The story is told of the little girl whose father caught her eating a chocolate chip cookie after he had specifically instructed her not to. Her response, “I’m sorry Daddy. I didn’t mean to eat it. I was just smelling of it when my tooth got caught on it!” Every one of us deals with temptation of some sort on a daily basis and unfortunately it’s not always as innocent as chocolate chip cookies. But God has given us a powerful promise to give us a constant way of victory over constant temptations in our lives.
1Co 10:13 says “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you to be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it.” (ESV)
The right understanding of this promises strips from us several of our excuses for our own failures in battling temptation. Excuse #1: “Nobody knows what it’s like to be me!” You are not alone in your temptation. No matter you’re your circumstance, you are not the first, nor will you be the last to deal with your specific temptation. Because of that truth, there is someone out there somewhere whom God has equipped to relate to you and to help you be accountable. ( 2 Cor. 1)
“But God is faithful,….” This is not referring to God’s faithfulness to you, but first and foremost to His faithfulness to Himself. Excuse #2: “I’m not hurting anyone but myself.” God is still about the business of making His name glorious in the way He lives out His life through His children. So His promises in this verse concerning what He will do to ensure you victory over sin, are for the purpose of making Himself look good in you! Because He is using you to make a name for Himself, He “will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.”
Excuse #3: “God tempted me and I failed!” James 1:13 tells us that “God is not tempted by eveil, neither does he tempt any man.” Verse 14 goes on to say “But every man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desire and enticed.” So much for Excuse #4: “The devil made me do it!” Yeah right, for the most part it’s all you! AND, James 1:15 wipes out Excuse #5: “Just a little bit won’t hurt me” when we are taught that “sin when it is fully grown brings death.”
But, remember that His promise in 1 Cor. 10:13 is that “he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.” On top of that, Colossians 3:3 says that “your life is hidden with Christ, in God.” In other words, if any temptation ever gets to you, it has to get past God the Father, and God the Son first. And, when it reaches you, it then has to deal with God the Holy Ghost inside you! The temptation didn’t slip past the Father and the Son, so you can rest assured that it is not beyond “your ability” to resist. Isn’t it interesting that the verse says “your ability”. Not your Father’s ability, your pastor’s ability, your neighbor’s ability……YOUR ability. Only God knows your ability. Only God knows where your threshold truly is, and He makes no mistakes. So much for Excuse #6: “I’m not strong enough!” Well, God is saying something else, but you have to believe Him and act on it. “Your ability” also refers to your responsibility. It is at this point where your choice comes in and you alone decide whether you will give in or resist. But God has promised a way out!
He says that “with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape….” This is great news! The problem with temptation is that it appeals to our desires, so that it looks good to us even if it is not good for us. We know that what we look at the most, we move towards, like the little girl and the chocolate chip cookies! So God is saying that along with any temptation He ever allows to come to us, there also comes with it a way of escape. So take your eyes and your attention off of the temptation and focus on looking for the way of escape! This is beautiful! He has given us a way out! Every time!! The verse goes on to say “that you may be able to endure it.” That word endure implies that this is not just for short term problems. It doesn’t take endurance to run from home to first base. It is distance running that requires endurance. So this promise is not only good for those pop-up temptations we encounter, but also for those long-term battles that don’t always go away quickly. So if you don’t immediately see the way of escape, keep looking. Sometimes it may not be obvious, and it may take a while and a lot of searching to find it, but all the time while you are focusing on finding the way of escape, you’re NOT focusing on the temptation! Which brings us to the most beautiful part of the whole promise!!
While you are looking for the way of escape, you are looking for God’s promised provision in the right now. In a very real way you are looking TO HIM AND you are looking FOR HIM right where you are! Jesus said, “I am the Way……” Ultimately HE IS the way of escape, and the whole time you spend looking for the physical way of escape while dealing with your personal temptation you are really looking for HIM right where you are. And the most amazing thing happens in the process while you are looking for Him!! He tells us in 2 Cor. 3:18 that the more we look at Him, the more we become like Him. So in the process of fleeing from temptation, in looking for the way of escape, He is causing me to look more and more like Him, and not just to look more like Him, but to be more like Him AND to “BE CHANGED into that same image from glory to glory!” (2 Cor 3:18)
So hang on to His powerful beautiful promise. He has given us all a way of escape from the power of temptation, and from the power of sin, and it is not mainly about us winning our battle, but it is about Him getting glory. He is Faithful to Himself, and He is much more serious about dealing with your sin than you are. So “believe”, “search”, “choose”, “endure”, and in the process enjoy Him changing you to be like Him.
1Co 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.