“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13)
It is a common Christian cliché today to say that “God will never put on you more than you can bear”. This verse in 1 Cor. 10:13 is typically used to support that statement. However, this verse does not teach that God will never put more on you than you can bear. Actually, a studious reading of this text will find that God typically will put on you more than you can bear by yourself. In the midst of those overwhelming situations, God has promised that he will give us a way of escape with grace sufficient to embolden us with God’s strength to be able to bear up under that trial. The same writer of 1 Cor. 10:13, the Apostle Paul felt that God had previously put on him more than he could bear; he had been “pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life” (2 Cor. 1:8). Paul felt pressured beyond his own strength, pressed beyond what he could bear in and of himself. Moses, Job, and Elijah all felt their trials were too much to bear and requested God to take their life. It often takes fierce, apparently overwhelming, trials in our lives for us to be reminded of our own insufficiency and how dependent we truly are upon God for everything. Truly, without Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5). However, praise God in spite of our weakness that we are empowered to still do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13). When the storms of life are raging, we trust God’s faithfulness and providence to empower us with sustaining strength and grace sufficient during our great times of need.
In the preceding verses in 1 Cor. 10:1-12, Paul is warning the Corinth church to take heed of the past mistakes of God’s chosen people in the Old Testament. Even though they all received great spiritual blessings in drinking of the spiritual Rock that was Christ (v.4), they still succumbed to temptation and eventually died in the wilderness. Look at the temptations that God’s chosen people in the Old Testament were enticed by and ultimately succumbed to: lust after evil things (v.6), idolatry and revelry (v.7), fornication (v.8), tempting Christ (v.9), and murmuring against God (v.10). Paul warns the Corinthians to take heed of these examples lest they be enticed to succumb to temptation and sin. We need to heed this same warning today as well. We are all susceptible to enticement by lust, idolatry, fornication, murmuring, and tempting Christ. We ought not have a false sense of invincibility. If anyone thinks they are above these sins and there is no way they could fall into these sins, that is a prime target for Satan to viciously attack. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (v.12) We don’t place confidence in our own ability or strength to stand and remain faithful to God. Instead, we acknowledge our weakness and total dependence upon God to strengthen us to stand in the evil day. Right after this word of caution for us to take heed lest we fall (v.12), he gives encouragement that God is faithful to sustain us with providential deliverance in every tribulation (v.13). We need to be vigilant to not be enticed to sin in temptation, but we also need to remember that God is right there with us sustaining us in the temptation. It is our responsibility to “work out” what God has already “worked in” us, but ultimately the power of God is working in us to empower us according to his own will and good pleasure. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13)
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man.
We have seen that temptation is a common experience for God’s people in this world. Paul gives examples of common temptation among God’s people in the Old Testament, and no doubt our experiences in life will testify to us that these temptations are common to God’s children today as well. Many people get a “woe is me” complex and think that their situation is worse than anyone has ever had before. “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows my sorrows.” No, actually any temptation we might face is “common” to man. We are never the first person to endure any temptation; it is common to man. “There is no new thing under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9). The circumstances of our temptation might look a lot different in the 21st century than in the Old Testament or 1st century times, but the “substance” or “cause” of our temptations are no different than any saints centuries ago. Satan is the main instigator of our temptation; he is called the “tempter” (Matt. 4:3, 1 Thess. 3:5). When man is tempted, he is drawn away of his own lusts and enticed (James 1:13-15). The temptation formula is always the same regardless of how the individual circumstances change: Satan + man’s lust → sin → death. We don’t need to think that we are special or unique in our temptation; temptation is common to man.
Since temptation is common to man, Jesus Christ as the Son of man was tempted in all points as we are tempted. Jesus endured temptation for 40 days from the devil (Matt. 4:1-11). Jesus was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Since Jesus suffered during temptation by Satan, he is properly equipped to succor them that are tempted. “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” (Heb. 2:18) As a man, Jesus knows the suffering that takes place in severe temptation, and therefore, he is properly qualified to succor and intercede for us when we are suffering in temptation. It should be a tremendous blessing to us that temptation is common to man. My temptation is not a new problem that God has to now figure out how to handle. It is a tremendous encouragement to us because that means there are people who God has blessed to endure and escape this temptation in the past. If God has blessed others to conquer this common temptation in the past, he will also bless me to escape this temptation today.
The word “temptation” here – Greek “peirasmos” – means “a putting to proof by experiment; to try or test by adversity”. Scripture is clear that God cannot be tempted with evil and does not tempt any man with evil either (James 1:13-15). According to God’s will, the Lord does allow his children to be tested, to be proved by experimentation that is here described as temptation. Temptation is inevitable in our lives and is common to human life in this world. While temptation is common, the outcome of our temptation is dictated by our response. In the midst of the testing of our faith, we have a choice for how we respond to temptation when it comes in our lives. As we see in this definition of temptation, this tempting is oftentimes equated to the “trying” or testing of our faith. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive a crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” (James 1:12) We are in a blessed condition when we respond properly to temptation and faithfully endure the trial to the honor and glory of God. “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Rev. 3:10) The hours of temptation that come in our lives are suffered by the will of God to try, prove, and test our faith.
God oftentimes suffers trials to come in our life for the purpose of purification. Our lives are oftentimes filled with dross that needs to be refined out (Prov. 25:4). How is the dross taken away from the silver to reveal a final vessel for the finer? The dross is taken away by heat, by fire, by melting away the dross. Therefore, according to his will, God suffers his children to go through the fiery trials of temptation to purge out the dross and make them a vessel more meet for the Master’s use. “6) Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7) That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (1 Pet. 1:6-7) The trial of our faith is tested by fire. Then, after we have trusted God in faith during the midst of that trial, we will come out the other side more purified gold than we began, purer in service to God. Consider the example of the fiery trials God suffered in the life of Job by removing his providential hedge from his life. Job endured fiery trials that purified him because he trusted God in faith in the midst of the trial. Job believed that after this trial was over, after he was purified by this fire as gold, that he would come forth as a vessel more meet for the Master’s use. “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10) Job’s faithfulness in his fiery trial was rewarded. He was blessed at the end of his fiery trial with literally twice as many material possessions and children as he had before, and he gave an amazing testimony for millions of God’s children for how to honorably endure tribulation in faith.
We see that God tested Abraham’s faith in a great way by commanding him to offer his son Isaac. We are told that “God did tempt Abraham” (Gen. 22:1). In the KJV translators’ alternate wording, the equivalent word for “tempt” here is “test”. God tested Abraham’s faith if he really believed the promise of God to even raise his son from the dead, if necessary. Abraham proved his faith as authentic and reliable and was willing to offer Isaac before God blessed the angel to stop him and provide a ram in Isaac’s stead. In like manner, God will allow circumstances in our life to test our faith and strengthen us in our walk with God for both current and future trials. However, we need to remember the warning of Paul and the Holy Spirit right before this encouraging verse. We must be vigilant to take heed lest we fall. When the inevitable temptations come, how we respond determines what the outcome will be. What is the identifying factor for overcoming or falling during temptations? It is faith and trust in God. Abraham still had a choice to trust God in faith or not. All those who trusted in God’s strength during their trial were blessed to be purified and strengthened in their trial – Job, Abraham, 1 Pet. 1:6-7, Rom. 5:3-5, etc. However, scripture (and our lives as well) are full of people who trusted in themselves, were overcome with sin, fell during the temptation, and just like the Israelites were overthrown in the wilderness. We have to be vigilant to trust in God’s faithfulness during temptation because Jesus taught in the parable of the sower that some children of God “in the time of temptation fall away” in the stony ground (Luke 8:13). What is the difference between overcoming or falling away when temptations come in our life? We will overcome temptations when we trust that God will sustain and providentially bless us during those trials. If we rely on God in faith, the Lord will sustain us. If we rely on ourselves during temptations, we shall fall.
but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able;
The real lesson that God is trying to teach his children in tribulation is that “God is faithful” no matter what. That is one of the main reasons that God suffers these trials in our lives so that we can learn firsthand God’s faithfulness in every situation and every season of life. That is the reality we must live in every single day, that regardless of the severity of the trial, God will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). It doesn’t matter how severe the trial might appear to be; the rivers will not overflow you, and the flame will not burn you. Why do we have the confidence in God that we will not be overtaken? Because God has promised, “I will be with thee”. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” (Isaiah 43:2) When we have this faith perspective, we can now glory in tribulations (Rom. 5:3-5). We endure the tribulation that works patience or endurance in our lives. God’s faithfulness each time will give us “experiences” that we can rely on in the next trial. Then, our hope is strengthened which is the substance and foundation of faith. These trials of God’s faithfulness give us experiences to rely upon the next time that a fiery trial will come. Many of us don’t really trust in merely academic lessons; we must test the hypotheses firsthand to really believe them. That is what experiences of faith give us. These are times that God has proved Himself faithful that we have learned firsthand in the school of hard knocks in life, not just sitting through a lecture or sermon. Our faith in God is strengthened because we have seen God’s faithfulness firsthand on the battlefield in our lives. We are better equipped to not wither under the next trial because our past experiences of God’s faithfulness give us faith and courage to conquer this next trial that is upcoming. That is God’s ordained “hope formula” (Rom. 5:3-5) to build our faith and trust in God’s faithfulness.
It is common in Christianity today for a well-meaning person to attempt to encourage a struggling believer by assuring them that “God will never put on you more than you can bear”. While that may sound somewhat encouraging in the moment, this admonition is not scriptural. Actually, we could easily say the opposite is true – God will typically put on you more than you can bear by yourself. God will suffer this heavy load to break our faulty self-dependence and bring us to trust in God. God “suffers” our temptation in our lives according to his own will and purpose. God does not cause sin to happen in our life; sin and temptation come naturally in this world, and thus, sin and the effects of sin will naturally touch our lives. God does not cause sin, but God will “suffer” temptations to come in our lives for his will that can be used for our growth and his glory if we respond properly by his grace. No temptation can come in our life but according to the will of God. The Lord can actively stop any temptation that occurs in this world. Therefore, we see the temptations that come in our life are providentially suffered by God as an opportunity for purification and God’s glory. We see from Job that God must remove his providential hedge for Satan to afflict and tempt the Lord’s children. Satan only has as much authority in temptation as he is suffered by the sovereignty and will of God. Therefore, we need to be reminded that God has never lost control of any situation. God is only suffering Satan to test us according to his own will.
but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
God is faithful in all our temptations. God is faithful in his providence to make a way of escape to be able to bear this temptation. Let us consider a few possible means of escape from temptation. What is one “way of escape” from temptation? Well, a lot of time that way of escape is you literally fleeing or running away from the temptation. When we are tempted to sin, God’s way of escape is often our feet. How do we escape the temptation of fornication? We are told succinctly to run away, to “flee fornication” (1 Cor. 6:18). Joseph literally fled from the temptation of fornication from Potiphar’s wife and was escaped from that temptation. As is usually the case, there were consequences from doing the right thing in temptation. Joseph was falsely accused and sent to prison, but he did the right thing and literally ran away. We are also told in the very next verse to “flee from idolatry” (v.14). If we are in a situation where idolatry is being promoted, we need to leave that setting immediately and flee idolatry. We also are given some actions to undertake to strengthen us in the midst of temptation. The first protection against temptation is prayer. “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt. 26:41) Jesus commanded the disciples to be vigilant, to be watchful, and primarily to be prayerful to combat temptation.
Why do we have to be so faithful in prayer to combat temptation? Because the flesh is very weak. We naturally get lazy and fall asleep on the watch just the like disciples did and can succumb to temptation. We must remain faithful in prayer to withstand Satan’s temptations. We must also be well versed in the word of God and have scripture hidden in our hearts. All three times that Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, Jesus rebuked the devil by quoting the word of God, “it is written; it is written; it is written.” (Matt. 4:1-11) The most severe temptations of Satan will not come when we have a Bible open in front of us; they will come at our weakest moments. Satan tempted Jesus with bread with he hadn’t eaten for 40 days. Therefore, we need to have the word of God memorized and hidden in our hearts, so regardless of the situation, we can wield that sword of the Spirit against our adversary. Satan is no match for the word of God. If you beat Satan over the head enough with the word of God, he will get tired of it and depart from you for a season as well. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) We need to actively combat temptation by fleeing, prayer, and the word of God.
We need to understand though that the “way of escape” may not actually be an escape from that trial. God’s way of escape may not be removing you totally from the temptation. This verse says that God will give an “escape” that you may be able to “bear it” (endure it). If God totally removed the temptation or trial, then there would no longer be any need to continue to “bear” and “endure” the temptation. The indication here is that you will continue to “bear (endure) the temptation”. Many times, God will not totally remove the temptation, but God will give you “grace sufficient” to continue to faithfully endure and bear the temptation.
God had suffered Paul to have a thorn in the flesh that caused him a great deal of pain. We can have a lot of great lessons from Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:1-10). First of all, we see that God suffered this thorn for Paul for a reason, “lest I should be exalted above measure”. God suffered this painful reminder for Paul to keep him humble. It was not comfortable, but God suffered it for a purpose. Where did this thorn come from? This thorn was “the messenger of Satan to buffet me”. God suffered this thorn to arrive and remain, but it was not caused by God; it was caused by the messenger of Satan. We see yet again that Satan can only tempt God’s children no further than the providential hedge of God’s grace. This was not a fatal injury; a thorn is not fatal, but a thorn is very painful. Therefore, understandably, Paul prayed thrice for God to remove his painful thorn. However, God’s “way of escape” from this temptation was not to remove the thorn. No, God did not remove the thorn, but he gave “grace sufficient” to bear it. Note that God also gave Paul clarity and wisdom that God was leaving this thorn there for a purpose, to keep him humble. Many times, God will also give us wisdom by the Holy Spirit to understand why God leaves our personal thorns in our lives as well.
Paul desired for the pain from this thorn to depart from him. While God did not answer Paul’s prayer to remove the thorn, God did answer Paul’s prayer for relief from the pain of that thorn. No doubt this thorn still gave Paul some pain and fits and annoyance, but now Paul could endure that pain with a different perspective that helped dull the severity of the pain. God gave Paul a balm for his pain from this thorn. God promised to give Paul “grace sufficient” to ease the pain from that thorn that God has suffered to remain in his flesh. God did not answer Paul’s prayer to take away his thorn in the flesh. Instead, God gave Paul a “way to escape”. What was God’s way to escape for Paul? God giving “grace sufficient” to endure the pain of that thorn in the flesh. “8) For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor. 12:8-9) God did answer Paul’s prayer. God is faithful, and he promised to give Paul sustaining grace that he would be able to bear and endure this temptation, which is the exact promise in 1 Cor. 10:13.
The mature Christian sees the value in tribulation instead of just being blinded by the immediate pain or discomfort. Tribulation is inevitable and temptation is common in this world, so we need to realize the value in our trials. This is a common theme for New Testament Christians, to glory in temptation, tribulations, and trials. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.” (James 1:2) See also 1 Pet. 1:6-7, Rom. 5:3-5, 2 Cor. 12:9-10, and many other places. The mature Christian can see that this temptation is an opportunity to not just purify themselves and strengthen their individual faith, but an opportunity to also embolden the faith of others, and to glorify God by their response to their trial. They also see that this is an opportunity in their weakness to draw close to the power of Christ and have the power of God manifested through them in a powerful way. That was the new perspective of Paul after he received the promise of Jesus Christ for grace sufficient. His renewed perspective now is: “Most gladly will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Cor. 12:9-10) Paul has learned through the “experiences” of his life (Rom. 5:3-5) that his greatest strength is during his greatest weakness – when I am weak, then am I strong. That is a lesson we can only learn in temptations that totally wipe out and overcome our own natural strength. We see how truly weak we are, and then, we have the proper humility to rely on God’s power to strengthen us in the midst of all our temptations.
God has promised to make a way of escape for his children in temptation. However, if we don’t remember God’s faithfulness and look to him for deliverance, we might not ever see and take God’s way of escape he has providentially provided for us. God will always make a way of escape from temptation for the child of God. However, it is still up to us to ensure we choose to take that way of escape when God opens the escape hatch for us. God will make a way of escape for us, but we still have to choose to take God’s way and follow God’s open door. We take comfort in the promises of God’s faithfulness to never utterly forsake us during times of temptation. We might fall many times, but God still gives his children the strength to rise up again. “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” (Prov. 24:16) Even though God’s children stumble and fall, God will not allow us to be utterly cast down. “23) The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. 24) Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.” (Ps. 37:23-24) We need to let go of our burdens and truly cast them upon the Lord.
When we cast our burdens on the Lord in faith, God will sustain us and will never suffer the righteous to be moved. “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” (Ps. 55:22) God has not preprogrammed our obedience or our faithfulness in temptation. We must take heed unless we fall. We still must act to come unto Jesus in faith when we are laboring and heavy laden. However, the promise of Jesus is that even though we still will be carrying a yoke, now that weight of that yoke is easy and the burden is light; now we have rest for our souls. “28) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)
God has been faithfully delivering his children out of temptations since the world began. There is not a temptation that is new, and that God has to go to the drawing board now to figure out how to get us out of this one. No, these temptations are common to man. We take comfort in the fact that God has 6,000 years of experience in getting his people out of tight spots. God knows how to deliver his children out of temptations. “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” (2 Pet. 2:9) In the immediate context, God delivered Noah and Lot from temptations that might seem overwhelming and impossible to us – a worldwide flood and a city being destroyed with fire from heaven. God delivered Noah by the ark from the flood (2 Pet. 2:5) and delivered Lot by angels from the destruction of Sodom (2 Pet. 2:6-8). God knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations. We also see the two spectrums of obedience in Noah and Lot during temptations. Noah was blessed by God to be faithful for 120 years to build an ark. Noah was delivered from the flood and delivered out of temptation by his long-term, diligent, faithful obedience to God. Then, on the other hand, the reason Lot even had to be delivered out of Sodom was because of his disobedience to God. The angel pretty much had to drag Lot and his family out of Sodom because they didn’t really want to leave that wicked city. God providentially secured the deliverance of both Noah and Lot, both the obedient and disobedient. God is faithful, and he knows how to make a way of escape for his children (even the stubborn, disobedient ones) in every temptation.
In a discussion on faith, Elder Michael Gowens writes:
“As a wise and loving Heavenly Father, our God knows just how much pressure to exert upon his children at each stage of their spiritual development. His tests are providentially adapted to our peculiar capacities at a given moment. But this much remains: God will test the faith of every believer, for “faith blossoms when the winds of trial blow the fiercest” (Heb. 12:5-11).”
This is a very good summary of 1 Cor. 10:13. God suffers these temptations for his children according to his own will. God as a loving Heavenly Father knows just how much pressure to exert upon his children at each stage of their spiritual development to ensure our growth and not our injury. Just as a child’s muscles grow and mature into adulthood, our spiritual muscles of faith do not grow by sitting idle. Our faith muscles grow stronger by being tested. God has ordained by his will to suffer temptations to come into our life for the purpose of strengthening our faith for both now and in the future. God will always make a way of escape to flee or grace sufficient to endure every temptation in our life. God will put more on you than you can bear in your nature, but by the enabling grace sufficient of Jesus Christ we can overcome any temptation to purify our lives, strengthen our faith, encourage the faith of others, and glorify God.
Click here to listen to an audio sermon on God’s Faithfulness Through Temptation in another window.