Just added, a new message preached from 1 Corinthians chapter 10, by Dr J Stewart Gillespie:
Outline notes available for this message:
One of my favourite hymns and one of the first I learned on the accordion:
“Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.”
Over the years, Christians have sought solace, and rightly so of course in every trial and temptation in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is no question that this right and proper; we have seen that throughout our studies in Hebrews; especially in the picture of Christ as our Great High Priest, such as Hebrews 4:14-16.
This verse here in 1 Co 10:13 has also been used for comfort and solace of a slightly different sort, not so much:
In a Person – where our solace and faith ought to lie
In a Provision – which it has been considered this verse offers
Typical of this view:
‘God is wise as well as faithful, and will make our burdens according to our strength. He knows what we can bear. He will make a way to escape: He will deliver either from the trial itself or at least the mischief of it.’ (Matthew Henry)
‘You have been put to no test but such as is common to man: and God is true, who will not let any test come on you which you are not able to undergo but He will make with the test a way out of it, so that you may be able to go through it.’ (Bible in Basic English)
Over the years this verse has been understood as a blanket guarantee that in every trial and test of life God will make a way of escape, a way out from that trial / tribulation.
There are at least 6 problems with this view:
i. Context – is not the general trials and problems of the Christian life
ii. Common temptation (v13) – these temptations are not even unique to Christians
– they are found in every life – believer and unbeliever alike.
iii. Conflict within the verse – the view that this verse speaks about a Divine provision to exit the trials and testings of the Christian life when they get too much, either must deny the reality that God ordains and orders our trials and testings (Job 23:10; Psalm 66:10; Jer 12:3; Zech 13:9; Heb 11:7) or must suppose that somehow God mistakingly over tests believers and so He has to fit a kind of safety release valve or fire exit to His trials because sometimes He misjudges and goes over the score.
iv. Contrary to every day experience and Biblical experience – there was no way of escape for Isaiah, sawn in half with a wooden sword, nor for Zecharias the son of Berechias, slain between the temple and the altar, nor for Stephen, nor for Christ.
v. Contradiction in the verse – “a way of escape that ye may be able to bear it”
vi. Conclusion (10:14) doesn’t fit with a way of escape from trials at all
What is the ‘temptation’ in verse 13?
i. Context – the temptations of 10:7-10 leading to the conclusion of verse 11; ‘now all these…’ and verse 12 ‘wherefore let him that thinketh…’
The context lies in the experiences and failures of Israel in temptation to sin in verses 7 to 10, these experiences were reflective not so much of Divine testing but of human failure in the face of temptation by the flesh (10:8); by Satan (10:7) and by the world (10:8).
James 1:14 “But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed”
in 1 Co 10:7 – The Temptation was to idolatry
in 1 Co 10:8 – The Temptation was to sexual immorality
in 1 Co 10:9 – The Temptation was to discontentment / dissatisfaction
in 1 Co 10:10 – The Temptation was to murmuring / discontentment
The context is that of temptation rather than testing
These 4 episodes of temptation are within the broader setting of 40 years of testing in the wilderness (Deut 8:1ff)
During those 40 years we have 2 overarching experiences:
1. Trial / testing
ordained by God for our blessing
testing with the possibility of failure
permitted by God
temptation with the purpose of failure
Within the setting of the trial:
Satan (1 Co10:7) – behind the worship of the golden calf
Flesh (1 Co 10:8,9) and its desires
World (1 Co10:8) – Moab
Provide the temptations as opportunities for a way out of the trial.
Take Job as an example; a book of trial and testing which is Divinely ordered and ordained
Trial clearly ordered and ordained of God , initiated by God (Job 1:8); “hast thou considered my servant Job?”
Yet in the midst of the trial; the flesh with Jobs wife provides an opportunity to opt out; “curse God and die” (Job 2:9)
This is a trial ultimately for Jobs blessing (Job 42:10ff)
Temptation is the natural / carnal way out of the trial
cf. Peter in John 18:17; “art not thou also one of this mans disciples?”
A potentially dangerous situation, but the flesh has a way out of the trial:
“He saith I am not” (John 18:15)
God provides the trial and we provide the temptation
cf. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo – all they had to do was bow down to the idol and all of their troubles would be over!
The pressure was open to just compromise, a little, fingers crossed, but they didn’t.
Consider David in his trial fleeing from Saul:
1 Sam 24:1ff; 24:10ff
1 Sam 26:1ff; 26:8ff
In verse 13 then we have Gods way of escape rather than mans way of escape in trial!
ii. Common nature of the trial (10:13); ‘there hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man,’ – the trials here are not peculiar to the chastening experiences of the Christian life but to all people.
This is not the testings of;
“he whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”
If this testing is ‘common’ to man it is not the trial of the Christian life
We love to think that our trials, our tests, our temptations are so unique that they excuse all of our failures!
iii. Control over the trial; ‘God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able,’ – ie God is seen as a third party in this temptation, controlling and limiting it rather than as the cause of it. It would seem that God is on our side against the temptation! This temptation happens by Divine permission; ‘permit you to be tempted’
iv. Contrary to every day experience?
Why was there no way of escape for:
Isaiah – sawn in half with a wooden sword
Zechariahs the son of Berechias – slain between the altar and the temple
Stephen – stoned to death?
For the Christian who faces cancer? A way of escape?
The child who loses a parent in bereavement?
So don’t tell me that in every trial and test of the Christian life that there is a way of escape, because frankly I just don’t believe it.
What this is a guarantee for is something completely different; that in the temptations which the Lord permits, but which are initiated by:
There is guaranteed in those temptations to sin, a way out, so that for the believer obedience and righteousness and holiness is always a possibility.
There is always in the Christian life:
a right answer
the opportunity to do what is right
It is never the case that a Christian can say I failed in that temptation because I had no option, I was forced to, compelled to, I had to sin.
There is always the option to do what is right and pleasing to God.
Joseph – “And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.” (Gen 39:11-12) – so don’t tell me you have to commit fornication – you don’t.
v. Contradiction (10:13) ‘way to escape that ye may be able to bear it’
How can our ‘escape’ permit us to ‘bear’ it?
Surely we either ‘bear’ it or ‘escape’ from it?
This makes sense if we:
escape the temptation
bear with the trial
vi. Conclusion (10:14) – ‘wherefore my dearly beloved flee from idolatry.’
The temptation is to idolatry
vii. Challenge (10:15-22)
What is the connection between verse 16 and the preceeding?
Is it simply that?
The Corinthians are indulging in idolatry (v14)
They are assured that there is a way out of that temptation to idolatry (v13)
They must leave idol worship (v14,21) because it is incompatible with their communion with Christ (v16)?
Yet why take the extensive detour through the communion / breaking of bread to make the simple point which the Lord Himself makes in so few words; “no man can serve two masters.”
Was it because the Corinthians laid great weight on their own participation in the Lords supper, whilst continuing to live the old life at Corinth?
That very communion service would condemn their behaviour.
Yet perhaps there is even more to it than that!
1. The true significance of Communion (v16)
2. The true significance of Fellowship (v17)
3. The true significance of idol Worship (v18-20)
1. The true significance of Communion (v16)
A verse often quoted out with its immediate context, yet it most certainly does have a context to gain the full meaning we must grasp the context.
That communion indicates and reminds us not only of the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf but of our fellowship / connection with Him. There is a ‘communion’ of the ‘blood’ and a ‘communion’ of the ‘body’ of Christ. A reminder of our vital living fellowship with the Saviour because of this sacrifice.
As a consequence of this fellowship certain behaviours, practices, experiences are incompatible with the Christian life, because and let us get this, because they are incompatible with Christ!
Communion is also indicative of Gods cure for our problem! If temptation in the wilderness (1 Co 10:7-11) arose when they denied the provision of God, when they abandoned being led (10:7) in favour of being led by the golden calf – in effect the Devil, when the denied their consecration – their death in baptism (10:8) in favour of the lusts of the flesh, and when they became disparaging of the manna which the Lord had provided to feed them (1 Co 10:9) desiring the food of Egypt and the world, they crossed a line and moved away from fellowship with the Lord into the sphere of the world, the flesh and the Devil!
It is the truth of the Lords Supper, of communion, not only that Christ has offered a once and for all sacrifice for sin forever, but that He, by His work perpetually sustains me. Christs work is finished, His salvation continues. He saves forever.
Are you walking daily by the Saviours side?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Do you rest each moment in the Crucified?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
O Cross, that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.