If there is one thing my past has been used for by me over the years, is to echo the lies (self-talk) that so often become barriers to my spiritual growth. Last week, I hope in some way, God reminded us that He is fully aware of the battle between the flesh (sinful nature) and the Spirit within, that “these are contrary to one another”.(Galatians 5:17).
Knowing that, He promises those in Christ that “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son” will cleanse “us from all sin” (1st John 1:7). God is so faithful towards us…towards me! That faithfulness is not simply offered after we fall short, but prior to it as well.
When it comes to God’s people, “the church of God which is at Corinth” (1:1) was a really good example of God’s patience with those who are now “a new creation” (2nd Corinthians 5:17). There were contentions between brothers (1st Corinthians 1:11), along with other issues that resulted in Paul saying these words, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ” (1st Corinthians 3:1). The concerns, and often stern words, are vividly apparent as you read through this letter. In the midst of these personal growth obstacles, created by their arrogance, as one commentator put it, is this faithful promise from God.
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.
1st Corinthians 10:13
This promise is on the heels of this verse, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1st Corinthians 10:12). There is no new temptation! If we were to reflect back in this chapter, we read of some examples of sinful behavior, acts that took place hundreds of years before, but none of them were any different from what those in Corinth were faced with, especially with the idolatry that was going on. The simplicity of sin is simple and common to all, finding its roots in man’s “own desires” (James 1:14). God knowing that very thing, promises His children of two things. First, He will not allow “you to be tempted beyond what you are able.” Second, that He will provide a “way of escape” concerning that trial. One may ask, “Which is it, will He give us strength to go through it or show us a way out of it?” I believe the answer is yes. Like with any escape route, there is a journey that must be traveled before the escape happens. God’s promise is that He will provided both the strength and the escape route for us to faithfully travel.
So how does this fit into our present discussion on spiritual growth? As Christians, we should be so thankful for God’s mercy continuously revealed to us through Christ daily. At the same time, God wants us to know that we can look for His faithfulness prior to sin as well. He knows what temptations we face (Hebrews 4:15) and yearns for us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us” (Hebrews 12:1). We can do that, in part, by seeking God’s faithfulness and trusting Him to know our limits and provide relief. Praise be to God.