Who can forget Flip Wilson’s famous line, “The devil made me do it?” Yes, I admit that being able to recall the phrase dates me. But, it is a classic statement of the blame game. This is a common phenomenon. Political leaders are notorious for doing this. Admission of guilt is one of the hardest things we do. Eve blamed the devil. Adam blamed Eve. Since this first couple, people have been blaming someone else for their own failures. When we sin, we have given in to temptation. We are responsible. There are no excuses.
In I Corinthians 10:13, Paul declares, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” What is temptation? Temptation is “an enticement through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life to transgress God’s law. The purpose of the temptation is to bring us to condemnation before God. Satan is the tempter (Matt. 4:1-11). Satan is an adversary (I Pet. 5:8). Satan is out to defeat and destroy us. When we sin, we create a memory of the sinful pleasure and that memory coupled with the inordinate lust creates an even stronger impulse to perform the sin again. The mind works with the body to produce a craving or desire to be involved in the sin again. Repeated sinful conduct does several things. First, it builds desire (strengthens lusts). Second, it diminishes guilty feelings by searing the conscience (I Tim. 4:2). Third, it destroys desire for the sacred. It estranges one from God.
The experience of temptation is common to man. Temptation to sin is an ordinary yet serious experience for mankind. What happens in the moment of temptation is not extreme or superhuman. No one is forced or coerced (made) to sin. When we are tempted, we are drawn away by our own lusts and enticed (James 1:14).
God is faithful. God has promised that He will not allow us to be tempted above that which we are able to bear. God limits, strengthens, and provides a pathway to escape. The message to us is: you can resist and endure (overcome) the temptation. You have a power within you to act freely and choose between the alternatives to do good or evil. This is the power of volition. You can choose to do good as well as evil.
In the moment of temptation, three persons are acting. Satan is presenting the evil in an enticing manner. God is limiting Satan, strengthening you with His love and providing a pathway to escape. You either resist and overcome or else yield and sin. The free act makes you responsible for your decision in that moment.
God makes the way of escape possible. The way of escape is illustrated in many Bible stories. Joseph fled from the presence of Potiphar’s wife (Gen. 39:7-12). Paul recommends fleeing from sin on several occasions: flee fornication (I Cor. 6:18); flee from idolatry (I Cor. 10:14); flee these things (covetousness, love of money) (I Tim. 6:11). Another way of escape is a verbal rebuke (Eph. 5:11). Jesus used the Scriptures to defeat Satan’s temptations (Matt. 4:1-11). We must look for the way of escape. This is our part. To escape is to remain free from sin by resisting Satan’s temptation and avoiding God’s wrath.
God makes it possible for us to bear (endure and overcome) the temptation. This passage stands as a rebuke to those who argue that they have no choice in partaking of some sinful situation. No one has an excuse for sinning against God! Weaknesses, social pressures, peer pressure, and financial pressures are not excuses. When we sin, we are responsible before God for our sin. When we sin, we must take responsibility for it and do something about it. The universal call to repentance (Acts 17:30-31) is based upon individual responsibility for our sin. We can work with God and overcome temptation thus preserving purity. In the moment of temptation, we make a choice and that choice makes us responsible. If we yield to the temptation, it is our failure to keep covenant with God.