Sin: It Starts With a Thought.

Oscar Wilde said, “I can resist everything except temptation.” That’s the problem with temptation. It’s so tempting. But sometimes we unnecessarily put ourselves in the way of it.

In the Old Testament, we find the story of Joseph, someone who faced some heavy-duty temptation. Joseph’s world suddenly changed when his brothers sold him to a group of traveling slave traders. Overnight he went from a life of relative comfort to a life of uncertainty.

Joseph was sent to Egypt, a pagan country filled with religious superstition. The Egyptians worshiped as many as 2,000 gods and goddesses, as well as animals, insects and the Nile River. And of course they worshiped the Pharaoh himself. They also were given over to gross immorality.

Here in this place of wickedness and idolatry, 17-year-old Joseph arrived on the scene. He was effectively a country boy coming to the big city. Joseph was purchased by a man named Potiphar, identified in Genesis 39:1 as “captain of the guard.” This meant Potiphar was a high-ranking Egyptian official, head of the military police. He also was in charge of the royal bodyguard (a Secret Service of sorts) and was the chief of the executioners. In other words, Potiphar was one bad dude.

Joseph, however, wasn’t intimidated at all. Why? Genesis 39:2 gives us the answer: “The LORD was with Joseph” (NKJV). Joseph was a classic example of Psalm 1, which says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season” (verses 1–3 NKJV).

Potiphar was a hard guy to work for, but Joseph worked with complete integrity. Joseph was so successful at what he did that Potiphar made him his executive assistant. He was second in command in Potiphar’s household.

Sometimes when things are going well, we become more vulnerable. When we can’t always make ends meet, or we’re sick, or we’re having challenges, we are dependent on God. But when things are going well, when we have a little extra money in the bank and our health is good, that is when temptation will hit. That’s when it hit Joseph.

Genesis 39 tells us that “Potiphar’s wife soon began to look at him lustfully. ‘Come and sleep with me,’ she demanded” (verse 7 NLT).

But Joseph refused. He told her, “How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God” (verse 9 NLT). Joseph’s no to Potiphar’s wife was a yes to God.

From that point on, Joseph did his best to steer clear of her. But then we’re told, “One day, however, no one else was around when he went in to do his work. She came and grabbed him by his cloak, demanding, ‘Come on, sleep with me!’ Joseph tore himself away, but he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house” (verses 11–12 NLT).

That’s the way you deal with sin. You turn around and run. You put as much distance between it and yourself as you possibly can.

Maybe you’re living in an ungodly place right now. Maybe you’re the only believer in your family or the only Christian in your neighborhood. Maybe you’re the only Christian in your classroom or in your workplace. You know what it’s like to be in a wicked place. You’re thinking, “It’s hard. I’m surrounded by temptation day and night. I don’t know that I can stay pure in a place like this.”

Joseph was able to. And his life shows us there is a blessing waiting for the man or the woman who resists temptation. I know it’s hard in the moment. I know the pressure is on. I know it isn’t easy. But say no to temptation, and you will be blessed. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (NKJV). That word blessed could just as easily be translated “happy.” Happy is the man or the woman who resists temptation.

Everyone will be tempted. But temptation isn’t a sin; it is a call to battle. It can even be an indication that you’re moving in the right direction. After all, Jesus was tempted at the beginning and the end of his ministry. If he faced it, why do we think it will be any different for us?

There are consequences to sin. Joseph understood that. No matter how clever someone thinks they have been in covering it up, their sin will find them out.

God’s standards are absolute; they don’t change. Even if what you’re being tempted to do might be socially acceptable, even though everyone is doing it, it doesn’t matter. God holds us to a higher standard.

Realize that all sin is against God. Our love for God should be our greatest deterrent against sin.

As for Joseph, he prospered. But that prosperity included spending some time in prison after Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him of rape. It looked like a bleak scenario, but things worked out very well for Joseph in the end.

Maybe you’ve been considering something that you know is wrong before God. You’ve said, “I’m not doing it yet. I’m just thinking about it.”

Don’t even think about it. It has been said, “Sow a thought, reap an act; sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” It starts with a thought. Don’t even start down that road.

Joseph lived a godly life, and you can live a godly life, too. God will give you the strength to be the man or woman he wants you to be.


25 thoughts on “Sin: It Starts With a Thought.”

  1. axel says:

    This is my favorite article now because all this applies to me. I’m the only Christian in my neighborhood.

    Please pray for me to stop thinking about masturbation, pornography, and other uncontrollable thoughts.

    1. Jason says:

      Axel, congrats bud! That’s half of the battle, bringing the darkness into light. Pornography truly is tearing apart men and the family. I pray for you and your situation. There are quite a few articles to read and men’s groups you can become part of. Look into the Conquer Series- battle plan for purity. I am just starting this series at a local church with a group of men and so far it’s great. You can do it, crush the devil and his temptations. Matthew 16:23 “Get behind me Satan”

  2. Anonymous says:


  3. Donna says:

    My husband and I moved across the country and worked together at the same company, different departments. He left me after 34 years of marriage, for her. At the time, she was 33 and on her second marriage. So they both left their spouses and promptly moved in together!
    I am 55 years old am starting my life over piece by piece. It has been the most difficult event of my entire life.
    Here is what I think about this. Sin must be like a drug, once you act on it, you are hooked! He has not shown one ounce of concern for me since he took the leap, like a light switch, just turned me right off.

    1. Jason says:

      Donna, I’m sorry to hear about your situation. Just know that God loves you and will never leave you. Draw closer to Him and put your faith in the Lord. Be Blessed!

      1. Donna says:

        Thank you Jason. Believe me when I say, if I didn’t have God in my life, I would not be here today. He brought me to it, He will get me through it. He has been right here next to me every single second in my journey. It has been a year since this happened, and am doing much better mentally and emotionally than I was last year. He has built me up and I will continue to shine with Him and for Him.

  4. Lisa says:

    I have followed Greg for many years and have listened to many of his messages. I was amazed to see his blog in my email early this morning.

    See if been back slidden, struggling with sin and condemnation. Trying to get close to God once again and be faithful. I’m not doing well.

    I know God had me read this because just yesterday he showed me how it starts with a thought.

    I’ve always been so encouraged or ever more so in awe of how Joseph defeated all the temptations he encountered.

    I long to be able to do the same in Christ because I love him.

    I reach out to this beautiful community because I need prayer.

    Thank you for the comments my heart and prayers to you all as well.

    1. Jason says:

      Lisa, I’m praying for you. Any time you feel temptation think Matthew 16:23 and tell satan to get behind you. Keep your faith in God. You can do it! Be blessed

  5. Mary says:

    Proverbs 18:10 –
    The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

  6. Mark Betson says:

    Jason, I am praying for you, God IS it is nothing to hard for God whenwe believe in Jesus Christ name Aman.

  7. Norma says:

    Very deep:but yet so True for me;Sow a thought, reap an act; sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” It starts with a thought. Thank You I need to remind myself this very day.

  8. Joey Trevino says:

    God forgives and does not want divorce or even separation. He says in Mark 10:9 “Therfore what God has joined together, let man not seperate.” Divorce is man made not by god. He also says delight yourself in the lord and he will grant you the desires of your heart. So i believe he will restore your marriage and the love yall have for one another. Hes the God of life not death so he can bring back what the devil tried to destroy have faith my brother and trust in him that what you have asked of him he will do but he needs you to give him your all…

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Greg! I needed that reminder and assurance that with God’s help, we can resist temptation. God Bless You! Chuck

  10. Mark Higgins says:

    wow. In my moment of dispair i asked to be forgiven for i had lost my way over 20 years ago. As i was taking a shower i asked myself, how come i only seek you when i am financialy and morally bankrupt. After my shower i decided to go on my phone and get some enlightenment for i had just signed up to Greg Lauries harvest website. So i open my phone and this is what i saw. Thank you Joseph. Thank you Lord for i am truly blessed to be back in your arms again. Thanks for not giving up on me. Thank You Pastor Laurie, for it was you opened my eyes 20 years ago when you were in Costa Mesa. The way you preach the gospel is inspiring. This here sheep is finally returning to your flock. Humbly yours
    Mark Higgins

    1. Tiff says:

      Welcome back! Praise God that He has been with you even while you were away. Continue to surrender to Him and God will take you to places you never imagined! Peace be with you!

  11. Mike says:

    Wow that’s awesome # beautifully written!!!!

  12. Eric says:

    Thanks, I needed that today!

  13. John Shelton says:

    Like the old commercial where the guy applies skin bracer after shave and exclaims, ” thanks, I needed that!” I NEEDED THAT!
    Thanks. And God bless you and yours.

  14. Jason says:

    This was nice to read. I wish I had read it months ago out of my desire to, not because I’m searching for healing and wanting to save my marriage. I, like Joseph, was tempted by another woman. I would love to turn back time with this reading in my mind and a strong will to turn away from temptation. It was texting and sharing inappropriate photos back and forth with another woman that lead to my problem. With my wife who had a suspicion I was being sneaky with my phone came to find when she asked to see what I had been texting with a friend about. In the deleted photo area is where she found images of myself and of the other woman whom I was texting with. Of all days of coarse on our anniversary morning was the last photo dated. It has been a tremendous blow to my wife and her trust for me. I really hope that in my weakness to not push away this outside temptation that I have not caused irreversible damage to my marriage and my family. We are currently in separation at her request. I am extremely torn up over it and the fact that I hurt my best friend, my wife in this way. I pray to God that she has it in her heart to forgive me and that this will not lead to divorce. Any prayers from those reading this would be greatly appreciated. I believe pastor Greg said once that “if anyone who has or is considering committing an adulterous act could flash forward and see the hurt and pain cause by it to their family, it should stop them in their tracks.” My hope is that this may help someone who is not quite in my shoes but on their way to wearing them. Be Blessed

    1. Margarita Wallace says:

      Forgiveness is possible…my husband and i both hurt each other like this, but with God’s help and guidance we are still married..forgiveness starts with you forgiving yourself and keep your marriage in prayers and in Gods hands and allow him to fix you first then your marriage…God bless!

      1. Jason says:

        Thank you Margarita, i certainly needed some encouragement. I know that with making God number one in my life that everything else will fall into place. I truly am repentant and feel more spiritually equipped to battle satan and evil temptations. I have had the feeling of hating myself for this situation that I have gotten into. It certainly is hard to forgive yourself when others are suffering. With Gods grace I’m working on it.

    2. Anonymous says:

      Be patient wait on the lord, I was you few years back and finally cried out to God and said this is enough, he heard me and 9 months later my wife and I who were on our way to a divorce got back together. God is great and we just celebrated our 25 the anniversary, again wait on the lord.

    3. Tiff says:

      Praying… Give your wife time to heal. May you use this time to build a strong foundation in God! Surrender everything. Peace.

    4. Frank T. says:

      Very thoughtful of you to share. You have a good heart. Stand on God’s word and ask Him for forgiveness FIRST.

  15. Renee says:

    This was beautifully said. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.