June 29: A Way of Escape (yes it’s possible).

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.

Paul’s warning to the Corinthian believers at the start of 1 Corinthians 10 could leave them (and us) thinking that there’s no hope. How could we ever avoid the destruction that he talks about? Am I putting Christ to the test? Am I doomed? Can I escape?

Thank God for these reminders in verse 13.

Paul reminds us of God’s covenant faithfulness. God is faithful. 

He will never abandon us to our own devices. He has made a covenant with you and he will bring it to completion. Christ is the completion of God’s faithfulness to us; his death and our union with that death. In a very real sense God has already destroyed us for our sin and faithlessness. This happened when we were crucified with Christ.

Paul reminds us of the normality of our temptations. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. 

You are never facing a special temptation beyond what any other human faces. All of our hearts are idol making factories. We are all sexually tempted. We all put Christ’s grace to the test every day. And don’t even get me started with grumbling. We all have “misplaced desires, misdirected passions, and self-deceptions and illusions” that we fight every day (Anthony Thiselton, 1 Corinthians).

Paul reminds us that no temptation is irresistible. He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability. 

Listen, the only way a statement like this could be made is if there is a supernatural power at work. How can Paul say to all Christians at all times that they can resist all temptations? Because the ability to resist must be founded upon something beyond ourselves. And that is Christ and his indwelling life in you and through you.

Christ has solved the temptation problem for all believers for all of time. You do not need anything beyond what you already have to resist temptation. Anytime we think we don’t have the ability to resist, we are believing the lie of the Enemy. Anytime we seek, or even pray for, a greater power to resist temptation, we are failing to believe that the life of Christ, that we have inside of us, is already the greatest power we could ever ask for.

God does not tempt us to sin, but he does allow or let us be tempted. Why? Because it allows us to trust in the finished work of Christ again. It allows us to seek the love and grace and forgiveness that he has already placed inside of us. It allows us to depend on Christ our Savior each day. It allows us to image Christ in that dependency and in our faith as we bear up under the temptation.

By the way, some people use this verse to say “God never gives us more than we can handle.” Usually they are speaking of our trials. But this verse is speaking, in context, about the temptation to sin- idolatry, sexual immorality, testing Christ, grumbling (see 1 Corinthians 10:6-12). The truth is, God does allow us to face sufferings beyond what we can handle. This level of hardship, beyond what we can handle, is what turns the suffering into a temptation to sin- to seek an idol, or grumble, or test Christ, or sin sexually. The suffering may be beyond what you can handle, but the temptation to sin will not be beyond what you can escape. That is God’s promise.

Paul reminds us that there is always a way to escape and endure. But with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Our escape comes by faith. Faith in our union with Christ. You are in Christ. Therefore, you have already escaped. Christ is in you. Therefore, you can escape. You can escape by beholding Christ. By trusting his glory and beauty to far outweigh anything else that would draw you away. You can escape by finding joy in the love and acceptance he gives. You can escape by looking ahead to your glorious transformation into Christ’s likeness. And you can escape through death and resurrection in God’s timing. All of these truths allow us to endure the temptation as we find the way out by faith.

Escaping and enduring temptation is a process and it is never easy. And clearly we can even choose to not escape. This is our freedom- not freedom to sin, chase idols, and test Christ. Rather, freedom to escape and endure temptation or not.

How did Jesus endure temptation? How did he escape sin? Yes, he was God. But in his humanity he looked to the love of the Father and his future glory with the Father. He depended on Dad. He let the love of Dad sustain him. He submitted to the good will and way of God. He looked ahead to the “joy set before him.”

“To live is Christ” is to still face temptations of every kind in every place. But it is also to have the power, by faith, to escape those temptations. It is not a guarantee that our situation will change or the temptations will cease. It is a guarantee of love and forgiveness and grace that will power you through those temptations. Even if it means you have to take up the cross, like Christ did, to escape.

How often do you rely on your union with Christ to empower you through temptations? How can 1 Corinthians 10:13 comfort and encourage you today? How does Jesus’ work on the cross make it possible to escape not just punishment, but also temptation to sin?

 

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