Monday, June 17

Common to Man



No temptation has overtaken you 
except such as is common to man; 
but God is faithful,
who will not allow you to be tempted 
beyond what you are able,
but with the temptation 
will also make the way of escape,
that you may be able to bear it.


This is a passage I use often in counseling, but just this week, I gained a new insight from these words of Paul, and I'd like to share with you a few thoughts about it.

"If you just knew what I have to put up with..."


According to God, every temptation you face is "common to man".  No matter how you feel about it, you are not the only person who has had a wife/husband like you have, or parents/kids like you have, or the suffering and heartache you have.  I know we all want to think our pain is somehow more than everyone else's, but really, it's not.  God will not allow Satan to pick on you in a special, unique way that no-one else can understand.  Yes, the circumstances of your temptation will be uniquely yours, but in its essence, the pain/sorrow of abandonment is the same as the pain/sorrow of abandonment...loneliness is loneliness, anger is anger, and lust is lust.  You should take courage in knowing that whatever challenge or heartache you now face, many, many Christians before you have faced...successfully.

"Well, when he said that, I just couldn't take anymore..."


Really?  That's not what God says.  Here He says that He "will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able".  God limits your temptation.  He knows you, and your limits.  Just as He did with Job, God specifically sets fences on Satan and his minions as to what they cannot do to you.  He will not allow your grief or enticement to be so big, or last so long that you have no choice other than to give in.  Truth be known, when "he said that" you could take it.  You could love him [even if he was your enemy], you could maintain your faith [even though your loss was so great].  If you don't, it's not that you couldn't, it's that you didn't.

"I just want the pain to stop..."

This is really the crux of the matter.  A huge percentage of people who come for counseling want out of the jam they are currently in...but they don't want to change anything.  Do you want to change?  Yes, there have been times in my life that I was pretty focused on stopping the pain too.

Here is where I used to latch onto the word "escape" and tell people that they too could escape their temptations, heartaches, suffering and trials.  But that is not what this promise says...look closely at the words of scripture here.


with the temptation will also make the way of escape,
that you may be able to bear it.

God's promise is that He will provide a way of escape, not from the temptation, but through the temptation.  He does not promise to make your trouble go away, even if you are faithful to Him.  He promises you will be able to bear it.  That's right...God promises to help you endure it.

Jesus said as much in the Sermon on the Mount.  If you hear and obey, you are building on a rock.  If you hear and forget, you are building on sand.  The rains fall and the floods come in every life.  Storms are common to man.  Building on a rock doesn't mean no storms, it means you weather the storms.

The final piece of this puzzle is actually something we just flew right past in the text.  The foundation, the rock, that this wonderful promise is built on:


God is faithful

This promise is founded on the faithfulness of God Himself.  

It is a simple equation: If He is faithful, this is true.  If this is not true, He is not faithful.  So, which do you believe?  You can't have it both ways.  You cannot serve the God of the Bible, trust His faithfulness, and deny this promise.  You cannot make excuse for your sin.  God, in His great mercy, has chained Satan, like a mean pit bull.  Oh, yes, he seeks to devour you, just as he sought Peter.  And yes, he is dangerous.  But he is defeated, and as a defeated foe, he cannot get off his chain.  

Your troubles, temptations, terror, they are real, but they are common.  God has limited the the enemy; Satan cannot tempt you above what you can handle.  And He provides a way for you to endure the temptation.

God is faithful, so quit making excuses.

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