faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the
temptation, he will also provide a way of escape, that you may be able to
endure it.”—1 Corinthians 10:13b (ESV).
On a sunny day when I was four years old, I was sent to an
afternoon nap. It was some sort of ‘custom’ to take a nap after lunch but I
hated it, especially when I heard the sound of playful children outside.
Before getting to my bed, I reached for a new match box, lit
it, and thought it wise to try to put some fire on a mosquito net that was
hanging above the double decker bed which I shared with my brother Joshua. The
fire didn’t seem like it would last, after all the wind coming in through the
window would put it out, I surmised. It was at that time that I turned over to
the other side of the bed to do some more mischief.
Unaware of what was going on behind me, I heard hasty sounds
of people calling for water to put off the fire. But there I was in the middle
of the fire, trapped in the lower section of the decker where I made my bed.
Coming to get me out was a dangerous project all together since it meant going
through the red wall of fire.
It was at that point that I saw a hand reaching for me. It
was my mother. She had come to get me out of trouble and she pulled me out of
the fire, unharmed by it.
We are born into a fallen world, temptation around us—we are
born into temptation. We don’t have to look for it because it’s there walking
with us, inside us, in our self-help schemes and self-salvation projects; in
the masks we wear and lies that we tell through our teeth to save ourselves. It
is into this mess that God comes down.
God doesn’t promise to take away pain, and temptation,
suffering, and shame. He rather promises to take
you through it—to endure it with you. Jesus was tempted in the desert; he
suffered shame; endured pain and betrayal. He is in this with us. When you go
through a fire, he will be with you so you burn together. “I will be with him
in trouble” (Psalm 91:15b, NIV).
This is true: you will fail most times when tempted. You
will try to save yourself by hanging onto the best possible self-salvation scheme
in your reach instead of being still and waiting on him—abiding. In short, you
will not endure temptation always. But the Good News is that we have an
advocate: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with
our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we
are—yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15, NIV).
He doesn’t just help you. “Do your best and God will do the
rest” is not the Gospel; “It is finished” is. He does it all for you. He was
tempted for you, so that his victory over temptation will be credited to your
account. God’s riches (for you) at Christ’s expense—that is the gospel.
When God looks at your account, He doesn’t see all your
failed attempts at withstanding temptation but Jesus’ victories in overcoming
it. In the eyes of our Heavenly father, you are without sin, because your sin
was punished in the body of His Son and ultimately
defeated for good.
The only way to overcome temptation is if God endures it for us.