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.
I hear Christian’s say all the time “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” I think maybe they’re thinking of Paul’s words here in 1 Corinthians 10:13 when they say this.
But “God won’t give you more than you can handle” is not what 1 Corinthians 10:13 teaches. Honestly, it’s not what the Bible teaches at all. The whole story of the Bible, and of God’s plan of salvation, is actually the opposite. All of life is more than we can handle. If we could handle it all then we wouldn’t need a conqueror, or the cross, or union with Christ.
When we say that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, we’re actually just placing ourselves back under a form of the law, and under our self-saving flesh. “Why are your struggling? God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. Or…Stop being so sad. God hasn’t given you more than you can handle.” So when life feels like more than I can handle that must mean I’m really bad at trusting God, right? When I feel broken and battered by life, it must mean I have to try harder and harder, right?
So what is 1 Corinthians 10:13 actually teaching us?
Trust me, it’s much better than “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” It’s “you can’t handle it so God handled it for you.”
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.
It is exactly because life is beyond what we can handle that we are tempted to sin. When our suffering goes deep, the temptations run wide. Our suffering causes us to desire our idols, or our sexual sin, or our grumbling as a source of relief. But you are never facing a unique temptation beyond what any other human faces. Temptation is a normal part of the Christian life. Each of us has an idol factory still operating in our flesh. Like the Corinthians, we are all sexually tempted, pride filled, complainers (1 Cor. 10:6-12). We all put Christ’s grace to the test every day (10:9).
God is faithful.
But in Christ we are in a covenant with God that he will never, ever break. God will never abandon us in our hour of temptation. How do we know? Because to abandon you is to abandon himself. You are one with him. And God can never deny himself.
He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.
This is a huge promise. In Christ, you never have to sin. Yes, the burdens of life may be beyond what you can bear, but the temptation to sin never is. You always have the ability to escape. Why? Because you are truly free in Christ. Free to embrace sin, or free to escape sin.
But with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
But how? How do we resist temptation?
How did Jesus escape temptation? The same way you and I escape temptation. He looked to the love of the Father and to his future glory with the Father. He submitted to God’s perfect will. He resisted fleeing the cross by looking ahead to the “joy set before him” (Heb. 12:2).
Our escape also comes by this same faith. Faith in our union with Christ.
Christ has already solved the temptation problem for all believers for all of time. You don’t need anything beyond what you already have in him. When you think you can’t resist temptation, or when you think that you need a greater source of power to resist temptation, you’ve already lost the battle. You are failing to believe that the life of Christ in you is all you need for escape.
His great love and grace in you, when fully trusted, is all you need.
“To live is Christ” is to face suffering beyond what we can bear, but it is never to face a temptation beyond what we can bear. Until Christ returns the temptations will always be there. But in Christ, we have all we need to flee. All the hope, all the faith, and all the love we need to take up the cross, and escape into resurrection life.
How do you typically fight off temptations?
You in Christ
Do you rely on your union with Christ to empower you to escape temptations?
Christ in you
Jesus resisted temptation by remembering the love and glory of the Father. How does Jesus’ love for you inspire you to flee temptation?
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