1 Corinthians 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.”
Years ago, Isuzu ran an ad where a man, sitting in the lotus position meditating, looked at the camera as if to speak wisdom and said, “I can resist anything except temptation.” I think that could be said of all of us. We often resolve to commit ourselves to the Lord, and make steps toward following Christ more closely, only to be derailed by falling again into one of those easily besetting sins. This is a very common experience.
Paul reminds us of three characteristics about temptation. First, temptation is common to all men. No matter who you are, or how long you have walked with the Lord, you will be tempted to do things that are not pleasing to the Lord, and are costly to your relationship with Him. This is not written to justify sin, but rather to encourage us to guard against failure. Leading up to this verse, Paul reminds us of the Children of Israel in the wilderness. He states, while all passed through the Red Sea, ate the Manna, and drank from the Rock, only a few entered the Promised Land. We are all given the same resources to equip us for success. Only those who take advantage of the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the people of God, will overcome the temptations of the flesh.
Second, Paul reminds us that every temptation has a way of escape. There are a few rare cases when we are hit by a surprise attack, but most of the time, we see temptations coming, and are given multiple ways out. Many of the sins that we commit, we do so because we are alone. If someone else were nearby, we would not do them. I think, a very common way of escape, is to simply pick up the phone or go outside. In those rare cases when we are blindsided with temptation, we must follow the example of Joseph, who fled from temptation, even when it meant having his garment ripped off his back.
Finally, Paul reminds us that God is faithful. We would all admit that the reason we fail is that we are too weak. We attempted to resist, but found that our strength was insufficient, and we gave in. Fortunately, we are not left to fight the battle on our own. Our weakness will always be met with His strength. Often, we fail because we keep our attention fixed on the temptation and on our weakness. We will find victory, when we get our eyes back upon the Lord. When David faced Goliath, his eyes were on Jehovah; when he faced Bathsheba, his eyes on the temptation. Victory will be ours when we keep our attention on the Lord. Paul reminded the Ephesians to “Be strong in the Lord in the power of His might.”
Questions for 1 Corinthians 10
- Paul finishes chapter 9 talking about how he disciplines himself, so that he is not disqualified from the ministry. He then uses an example of a people who known the power of God and yet were disqualified from the fullness of what God had for them. In verses 1-4, list the ways that they had seen God work in their lives?
- Verses 6-7 recall an event from Exodus 32 – read it for background; verse 9 speaks of an event from Numbers 21 – read it for background.
- Verses 1-11 draw attention to the children of Israel’s failures. Consider verse 6 and 11. Why is God having us look at Israel’s sin? How can this benefit and help you.
- Having looked at these things Paul lays down a principle in verse 12. Rewrite this verse in your own words, as if you were explaining it to a child.
- What three things do we learn in verse 13? Spend some time thinking about each of these truths and how they impact your life.
- Verses 14-22 deal with idolatry. Idolatry is simply worshipping something other than the one true God. In particular, the subject of a divided heart is dealt with; worshipping both Jesus and other gods. How does a divided heart affect our relationship with God? How does a divided heart affect our relationship with others in the body of Christ?
- Read verses 23-24. Paul says that all things are lawful for him. This does not mean that he can do anything he wants, or that unlawful things are lawful for him. It means that if it the scripture doesn’t forbid it then he is free to do it. However, just because he is free doesn’t mean he should. What two questions should we ask about the freedoms we take?
- In verse 31, Paul states a wonderful guiding principle to his life. Look at your own life in light of this statement. Where would God like to change your life to bring Him greater glory?