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Twisted Scripture - A way out of Temptation.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

I have hunch we all know someone who just can’t seem to catch a break. Someone who seems to have nothing but bad luck as one challenge or tragedy after another continue to attempt to beat them down. How does the old saying go? If weren’t bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. It’s all we can do to look at them and thank God we aren’t in the same boat as they are because we don’t know how we would survive it all.

The temptation to walk away, to give up, to throw in the towel can be great when life is hard and things aren’t going as planned. It can be easy to find ourselves identifying more with Job’s friends than with Job. And while there is much to learn about faith and suffering from Job’s story, 1 Corinthians 10:13 isn’t really part of that lesson. As we have been doing throughout the series, let’s take a step back and look at the context of this particular verse.

1 Corinthians is a letter written by Paul to the church in Corinth. It is a church he spent a fair amount of time visiting and so was rather familiar with the church, the town, and the people who lived and worshiped there. During one of this missionary journeys, Paul receives a report of quarreling and infighting among the people of the church in Corinth. They had a serious issue with tolerating sin and so Paul is writing to have a very honest and frank discussion with them about the issues they were facing. He addresses the problems head on.

In chapter 10 specifically, Paul reminds the community in Corinth of the history of their faith and pleads with them to learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before them. The primary example he uses is that of when the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. Every person, Paul reminds them, experienced the same great power of God. They all followed the cloud and crossed the Red Sea, they all ate the manna that fell each morning. And yet, not all remained faithful to God. In fact, most of them died in the desert and never saw the promised land.

Verse 11 turns the focus back onto the church in Corinth as Paul reminds them that what happened so many years before in desert is to be a warning to them. No one, as we see in verse 12, no matter how firm in their faith they believe themselves to be, is immune from falling.

The same caution applies to us today. It is so very easy to play the comparison game where we justify the sin in our lives because, well, at least I’m not as bad as THAT person. Maybe I stole some office supplies but at least I’m not embezzling money. I know I tend to lose my temper and yell at times but at least I never hit anyone. I know I prioritize sports, work, and/or my own personal creature comforts over spending time with God but at least I go to church most of the time. So long as we are doing better than someone else, we are doing good.

But what happens when we are called out regarding the sin in our life? Is it our instinct to say, “Yes, you’re right. I’ve messed up. I take responsibility. Please forgive me. Please help me to do better.”? I’m guessing for most of us, such a response isn’t our first impulse.

Instead, for most of us, the first impulse is to shift the blame away from ourselves. The “I couldn’t help myself,” defense. I didn’t have a choice, the game was scheduled then. I just lost control and couldn’t stop my fist from swinging. If taking a few office supplies wasn’t noticed, then taking a bit more surely won’t be noticed either and, after all, I’ve earned it.

God doesn’t protect us from all the sources of temptation in our lives. From the start, with Adam and Eve in the garden, he wanted to choose to resist the temptation to sin, he wanted us to choose Him over sin. And, from the start, we have failed. Just as the temptation to eat from the forbidden tree was not overwhelming, Adam and Eve had walked away many times before, so are many of our temptations. And just as God provided options for them to choose instead of the forbidden fruit, like every single other edible plant in the garden, we provides options for us as well.

1 Corinthians 10:13 isn’t about enduring hard times, it is about saying no sin. It is about recognizing that, with the Lord’s help, we can do it so much more often than we give ourselves credit for. So the next time you are tempted to raise your voice, gossip about the co-worker or neighbor, or do whatever you know you shouldn’t be doing, recall Paul’s words to the Corinthians here. Know that you are strong enough to say no and that God has already provided you with another option to choose.


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