If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13 [NLT])
Many people look at these two verses and read, “God is faithful and won’t give you more than you can handle.” That is all they recall. I believe that is what Satan wants them to recall. But there is more to this passage. We must begin at the beginning of the chapter to understand fully what God wrote through Paul.
In the first eleven verses of this chapter, Paul reminded the Corinthians of the Israelites’ history. He reminded them how God had guided them by a cloud and how He had parted the sea so they could walk on dry ground to escape Pharaoh’s army. Paul recalled for them how the Israelites ate and drank the food and water God sent for them each day. Then he explained anew how these same people whom God rescued displeased God. The Israelites worshipped idols, complained about food and drink, celebrated with feasting and drinking and pagan revelry that included sexual immorality. God responded to these people with faithfulness and disciplined them and removed the ones who led others astray. He sent snakes to bite the sinners and the angel of death to remove them from among the Israelites.
The point Paul made with this recollection of the history of Israel is they put God to the test. He told the Corinthians they should not put Christ to the test. They should not test God’s patience and faithfulness to us just as those who died from snakebites did. What God did to the Israelites for discipline purposes were examples to the Corinthians and us so we would not challenge God with our rebellion. Paul said in verse eleven, “These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.”
Of what does this warn us? Paul explained this in the rest of the chapter, but he gives the how in verses twelve and thirteen. In verses fourteen through thirty, he said not to give offense to others who possibly are weaker in the faith or who are not Christians by your actions. Don’t create temptations for yourself by the freedom Christ gave you and so put your guard down when you eat things that you knew people offered as sacrifices to idols. And don’t anger God by your freedom by saying “all things are permissible.” (vs. 23) Paul warned the Corinthians and us of this. You notice in these three things, each action would affect a relationship - yours with others, yours with yourself, and yours with God.
With this understanding, Paul told them how to withstand temptation. Before we understand that, we need to understand human ego. Most people think they are strong enough to stand against temptation, but if that were so, all the addicts over the history of time and wouldn’t be addicts, whether addicts of alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, porn, abuse, food, shopping, or whatever. Yet, if we truly look at human history and ourselves, we recognize, we are not strong enough to stand against all temptations. We are not Christ who stood strong against Satan’s temptations in the desert. Humans eventually collapse when faced with certain temptations in their lives. We each have weaknesses. Our egos tell us we are strong enough and can do this or that without failing, and sometimes we can. Most of the times, though, we cannot.
At this point is where Paul’s statement in verses twelve and thirteen come to play. He said, “If you think you are standing strong,” when often we are not standing strong. Paul knew humanity’s weaknesses because he recognized his own weaknesses. He had been a self-righteous Pharisee. “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.” Paul knew at some point each person succumbs to temptation and warns them not to think too highly of themselves and their capabilities. Again, with verse thirteen, he reminded them that the failures of others we see around us, their weaknesses and falling to temptations, could be us, too. We are like every other person who walked the earth. We are weak and cannot stand up to every temptation.
Paul didn’t stop at that point and cause the Corinthians or us to despair. He reminded us about God and His characteristics. Paul continued, “God is faithful. He will not allow temptation to be more than you can stand.” Notice, God is the One who is all-knowing, always faithful, and all-powerful. Paul reminded the readers of this letter they are no stronger than any other person who’s lived, but God is stronger, is strongest, is faithful, and loves us. Because of God’s faithfulness, love, and knowledge of each of us, “He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.” Don’t stop at that point, though. If you do, you will interpret this passage as many secular Christians and non-Christians do, with an off-the-cuff faith. It’s like the saying you hear from people, “God’s got my back.” It requires no faith in God is required to say that. That saying doesn’t give you the strength to walk through a situation. It’s just a saying, like when people say, “God won’t allow me to experience more than I can handle.” With those statements by people, no faith or covenant with God is required to say it. Paul reminds us instead that God’s wisdom, strength, faithfulness, and love, His covenant with us as His children, that sees us through the situation.
Paul completed his thoughts on this with, “When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.” God is the One who makes a way. He won’t give you more than you can handle, and He will show you the way out so you can endure. The ability to withstand temptation is all about God. Paul made sure we understood that. He showed the frailties and weaknesses of humanity in verse twelve. We bring nothing to the table by which we can go through difficulties other than our faith in God, our covenant relationship with Him. God brings everything to the table for us to get through these times. He brings His knowledge, power, wisdom, love, and faithfulness that gets us through hard times. God is faithful to His covenant with His children. He will show us how to get through situations in our lives. What we bring to the table in these situations is our faith in Him and our obedience to His direction. We have no power and wisdom to get us through every trial.
God’s covenant with His children and their covenant with Him affects their relationship, and it affects their relationships with the people around them, and their relationship with themselves. Paul made sure the Corinthians and later readers understood this. When we stand strong because of God and give Him the glory, it strengthens our resolve and grows us to be more like Christ. It affects the people around us who see our trials and watch how we walk through them. When you testify and live a life of testimony to God, others grow, too. Our relationship with that person grows. This is the overarching learning point for the Corinthian Christians. Their lives should be a living testimony to the people watching them. This is what Paul meant when he said in verses thirty-one and thirty-two, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God.” Live a life of testimony giving God the glory for everything you do and all that He does in your life and it will affect other believers, non-believers, and your own life.
Paul ended this chapter with, “I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.” (vs. 33b) Satan wants to make us think we are unable to do things or that we can face things without God’s help. Satan lies.
Be faithful to God. Be true to your covenant with Him. He is always faithful to you. He will not allow a temptation to be more than you can stand and will always show you a way out so you can endure.
Whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.
If you are not yet a child of Yahweh God, you can be by believing in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Admit you are a sinner. Believe in Jesus Christ. Confess your sins to Him. God loves you and wants to save you from your sins and death. He wants to have an eternal relationship with you.
Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps His covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes His unfailing love on those who love Him and obey His commandments. (Deuteronomy 7:9 [NLT])
God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. (1 Corinthians 1:9 [NLT])
Lord, so often I just push through a difficulty in my own strength and forget to ask You for Your wisdom and help. I think, “I’ve got this!” In that thinking, I have rebelled against You. Please forgive me for thinking better of myself than I am. Help me remember, You are the reason I live and am saved from sin and death. Not of my own strength, intellect, or reasoning have I survived, but only because of You. Help me to seek You and then to give You all the glory. Help me to remain totaled devoted to You. Use me to share about Your love and faithfulness to people around me. Amen.