It is good to long to be holy. It is good to become aware of one’s sin. It is good to fight sin. But sometimes it is so discouraging. Sin comes to us so easily, and holiness seems at times a distant theological concept.
Sometimes obedience is tough because the physical circumstances of life are hard and seem never to improve. Other times obedience is tough because our spiritual state is beset with doubts, worldliness, discouragement, unmet spiritual expectations, or hopelessness.
Even the most God-loving saint is frequently confronted with the discouragement of a spirit that is willing to fight sin and act righteously, but a flesh that seems so weak and prone to sin.
After a rather convicting paragraph on the dangers and consequences of disobedience, 1 Corinthians 10:13 is given to us by the Holy Spirit to lift our spirits once again to a renewed resolve to endure in our fight against sin and temptation.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common 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.
Trying circumstances and personal temptations might make you believe that your situation is unique and beyond normal spiritual help. But, no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. Every temptation you face, has been faced by another believer in history. The exact shape and colour of your trial might be different, but every trial and its accompanying temptations have been experienced and been endured by faithful Christians before you. We can learn from the bad examples in history, and we can take heart from the knowledge that we are never alone in our fight.
To our great dismay, we even doubt God’s presence, goodness, and grace in times of intense trials, but God is faithful. That simple theological truth never changes. The world might stab us in the back, our loved ones might disappoint, our friends might sin against us, the world might turn to trash, but God doesn’t. God never changes from what He is. His goodness always is. His grace always is. His love always is. His mercy always is. God is faithful.
“But I just can’t any more!” might well be the cry of our heart. But, God will not let you be tempted beyond your ability. Yes, even the worst of trials fall in the category of I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). We might need more Scripture, more fellowship, and more counsel regarding particular temptations, but thankfully “I just can’t any more” is just a cry of our heart, not a reality. As Christians we always can.
We might feel like we can in momentary temptations, but the long drawn-out times of spiritual depths tend to overwhelm our Christ-enabled ability. And this is where the last phrase of the verse is so inspiring. but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. There is always an expiration date to every trial. We wish it were today, and it might well be, but sometimes the expiration date is still far of in the distance, and with the eyes of faith we can set our focus on that distant end, and endure till then. Even if we physically cannot perceive the end, the eyes of faith always see it; that is how we endure.
1 Corinthians 10:13 is a verse for when obedience is tough. Do not lose heart.