Tuesday, May 17, 2011

He Will Provide the Way of Escape

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. 1 Cor 10:13 ESV

I have had cause recently to think about this verse.  To be honest I think for the past few years I had let myself forget that it existed.  Let me elaborate.

I sin.  Probably no big shock.  I wouldn't be surprised to hear that you do as well.  The problem though doesn't lie just in that.  Don't get me wrong- sin is a big problem.   So big in fact that God sent His son to die.  But the further problem comes in when we think we have no choice but to sin.  That somehow whatever circumstance that was before us was so unique and so powerful that there was no other option for us but to sin.  For me the mental justification usually is along the lines of crazy post-partum hormones, crazy pregnant hormones, lack of sleep, or a personal "favorite" if they hadn't sinned first then I wouldn't have sinned second.   Hormones, lack of sleep, and people sinning against you are very real temptations.  But they aren't anything that is not common to man.  They don't suddenly make God not faithful.  They don't suddenly vanquish the Spirit from my life.  In every situation that I have sinned it is because I made a choice- I did not take the way of escape that was provided for me by God.  I know that one was there because God said it was.   And I can believe Him or I can choose not to.  I am going to choose to believe Him.

Practically what does this mean?  I mean it kind of seems like I am saying that it isn't inevitable that I sin.  In fact that is exactly what I am saying.  And I am saying it because I believe the Bible says it.  The problem I think so many of us have (many times myself included) is that when we look at scripture like 1 Cor 10:13 the first thing that comes to mind is all the times I have sinned since becoming Christ's.  I greatly desire to interpret this passage through my own experience, when instead I should be looking at my life and asking why it isn't lining up with the truth clearly shown in scripture.  When my life does not line up with scripture then the problem isn't with the truth of scripture- it is with my life. The other problem I know I have when thinking about this is the temptation to think ahead to all the times in the future that I know I'll be tempted to sin and think it is utterly impossible that I'll always follow God in the way of escape.  The solution for this is two-fold: first and most importantly it is impossible for me in my power to obey God.  Completely impossible.  But it isn't impossible for God.  He has given me everything needed for life and Godliness (2 Pet. 1:3) and if I come to Him and obey through His power, His spirit, His work then it isn't impossible.  If I try to obey through my power I might succeed a time or  two, but ultimately I will sin.  And truly obeying through my power isn't success, it is self-reliance which has no place in the life of the Christian.  The second solution to the overwhelming idea of obeying God in all circumstances is to stop worrying about tomorrow for sufficient for the day is it's own troubles (Matt 6:34).  In fact, we are commanded not to worry, so to do so is sin.  But that is the good news- if we aren't to worry because God has commanded us not to then we don't have to try and not worry through our own power- this is something else that God will work in us and for us to do!

So what to do with this?  Choose to believe God.  Choose to say to Him "God I choose to obey you and I choose to do it only in your power, through your spirit."  Get up in the morning and do not be anxious (Phil 4:6-7), but pray to our great God to show you the way of escape, pray about specific areas of temptation that you know will arise, and pray for the ones that you don't know about so they don't catch you off guard.   And if we do sin, we have an advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1).  We can confess our sins and we are forgiven.  We do need to confess our sins, even if we are already Christians.   Don't neglect this.  Confess to the Lord, immediately and fully.  Recognize that it is sin against the Holy and living God, not something to be down played in your mind and heart.  Name the sin for what it is, repent, and ask God for His power to take the way of escape next time.

Scripture to reflect on on this topic:
But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 1 John 3:5-6

No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 1 John 3:9

We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.1 John 5:18 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. By faithAbraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. (Hebrews 11:7-8 NIV)
        Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call         
        people from among all                             
        the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. (Romans 1:5 NIV)
... but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him. (Romans 16:26 NIV) 

And because the whole passage is just too wonderful:
 Romans 6: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can nwe who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized pinto Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We wereqburied therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as rChrist was raised from the dead by sthe glory of the Father, we too might walk in tnewness of life.For uif we have been united with him in va death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know thatwour old self1 xwas crucified with him in order that ythe body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For zone who has died ahas been set free2 from sin. Nowbif we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.We know that cChrist, being raised from the dead, will never die again; ddeath no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, eonce for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.11 So you also must consider yourselves fdead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.12 Let not gsin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 hDo not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but ipresent yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For jsin kwill have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? lAre we to sin mbecause we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves nto anyone as obedient slaves,3 you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But othanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to thepstandard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, qhaving been set free from sin, rhave become slaves of righteousness. 19 sI am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. Fortjust as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members uas slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.20 vFor when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 wBut what fruit were you getting at that time from the things xof which you are now ashamed? yFor the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you zhave been set free from sin andahave become slaves of God, bthe fruit you get leads to sanctification and cits end, eternal life. 23 dFor the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  

And of course and very importantly in the end when we don't sin, when we flee to God and take the way of escape it is God who deserves the credit, the Glory, the praise.  It was Him who provided the way, the power, the strength.  Indeed it is His spirit that allows us to even know that there is a way of escape to begin with.  We work out our salvation with fear and trembling for it is the Spirit of God that works in us.  None of this is cause for boasting in our own strength for we have none.  But praise be to God that we need none of our own.  Praise Him for the faith that makes obedience not only possible, but easy and normal.  Praise Him for the gift of His son that makes the faith possible.  Praise Him. 

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