October 29, 2009
“So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 NIV
Some friends and I were discussing 1 Corinthians 10 the other day, verse 13 in particular. I love a good challenge and I admit I was challenged because I wasn’t sure of the context of this often quoted scripture.
The context in which this verse is located is about idolatry and temptation and not circumstances of life that bear down upon us and getting through those circumstances as this verse is often used. This scripture actually gives us no excuses for falling into temptation because God will always provide us with a way to deny ourselves and stand against the temptation.
Many times I think I have taken this scripture out of context to make it mean that the circumstances that I will encounter in my life will never be more than I can bear. I am grateful that God has brought a correction to my thinking.
This goes beautifully with a discussion that Matt, my hubby, and I was having the other day about sin and how the word says in Romans 6:2 that “we died to sin.” Actually this entire chapter deals with the fact that as Christ died, was buried and resurrected and so were we because he took all of our sin, guilt and shame upon himself and because sin, guilt and shame was not resurrected from the grave but atoned for in his blood; we are now dead to sin and alive to Christ. Sin has no mastery over us any longer and we don’t have to be enslaved to it.
We were also trying to understand Paul’s analysis of how sin can be at work in our members and yet we are dead to it (Romans 7:21-24). I was curious to see what the meaning of Romans 7:23 was so looked in the Strong’s for the meaning of the word “members” and it said this, “a member, limb: a member of the human body; of bodies given up to criminal intercourse, because they are as it were members belonging to the harlot's body” This made me think of how we are in the world but not of the world as Jesus prayed in John 17.
Sin is going on around us but we are not to be participating in it because for those of us who have accepted Jesus as our Savior, we have been redeemed from it and God will help us deal with it. As we discussed this issue we came to the conclusion as Paul did in Romans 7:24 that it is only Jesus that can save us from it all.
So if 1 Corinthians 10:13 doesn’t apply to crushing circumstances we encounter in life, what does the bible say that can help us in those times? My first thoughts were about the potter and the clay. Jeremiah 18: 1-10 is a perfect example of how the Lord is in control of our lives and at any point his hands can crush us and reshape our lives as the potter works the clay bending it to his will.
God often puts us into circumstances that are way more than we can bear because he wants us to come running to him. He is in control over every aspect of our preplanned and predestined lives and he has his reasons for what we are going through. It seems at those times of life that we are reborn so to speak into someone greater and we are purified and changed more to the image of Jesus. Isn’t this God’s goal for our lives?
I think that if we would look at our circumstances as things that God uses to make us more like our Lord, then they would be a lot easier to go through. Our part is to trust him and believe that he is always good and always has our good at heart. He loves us more than anyone ever could or he wouldn’t discipline us and life would be a breeze.
Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1Peter 1:6-7