“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.”
We have no special light to impart on the above text, beyond the plain and obvious import of the words in which it is presented, when taken in their connection with the epistle, and the common experience of the children of God, while here in the flesh. From the many disorders which Paul had occasion to reprove in the Corinthian church, it is very evident that the members thereof had not escaped a liberal share of temptations. Temptations arising from their own carnal nature, from the world and from their adversary, the devil, had been many, and quite apparent among them, and they, perhaps, like many a tempted, tried saint of God at this day, may have been ready to conclude that no real christian could be so tempted, or so frequently overcome by temptation as they were, and that if they were what they professed to be, they would not be so tempted. Temptations to do wrong, to please the flesh, and grieve the spirit, which in the saints is born of the Spirit, or to murmur or to fail to appreciate the mercies of our God, are of themselves very trying to God’s people, but how greatly is the trial aggravated when the cruel tempter insinuates that these temptations are evidences that we are not the children of God, or that God will leave us in the power of the tempter, and that we shall never be released from them, that in judgment against us, the way of deliverance shall be closed, and we must perish. To meet and silence all these suggestions, the inspired apostle cheers us with the blessed declarations of the text, which, in its obvious sense, presents the following assurances, viz:
1st. Our case is not as it has appeared to us, peculiar or uncommon, all the saints are subject to the very same, and it cannot by any righteous inference be construed that we are the less interested in the saving grace of God because we are so sorely tempted.
2d. Our faithful God has his eye in love and compassion on us while we are tempted. However unfaithful we have proven ourselves to be to God, God is faithful, and his faithfulness is as enduring as his throne. He will never leave thee nor forsake thee. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire thou shall not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee; for I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior.” Our God who has promised all this is faithful, and he will certainly accomplish all that he has promised, and make you more than conquerors through him that hath loved you and given himself for you.
3d. The cheering truth is implied in the text that all the temptations which have overtaken us are working for our good and God’s glory; for he is as able, were it for the best, to secure us from the power of temptations, as to make a way for our escape from them, when we have felt sufficiently their power. Our gracious Redeemer, our faithful High Priest, was tempted in all points as we are. Yes, in all points! Think of that, thou tried and tempest-tossed child. There is not a point in which it is possible for thee to feel the tempter’s power, but what the blessed Savior has felt in his own person, when here in the flesh, and he therefore knoweth how to succor thee when thou art tempted. In all thy affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved thee: in his love and in his pity he redeemed thee, and he carried thee, and bore thee all the days of old.
4th. The text assures us that neither the world, the flesh or the devil, has power to tempt a child of God only by the permission of God himself. The exact amount of our temptations, their number, weight, measure, severity and duration, are dependent on his permission. God’s government extends to devils as well as to men, to sin as well as holiness, and none can go beyond the limits which his decree has fixed, to annoy or tempt his children.
“Pains and death around thee fly;
Till he bids thou canst not die;
Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit.”
Neither tribulation, nor distress, nor angels, nor life, nor death, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus; not because they lack the disposition to do so, but because the God of unbounded power, love and wisdom, will not suffer it. God will indeed, and does suffer his children to be tempted, but not to an unlimited extent. Satan went as far in tempting Job as God would suffer him, but he could go no further. He had no power to drown even the swine, without the express permission of our Lord. A sparrow cannot fall, nor even a hair of our head, without an order from the throne of God.
Our text also suggests to our minds the order and exact equality of God’s ways. When he issues the permissive order for a saint to be tempted, he metes out the exact amount of grace required to sustain that saint, and bear him safely through the trial. The tempter cannot be in advance of God’s faithful providence; with the temptation, the way of escape is made. Pharaoh with all his mighty army could by no possibility reach the encampment of Israel at the Red Sea before the Lord was there in his cloud to make a way for their escape across the channel of the deep. The three Hebrews could not be cast into the burning furnace until the form of the fourth, whose form was like the Son of God, was there to protect them and make a way for their escape, nor could Daniel reach the bottom of the den until God’s angel had been sent to shut the mouths of the lions. God is never behind time in the protection of his children; he will help Zion, and that right early.
6th. On these glorious promises the apostle predicates the admonition, “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.” Why should we bow to any other god, or look to men, or angels, or to our own wisdom or works for protection or deliverance, and thus depart from the Lord our God? To distrust him, is in itself idolatry. Let us own no other god, trust in no other power or wisdom, but rely alone on his faithfulness.
7th. Patience, in tribulation, is taught. Our Father and our God is at the helm. Though fiercely beats the storm, the tempest, though our foundering bark begins to sink, though the surging billows roll, and all the elements be fearfully charged with flashing thunder bolts of wrath, what of all this? Can nature lashed to fury transcend his power, or go beyond his firm decree? He who taketh up the islands as a very little thing, who toucheth the mountains and they smoke, rideth upon the heavens in thy help, and in his excellency upon the sky,
“He that can dash whole worlds to death,
Or make them when he please;
He speaks, and his almighty breath
Fulfills his great decrees.”
“Then let the loudest storms arise,
Let tempests mingle earth and skies;
No fatal shipwreck need we fear,
But all our treasures with us bear.”
Then count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations, for they are appointed for good, and when sufficiently tried, all the dear, tried saints shall come forth from the furnace, like gold seven times tried in the fire; and remember that although sorrow may endure for a night, joy cometh in the morning.
Middletown, N. Y.
June 15, 1857.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 3
Pages 461 – 464