Tuesday, August 16, 2005

God Won't Give You More Than You Can Handle

KP wrote the following on his blog The Christian Mind.

How frequently we hear these words offered in pressing times, usually preceded by the words, "Like the Bible says..." It's interesting that what many people mean by their paraphrase is something along the order of "God will keep you from being overwhelmed." But is that what is actually promised? I don't think so.

The verse that people have in mind when they say this actually has to do with temptation. Paul is warning the Corinthians against idolatry and immorality like that engaged in by the Israelites in the desert (1 Cor.10:6-11). The actual promise, found in 10:13 is that God will not let us be tempted beyond our ability but will provide a way of escape so that we can withstand the temptation without giving into sin. The emphasis of the verse is moral but this is often lost in the way we loosely paraphrase the text. (Might this be an indicator that we value a culturally-derived notion of psychological well-being more than holiness?) The believer is never justified in saying that he or she just had to sin because the temptation was too great. I like the way Ed Welch puts it in his book Depression: A Stubborn Darkness: "He will never put you in a situation where a sinful response is the only way out."

If Paul really intended to make a general statement about God never giving Christians more than they could handle, then we'd have a hard time explaining his own testimony in 2 Corinthians 1:8.9: "For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself...But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." by KP on 8/11/2005 5:07 AM

I agree with Kevin here. Good stuff. Proper hermeneutics is so important, because without it we'd all end up leading our own cults.

1 comment:

Reformer said...

This is a great point. God certainly DOES give us more than we can handle. I have NO ability to live a Holy Life. I am utterly unable to live in holiness due to my sin nature. But without assistance from me - God has graciously, for His own glory, saved me and transformed me. NOW, He promised the common-to-all temptations we face will never come without a way out. Jay Adams uses the illustration of the old sardine cans - they always come with the key to open it attached to the bottom of the can.

As far as giving us more than we can handle - He most certainly does. Read 2 Cor 11.16-12.10. This is a powerful passage where Paul says that to keep him from boasting God allowed a messenger of Satan, a thorn in the flesh, to persist, even though Paul begged for it to be removed. But Paul was reminded, "My grace is sufficient for, for my power is made perfect in weakness."