No temptation has overtaken you
When I was young I recall being told by my mother that God would never test you beyond anything that you could not endure. This was something that had been impressed upon her by her parents and seemed like a great comfort from a loving God. Only when Gill mentioned this verse in First Corinthians did I make the connection.
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
[1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV]
Paul prefaces the verse above with ‘Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.’ [v12], showing that we have to have a clear understanding of, and faith in Him, before His faithfulness can operate in our lives. The word
translated as temptation* [See note below], primarily means to prove or test, and not — to me at least — my initial understanding of tempting.
When the waiter in a restaurant says “Can I tempt you to dessert?”, I do not consider it a trial of my faith. I do not believe Paul thought of it that way either.
Flee from idolatry
Verse 14 tells plainly where Paul is with this: ‘Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say.’ The issue at stake here is idolatry, one of the ‘immutable laws’.** (A definition of idolatry is shown below). Paul insists that we turn our backs and run from it, saying that the wise will know and understand what he means.
Idolatry takes many forms and it impinges on our lives in ways we do not always recognise. As an instance of this, I mention a confession by a dear brother in the Lord some years ago about recognising idolatry creeping into his life when a young man. He was an avid reader of novels by Zane Grey and J T Edsen, relishing these tales of the Wild West. At some point, he recognised that his reading of these tales was taking precedence over his Bible reading — effectively putting his faith in God into second place. He had turned his enjoyment of these stories into an idol.
This man was quick to recognise what was happening and took immediate action; committing himself afresh to The Lord. The temptation common to man had overtaken him, but God’s faithfulness granted him ‘the way of escape’.
The way of escape
If we are hearing from God by His Holy Spirit, speaking to us in the deepest parts of us, we can quickly recognise when we are going adrift from the narrow way and the strait gate. His Spirit bids us return to Him ‘…for He knew what was in man.’ [John 2:25b NKJV]
If I were to sum up our way of escape, I would say simply, His forgiveness.
* g3986. πειρασμός peirasmos; from 3985; a putting to proof (by experiment (of good), experience (of evil), solicitation, discipline or provocation); by implication, adversity: — temptation, x try.
AV (21) - temptation 19, temptations 1, try 1;
an experiment, attempt, trial, proving trial, proving: the trial made of you by my bodily condition, since condition served as to test the love of the Galatians toward Paul (Gal. 4:14) the trial of man's fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancyan enticement to sin, temptation, whether arising from the desires or from the outward circumstancesan internal temptation to sinof the temptation by which the devil sought to divert...
** idolatry. Definition: worshiping, seeking internal or external peace or favour from spirits, false gods, processes and/or procedures, substances or powers/forces; to receive, wield, or distribute:
In dealing with the life of Abraham as the Father of the faithful, neither faith nor common sense must be our guide, but God Who unites both in a test tube of personal experience. To be guided by common sense alone is fanatical, both common sense and faith have to be brought into relation to God.
[from ‘Not Knowing Where’]
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