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What is, "The Way of Escape?"
By David A. DePra
Therefore let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 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 you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Cor. 10:12-14)
In I Corinthans 10, Paul is talking about the failures of Israel after God delivered them from Egypt. He then says, "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. " (1 Cor. 10:11) Thus, even the failures of the past can be used to help people. But along with that help, there is an admonition that we not commit the same sins as did they against the Lord.
Now, after Paul rehearses much about Israel’s failures, he says, "Therefore….." Can we see that beginning in verse 12, quoted above, that Paul is telling us that BECAUSE of what happened to Israel, we are THEREFORE to, "take heed?" Sure. But, "take heed," of what? Well, TAKE HEED lest we fall the same way Israel fell. Can you see that? Paul says, "Let him that thinks he stands take heed (of everything I’ve just said about Israel’s failures) lest he fall." We are to TAKE HEED of what happened with them, LEST we ignore their example and fall in the same way – from faith in God.
The rest of the passage, about temptation, and about the, "way of escape," is all predicated upon these preliminary remarks by Paul. But now Paul is able to jump to the present and give us practical teaching about what God is doing, and what must do, in a trial – if we want to come through the trial to God’s glory.
Do You Think You Stand?
When Paul says, "Let him who thinks he stands, take heed, lest he fall," he is not talking about salvation. He is talking about faith in Christ – in the sense of living IN the faith and grace of God. It is quite possible to "fall from grace," but to remain saved.
The Galatians did. Paul said to them, "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. " (Gal 5:4) Yet he never questions their salvation. To fall from grace, means that YOU have taken a path out of the grace of God as to your living. As to the dynamic by which you stand, walk, live, and move in Christ. But it doesn’t mean that GOD has reversed your salvation.
In I Corinthians, Paul is noting the fact that many of us THINK we stand. We THINK we are pretty strong spiritually and mature in Christ. Maybe we are. But it does not matter how far along you are in spiritual growth, there is always a trial bigger than you are. Always. "So," Paul might add, "you only THINK you stand because you don’t know how weak you really are. If the right trial comes along, you will find that out in a hurry."
Of course the key here is to recognize that there is nothing about ourselves which is able to make us stand. God could dismantle that in a minute. So Paul is drawing attention to the fact that no one, "has arrived." No one is, of themselves, beyond FALLING. The only way in which you and I stand at all is if we are LEANING UPON JESUS CHRIST.
Here we begin to discover the key to understanding this entire passage. STANDING, for a Christian, is never an ability WE acquire. No. God never makes us strong spiritually. Rather, God makes us weak, in ourselves, so that we will LEAN UPON CHRIST. But if we lean upon Christ, can we see that we are leaning upon the One who cannot be moved?
In another place, Paul says:
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Cor. 12:9-10)
Paul knew that all spiritual strength was directly proportional to our dependence upon Jesus Christ. The more I lean upon Christ – depend upon Him for my very life – the less anything is able to move me. But the only way in which I will lean upon Christ is if God kicks every other crutch out from under me! We will only lean upon Christ if we see how weak we really are.
Thus, Paul is able to say, "If any one thinks he stand…." In other words, the only reason we stand is because of our dependence in Christ. So we need beware, lest we begin turning from Christ to our own devices, as did Israel. For if we do, we shall surely FALL. We will discover in a hurry just how weak we are.
Now, of course, this is actually a GOOD PROMISE. It means that God is promising that if we begin to get self-sufficient and proud, that we will fall – and it will act as a chastisement, and indication that we must get back to faith in Christ. That doesn’t mean we will get back to faith in Christ – some won’t. But our fall will tell us we need to.
God’s word to us through Paul, at the beginning of this passage, is that we need to TAKE HEED – and remember – that we have nothing of ourselves by which we can stand. We have only Christ. We need to take heed that we not rely upon ourselves, lest we fall.
God is in Charge"God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able." Read that again. Can we see that God is fully in charge of what is allowed into our lives? GOD will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able. God. Trials and temptations are not accidents. They are devised – to where we are spiritually.
This is vital to see. Why? Because our first reaction in a trial is to pray to GET OUT. God would say to us, "I just got you IN." But we don’t like this. Yet this Truth is all through the Bible. For instance, note in the following passage the clear indication that God is fully in charge of what our trial is, and how long we are in it:
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you. (1 Pet. 5:6-10)
Sounds to me like God is in charge of the trial, the Devil, and everything else. The only thing God won’t do is choose for ME. And how does God want me to choose? Faith. He wants me to believe and trust Him, and to obey Him in any way that is required.
In both Paul’s words, and Peter’s words, we find that God is the one who has either orchestrated our trial, or allow our trial – for His purposes in our lives. We find no teaching to the effect that we are to pray our way out of a trial, or to find some secret doorway of escape. Rather, we see that we are to realize, "God is faithful." We are to, "humble ourselves under HIS hand IN the trial." This is all about surrender to God.
Surrender to God boils down to my relinquishment of my control over my life. I fall into His hands. In trials, this becomes more than a teaching I believe. It becomes something that I have opportunity to LIVE. Trials give us the chance to take the good and right doctrines of the Bible, and turn them into a living relationship with God Himself.
So God is in charge. He is the One with whom I must deal in a trial. And the Bible says that God is faithful.
The Way of Escape
Many Christians think that I Corinthians 10:12-14 teaches that there is a way OUT of their trial, and that all they need to do is find it. Well, there is some Truth to this, but the Truth about it is so totally other than what we think, that most of us are blind to it. God does have a way of escape in a trial – that IS what Paul says, doesn’t he? But we need to more closely examine what Paul says.
Note his precise words, "God will, with the temptation, also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it." Contrast this over and against what many of us wish this verse would say: "God will, with the temptation, make a way of escape, that you may be able to ESCAPE it." See the difference? We think God has promised a way OUT of the trial – this, "way of escape." But Paul says that this, "way of escape," rather than get us OUT of the trial, enables us to BEAR the trial.
The fact is, "the way of escape," is the way of faith in Christ – while still IN the trial – that will enable us to bear the trial. Not escape the trial.
This is vital to see. God is telling us that in any trial, He has a will. He has a way for us to take as to our faith and obedience. And IN THAT WAY – not outside of the trial, but within the trial -- is all the grace of God. Thus, if we take this way, we will be able to BEAR the trial.
Of course, this gets us back to the fact that we must LEAN UPON JESUS. He IS the Way, isn’t He? Sure. The way of escape which enable us to bear the trial is the way of depending upon and leaning upon Christ.
But why does Paul call it, "a way of escape," if we don’t escape the trial? Well, because we DO escape the damage and work of the enemy that the trial would bring if we did not take the way of escape – the way of leaning upon Christ. Isn’t that what we WANT to escape? Sure.
The way of escape is not a way out of the trial. It is victory through Christ over that which the trial brings. The way of escape is surrender to Christ – death and resurrection in Him. Thus, I escape the trial – because of faith in Christ – when the trial can no longer move me.
This only makes sense. Paul already tells us that God is in charge of us and the trial. And what is going on in this trial? Well, God permits it to PROVE our faith – to give us opportunity to grow in Christ. The Devil will use the same trial to get us to fall. But as we pass through this trial of our faith, and choose to stand in Christ – by leaning upon Him – we escape everything negative that could have been had we fallen from faith. The result is a greater dependence upon Christ – which is always an escape from that which would have defeated us.
The trial God allows always carries with it, "a way of escape," – that is – a way by which we can trust Christ, and therefore be able to BEAR the trial. It always carries with it a way which will, in time, build us to the point where we can no longer be moved by the trial. Not because of anything about us. No. But only because we are leaning upon Christ. And when that point is reached, we have ESCAPED the trial, haven’t we? Sure. If a trial cannot move us, we are no longer in it!
You see, we think that what we need is to have God change our circumstances. No. What we need is for God to change US, so that the circumstances can no longer move us. This is God’s way, and unless we come to terms with it, we will not understanding His dealings, let alone be able to get on the same page.
God is out to do a eternal work in us by His Holy Spirit. He is not out to spare us difficulty, but to USE difficulty, to get us more reliant upon Christ. Each time He accomplishes this, we have escaped the trial, and the unbelief which would cause us to fall.
"The way of escape," is an escape, through trial, from unbelief. And the only way to escape unbelief is to BELIEVE. Faith in Jesus Christ is, ultimately, the WAY OF ESCAPE that enables us to bear the trials of life.
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