Updated: Jun 11, 2022
An Exposition of 1 Corinthians 10:13 based on Jay Adams’ booklet Christ and Your Problems.
Have you ever found yourself in a problem that seemed too great to bear? Or a situation that seemed too complicated to solve? And you thought, “No one should ever have to go through this…I can’t handle this; how can I be held responsible for the sin that my situation is causing me to commit?”
Jill has been married to a selfish husband for ten years. At the beginning of their marriage, she hoped he would change, but those hopes are now gone, and she feels justified in leaving.
“No one should have to put up with a husband like that,” she says to herself. “I did my time.” “No one deserves this; I think I have a pretty good excuse.”
Bill has been an occasional drinker for years, but lately, he has found himself drinking more and more. He’s getting drunk every day, and he can’t imagine going a day without having a drink. He thinks he should quit, but because alcoholism has been in his family, he believes he is stuck. He just can’t quit.
Is there a situation in your life like that?
You’re suffering from a problem. You have a sin that you just can’t overcome.
You feel justified in doing it because your situation is unique, and you’re stuck in a rut so deep that the walls of your valley have shut out all the light. Is there hope for a situation like that? Is there hope for you?
God’s word sheds light on this kind of darkness. I would argue that each one of us is facing or will face trials and temptations like this.
It could be the pressures of life, family, marriage, work, or sickness. It could be a difficult relationship. The possible trials are endless, but God’s word holds out the same hope to everyone.
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 Corinthians 10:13
This passage of Scripture contains four truths that create an impenetrable promise of victory to those in Christ.
Number One: No one’s situation is unique
Many other people have faced and are facing the same kinds of trials you are, and by God’s grace, they have made it through.
This doesn’t mean that everyone faces the same exact trials but rather that everyone faces the same kinds of trials.
All temptations are common to man. Therefore, you are not alone. Many others have walked the same path before you.
Whatever your temptation or trial may be, remind yourself of this, “I’m not the first one to have this problem.”
It’s all too easy for us to think we are all alone in our struggle.
The person with an addiction may feel isolated.
The person in a bad marriage may look around at all the couples in church and think, we’re the only ones struggling.
The person tempted to be dishonest at work may think that he is the only one to face such a dilemma.
But it’s not true.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.
Each situation is unique in that you are you, and no one has been you before, and no one has been in your exact situation before. But your situation is similar in kind or type to many other problems that are common to man.
Even the person whose struggle is with homosexual lust is essentially no different than the man who struggles with heterosexual lust. Both have to deny themselves. Both are tempted by temptations all around.
Both have the same propensity to failure, and both have the same temptation to wallow in despair rather than turn to Jesus in hope.
Our culture says we can be excused if we had a bad upbringing or if our situation is hard.
Our culture says we can be excused from doing what is right if the other person in the situation is doing wrong, and it’s all too easy to believe these lies and keep ourselves stuck.
This verse flies in the face of all our excuses and blame-shifting. It has smacked me in the face a few times.
It says we all face difficult situations, and we all have the personal responsibility to do what is right anyway.
We cannot say, “Well, my case is special so that I can be excused.”
And that’s good because excusing ourselves and staying in our problem is an unsatisfactory solution that hurts us and those around us.
Jay Adams shares a story about a road trip near Colorado Springs in a park called the “Garden of the gods.” He says, “In this beautiful natural wonder you can see rocks balanced on a pinpoint and vividly colored scenery on all sides. As you drive along slowly, viewing the marvels about you, suddenly you are confronted with a problem: directly ahead looms a wall of sheer rock, and the road on which you are traveling disappears into what seems to be a crack so narrow that it looks as though you’d have a hard time driving a VW through it. Looking around for a place in which to turn and go back your eye falls upon a small white sign. It reads:
NARROWS. YES YOU CAN
A MILLION OTHERS HAVE
And what do you know—a minute and a half later, a million and one have done it.”
And that’s how it is with our problems. They may seem impossible, but Scripture teaches this. Yes, you can. A million others have.
You’re not alone. Your struggle is not unique; it’s common. It’s not impossible, for nothing is impossible with God.
truth Number Two: God is Faithful
God is faithful. Is there anything more sure or more certain than the faithfulness of God?
One could think of the faithfulness of the sun or the seasons.
Has there ever been a morning where the sun did not rise? Has Minnesota ever skipped a winter?
The sunrise and the seasons are faithful, but God is even more faithful.
The sun will burn out. The world as we know it will come to an end, but God will never end, and his faithfulness will never cease.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. - Lamentations 3:22-23
God showed his faithfulness to Abraham
We could find examples of God’s faithfulness etched into almost every page of Scripture, but the story of Abraham and Sarah is one of my favorites.
God told Abraham to leave his country and go to the land now called Israel, and he promised him that he would become the father of a great nation.
But there was one problem. Abraham was not a father at all. He had no children, and though he believed God, his wife remained barren for years and years and years.
Abraham was getting to be about 85 years old, and his wife was about 75, and he was starting to lose a little hope. That’s when God visited him.
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. – Genesis 15:1-16
This is a beautiful picture. God met Abraham in his despair, and you can almost see God’s arm around his shoulder as he pointed with his other hand at the stars. God was saying, “Don’t worry, Abraham. I’m faithful.” And Abraham believed.
In hope [Abraham] believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. – Romans 4:18-21
Abraham knew with all his heart that God is faithful.
And though it seemed impossible, Abraham believed against all odds, and sure as the sunrise, God was faithful.
The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” – Genesis 21:1
Beautiful, amazing, heart-wrenching, the story of Abraham and Sarah displays the faithfulness of God in all its glory. Notice Abraham was one hundred years old when Isaac was born. That means that God waited another fifteen years after he had told him to number the stars before he gave him his son.
Fifteen years! Can you imagine that? That’s fifteen years on top of eighty-five years.
They waited a long, long, long time.
But that doesn’t mean God was not faithful or that he forgot.
Sometimes God makes us wait for a specific purpose even when we don’t know what that purpose is.
And often, that purpose has to do with something much bigger than ourselves, and it was in this case.
In this story, God teaches us a lesson that we all need to grab on to and hold close when life gets hard.
The lesson is this: even when things seem entirely dark, and all hope is lost—God has not forgotten, and he is faithful to fulfill His promises even when everything around us says it will never happen.
They say the sky is darkest just before dawn, but when all hope seems lost, the sun will rise again. God is faithful.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. - Lamentations 3:22-23
God is faithful, and in 1 Corinthians 10:13, he stamps his faithfulness to this promise:
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.
Truth Number Three: He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability
Jay Adams says this means…
You can’t say can’t.
You can’t say can’t because God is faithful not to give you more than you can handle in the strength he provides.
Have you ever heard yourself say, “I just can’t”?
“I can’t stay in this relationship.”
“I can’t go one more day.”
“I can’t overcome my sin.”
“I can’t handle one more disappointment.”
“I can’t submit to my husband.”
“I can’t love my wife.”
“I can’t do what God is calling me to do. I’ve tried, and it is just too hard!”
Often, a person will get stuck in what seems like a hopeless rut because they have believed the lie that they “just can’t” do what God has called them to do.
Jay Adams says, “Some might suppose that it is indicative of a basic weakness or inability that underlies their…problems. This explanation leads to the conclusion that these are people who constitutionally, or for some other reason, really can’t do what God requires. That is, of course an explanation that accepts [their] view that [they] are helpless. It also renders [anyone who wants to help as] helpless.”
Then he says, “But there is another explanation of this phenomenon: the biblical explanation is that men ‘cop out’ on their responsibilities and fail to accomplish their tasks because of sin.”
It is not a constitutional problem with our nature that makes us unable to do certain things.
It is not as if we physically cannot possibly do what God wants us to do.
Deep down, it is because we really just want to do what we want to do, rather than what God wants us to do, because of sin.
You might think that sounds harsh. But it’s not harsh. It’s true. When we choose not to obey God, even when obedience is hard, it’s still sin.
And the second reason it’s not harsh is that this truth takes away our helplessness, and it takes away hopelessness. This truth is good news.
If it were impossible for Christians to obey God in some areas of their life, that would be hopeless, but if the real reason we fail to obey is because of our sin, there is hope because Jesus Christ defeated sin.
The blood of Jesus saves us from sin in every way. It takes away the condemnation of sin, and it takes away the power of sin in our lives.
And in that truth, our hope comes to life.
If it were impossible for us to obey God, we would be hopeless. But if our failure is due to our sin, we can do what God calls us to do because Jesus has defeated both the punishment and power of sin in our lives.
So, God, in His loving faithfulness, shines his light of hope down into our pit of self-loathing, pity, and despair and says, “You can’t say can’t! I’m faithful, remember, and I won’t let you be tempted beyond your ability. I will never give you more than you can handle. Look to my Son, Jesus. He is standing right there next to you, ready to help you out. What are you waiting for?”
God confidently promises with the assurance of his faithfulness that he will not give you more than you can handle—not because he has confidence that we are so strong—but because he has confidence in His Son, Jesus Christ, who lives inside of you as a believer.
If you’re a Christian, the same power that rose Jesus from the dead lives in you. Therefore, you can’t say can’t.
God is faithful, and he will not allow you to 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 Corinthians 10:13
Truth Number Four: No matter how hard the trial or temptation, God will always provide a way of escape.
Sometimes we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place.
From our point of view, it sometimes looks like there is absolutely no way out of our trial.
We are trapped in a box with no way out, so instead of finding a way out, Jay Adams says, we try to “‘cop out’ by giving up…and quitting.”
But, “Christians are never in a box from which they cannot escape,” he says, “God can make the walls of the box fall as flat as the walls of Jericho; He can open up the lid, reach down and lift you out. Or, He can make the bottom fall out.”
God will never put us in a box without an exit, but this raises a question.
How do we find a way of escape?
Often, we feel trapped because the exit door we want to use will not open.
We often want our trial or temptation to simply disappear without any sacrifice on our part.
We think, “I’m a Christian. Why is my life so hard? Why do my temptations continue like this?”
Here’s why: we keep trying to take the wrong exit. We keep trying to take the easy way out, but to escape, we sometimes must do what is right—even though it is hard.
The answer to our question, then, is this: you must do the next right thing.
Here’s an example. Bill, the man struggling with alcohol, wishes he could quit, but here’s the problem. He’s not willing to seek help, and he’s not willing to get rid of any of his alcohol.
The exit route for Bill is right in front of his face. He knows the way out, but he still feels trapped because he doesn’t want to take that exit.
He wants an easier exit, but there isn’t one. So, he remains trapped.
Sometimes getting rid of sin means getting radical. If Bill wants to escape, he must do the next right thing.
Sometimes, escaping a difficult trial or temptation requires a sacrifice, but it doesn’t mean the escape is not there.
However, there are some trials from which we cannot physically escape in this life.
Some Christians are paralyzed and wheelchair-bound. Some Christians are chronically ill. Some Christians are imprisoned for their faith.
No matter what they do, they cannot physically escape their trial in this life.
But that does not mean God is not faithful, and that does not mean they will be unable to bear it.
Sometimes the way of escape is through God taking us home to be with him, but he doesn’t leave us helpless while we wait.
First Corinthians 10:13 says, with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
The way of escape for someone suffering physically is not necessarily a physical escape; it’s often the blessing of patient endurance.
The person in such a situation must still do the next right thing, whatever it may be, and God will give them the strength to endure it.
The apostle Paul had a trial like this. He had the blessing of seeing heaven before he died, and he saw such wonderful things that God had to do something so he wouldn’t get too proud.
To keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
– 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
If I promised you that if you trust Jesus, all your difficulties in life will go away, I’d be telling you a big lie. I’d be giving you false hope.
God doesn’t promise his children that life will be easy, but he does promise us he will give us the strength we need.
He will give us an escape, and that escape is the ability to live by his grace and for his glory even amid our suffering. It is the ability to do the next right thing no matter how hard it is.
We may be struck down, but in Christ, we are never defeated.
If you are struggling with a trial or temptation today that you have not been able to overcome, I want to encourage you to take this verse to heart.
Memorize it and meditate on its truths.
You may still be holding the hope of this verse at arm’s length. I know I have before. It takes faith to believe in this promise.
If you are holding this hope at arm’s length today, share your struggle with someone who can encourage you.
Sometimes the help God gives us is through another brother or sister in Christ.
Often, our struggles, especially with sin, are not easily won because we don’t take the exit door of seeking help from a friend.
If you know what you need to do, turn to the Lord, depend on his strength, and by his grace, do the next right thing and then the next right thing and then the next. You will find strength that you didn’t even realize was there.
 Jay Adams, "Christ And Your Problems," (Phillipsburg, New Jersey, P&R Publishing, 1983).