Bible Study Blog

Temptations - More Than We Can Bear?

by Brandy Webb

Is it really true that “God will not make you go through more than you can handle”? You may not agree with me, but I do not think this is true. The idea comes from 1 Corinthians 10:13. Let’s look at what it really says,

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.

The word “temptation” in Greek is peirasmos, and my edition of Strong’s states that it is “a putting to proof.” Going further to the root word, it means a test. I decided to look further at this word.

First step was to read all of 1 Corinthians 10 because I know that Paul can be hard to understand if you just take one scripture out of a chapter. He is probably one of the most misquoted apostles. The first thing I noticed is that he reminds us about Israel when they came out of Egypt, and of how God became displeased with many of them and overthrew them in the wilderness (1 Cor 10:1-6). After this, he warns us to not be idolaters (vs 7), do not indulge in sexual immorality (vs 8), do not put Christ to the test (vs 9), and do not grumble (vs 10).

Then, he warns us that these things are there for us to learn from, because if we become prideful we can fall just like they did (vs 12). It is after this that he states that we will not face any temptations that are uncommon to humankind. In other words, we will never be tested to the point that we will have an excuse to be cut off from God’s people. Everyone faces temptations because we live in an evil world, and God makes sure that it is not more than we can bear.

Obviously, we are to be on the watch for temptations. Jesus makes it a point to pray for deliverance from temptations in His model prayer (Matt 6:13). He warns us to watch and pray so that we do not enter into temptation for “the flesh is weak” (Matt 26:41; Mark 14:38).

Think about how Satan tempted Jesus at the end of His forty-day fast. First, he tempted Him with food. Now, I am not saying food is sinful, but the point was Satan wanted Jesus to break His fast. Satan wanted Jesus to stumble, so he came at Him with probably the easiest way to make someone stumble during a fast, tempting Him with food (Matt 4:4). And Jesus uses the power of the Scripture to withstand the temptation (Matt 4:5 is referring back Deut 8:3).

Second, Satan tempts Jesus by wanting Him to test the Scriptures because it was written in Psalms 91:11-12 that the Messiah would be protected by angels, but once again Jesus rebuts him with another scripture to not tempt the Lord your God (Matt 4:6-7). Third, Satan tempts him with power (Matt 4:8). How many of us have witnessed people who have fallen away once they became “powerful”?

Temptations, to me, are things that our carnal flesh craves, sinful things that can turn us away from God and towards the desires of the flesh. Misplacing our priorities so that God is not first in our life (idolatry), giving into the world’s love of sexual pleasures, compromising our faith, not being thankful and grumbling all the time, etc…

The main thing that I am trying to prove is that temptation is not the same as trials. We do go through things that are hard and that are probably more than we can humanly handle. I am not trying to sound negative here, because it is this thought that makes us realize we need God and Jesus to endure in this life. Remember, His “grace is sufficient for you, for [His] power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Cor 12:9). When we are weak, He is strong (2 Cor 12:10).

When I realized that we do go through things that make us run into the arms of the Almighty because it is too much for us to bear, it lifted a heavy burden off of me personally. See, I would really judge myself harshly when I gave into despair, fear, and anxiety during trials, because I thought “God doesn’t make you go through more than you can handle,” so, why are you showing lack of faith here? I would doubt my faith if I couldn’t seem to bear the trial and move on. Or, maybe the whopper, if I am going through more than I can handle, then does that mean I am not part of God’s people?

These are faith destructive thoughts, and the moment I started really looking into this idea, the more I realized that this scripture had been misquoted. And, the funny thing is, it didn’t freak me out with the realization that I may go though things that are totally overwhelming, because it made me realize that is why I need God and my Savior. They are our place of Safety, and I can go to them when I am “heavy laden,” and in their refuge I will find rest (Matt 11:28).