Temptation is a battle for every Christian, and the Bible has much to say about this. One common passage is 1 Corinthians 10:13, which states, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
The New Living Translation puts it this way: “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
This verse is part of a discourse on food sacrificed to idols, which began in chapter 8. Later, Paul offers words of caution for his readers regarding sin and temptation. He cites the failures of the Israelites in the Old Testament as a warning against indulging in evil. Idolatry, sexual immorality, and even grumbling against God are actions a Christian should avoid. This applies to both the strong and weak. The former should be careful not to fall (1 Corinthians 10:12), and the weak should not be led astray by the freedom of the strong.
We know we should avoid sin, but, to our dismay, we still face temptations. This is a consequence of the sinful world in which we live and the sinful nature within that desires what is contrary to God’s will (see Galatians 5:17). There will come a time when we’re glorified and completely free of sin (Romans 8:30; 1 John 3:2). For now, as we go through the process of sanctification, Christians long for eternity (2 Corinthians 5:1–5; 1 Thessalonians 4:1–2).
First Corinthians 10:13 addresses our inclination to sin with a fact: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.” This can be paraphrased as “there’s nothing you are tempted by that no one has ever gone through before.” Our temptations are not unique to us; others have battled with something similar. This is encouraging for tempted Christians who feel no one will understand what they are being enticed to. It also prevents despair. If someone else has overcome the same temptation, there’s an open door for more overcomers.
The remaining part of the verse provides further encouragement: “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” The popular slogan “God will not give you more than you can handle” comes from a misinterpretation of this verse. We will face hardship, and some of those difficulties might very well be things we cannot handle on our own. But, if we belong to Christ, God will not allow any difficulty to come our way that we are incapable of bearing in the power of Christ. With every temptation and every testing we face, God will remain faithful to us. He might not keep us from the test, but He will provide a way to endure the test.
It is worth noting that God does not tempt anyone (James 1:13). However, He is sovereign over everything, including our temptations. He knows our weaknesses, and we can trust in His faithfulness when facing temptation. It may not always seem so, but there’s always a way out. God provides an escape. We should rest in God’s sovereignty, faithfulness, and strength to overcome.