Not as Strong as You Think (1 Corinthians 10:13)
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. —1 Corinthians 10:13
There is so much comfort in this verse. First, it says that there is no unprecedented temptation. Countless others before you have walked through the same temptations, and none of those trials are a surprise to God.
Second, “God is faithful” not to let you have more than you can handle. He will always make a path of faithfulness for you. If you are willing to turn away from the sin, God will make the pathway out clear. There will be a way of escape.
What does that mean? It means that if you sin, it’s all on you. But if you stay faithful, it’s all on God. The same gospel of Jesus Christ that saved you also sustains you. Jesus purchased not only your forgiveness and eternal life, but also the Spirit that indwells you and His own providential care that enables you to say no to sin.
When my wife was pregnant with our son some years ago, she was carrying a pile of cushions, lost her footing on our basement stairs, and had a terrible fall. After an anxious visit to the emergency room, we found that Susan and our unborn son were still safe and sound. Lesson learned, right? Be careful going down stairs where your footing is unsure.
Several days after my wife’s accident, I was about to run down the very stairs that she had fallen down. When I flipped the switch to turn on the light, it flashed and then went out. I thought, No problem. I’ve been down these steps a hundred times. I’m not pregnant. I’m not carrying a pile of cushions. I’ll just run right down. You know what happened next. My feet slipped out from under me, I landed hard on my back, my head snapped back against the step, and I slid down. I hit so hard that my wife heard the thud two flights up and came running down.
It was when I became most confident that I became most vulnerable. And that’s just it. Self-confidence and self-reliance are deadly for the Christian. And they are deadly for you. Don’t be arrogant. You are not as strong as you think you are, but God is. God will provide a way of escape when you need it. You just need to take it. But you won’t be able to take the way of escape if you aren’t looking for it. That’s why in verse 12 He commands, “take heed!”
Where are you relying on yourself to be strong in the face of temptation?
Ask God to help you watch for His escape paths, to stay alert to the way out of temptation.
Repent of past sins and plead with God to change your desires for every commonplace temptation that gives birth to sin.
Denny Burk is Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate school of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He also serves as an Associate Pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church, and is President of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Denny is the author/co-author of several books including Transforming Homosexuality (P&R, 2015) and What Is the Meaning of Sex? (Crossway, 2013). He is married to Susan, and they have four children ages 16, 14, 12, and 9. His children are making their way through the Fighter Verse memory verses every weekday morning and make regular use of memorization through the songs.