No temptation (or test) has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted (or tested) beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted (or tested), the Lord will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Christians Experience Hardships
The Greek word here for temptation (peirasmos) can mean a test or trial from God to strengthen our faith (positive). It can also mean a temptation to sin from Satan or others (negative). In this passage both may be in mind. Sometimes the troubles we face are both testings from the Lord to improve us and temptations from the devil to pull us down.1 But don’t forget James 1:13-14: When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
Our troubles are no surprise to the Lord. Scripture says: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God….It has been granted to us on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him….We should not be surprised at the fiery ordeals that come to test us, as though something strange were happening to us.”2 When Jesus returns for His believers, He will remove us from all death, mourning, crying, and pain, but now in this life that promise is not yet fulfilled.3 In this life, our way of escape is running back to God.
Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (1926-2004) wrote: “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, suffering, struggle, loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
Our Struggles Are Not Unique
Satan tries to convince us that we are all alone and our own suffering is unparalleled. But that’s not true. Hebrews 11 tells of God’s faithful ones in Bible times who were chained, imprisoned, tortured, and killed. They were jeered, destitute, persecuted, and mistreated. Some wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and holes in the ground. Paul the Apostle suffered pain and sickness and the Lord did not heal him here on earth, even after many prayers.4 Paul’s co-workers Epaphroditus, Timothy, and Trophimus were all very sick at times. Their trust in Christ did not prevent their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual suffering.5 All the Scriptures show us true stories about God’s people who faced similar problems as we do to warn and encourage us to overcome in following Jesus.6
Christ is Our Wounded Healer
Jesus is our Supreme Example and Guide in handling hardships. He is 100% God and 100% human in one person and was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet Christ did not sin.7 He was despised and rejected by people, a man of sorrows who experienced grief.8 “Jesus was the most morally upright person who ever lived, yet He experienced poverty, rejection, injustice, and even torture.”9 But Christ succeeded in all the ways that Adam and Eve failed, so He understands our struggles perfectly. Now we can turn to our Risen Savior, talk to Him, and trust Him to help us in our time of need.10 He provides the only safe way out of our troubles.
God Is Faithful to You
The Amplified Bible says: God is faithful to His Word and to His compassionate nature, and He can be trusted not to let you be tempted and tried beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure. Warren Wiersbe writes: When God puts His own people in the furnace, He keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat. He knows how long and how much we need. If we rebel, He may reset the clock. But if we submit to the Lord, He will not permit us to suffer one minute too long. Eugene Peterson reminds us: God will never let you down. He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit. He’ll always be there to help you come through the troubling times.
The Lord is so loving that He wants what is best for us, so wise that He knows what’s best for us, and so strong that He ordains and allows what is best for us. He will never leave or forsake us, but He requires us to handle our problems His way. Many Old Testament Israelites mentioned earlier in 1 Corinthians 10 turned away from the Lord in hard times and perished. Likewise in Revelation chapters 2-3, five of the seven churches were in danger. They had forsaken their first love for Christ, tolerated idolatry and immorality, or were spiritually dead or lukewarm. So the Lord calls them and us to repent and run back to Him. God is faithful but we must not harden our hearts against Him.11
God Provides a Way Out
1 Cor 10:13 says: When you are tempted (and tested), the Lord will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. Notice, God doesn’t promise to exempt us from all hardship. But we can avoid many troubles by trusting and obeying Jesus and His Holy Scriptures. The verse says that God’s “way out” is resisting temptation and enduring with Christ.
Verse 14 says, “Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.” 1 John 5:21 says, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” An idol is something we devote our self to or trust in for ultimate satisfaction, security, or salvation. Anything we love more than God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Tim Keller says, “An idol is anything more important to you than the Lord, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than Christ, anything you seek to give you what only Jesus can give. An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart, “If I have that, then my life has meaning. Then I’ll know I have value and feel significant and secure.”12
Even after the Lord had blessed the Old Testament Israelites so much, they worshiped human-made idols, then they doubted God, yielded to sin, and fell away from the Lord. Satan uses the same strategies with us, but idols in modern times are not as easy to spot as they were in Bible times.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, keep us away from other gods and help us devote ourselves to you. Help us to examine the thoughts and desires that captivate our heart. Fill us with your Holy Spirit afresh and with knowing your grace and goodness. Fill us with Christ’s love that is too wonderful to be measured and help us to love you back, above all other things. Help us to reflect your righteousness, peace, and joy to everyone around us with thankfulness. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.13
Notes (various Bible translations used): I am indebted to Jay Adams’ sermon this passage for many of these insights. 1 See also 2 Cor 12:7–10 and the Book of Job. 2 Acts 14:22; Phil 1:29; 1 Pet 4:12. 3 Rev 21:4. 4 2 Cor 12:7-10; Phil 2:25-30. 5 1 Tim 5:23; 2 Tim 4:10,20. 6 Rom 15:4; 1 Cor 10:1-10; Hebrews chapter 11; James 5:7–11. 7 Heb 4:15. 8 Isaiah 53:3. 9 Tim Keller. 10 Heb 2:16-18; 4:16, 13:6. 11 Heb 3:7-19, 4:7. 12 from his book Counterfeit Gods. 13 This prayer was helped by Elyse Fitzpatrick, Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone.