“God is 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.
That is your Lifeline, AMEN.
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