father loved
him [Joseph] more than any of them, they hated him [Joseph] and could not speak a kind word to him” (Genesis 37:4).
Jacob’s unwise actions caused his other sons to ostracize Joseph. The more Jacob showered Joseph with
special praise, the more resentful Joseph’s brother became. Their hatred boiled over when Jacob sent Joseph to check
on them. “But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him” (Genesis 37:18).
To the brothers the location must have seemed ideal. In their search for suitable grazing land they had traveled seventy
miles from their father’s tent in the Valley of Hebron (Genesis 37:14-17). No one knew Jacob – or his sons – in this part
of the land. Even if someone discovered Joseph’s body, they wouldn’t know who he was – or where he was from. And
the main travelers along the pathway were Midianite merchants plying their trade between Egypt and Mesopotamia.
The brothers did not follow through with their initial plan. Instead, they sold Joseph as a slave to a band of traders who
dragged him off to Egypt. Joseph went from being the favorite son of his father to being a foreign slave in Egypt. His
journey into slavery took him “to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard” (Genesis 37:36).
By today’s standards Joseph had every right to be bitter and angry. His family background was complex, his father’s
passivity and favoritism had brought disharmony and hatred. Now he had been rejected and abandoned by his
brothers…sold as a slave…stripped of his dignity…dragged to a foreign culture with new values and expectations.
Joseph had every excuse needed to justify giving up on God and living a life of self-indulgence or self-pity. Instead, he
maintained a life of purity and devotion. Let’s go behind the scenes to see how he did it.
Joseph Accepted God’s Standards
From favored son to slave! In a matter of weeks Joseph went from his father’s large, goat hair tent with its
woven carpets and numerous servants…to the bottom of a dank, dark cistern…to slavery in the house of a
governmental official in Egypt. But Joseph never lost his faith in God…and God never abandoned Joseph. The book of
Genesis states clearly, “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered” (Genesis 39:2).
Joseph’s exemplary attitude, and the success he seemed to have in every task he was given, didn’t escape Potiphar’s
notice. “Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned” (Genesis
39:4). In today’s terms, Joseph was a winner! He went from the lowest entry-level position to upper management.
But Joseph’s success was not based on the power of positive thinking. It came directly from the hand of God. Joseph
put God first in his life, and God took care of the rest. Count how many times God gets the credit for Joseph’s success.
God blessed Joseph for his faithfulness, and Joseph’s life took on a “rags-to-riches” quality that must have astounded
those who knew him when he first arrived in Egypt as a seventeen-year-old slave. Joseph now ran the estate of one of
Egypt’s most powerful officials. He also developed physically. The awkward youth who came to Egypt was now
“well-built and handsome” (Genesis 39:6).
Good looking…successful…self-assured…winsome. Joseph’s qualities won him many admirers, including one who had
no business looking! Potiphar’s wife soon “took notice of Joseph” (Genesis 39:7). Subtlety was not her strong suit.
“Come to bed with me!” she ordered (39:7). She made Joseph an offer she felt he couldn’t refuse.
Stop and put yourself in Joseph’s place. Your family background contains polygamy, incest, and rape. Not the sort of
history that instills strong moral character and convictions. The God your father claimed to serve had allowed you to be
sold as a slave. Why should you listen to Him? You’ve been working hard, and your effort is finally starting to pay off.
And now a powerful woman is throwing herself at you sexually. She wants you! Says she needs you! Satisfy her and
she could open up countless avenues for advancement. Why not? Anyone else would.
I suspect all these thoughts flashed through Joseph’s mind in the few seconds following this woman’s brazen offer.
Joseph blinked…looked away…and then refused her offer. Turned her down. Stopped her advance cold! Joseph
stayed sexually pure by rejecting an offer that had to be hard to resist. How did he do it?
The bible offers two reasons Joseph refused to have sexual relations with Potiphar’s wife. The first reason
involved trust. Potiphar had entrusted Joseph with great responsibility. “Everything he owns he has entrusted to my
care…My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife” (Genesis 39:8-9). Having sexual
relations with this woman would violate a trust Potiphar had placed in Joseph. Joseph could not bring himself to break
But Joseph had a second reason for refusing this woman’s offer, a reason even more compelling. “How then could I do
such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). God established His standards for sexual purity and marital
faithfulness at creation. To commit adultery with another man’s wife was a “wicked thing” and a violation of God’s moral
standards. As such it was a “sin against God.” Joseph looked at her offer through God’s eyes and saw its
perversity. By accepting God’s standards for moral conduct, Joseph saw the offer as the sin it really was.
How would you have responded had you been in that house in Joseph’s place? Let’s update the scene to make it more
realistic for today. You are flying to another town for a job interview. On the airplane you talk to the person sitting
next to you…and find this person to be charming and witty – to say nothing of being incredibly good looking! You smile
and say good-bye as you walk up the jet ramp into the terminal.
Imagine your surprise later in the day when you meet this individual again…in the lobby of the office building where you
have your interview. And then you learn this person is chief operating officer of the organization. Your meeting is highly
successful, and when it’s over the individual invites you to dinner. The meal is delightful, the conversation relaxed and
friendly. You are having such a wonderful time you are mildly surprised when you discover your host is not only warm
and friendly, this person seated across from you is also married, incredibly wealthy…and very lonely.
As the candles flicker softly, your host reaches across the table and caresses your hand. Speaking almost in a whisper
the individual says, “I’m almost embarrassed to say this to you, but you are incredibly sexy and attractive. I find myself
being drawn to you physically. I know this will sound forward, but I would very much like to spend the night with you.”
You have nothing to lose. You enjoy this person’s company. You know this night could open up great opportunities for
personal advancement. None of your friends will ever know. As the sea of sexual fantasy churns around you,
where can you drop your moral anchor to give you stability? Joseph teaches us that our moral anchor must rest on the
bedrock of God’s absolute standards of right and wrong. Sexual immorality is wrong, and those who commit immorality
sin against God.
Joseph Avoided Tempting Situations
Sometimes silly statements contain a great deal of truth. On the positive side, you can often accomplish a project that
seems too difficult by breaking it down into smaller pieces. As I started writing this book the breadth of the subject
discouraged me. But when I decided to tackle the project “one chapter at a time” it eventually came together.
But this truth has a darker side. Christians who might never agree to plunge completely into a life of sin are
often enticed into that sin “one bite at a time.” Few individuals go directly from a life of sexual purity to gross sexual
immorality. Small choices litter the pathway to sexual immorality…little compromises…incremental movements that take
the individual ever closer toward the edge. The major temptations are easy to spot, the incremental compromises are
often more subtle.
Joseph said no to Potiphar’s wife, but she refused to take no for an answer. Her motto must have been, “If at first you
don’t succeed, try, try again!” She made the same offer to Joseph “day after day” (Genesis 39:10). I assume she tried
slight variations on the same basic theme. One day she wore her most revealing dress…the next day she spent extra
time putting on her makeup…the next day she used the most fragrant perfumes…the next day she tried a subtle
touch as she whispered in his ear. The approach varied, but the offer never changed.
“Come to bed with me!” Potiphar’s wife intended to get Joseph…even if she had to draw him in “one bite at a time.”
Joseph had a problem! Sexual temptation was ever present…ever compelling...ever available. But Joseph “refused to
go to bed with her or even be with her” (Genesis 39:10); his strategy to fight off this woman’s advances was to refuse
them, but also to avoid her.
Were the danger of sexual sin not so serious, we could almost find Joseph’s actions comical. Joseph rearranged his
entire schedule to avoid being in a room alone with Potiphar’s wife. If she was supervising the kitchen staff, Joseph was
checking on the livestock. If she went out into the garden, he managed to find a reason to go inside to inventory the
storehouse. Joseph was a wise man!
In a society saturated with sexual images and offers, it’s easy for us to get sucked into sin “one bite at a time.”
Some who struggle with pornography still go back to websites offering free pornographic pictures or videos. Others stop
to look at the magazine racks in stores. They scan the shelves…their eyes looking for magazines that bring cheap thrills
but no lasting satisfaction. Still others watch the daytime soap operas or movie channels, confusing true romance with
the tawdry affairs and shallow physical relationships that spew from these programs.
So what’s the danger in looking at sexually explicit photographs, seeing one graphic sex scene in a popular film, or
reading such a scene in a novel? It’s not as if we are having an affair ourselves, is it? Yes, it is! Sexual immorality
begins in the mind, in agreeing to tolerate…then enjoy…then long for…then seek out experiences God reserves for
Jesus understood the fact that sexual purity (and sexual immorality) begins in the mind and heart when He said, “You
have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has
already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). The attitude precedes the act. Sometimes the best
defense against sexual temptation is physically to avoid those situations where we can be tempted.
To keep his mind pure Joseph avoided those situations where he could be tempted. Avoidance is a good technique for
sexual purity. Only you and God know the specific areas where you struggle sexually. Admit your weakness and vow to
avoid ever putting yourself in a place where you can be tempted in that area. It might change where you shop, what you
watch on TV, where you place your computer, or where you go on vacation, but it’s a small price to pay for sexual purity.
Joseph Refused to Give In to Sin
Joseph’s plan to avoid tempting situations was fundamentally sound. Under normal circumstances, taking such
precautions would do much to keep an individual pure. But Potiphar’s wife was anything but normal. Joseph made an
elusive target, but Potiphar’s wife remained persistent…and cunning.
This wily woman carefully constructed her trap for Joseph. She first removed the other household servants. I imagine
she sent some to the market…others into the fields…still others on insignificant, but time-consuming, errands. Joseph
would be unable to run to a servant and use that individual to escape. No, this time it would just be she and Joseph in
the house alone…and she would have him to herself.
“One day [Joseph] went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside” (Genesis
39:11). The sound from Joseph’s sandaled feet bounced off the empty halls and echoed back into his ears. The house
was quiet…too quiet. At first, Joseph had focused so intently on his duties he hadn’t noticed the silence. Now the eerie
quiet made him stop…and listen. Not a sound.
Joseph put aside his work and softly began to walk through the house. Where were the servants? Why was the
work not being done? Who had changed the schedule? Joseph was so preoccupied he didn’t notice the shadow
darting across the open doorway in front of him.
Joseph jumped as delicate but powerful hands grabbed the shoulders of his linen cloak and pulled. As the garment
ripped from his body, exposing his nakedness, a sensuous, demanding voice spoke from the shadows. “Come to bed
with me!” (Genesis 39:12).
Turning, Joseph saw Potiphar’s wife. Her seductive dress and leering eyes left no doubt as to her intentions. She
wanted sex with Joseph. Now – on her terms and in her bed! Joseph was trapped. Stripped of his clothes. Alone in the
house. Facing a woman mad with passion.
Some might say, “Why bother to fight it?”
Joseph’s solution was swift, dramatic…and effective! “But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house”
(Genesis 39:12). Run! Flee! Vamoose! Head for the hills! Joseph got his feet in gear and set an Egyptian record for
the hundred-meter dash. And in doing so he became the world’s first “streaker” – running away without even stopping to
wrestle his clothes from the hand of the woman who had ripped them off his body.
When unexpected sexual temptations catch you off guard, don’t take time to analyze, theorize, rationalize…or
compromise. Get out! Immediately! The apostle Paul may have had Joseph in mind when he wrote about sexual
temptations. The way to maintain sexual purity is to flee…just as Joseph did. Paul didn’t mince words. His advice to
those believers living in the moral cesspool called Corinth was, “Flee from sexual immorality” (I Corinthians 6:18). Just
over a decade later he gave the same advice to his young disciple, Timothy. “Flee the evil desires of youth” (II Timothy
What’s the secret to sexual purity? Start by making God’s standards your own. “Do you not know that the wicked will not
inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral…nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor
homosexual offenders…will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:9-10). God condemns all forms of sexual
immorality. Agree with God that sexual purity is the only acceptable standard…and make it your standard.
If you have made a commitment to remain sexually pure, what can you do to keep your vow? First, follow Joseph’s
example and avoid tempting situations. Watch your choice of television programs, movies, magazines, and websites.
Don’t allow yourself to get into a situation where you will be tempted. Second, if you ever find yourself in a situation
where you are being tempted, flee! Get up, walk out, and put as much distance between you and the temptation as
possible. Don’t allow the temptation to gain a foothold in your mind.
WHAT IF I’VE ALREADY FAILED?
I’m enough of a realist to know my words have reached some of you too late to keep you from sexual impurity. Some of
you struggle with an addiction to pornography. Others carry a burden of guilt from past sexual immorality, including
premarital sex or adulterous affairs after marriage. What can you do if you have already crossed God’s barrier and
entered the forbidden zone of sexual immorality?
First, realize that God can, and does, forgive all sin…including the sin of sexual immorality. Our responsibility is to
confess our sin…to acknowledge to God we were wrong and He is right. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just
and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). Why not stop reading right now and
confess your sins to your heavenly Father? If you confess, He will forgive.
Second, commit in your heart to remain sexually pure for the rest of your life. You cannot undo your past…but you can
choose your direction for the future. Follow the example of Joseph by committing to remain pure, avoiding tempting
situations, and fleeing direct temptations.
Third, bathe your mind with God’s Word. One sad reality of sexual immorality is that the sexual images are burned into
our minds. Pornographic magazines, explicit movies, and extramarital sexual encounters leave lasting memories…and
these memories can be as powerful a temptation to you as Potiphar’s wife was to Joseph.
God provides a solution to the “mind pollution” you may have already suffered…the cleansing power of His Word. “Do
not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
Filling your mind with God’s Word, hiding it in your heart, is God’s method for cleansing your mind of the toxic waste left
by past immorality. Psalm 119 focuses on the benefits of God’s Word, especially for gaining mastery over
temptation and sin. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word” (119.9). “Your word is
a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (119:105). “Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over
me” (119:133). Haunted by memories of past immorality? Start cleansing your mind by filling it with the Word of
Fourth, remember that sin has consequences. God can forgive your past sin…but forgiveness doesn’t always eliminate
sin’s consequences. If you have sexual relations with someone to whom you are not married, it is sin. God can forgive
the sin. However, if you contract AIDS or a sexually transmitted disease, God will not automatically take them away when
you confess. You can receive God’s forgiveness for committing rape, but God also ordained human government…and it
will imprison you for your crime.
Sexual sin is serious, and the consequences can linger long after you confess and receive forgiveness. If you have
sinned and have confessed to God, realize that one consequence of your sin may be a limit on your future service for
Him. Be content to serve God in whatever capacity He graciously allows. Also, realize you will need to earn the trust of
those you hurt most by your past failure. Make yourself accountable and prove yourself trustworthy. Earning back trust
is a slow process…but the results are worth the effort.
CHARACTER COUNTS, by Charles H. Dyer, Copyright 2010, Moody Publishers.