Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation, will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:12–13—NKJV)

Temptation is an ever-present threat in this life. Everything from testing your mettle to temptation to rebel against your Lord is included under the general heading of temptation. When the Lord saves a man, He rescues him from the power of sin, but not from its presence. The ultimate redemption occurs either at your home-going into glory or at the rapture as the church age saints are called to meet the Lord in the air.

Temptations can be generally divided into three categories, though due to the nature of life, your sin nature, and the finiteness of our understanding, there may appear to be a great deal of overlap among the categories. The three categories are Common Temptations, Satanic Wiles, and Divine Discipline.

As far as “Divine Discipline” is concerned, God does not tempt in the true sense of the term, and you must never lose sight of that fact. His desire is to test your faith and prove you with a view to your growth, maturity, and strengthening. You may surely feel the strong pull of struggles and feel the same emotions as sin-temptation brings, but God is nothing if He is not faithful, just as He is nothing if He is not able! God tests by commanding obedience in hard things; by trials in mind, body, and spirit; and trials of your faith. He does not do this to be mean or vindictive, but to teach trust of Him and distrust of self; your need of Him and need to know your own weakness. James 1:1–12 speaks to this form of temptation.

“Satanic Wiles” do not mean that Satan is actually or directly involved in attacking little, old you. Satan is the prince of this world and the architect of the system that attacks a faithful believer for his faithful acts. Solicitations to sin; whispering evil thoughts, doubts, fears and blasphemies; pressing in on your areas of weakness; and noisome reproaches for the cause of Christ are all “fiery darts” of the wicked one. When you stand in opposition to the worldly system of thought and actions, you feel the exertions of this form of temptation. Matthew 4:1–11 and 2 Thessalonians 3:3 speak to this form of temptation.

Our text is occupied with the third category, “Common Temptation.” This is the kind that sneaks up on you because it is camouflaged by the customs, scent, and forms of human behavior since it arises from our sin nature and from the consequences of a fallen world. For this type of temptation God graciously warns in verse 12 and He graciously encourages in verse 13. This category is spoken to in James 1:13–15.

The preceding context to verse 12 details the trouble that befell the people of God in the Old Testament. They fell prey to temptations of idolatry (image servers), sexual immorality (appetite servers), tempting Christ (self-willers), and complaining (self-justifiers). The consequences of these sinful actions were very real, swift, and terrible. It never pays to be “first” in sin! When we stumble in sin we wound ourselves, grieve the Holy Spirit, dishonor God, cause other saints to stumble, and strengthen the hand of the wicked one, the wicked ones, and the wicked cause. No wonder verse 12 admonishes every saint to take heed! Romans 11:20 states, “Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear.”

It is the nature of temptation to gain strength when you leave yourself open to it. This happens by providing yourself with the opportunity to sin, by indulging selfish inclinations, by self-trust, and by distancing yourself from God. The best defense is a good offense, therefore meticulously seek to avoid giving yourself opportunity to sin, do not walk softly with your sin nature, do not trust yourself to be strong enough to resist, and cultivate a healthy fear the Lord (Proverbs 1:7).

Verse 13 is a strong word of encouragement to those who, despite their best efforts, are “overtaken” in temptation. Know that such temptations are common, therefore there are believers who have overcome them—just as you can by God’s grace. God is faithful. Know that this temptation will never overwhelm you because God has placed you “high and dry” above the “high tide” mark of every overwhelming temptation and because He will, right alongside the temptation, be making “the way” to escape. You are promised to be able to bear (literally, bear up under, and against) that temptation. God is faithful! Trust and obey.