Hear the Word of God, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is 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.” (1 Cor. 10:13)
Earlier I said there are realities we forget when being tempted that can deepen our resolve to live bold for the glory of God and be firm in our commitment to Christ in the face of temptation. This verse gives us such realities. The first one is:
Our verse tells us at the beginning that “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man…” Temptation is a curious thing. There is a silly idea present in our culture that says godly men don’t know what temptation is. This is an obvious lie because only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of an army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why non-Christians, in one sense, know very little about temptation — they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in and therefore never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us because they have never tried to fight it. We know what it feels like to be tempted. We know the enticement, the luring, the desire, the promise, and the draw into what is forbidden. We know when we’re in a weak spot temptation often seems like an Everest of a mountain in front of us, and when we’re feeling strong temptation may seem no more than a crack in the road. But temptation can be so subtle that one who feels strong may get so comfortable in that “strength” that they cease to realize they’ve gotten spiritually lazy and have become weaker and more prone to attack than the average man who reads his Bible every day.
Temptation is a danger we must realize exists. Don’t miss the fact that behind temptation there is a Tempter. The Devil has many names. He is the Accuser, reminding us of all the wrong we’ve done so we’ll think we are under the wrath of God at all times. He is the Father of lies, whispering to our ears nothing but false truths in an effort to get us away from the whole counsel of God. He is Satan, the serpent who tempts and entices us with things we know we’ll enjoy in the short term but will always regret in the long term. So it comes time for the question we all face. What is it for you? Right now as you sit in your seats, how are you being tempted? What is the Devil whispering to you? “If people really knew who you were, they’d ask you to leave.” If the pastor knew what you’ve done, he wouldn’t talk to you.” “Don’t know you remember how he treated you? Why should you be loving to someone like that?” “Your parents think you don’t know anything.” “Your child hates you.” “Hmmm….no one is home, no one would know if I took a drink…or clicked on that website…” “If the people in your church knew the thoughts that went through your mind pastor, they’d be in different church!” So you see, from the oldest of us to the youngest of us, we all deal with temptation in its varieties. This is where we can see our first ray of hope, because temptation is no respecter of persons and comes to us all, we can find help in one another. You see, Paul tells us this in our verse. “No temptation has overtaken you except what is…WHAT? COMMON TO MAN.” What does this mean? It means that we can never say, in our temptation, that we are the only person struggling with this specific thing at the current moment. We are only tempted with those things that are common to man. We’re not alone. There are others who have walked through these things before, or perhaps are walking through them right now. This doesn’t mean we all face the same temptations, but there are enough underlying similarities present to show that though we struggle in different ways, we all struggle with the same things. But you see, in order to find this out we must let another know about our struggles.
This, I have found, is not only hard to do, it’s rare for anyone to do. We think people will judge us, stop being friends with us, or leave us; when the reality is they’re probably struggling with something that they feel just as awful about as the thing you’re struggling with. We are so easily deceived aren’t we? I know it takes time, and it is always really messy, but if we we’re honest with one another about our struggles, I’m sure we’d all be stunned at how many of us deal with exactly the same issues. Why else do you go to Church with others? Why not just watch Church at home on TV? Do you come to show the church your nice, neat, and proper put-together life? To put on display your own squeaky clean-ness? We do not go to Church to put on a show, this is real life gospel reality that matters for all of eternity. May we never treat the gathering of the saints as just a glib, careless moment and grieve the heart of God! We are a group of wretched sinners who have earned damnation but been found by the redeeming hand of God, doing life together under the headship of our strong savior Jesus Christ!
The fact that our temptations are “common to man” releases us from fits of self-pity, and frees us to enjoy Jesus together.