A while back (probably a good year or more ago, now), there were a rash of articles and blog posts debating whether or not God can or will give us more than we can handle. Many pointed to 1 Corinthians 10:13:
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. (ESV)
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 you can endure it. (NIV)
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. (KJV)
There is quite a bit to unpack in this one verse. It honestly will probably take multiple blog posts, but we’ll see what we can get accomplished here. Let’s just start at the beginning:
First, in looking at the KJV, the word “you” is used, as opposed to “ye”; thus, Paul (the author of this epistle) is speaking to individuals, not to a group as a whole. He is individually telling each one of us that any temptation we face is “common to man.” We are told in the Bible that “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9. NIV), and that includes temptation. Temptation starts with a lie that we entertain and begin to believe until we’re often acting upon it. As the Bible says in James 1:14, “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed…” (KJV). The pattern for temptation has been the same since the beginning, and the Bible is also clear on the fact that temptation never comes from God. EVER. (“And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.” –James 1:13, NLT)
Temptation comes from three sources (as cited by Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica):
- The World
- The Flesh
- The Devil
There are no new temptations out there–they’ve always been–and God understands: “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18, NIV).
So now that we’ve established WHERE temptation comes from, that it’s NOT new, and that God DOES understand, the question still stands if God honestly gives us more than we can handle.
My personal belief is that, yes, he does.
More than we can handle, mind you. More that we, in our fallen, human state, can handle.
But, graciously, not more than we can handle through “[Christ] who gives [us] strength” (Philippians 4:13, NIV). God does provide a way out with the temptation, even though He’s not the one “providing” the temptation! How gracious! How merciful! He understands, and not just in some “because He’s God” kind of way, but in a very human way since He came to Earth as Christ incarnate.
So next time you think you can handle that big bad temptation all by yourself, think again. Even Job collapsed under temptation and questioned God. David fell prey to temptation many a time throughout his life.
We canNOT handle temptation alone. But through God’s strength, we can escape.