No temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently. —1 Corinthians 10:13
Years ago, a comedian’s favorite punch line was, “The devil made me do it.” The audience roared. Why did people laugh so hard? Was it because they wanted it to be true? Did they want to absolve themselves of responsibility for their actions by pointing to an outside force?
It’s always easy to blame someone else or outside forces for our actions. We hear people all the time who tell us, “My father never said a kind word to me.” “My cousin abused me.” “People in our neighborhood shunned me because I wore old and patched clothes.” “I never had money when I was growing up, so now as soon as my paycheck comes, it’s gone.”
Those statements are probably true, and they may explain why we suffer. Those are terrible situations, and it’s sad that people should have to go through such pain in their lives.
Yet we don’t have the right to blame other people or circumstances for our behavior. We can’t use them as an excuse to stay in bondage. Christ came to set us free. In the opening verse, Paul makes it clear that all of us have our own set of temptations, and for each of us, the circumstances may be different. But the promise God gives is the certainty of a way to escape, regardless of our circumstances. The escape is provided, but we must make use of it.
On the morning news, the reporter showed a restaurant that had caught on fire. One woman stood within sight of the back exit but she didn’t move. She stood twenty feet away and screamed. A coworker rushed back inside and grabbed her. She fought him, but he finally managed to drag her out.
Isn’t that sometimes how it works with God’s people? We know the way of escape, but we seem paralyzed. Or we blame someone or something for our inability to move. Or we think, Here it is again. I know I should learn how to deal with these situations, but I’ll give in just as I’ve always given in. I’m too weak to deal with this right now.
Our weakness is one of our greatest excuses. We may be weak, but God is strong, and He is willing to be our strength. If we will trust Him and take the necessary steps of faith, He will help us break free from our bondages.
What we need to understand is that Satan takes our circumstances—no matter what they are—and uses them to build strongholds in our lives. He’ll use whatever he can—our sense of weakness, our problems from childhood, or the wrong things we did when we were twelve years old. If the devil can darken our minds—make us think we can’t possibly win—we’ve lost. We need to keep reminding ourselves that we serve a victorious God who has provided the spiritual weapons we need to tear down the devil’s strongholds.
One more thing: When we give in to the temptation, aren’t we subtly saying that God is not able to help us? We don’t enjoy taking full responsibility for our actions—or, in many cases, our inaction—but we need to. We need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves, shifting blame, and ignoring situations. We need to believe the promise of God that declares He is faithful and will always deliver us in plenty of time. We don’t need to live in fear, always feeling that our problems are too much for us to handle. We must have a “can-do” attitude. One that says, “I can do whatever I need to do whenever I need to do it.” Sometimes we are even tempted to blame God for our troubles, but we must remember the words previously quoted: >“. . . but God is faithful . . . and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted . . . beyond your ability and strength of resistance . . .”
That’s God’s promise, and He lays His reputation on the line with that promise. God never abandons us or leaves us helpless. We can be like the woman who screamed but wouldn’t move. Or we can choose to say, “Look! There’s the door of escape! Thanks for providing it!”
Our problems are personal and they are often internal. They involve our thoughts and our attitudes. The results—the outward behavior—flow from those thoughts and attitudes. If we keep our mind turned toward Jesus, and if we listen to His voice, we know there is an escape route for us—always.
Father God, forgive me for blaming You, my circumstances, or other people for my failures. You are the Way-Maker for me in every temptation. I’m going to trust You to tear down the devil’s strongholds in my mind, in Jesus’ name. Amen.