Our Way Out
Probably one of the most quoted passages in the New Testament, at least it seems to me, is 1 Corinthians 10:13 when Paul says “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. Go is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
Often times we focus so much on that one verse that we fail to see the wisdom in the verse the precedes it and follows it. 1 Corinthians 10:12 says “Therefore let anyone who think that he stands take heed lest he fall.” And 10:14 says “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” In our efforts, more importantly our command to overcome temptation and sin by God’s grace we have to put more thought into our responsibility than just counting on God to not let us find ourselves in tempting situations.
A positive example of this is found in the familiar story of Joseph while in Potiphar’s house in Genesis 39. Because the Lord is with Joseph, he rises to second in command of Potiphar’s house after being sold as a slave. This entire time he’s working around and no doubt in some things with Potiphar’s wife. There comes a time when she not only takes notice of him but wants to move that working relationship into a more intimate one. Notice Joseph’s response: “But he refused and said to his master's wife, "Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" (Gen 39:8-9)
His response is both logical and spiritual. There’s no doubt that he’s picked up on the subtle hints, flirtatious gestures or talk in days past. He’s already rationally and logically thought this through of why this would not be a right decision. At the end of the day, ultimately it’s not Potiphar he’s concerned about offending or wronging but rather God.
A negative example of this is found in 2 Samuel 11 when David sees Bathsheba bathing on the rooftop. David obviously didn’t logically and rationally think about where this could possibly lead and the harm it could cause. He obviously wasn’t as concerned about offending God because not only did he fall for that temptation but he worshipped for about a year before Nathan comes to confront him.
Our Way Out
Think About It: Isn’t that what Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 10:12? He says in v.15 “I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.” He’s saying think about it! In case you think to yourself “I’ve got this”, “I’d never do that,” you better think again and have the right perspective before you find yourself in the middle of a very tempting situation.
Realize the Eternal Impact: That’s really what Paul is getting at in 1 Corinthians 10:6-11 and 15-22. Sin is serious! Its serious enough to demand that we pay well attention to our lives and our responsibility to avoid temptation as best we can. I realize you can dream up every possible scenario and that you have to be in the world. While there are plenty of logical reasons to avoid sin the ultimate reason is because of its impact on our eternal souls. If God has done everything that He’s done to provide and ensure our salvation, how can we deliberately choose to not only put ourselves in tempting situations but willfully fall victim to it?
Take the Way Out: That’s where 1 Corinthians 10:13-14 comes in. When I’ve logically thought it through, even before I find myself in a situation filled with temptation, and I’ve truly considered who I’m sinning against and its impact on my eternal soul, then and usually only then am I able to see the way of escape. How many times have you heard others say, or maybe said yourself, it was just too much and I couldn’t get out of it? Folks when we see temptation we need to heed v.14 and do a 180. Someone once called it a “holy retreat”.