Leaving Lust Vegas
September 14, 2003
Something like 30 million people a year visit Las Vegas. There are 850 flights a day that converge on Sin City. I read yesterday that 87% of the people who visit Las Vegas gamble. That’s probably shocking, isn’t it?
When you gamble, what are you doing? You are risking something. You are rolling the dice. You are trying to beat the odds. But, if you go to Las Vegas very much you know, inevitably, the house always wins. You are going to leave Las Vegas a loser. We all know that.
A lot of people are visiting a place called Lust Vegas. During this series, we have talked about people who are literally rolling the dice, playing the odds, and trying to beat the house with their sexuality. Maybe you can identify with the girl in the video. [Ed is referring to the video that was played during the opening music in which a woman commits adultery while her husband is out of town.] Maybe you are risking your sexuality with an adulterous relationship. Maybe you are imprisoned by pornography. Maybe you are captured by a seductive thought life.
Today, in this final session of this series, Just Lust, I am going to talk about a guy that we are going to familiarize ourselves with who did one thing when it came to lust. This guy left Lust Vegas. A lot of us have made decisions during this series to leave Lust Vegas. That’s a great thing, an awesome thing!
I’m going to do something that I have never done before. As I tell you the story about this young man and how he left the city limits of lust, I am going to bring up some highlights from the other talks. The guy I am talking about that I want us to know, understand, and get up close and personal with is a guy named Joseph. I’m not talking about the adopted father of Jesus, Joseph. No. I’m talking about Genesis, Chapter 39, Joseph.
Let me give you the Cliffs Notes of his life. Joseph was an amazing guy. He grew up in a dysfunctional family. I mean, his family put the “dys” in dysfunctional. This guy’s family was crazy. His dad had multiple wives and concubines. There was incest, jealousy, and strife. You name it and Joseph was brought up in it.
His father made a major parenting error. His father told everybody and showed everybody that Joseph was his favorite child, the apple of his eye, the golden boy. His dad went to a local mall and bought Joseph a Versace robe to show everybody that he was the man. The Bible called his wardrobe expensive. There was one specific coat that advertised the fact that he was his father’s main man. His brothers became jealous. They became enraged and they stripped this coat off of Joe, killed an animal and smeared its blood on the coat. Then they ran to their father and said, “Dad, it’s terrible! A wild animal ate Joseph alive!” They were lying. A wild animal didn’t take Joe out. These brothers had thrown Joseph into a pit. Some Ishmaelites were traveling by with their caravan on their way to Egypt and Joseph’s brothers … are you ready for this? His own flesh and blood sold him into slavery. The Ishmaelites took him to Egypt and put him on the trading block, just like a piece of meat, just like an animal. You have to understand something about the Egyptian culture. It was a culture of contrasts. You had people who were dirt poor on one hand. On the other hand, you had people who were rolling in the serious “bling-bling.” If you are over thirty, “bling-bling” means serious money, serious cash, wealthy, the upper crust, okay?
Potiphar was a guy who was bling-blinging. Potiphar was head of the CIA and FBI in Egypt — a heavy hitter. Potiphar saw Joseph and bought him. Now, just for a second, put yourself in Joseph’s shoes … no … sandals. He was a kid, a teenager, who grew up in a whacked-out household, but he loved the Lord. He developed his leadership skills there with his family. He was a pure guy. Now, he was thrust into a very perverted culture. Wife swapping was the norm. Immorality was a-okay. Everything was wheels off in Egypt. Joseph found himself being purchased by Potiphar. Can you just imagine how Joseph felt when he was escorted into Potiphar’s palatial mansion with the beautiful sphinx statues, the columns, the beautiful rugs, the gold silverware and the candles? To top that off, Potiphar’s wife was there. Oh, you talk about eye candy! You are talking about Miss Egypt 500 BC. I mean, this girl was awesome looking. She was hot. She was a babe. That is what Joseph was dealing with.
Well, let’s check him out. Genesis 39:3-4 reads, “When his master (that’s Potiphar, P. Diddy) saw that the Lord was with him…” He saw, Potiphar saw, that the Lord was with Joseph. Joseph didn’t have to take a Bible and say, “Hey, I’m a follower of the Lord and if you don’t turn, you will burn.” No, he just saw it. He just saw, “that the Lord had given him success in everything he did.” Look at Verse 4, “Joseph found favor, (he found blessing, you could say) in Potiphar’s eyes, and became his attendant.” What does that mean? Well, Potiphar (P. Diddy) put Joseph in charge of his household and [the verse reads], “He entrusted (remember that word “entrusted” – put that in your frontal lobe) to his care everything he owned.” Now check this out. Here’s our boy, Joseph, from a dysfunctional family, sold into slavery and now he finds himself working as a slave for Potiphar. Suddenly, because of his work ethic, because of his integrity, and because of his love for the Lord he is the man. He is running this mansion. If we keep reading the Scripture, we discover that the only worry Potiphar had was what he would have for dinner. That was it. Joseph was in charge of everything else.
Here is a biblical principle that you must get down, friends. The greater the blessing, the greater the temptation. The greater the favor of God and the greater you are walking in God’s will, the greater the Evil One will ratchet up the temptation process. It happens.
A friend of mine, a while back over dinner, told me this, “Ed, when people are climbing the ladder, when they are climbing up the corporate ladder, when they are trying to build a client base, when they are trying to start the company, when they are trying to start the church rarely do they fall into sexual sin. People fall into sexual sin when they get on top of the ladder.”
You’ve climbed ladders before, haven’t you? When you are climbing, it’s no problem. Once you get to the top, there is not that much support and you can fall. We need to be very careful. God wants to bless every single person hearing my voice. Don’t question it. Don’t doubt it. God wants to bless you. God has greatness in store for all of our lives. That’s precisely why the Evil One wants to come in and wants us to travel down this road of lust. We have to be on guard. Lust can strike at any time, day or night. No one is immune from lust. Joseph wasn’t. You’re not. I’m not either.
[A video clip of a previous message is played. Ed is talking about a time that he was tempted by lust and how he stayed pure in the moment and didn’t allow Satan to paint the picture in his mind. Rather, he supplied God with the tools to paint a pure image]
Be honest with me. Which painter are you supplying? The Bible says this about Joseph in Genesis 39:6, “Now Joseph was well-built and handsome.” If you look at those phrases, “well-built” and “handsome” in Hebrew, you’ll find that means he was ripped. It means he was buff. He was the Mack Daddy. Whatever you want to say. Look at Verse 7, “After a while his master’s wife (that’s Potiphar’s wife, Miss Egypt 500BC) took notice of Joseph.” I mean, you couldn’t help, ladies, but take notice of Joseph. You couldn’t help it. And she said, and this is very subtle, “Come to bed with me.”
When you take notice of someone who is buff or beautiful, is that lust? No. That’s not lust. We are going to notice members of the opposite sex. We are going to be attracted to members of the opposite sex. Lust comes into play when an attraction segues into an illicit sexual action that is mental, visual, emotional or physical. That’s when we have lust. So, Potiphar’s wife noticed Joe. Who wouldn’t? That’s not lust. Lust, though, happened when this God-given desire went haywire, when she lost it and she traveled down the road of lust. What was going on? Simply this. Potiphar’s wife had Bug Eyes.
[A video clip of the message “Bug Eyes” from earlier in the series is played on the side screens. Ed is describing the kind of “eyes” we have when lust comes into the picture]
Potiphar’s wife had Bug Eyes – Bug Eyes for Joseph, Bug Eyes for lust. On the other hand, Joseph had Mobile Eyes. We are going to be attracted, we are going to notice members of the opposite sex. It’s what we do with our eyes. The look is fine. It’s the lingering that messes us up. That’s why our eyes must be mobile. They should bounce from one object to the next.
Well, the plot clots. Genesis 39:8 says, “He refused.” Joseph refused. [The verse reads] “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted (there’s that word again) to my care.” Joseph understood the concept of stewardship.
We all have unique abilities and gifts. I have gifts that you don’t have and you have talents that I don’t have. Take a wild guess where they come from. They come from God. He has given these gifts to us and he wants us to give them back to him in their most developed fashion as an act of worship. God has given us relationships, marriages, families, mothers and fathers. We are to be stewards of them. God has given each of us a certain amount of money. Some here have a little small pile. Some have a medium size pile. Some here have big honkin’ piles of money. I’ve got news for you. Your money is not your money. You just manage it for a while. You are just a steward. I’m a steward. Stewards are we. One day, though, we are going to be held accountable financially concerning how we handled the stuff that God has given us. God has given us the local church. We are going to be held accountable concerning what we did with the local church. Did we keep our distance from it? Did we do the Heisman [Ed poses like the Heisman trophy] or did we orbit our lives around it? Our sexuality is a gift from God. God has given it to us and we are to steward it. God wants greatness from us in the sexual area. The only way we will ever achieve greatness sexually is doing sex God’s way. The designer’s sex is one man and one woman in the guidelines and guardrails of marriage, period.
Joseph understood stewardship. He understood how important his life was. Look at Verse 10, “And though she spoke to Joseph day after day…” Now, at first glance you would say, “Man, this happened quick. This whole deal with Joseph happened in a couple of weeks.” No. Scholars will tell you Potiphar’s wife tempted Joseph for about ten years. Are you ready for that one? Ten years – day in and day out. She was relentless. [Ed reads the verse again] “And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her.” He said no. Was it because he was some supersonic disciplined guy, in and of himself? No, it was because of the grace, the power and the octane of the Lord. God gave him the strength. So he refused to go to bed with her. And check the last phrase of the verse out. He refused to, “even to be with her.”
Let me sit down and talk to you about affairs, or committing adultery. People usually commit adultery with friends. They meet them at the office — that attractive co-worker. You begin to spend time with this person — long, lingering lunches. You begin to make excuses to see this person. When they call in sick, you say, “Wow, I really miss them.” That’s what happened to the girl in the video. [Ed is again referring to the video prior to the message] It slowly began to take shape and began to roll and it began to intensify. Then you begin to share things you shouldn’t share with a member of the opposite sex. Then you have the emotional lock. Then it’s just a matter of time before you are in bed with the person. Often times, adultery occurs amongst friends.
You need to be very careful who your friends are, husband and wife. They need to have the same marital commitment, the purity that you share with your spouse. Be very careful about how you relate to your friend’s spouse. Never relate to your friend’s spouse without your friend being there or without being in the context of your friendship. Because if you isolate the friendship with the friend’s spouse, and you begin to share stuff you shouldn’t share, stuff about your marriage, stuff about your feelings, you are playing around with fire. And you can’t play with lust. If you gamble, if you roll the dice, if you try to beat the house, then you will lose every time. That’s why we are going to find out there is one thing we have got to do when sexual temptation comes our way. We will see that in a second.
Joseph, a man who followed the Lord; Joseph, a stand up guy; Joseph, a leader; Joseph, a guy who has moved from the pit to the pinnacle didn’t allow lust to gain leverage in his life.
[A video clip of the message Just This Once is played on the side screens. In the clip, Ed is talking about how lust always lies to us]
A faith that can’t be tested is a faith that can’t be trusted. Check out this test that occurred. God uses every experience in our life. Genesis 39:11 says, “One day he (being Joseph) went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside.” He was just going about his daily tasks, just doing his deal. We always have to be on guard. We always have to be watchful for sexual temptation. The Evil One wanted to take Joseph down. He wanted to get Joseph to miss God’s best for his life. God wanted to use the opportunity to strengthen Joseph, to test him, so he could emerge stronger and better. The Evil One customizes his temptation. He has a customized plan to take you out, to take me out, to mess you up, and to mess me up. We’ve got to be on guard.
Look at Genesis 39:12. “She caught him by his cloak and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’” She was saying, “Let’s do it right now.” But Joseph wasn’t going there.
In my book, Fatal Distractions, I told the story of a snake that my father captured. He put the snake in the jar. I wasn’t sure if the snake was poisonous or not, nor was he. He said, “Ed, don’t touch the snake. You understand me?” Then he walked inside. What do you think I did? I looked at that snake and I said, “Man, this snake is not poisonous. I’ve watched all the outdoor shows.” So I unscrewed the top of the jar. All my neighborhood friends were going, “Ed, don’t do it. Don’t do it.” I said, “Man, chill!” I reached my hand in there and picked up the snake. Everybody was going, “Wow, look at Ed, man! He’s a snake handler. This guy is incredible!” I was going, “Yeah, you know, you’ve just got to know your snakes.” Suddenly and without warning, he just cranked down on my left index finger and he was just hanging there. I was trying to shake him off, but he wouldn’t go off. I began to scream and cry. Thank God the snake was non-poisonous. What happened? I made a pet out of the snake.
If you make a pet out of the sin, if you make a pet out of the lust in your life, eventually it’s going to bite you. It’s going to nail you. Many of you have made a pet out of lust. Here’s what you do.
[A video clip of the message, Prime Time Porn, is played. Ed tells the story of the red lizard of lust written by C.S. Lewis]
How do we break the back of the lizard of lust? We do what Joseph did. Potiphar’s wife grabbed him by the cloak and said, “Have sex with me.” But you will see what Joseph did. Look at Verse 12, “Joseph ran out of the house.” He removed himself from the situation. Whenever you see sexual temptation mentioned in the New Testament, you always see the word “flee” or God telling us about running or removing yourself from the encounter. That’s how powerful it is. That’s how multi-faceted and multi-dimensional it is.
Do you know why people have so much guilt and shame and remorse when they have sex outside of marriage? Because sex is a God thing. Even those people who don’t know Christ personally, if you would talk to them or you counsel them, they will talk to you about the shame, the remorse, the guilt and the weight they feel. They don’t realize it, but they are taking something pure, beautiful, and holy and they are trashing it. They are taking a God-given desire and using it in a God-forbidden way. God wants to save you and me from all of that junk. That’s why he says, “Do sex my way.” Who is Potiphar’s wife in your life? Who is that individual luring you? Who is that entity, that website or that club that is saying, “Hey, come on in. Have sex with me. Hey, experience me.” Who? We’ve got to flee. We’ve got to run.
You may be asking, “Well, Ed, what happened to Joseph after he ran? Surely, the guy was blessed by God with incredible stuff?”
Do you know what happened to him? He was falsely accused for a crime he did not commit. He was innocent. When we stand for the Lord, when we do what he wants us to do, so often we will be falsely accused. Insults will be hurled at us. People will trash us. Joseph was thrown into prison. God though, blessed him. God was with him. Because of God’s anointing, Joseph was promoted by the warden to the top position in the prison. From there, if you read the rest of the story (as Paul Harvey says), you’ll see that he became second in command to the entire political system and leadership structure of the nation of Egypt. You talk about “bling-blinging!” The blessings of God were all over him.
What do you do when you face sexual temptation? What do you do when your Potiphar’s wife says, “Come to bed with me, have sex with me,” what do you do? You flee. You leave. You walk on. Walk on.