1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
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.
The above is one of my favorite verses to use as I work with someone to begin the process of overcoming a problem in counseling. This is because the verse offers us hope as well as affirms a great deal of personal responsibility. Having hope and taking responsibility while relying on the power of the Holy Spirit is vital for Christian growth and progress in counseling situations.
A look at the verse above will show that every phrase is filled with hope and with a call to own responsibility for our own sin. The verse begins, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” That sentence lets us know that what we are facing, whatever it is, will not be unique to us. Others have traveled this road before. Others have felt pain similar to ours. Others have faced struggles like ours. We are not alone.
The fact that we are not alone is both encouraging and challenging. It is encouraging, because we know that, if others have survived what we are facing, we can survive it too. However, if others have survived what we are facing, we do not have any excuse for our own behavior. We must take responsibility for our actions, because our case is not a unique case meriting an exception. See how the phrase gives us hope and demands personal responsibility?
Look at the next couple of phrases which declare, “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.” Again, we have hope. God is faithful. He will not let us be tempted beyond our ability. He will be there. He will not fail. He will not leave us. He is always faithful and true. This is hopeful. It gives us strength as we face our challenges.
However, the fact that God is faithful and will not let us be tempted beyond our ability is also a call to responsibility. We cannot declare that God has failed us. We cannot declare that the temptation that we faced was unconquerable. We cannot declare that God had not given us enough of whatever we need so that we could avoid sin. We simply cannot declare that we had to sin in our circumstances, because God has declared himself faithful.
The next phrase is another echo of the same truth. Paul says, “but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape.” The hope is the truth that God provides us a way of escape, a way not to sin and fail in our hardship. The responsibility is, well, the same thing: God provides a way out, so we cannot claim we had no choice when we sin.
The final phrase, “that you may be able to endure it,” is also quite interesting. It is hopeful, as we find that God will help us to endure our trials. It is also challenging, as it does not promise relief from our challenges, but the ability to endure, to stand up under the strain. God never promises us freedom from pain or hardship in this life. No serious Christian who handles God’s word faithfully can declare that God promises us that we will not have hardships, or that those hardships will not continue. The promise is that God will never give us hardships that he is not also willing and able to help us to endure for his glory. And, we of course know that, in the life to come, all hardships and pains of this life will reflect forever the great glory and majesty of our God who brought us through them to his beautiful and comforting presence in eternity.
So, the lesson of 1 Corinthians 10:13 is pretty simple. God is with us. He will not leave us. He will not let us be burdened to a point where we have an excuse for sin. We have hope and a call to own our responsibility for our reaction to hardships.