The Promise of a Way of Escape (Part 1)

Our lives are full of challenges.  Every day we face difficult situations.  Temptations.  Things that test our faith.  Health challenges.  Stresses at work.  Family difficulties.  Financial strains.  People that push our button.  Every day.  Every one of us.

And whenever that happens, whatever it is, we find ourselves asking an important question.  Is there any way out of this?  By out, I don’t mean to avoid the situation, but to face it in a God-pleasing way.  When you’re in the midst of a trial, you find yourself asking that question time after time.  What should I do next?  Is there anything I can do in this situation that will please my Savior?  Is there a way out?

I have good news.  The answer to that question for the Christian is always yes.  There is always a way out, a way of escape.  How do I know?  Because we have a guarantee, a promise from God Himself.

1 Corinthians 10:13 is a wonderful, hope-giving verse of Scripture. In it we find God’s promise of way of escape. This is a promise that will bring hope to your life no matter what you are facing!  According to God’s promise in this verse, we can be sure of three things every time we face a difficult situation: (1) we can be sure of something regarding the difficulty we’re facing; (2) we can be sure of something regarding God; (3) we can be sure of something regarding ourselves.

But of course, this verse has a context, so let’s consider that for a moment.  Acts 18 tells the story about how Christianity came to Corinth.   Paul took the gospel there during his second missionary journey, and though he faced opposition, he kept ministering God’s Word.  The Lord actually gave Paul a word of encouragement in a vision, as Acts 18:9-10 records, “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.  For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”

Eighteen months later Paul left Corinth and left behind a young church with all kinds of potential.  As you might expect, these young Christians faced some tremendous challenges, and problems developed.  Paul heard about the problems and so in AD 55 he wrote the letter we call 1 Corinthians to address them.

Our text appears in a section of the letter in which Paul addressed the subject of whether Christians should eat food that had been previously sacrificed to idols (chs 8-10).  At the beginning of chapter ten he points them back to the Old Testament example of Israel who also faced the challenge of dealing with idols, and even the temptation to engage in sexual immorality as a part of idol worship.

Notice verse 11, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.”  You’re not the first to face the lure of idolatry and immorality, Paul reminds the Corinthians.  And then he says this in verse 12, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”  Two verses later Paul offers this firm charge, “Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry (14).” But right in the middle of this strong warning and challenge about fleeing idolatry and immorality, Paul inserts one of the most hope-giving verses in the Bible.

Our Difficulty

Verse 13 begins, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.”  What’s true of temptation?  We learn two things about it here.

First, it is common. It makes a big difference when you know you’re not the first person to face something, and an even bigger difference if you know that it’s possible both to face it and succeed at the challenge.  When I get on a roller coaster, that’s what I want to know.  Has anybody ever done this before?  When the doc says he wants to try a new treatment plan, I want to know, “Has anybody else ever successfully endured what you’re proposing for me?”

Brothers and sisters, when you find yourself facing a particular difficulty in life, whatever it is, you can be sure of this.  Your situation is not unique.  There is no temptation that can enter your life except for that which is common to man.  The truth is, others have faced what you are now facing.  You are not an isolated case.  That won’t make the difficulty easy to face, but it will make it easier.  This thing you’re battling has a track record, and the track record shows it can be overcome.  You’re facing something that’s common.

Second, we learn that our difficulty has a history.  That’s the point Paul is making in 1 Corinthians 10.  The Corinthians were facing some huge temptations, but so had their spiritual forefathers. Verse 1—“For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea.”

Think about your forefathers, says Paul.  They faced the temptations to commit idolatry and immorality, just like you.  What’s that tell us about temptation?  Simply this.  If temptation is common to man, that means it has a history, and if we’re serious about resisting temptation we would do well to learn that history. Be a student of Bible history. We’ve got a Bible full of case studies.  These things happened as examples for us, says the apostle.  So if you want to learn how to overcome temptation, then be a student of Bible history. Be a student of church history.  If temptation is common to man, and it is, then we would expect church history to be filled with examples, positive and negative, of individuals who’ve faced temptation.  And that’s exactly what we find.  So let’s take advantage of that history. Be a student of your own history. For starters, your own family history.  Where did your parents struggle?  How about your grandparents?  Since their nature and nurture have helped shape your life, it would be wise to ponder that from time to time. But also ponder your own personal history.  Temptation is not only common to man, it’s common to you.  Where have you struggled in the past?  Take inventory of your past temptations. Every difficult situation you and I face is common and has a history.  That’s actually very good news.  It means we won’t be facing anything unique this week.  We have God’s word on that.

Brad Brandt is senior pastor at Wheelersburg Baptist Church in Wheelersburg, OH. He is a certified Nouthentic Counselor and is one of the authors of God in Everyday Life: The Book of Ruth for Expositors and Biblical Counselors (Kress, 2007). He is a graduate of Cedarville (BA), Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary (M.Div. and Th.M.), and Grace Seminary (D.Min.).

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  1. […] “The Promise of a Way of Escape (Part 1)” by Brad […]

  2. […] will, of course, pertain to ministry.  We hope you have enjoyed this week’s articles from Brad Brandt and Jeff McKinney, and offer the following articles for your weekend […]

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