1 Cor 10:13, “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.”
People often seem to understand this verse to mean that God will providentially intervene when we face temptation. Their approach reminds me of movies where the good guy is about to get snuffed out, then suddenly his comrades lurking in the shadows jump in and rescue him; or maybe at the last minute he discovers a trap door and manages to slip away to safety.
What exactly is the way of escape provided by God? Is it unforeseen providence unique to every situation which appears out of the blue; or is it something which is well known and works no matter how, where or when we are tempted? Perhaps on some occasions God does intervene in a peculiar way, but this is not what Paul means. When he speaks of “the way of escape” he is referring to something specific (it is the definite article). The way of escape is the grace of Christ. He is the antidote to temptation. There are three important factors to remember when it comes to temptation:
A. The temptations you face are not unique. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life characterise the sins we all struggle with (1 John 2:16) – they are common to man. We cannot excuse sin because we suppose our temptations are so much harder than everyone else’s.
B. God sets the limits on the temptations which come to us. If in the end we yield, it is because we have chosen to do so and not because the strength of the temptation has overpowered us against our will. He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can endure. Sin therefore is a conscious and willing decision.
C. The grace of Christ is always available. Before any temptation comes upon us we already know how to resist – by turning to Christ in His Word and prayer. Help also comes via the fellowship of the saints – Christ works through His people. We have not been left stumbling around in the dark wondering how God will rescue us. He has provided a rescuer. It is to Him we must look.