No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it. —1 Corinthians 10:13
As I poured over this passage, I was surprised to discover that while it’s a great verse for every Christian in the world, it’s particularly addressed to veteran Christians who have been on the road awhile. At the end of the previous chapter, Paul admitted, “I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself should not be disqualified.”
In chapter 10 he brought up the subject of the Israelites, who, having started toward the promised land with soaring aspirations, messed up en route. They passed through the Red Sea, feasted on manna, and drank water from the rock. But they were detoured by their own failings and faithlessness.
“Now these things… were written as a warning to us, on whom the ends of the ages have come,” said Paul. “Therefore, whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common” (1 Cor. 10:11-13).
Paul, a veteran missionary, struggled to remain disciplined in his life. The Israelites, having experienced the most unique set of miracles in the Old Testament, stumbled. However mature our Christian experience, we’re not beyond the danger of those temptations common to everyone. But God is faithful. He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we’re able to bear but will provide a way of escape.
The Greek term for “a way of escape” was the word used for a passageway out of a canyon. Sometimes people wandered into ravines and couldn’t see any pathway out. They thought they were trapped. But if they looked hard enough, there was a goat path somewhere, a way out.
Our best escape route is intentionally staying close to Christ on a daily and hourly basis. Having successfully resisted temptation Himself, He knows the way out of the canyon.
When athletes are arrested during brawls at places like strip clubs and dog fights, we say, “How stupid! Why would they risk their millions of fans and million-dollar contracts by deliberately putting themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time?” Yet we do the same thing when we go anywhere that exposes our hearts to needless temptation. It could be an entertainment venue, a girlfriend’s apartment, a computer screen, a nightspot, some sort of catalog, or even a shopping mall. It’s like the man who told his doctor that he had broken his arm in two places. The doctor said, “Well, stop going to those two places.”
Temptation is the tempter looking through the keyhole into the room where you’re living; sin is your drawing back the bolt and making it possible for him to enter. —J. Wilbur Chapman
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