“No temptation has overtaken you that is not uncommon to man. God 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.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
We should propose a ban on the Christianese phrase “I’m just wrestling with . . .” It has become a phrase that sounds pious but it ends up being a blanket term for a multitude of sins. It sounds active and tenacious, but it’s often complete surrender.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul is writing to the church in Corinth, one of the most notorious in the New Testament. They were getting drunk during Communion, proud of their tolerance of sexual sin, and suing each other, among other things. The shocking thing is not so much that they were doing these things in the name of Jesus, but that they were proud of them!
Like God’s people in the Old Testament, the Corinthians had experienced an incredible redemption: in the midst of hopelessness, out of slavery, out of oppression, out of death and darkness into life. In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul reminds the Corinthians that God’s redemption was the same for Israel and for them. But, he also warns them that their response is the same as Israel by warning them of a few instances where Israel sinned against God.
- They worshiped idols, showing that they wanted the redemption but not God.
- They were sexually immoral, saying to the God who redeemed them that he was Lord only over part of their lives, but they’d still do what they wanted.
- They tested God, showing that despite his miraculous redemption, they didn’t trust him.
- They grumbled against God, essentially saying that his redemption wasn’t good enough and their lives lacked.
Despite God’s incredible redemption, they strayed. Each of those is like the prodigal son going back to his pig sty. So, when Paul says in verse 13 that “no temptation has overtaken you that is not uncommon to man,” he is referring to some of the very sins that the Corinthians were doing.
Christian, in the name of “wrestling” are you surrendering? Under the guise of a seemingly good performance, are you actually in your heart saying that you want redemption but not your Redeemer? That you want healing and deliverance on your terms, but to remain on your cardboard throne? Paul’s warning to the church in Corinth and us is to not think we’re immune from the same desires in our hearts.
The wonderful news comes in the second part of that verse: “God 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.”
Despite our longing for empty gods, our rebellion, and our grumbling, God was faithful to send Jesus to secure for us ultimate redemption. Despite our faithlessness, God is faithful. That word “is” is the hook on which that sentence hangs.
God wasn’t content to redeem us once through the event of the cross and resurrection—though that would’ve been enough! No, he continues to be faithful to us today. He continues to be intimately concerned with and involved in our sanctification, to the point of knowing how we are tempted and providing ways out for us. That is a love that not only rescues but transforms!
So, Christian, stop “wrestling” and start fighting—this is God’s work in you.