Friday, May 16, 2008

A Promise to Tempted Saints

"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 what ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13 AV).

This verse has provided much comfort to believers suffering trials and temptations down through the ages. Here are a few points to ponder:

1. Temptations, trials, and suffering are not exceptional in the experience of believers. If you are struggling with a besetting sin, with doubt, with despair, you should not think that yours is some exceptional case that no one has ever faced before. Your struggle may not be as unique as you might think. The things that come upon us are "common to man."

2. Just because we are in Christ, this does not mean that we will never face serious hardships. Faith in Christ is not a "Get out of Temptation Free" card. In fact, we may face trials precisely because we are in Christ.

3. Our ability to persevere in the midst of trials is not dependent on our inner composure or strength of character but on God Himself. Meditate on the phrase, "but God is faithful."

4. Sometimes this verse is misinterpreted as saying, "God will not put more on us than we can handle." In fact, this is not exactly correct. A terminal illness, for example, is, in reality, more than we can handle. The promise is that we will not be tempted above what we are able, without also being provided "a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it." He does not offer us immunity from difficulties beyond our ability to cope, but he offers us the resources to persevere. What are those resources, the ways of escape? At the top of the list, naturally, would be our faith in Christ. Among our resources to stand up under trials are prayer, the encouragement of Scripture, and a church body that suffers and rejoices with us (1 Corinthians 12:26). Even in the face of death, a believer still has hope. Not hope in himself, but hope in the God who raised Jesus from the dead.

I heard a Pastor friend of mine say recently that a big reason we gather as the church in worship, prayer, and Bible Study is for the purpose of preparation. We are making ourselves spiritually ready to stand up under trials when they come. Not "if" they come but "when" they come. I might not be facing cancer, or death, or depression at the moment, but at some point I likely will.

Let us cling to this promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13 and be encouraged by it as so many saints before us have been.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
Note: Evangel article 5/15/08

No comments: