“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.”
First Peter 5:8 gives a warning that we dare not ignore, namely, that the Devil is constantly on the prowl, looking for people to devour. Satan and his minions hate believers, and they strive to trip us up, tempting us and trying to lure us into sin and impair our effectiveness in God’s kingdom. Lest we think that we can withstand the Enemy on our own, the Apostle tells us in verse 9 how we must respond. We are to resist the Devil, firm in our faith. If we attempt to defeat Satan’s assaults in our own power, we will fail every time. But if we stand firm in our faith, relying on the power of Christ, in whom we are justified before the Father, we will have victory over sin in our lives. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus makes the same point, albeit in a different manner. The sixth petition of this prayer has us beseeching the Lord to “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil,” that is, the Evil One (Matt. 6:13; see Luke 11:4). When we pray this petition, asking God to help us resist all temptation, we confess our inability to stand against Satan on our own and remind ourselves that we can defeat sin only if we stand firm in Christ our Savior. This is a petition that is intended more to keep our focus on our need for our Creator than it is to move Him to act in a certain way. After all, as today’s passage indicates, God never allows His children to face a temptation that it is impossible to overcome. In fact, in every temptation we face, the Lord provides a way out (1 Cor. 10:13). But we cannot take advantage of this way of escape if we do not look for it. The surest way to failure is to look within ourselves for the power to resist sin instead of looking outside ourselves to Christ and the way out of every temptation He provides. By asking God continually to deliver us from evil, we become more aware of the need to look for this escape in the hour of trial. God tempts no one (James 1:13), but He sovereignly allows the world, the flesh, and the Devil to tempt His people. Yet, the temptations we face are all common to mankind, and He does not tempt us past the point that we can, with His help, endure (1 Cor. 10:13). Thus, when we succumb to temptation, we cannot blame Him for presenting us with circumstances that are unusually powerful or so uncommon that we have an excuse for giving into sin. The fault when we sin is wholly our own, for we give in only when we try to resist Satan in our own power and do not ask the Lord to show us the way out.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
Today’s study is based on question and answer 127 of the Heidelberg Catechism, which reminds us that the world, the flesh, and the Devil “never stop attacking us.” Until we are glorified, there is no point at which we can lay down our arms, no point at which our Enemy establishes a truce that he will honor. Therefore, we must keep in mind our absolute dependence on God for resisting temptation, and we are wise to pray for His deliverance from evil in all things.