The Promise of a Way of Escape (Part 2)

our-way-out“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Cor. 10:13). We learn three wonderful things about God in this verse.  First…

He is faithful.  Paul actually began this letter emphasizing God’s faithfulness back in 1:9, “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”  To say that God is faithful is to affirm two realities about God.

            1.  He will always be what He has always been.  Dependable.  Reliable.  Trustworthy.  Consistent.

            2.  He will always do what He has promised to do.  Always.  And what has He promised to do?  We find a double promise right here, one negative and the other positive.

He will never give us more than we can bear.  “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.”  Yes, God allows us to be tempted, but never beyond what we can bear.  That’s a promise.  We will never face a temptation that must lead to sin.  That won’t happen. That’s not because we have inherent strength.  That’s certainly not the case, for the strength to resist temptation comes from Christ, not ourselves. That’s also not because He will shield us from difficulties.  “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” Paul told the young converts he led to Christ in Acts 14:22.  James put it this way in James 1:2, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever [not if, but whenever] you face trials [peirasmos] of many kinds.” When a person accepts Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord, that new believer doesn’t receive a difficulty-proof bubble that blocks out all enemy enticements.  That’s not what God offers us.  But this He does.  He will never give us more than we can bear.  Never.

“I just couldn’t help it,” said the intoxicated Christian man as he looked at the six empty bottles he’d just downed.  “The temptation was just too powerful for me to resist.”  Not true.  God will never give us more than we can bear.

“I’ve got a right to be bitter,” replied the angry divorcee.  “After all I’ve been through, it’s just more than I can bear.”  Again, not true.  We have the promise of God’s Word that He will never give us more than we can bear.

Is that true for a non-Christian?  No.  If a person doesn’t know Christ, he or she lacks the necessary power which Christ alone provides.  The trials and temptations of life are more than we can bear if we don’t know Christ.  And God’s intent is to use them to show us our need for Christ. But for the believer, this promise is bedrock truth.  God will never give us more than we can bear.  In fact…

He will always give us exactly what we need.  “But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out.”  In fact, not just a way out, but the way out (there’s a definite article in the Greek text).  I like how the Young’s Literal Translation puts it, “But He will make, with the temptation, also the outlet.” There’s always an outlet.  One commentator has pointed out that the Greek term translated “the way of escape” (ekbasis) is almost exactly the same word as “exodus.”[1]  As Craig Blomberg explains, “There is always an escape-hatch, which is defined as a way to persevere without sinning in whatever difficult situation we find ourselves.”[2]

Let the reality of God’s promise sink in…

He will always give us a way that does not lead to sin.  When we’re facing tests and temptations, the Lord will provide a way out. When I was in the seventh grade I used to walk with a couple of my friends to track practice, and the walk took us right passed a little store that sold, amongst other things, candy bars.  When you’re 13 years old it seems like you’re always hungry, especially in the middle of the afternoon before track practice.  The problem was, we didn’t have any money.  “No problem,” said one of my buddies.  You don’t need money to get a candy bar.  Just watch.  And into the store he went, and then out he came with a candy bar he’d shoplifted.

What’s the “way out” when the guys you’re hanging with are stealing candy bars?  Solomon tells us in Proverbs 1:10-15, “My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. If they say, ‘Come along with us… We will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot with us, and we will share a common purse’— my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths.”  In other words, the way of escape is to stay out of that store, and it’ll probably involve finding some new friends.

This is such good news, my friend.  We’re going to face all kinds of tests and temptations this week, this very day, in fact.  That’s a given.  But so is this: God will always give us an escape route that does not lead to sin.

He will also always give us the strength to do what pleases Him.  Look at the final phrase, “So that you can stand up under it.”  The word “can” comes from the Greek term “dynamai” which means “to be able, to have power.”  God promises to give us, not only an escape hatch, but also the strength necessary to go through that hatch and keep living a life that pleases Him.

This is God’s promise, my friend.  In every difficult situation, there are three things of which we can be sure.  One, we can be sure of something regarding the difficulty itself—it’s common and has a track record.  Two, we can be sure of something regarding God—He is faithful, and will never give us more than we can bear, and will always give us exactly what we need.

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.).

[1] David Prior, The Message of 1 Corinthians, p. 171.

[2] Craig Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, p. 193.

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