The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Way of Escape

“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 10:13

Many people, unfortunately Christians included, struggle with bad habits or addictions. Many are enslaved in sinful lifestyles. These people are conscience convicted that what they are doing or the way they are living is sinful, but they feel powerless to change. Their conscience gnaws at them from within. So frustrated have such people and those who love them become that they have been reduced to justifying their sin and condoning, even promoting sin as “normal,” and “natural” even though the clear testimony of God’s timeless Holy Word says differently. The thought is that by making the sinful behavior socially acceptable the pain or problems will go away. They won’t.

Though the gnawing of conscience may seem ruthless like a predator pursuing its prey, it is meant to be so. You see, God is longsuffering; it pains Him to see anyone caught in the talons of sin. And sinful choices lead to painful sinful consequences. Such consequences may be an arrest, jail time, and the horrors of incarceration. It may be disease such as sexually transmitted diseases   or disease connected with substance abuse. There are physical consequences to sin. There are mental anguish consequences. Sin wrecks relationships. There’s always shame involved in sin; shame for the offender; shame for their loved ones.

The most serious consequence of sin is that it distances us from God. “Your iniquities [i.e. perversity, depravity, sin] have separated you from God; and your sins [i.e. habitual sinning] have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (e.g. Isaiah 59:2). “Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backslidings will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that you have forsaken the LORD your God, and the fear [i.e. reverential awe and concern] of ME is not in you” (Jeremiah 2:19). Sin separates us from God.

But God is not willing that any should perish in sin (2 Peter 3:9). God loves us. He looks down on our sin produced plight and pities us. He proves His love in the sending of His Son Jesus (Romans 5:8). He provides salvation from our sin so that we can spend eternity with Him through faith in Jesus (Romans 5). This is where our liberation from sin begins, through spiritual birth in Christ (John 3; Romans 6). But God doesn’t just forgive our past sins, He provides a way for dealing with present and if need be future sins. God’s word proclaims, “For sin shall not have dominion over you” (Romans 6:14a). If you’re looking for a solution to your sin problem, read on.

The normalization of sin, such as we see regarding same-sex attractions (e.g. LGBT+), open marriage (i.e. adultery), sex before marriage (i.e. fornication), sologamy (marrying yourself), polygamy (marrying many), and a host of other Biblically aberrant life choices, only serves as a band aid on a cancerous condition. We live in an age of people who don’t much care about truth or right and wrong unless it is defined in a way that gives license to sin. But no matter how you try to erase or rationalize or justify away sin on your own, there is a consequence. And the consequences of sin involve pain, suffering, sadness and emptiness.

A person can disregard their God-given conscience that tells them their sinful choices are wrong to the point where they kill it and make their conscience lifeless. But the consequences will continue. Pain in the body tells us something is wrong. Pain in relationships and the way we live is also an indication something is wrong. Pained thoughts tell us something is wrong. All the pain and discomfort and unrest and chaos tells us something is very wrong. Isn’t there a way out? Isn’t there a way of escape? Yes there is! But it’s not coming out to proclaim your sin, its coming out of your sin. There is a better way. There is hope. There is a way of escape.

How can we escape such enslavement and experience liberty? It begins with Jesus. Jesus is the way (John 14:6). Jesus said if we abide in His word we will know the truth and the truth will set us free (John 8:31-32). It is in the word of the Lord that we will find the way to liberty. The word tells us there is liberty from sin available in Jesus. God reaches out to us when the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sinful predicament (John 16:8-11). Once convicted of sin and in faith we express a willingness to leave our sin behind, the Spirit points us to Jesus as Savior from sin. Through faith in Jesus God forgives our sin (John 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:21). Then through faith in Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit we can be freed from the dominion of sin in our lives (Luke 4:18; Romans 6:14; 2 Corinthians 3:17; James 1:23-25). I encourage you to look up these scripture references. But God who loves us so incredibly, has given us a promise in a single verse of scripture so that in the simplest of ways we can understand His way of escape from the pains of sin.

There is one verse in the Bible that gives us the way to liberty in Jesus and that is found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians where it states:

  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “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.” 

This is a verse every person seeking freedom from sin should memorize. It’s one of the most important and precious promises of God in all of scripture. Let’s study this verse and identify the steps to liberty in Jesus.

First, understand that temptation is common to everyone.  Paul is inspired to say, “No temptation has overtaken except such as is common to man; . . .” Temptation is not sin. Jesus was tempted and He did not sin (Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 4:15). Temptation overtakes everyone. Temptation to sin is not sin; it only becomes sin when we decide to give in to its sinful lure. This is what James explains for us in his epistle where it states:

  • James 1:12-15 – “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” 

These words tell us that there is a blessing for those who endure, or who victoriously resist the lure of temptation (James 1:12). Here we also see that temptation is not “by God; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (James 1:13). There are no grounds for blaming God for the temptations we experience. It’s wrong to think or say, “Well, God made me this way so I’ll live on even if the way I’m living is sinful.” Don’t blame God for the temptations you face. God is not unjust or the Author of sin. He did not create us to live in ways that He calls sinful.

If not God, then who is the source of our temptations? The answer, we are! Yes, Satan is referred to as “The tempter” (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5), but James lays the blame for temptation on our doorstep. He says, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” (James 1:14). Those desires emanate from our flesh or sinful nature. Since our first parents sinned, every subsequent human has been born with a sinful nature or a propensity to sin. God created us to have a loving relationship with Him. Love is a beautiful thing. But love isn’t love without the capacity to choose to love. Adam and Eve were put in a wonderful place to enjoy the Lord. But they chose to not love God. They disobeyed Him (Genesis 3). The rest is history. We have been suffering ever since. But God is merciful and has provided a way out of sin.

We as human beings are guilty in our first parents; in their sinful choice. Sin entered the DNA of humanity with the sin of our first parents. We, because of them, are infected with sin. And the sinful nature is that part of us which is selfish and self-serving, self-promoting and self–satisfying. While we are not morally culpable for such planetary or universal sin, we are culpable for sinful choices we make. God’s grace gives us an option to not choose to sin. But the sad story is that human beings choose to sin. In our own strength we are hopelessly addicted to sin.

Our inner thought life comes into play here. And what we feed our mind has a consequence. If we feed our mind junk by looking at or listening to sinful things, it will produce in us sinful behavior. For instance, what did you think would happen when you watched that program or website, or watched that video or porn? Did you think you could subject yourself to a flood of profuse refuse and filthy language and it not find its way into your own words? What did you think would happen when you entered that bar or club? What do you expect will happen when you put yourself in a sin-saturated environment? It infects our thoughts. It penetrates our heart. It all sets a person up for “desires” to be further enticed. It all plays a part in setting a person up for the lure of temptation and the Tempter. James says, “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:15).

These verses offer both hope and horror because they tell us of the consequence of the decisions we make in the face of temptation. When we choose to give in to temptation and sin it works death in our lives. When James says, “When desire has conceived,” he means when those inner sinful desires are tempted they give birth to sin and when the single act of sin becomes a habit or even an addiction, it works death in our spirit. Relationships die, good reasoning dies, right thinking dies, accurate perceptions of reality die, and our fellowship with God is greatly hindered. The more we sin the more it is as though we cover ours ears so that we can’t hear the Spirit. The more we sin the more we depend on ourselves and consequently the weaker we get spiritually. You can argue all you want about whether a person can or cannot lose their salvation, the greater point is that when you feed your mind and heart with sin it is like a cancer that eats you up and works death in your life in all areas, especially your spiritual sensitivity and your fellowship with God.

But the opposite is also true, if you resist temptation and choose to take the way of escape God is faithful to provide, each time you resist in the strength and way He provides you will become stronger in your faith and more spiritually sensitive and closer in your fellowship with God. Paul was inspired to say it like this:

  • Galatians 6:7-8 – “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”

The choice is clear, choose life, or choose death.

Getting back to our verse in 1 Corinthians, notice too what is “common” to man. Temptation is common to man. It does not say, “Sin is common to man.” Yes, believers remain weak and flawed and there is no such thing as sinless perfection in this life. But we don’t have to adopt a defeatist attitude toward sin and temptation. John wrote that his first epistle was aimed in part to help his readers not to sin, but if they did, he wanted them to know they had an Advocate, Jesus who had the means of forgiveness and cleansing from sin (1 John 2:1-2). When tempted you do not have to give in and sin. But how can we escape? Let’s go on with our verse study.

Second, understand that victory and liberty depends on God’s faithfulness more than it does yours. Paul writes, “but God is faithful, . . .” The key to victory begins with trusting the Lord and His faithfulness. If we depend on our faithfulness we will fail because we are weak (compare Romans 7 and 8). The Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses (Romans 8:26). It is God who works in us (Philippians 2:13; 4:13). God is faithful to help us when we are tempted. But how does He help us?

Third, understand God has promised to be faithful TO NOT LET YOU BE TEMPTED BEYOND WHAT YOU ARE ABLE. Paul states, “who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, . . .” This phrase is both encouraging and challenging. God knows our limits and weaknesses. He knows us personally, even better than we know ourselves (Psalm 44:21; 139:1,23-24; 1 John 3:20-21). This is comforting because we can face temptations knowing God is in control and won’t allow us to be overwhelmed. But this is challenging too, because when we give in to temptation and do sin, these words tell us we are responsible for that sin because God has been faithful to show us a way out, but we have not taken it. You see, with every temptation that overtakes us, God has promised to limit its lure so that it will not be overwhelming to us, IF WE FOLLOW THE NEXT STEP.

Fourth, understand God has promised to make a way of escape from the temptation. Paul goes on to say, “but with the temptation will also make the way of escape . . .” Just as surely as we will be faced with temptation to sin in this life, God is faithful to always provide an escape route so we don’t have to give in to the sinful thing we are being tempted with. There is a way out, always! That way of escape may be as simple as turning off the TV or computer. It may be not entering a sinful place. It may be deciding to heed God’s warning and ending a sinful or tempting relationship. In every sinful danger zone we enter in this world, God promises to show us the way of escape. We simply need to be attentive and desiring to please Him and follow His warning signs that point us to the way of escape.  

We don’t’ have to sin, but if we do, Jesus is there to be our advocate and basis to go to God for forgiveness. Look at these verses mentioned earlier but quoted here from the first epistle of John where it states:

  • 1 John 2:1-2 – “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” 

John was a realist and well in tune with the reality of humanity, even saved humanity. He wrote his first epistle in part to help his spiritual children to not sin. The phrase “that you may not sin” expresses what is grammatically the “Subjunctive Mood” of the verb “to sin” (Greek hamartano) which means to miss the mark to err, . . . to sin . . .  trespass.”[1] The idea expressed here is that of possibility. John is saying to us that it is possible not to sin when tempted. But he goes on to say, “And if anyone sins . . .” Again he uses the Subjunctive Mood with the verb “sins” telling us that it is also possible that we will sin. If we do sin, Jesus is our Advocate with the Father who will forgive us on the basis of Jesus propitiation or His sacrifice on the cross, which satisfies His just requirements.

Earlier in John’s first epistle the means to secure forgiveness and cleansing from sin is through confession of it to God. John says:

  • 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 

To “confess” here means to see our sin from God’s perspective. It is not merely being sorry, it is more a repentant revulsion at what we have done and a desire to be cleansed from the impurity sin has brought to our heart. The word “confess” (Greek homologeo) means to assent, i.e. covenant, acknowledge . . .  con (pro-) fess, [2] This verb is also in the Subjunctive Mood expressing possibility and it is also in the Present Tense of the Greek grammar indicating an ongoing action of this verb (Present/Active/Subjunctive). The idea is if you are confessing. This door to forgiveness is always there and we should always take it, sincerely sensing the death-working nature of sin we have allowed to enter us when we give in to temptation.

All of this tells us that we have a decision to make when faced with temptation. We either choose to give in to temptation and sin or we choose not to give in to temptation and not sin. What does Paul go on to say in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that will help us make the right decision not to give in to temptation and not sin?

Fifth, understand you can be liberated from your temptations. Paul concludes, “that you may be able to bear it.” You can bear it! It is possible to defeat your bad sinful habits and destructive addictions. You may be thinking, “But I can’t, I’ve tried.” You are correct in one sense, YOU can’t do it, but remember; we must lean on God’s faithfulness to gain the victory. God has said He will be faithful to provide an escape for you so you don’t have to give into temptations, if you have thoughts that say, “God is not faithful,” or “I can’t do it, there is not escape,” then where do you think such thoughts are coming from, THE LIAR, SATAN who is playing on your flesh (John 8:44). You need to take those defeatist thoughts captive in Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). We need to prayerfully ask God to show us the way out of our sinful habits and addictions and when He does show us the way out, by faith, relying on His power, we need to follow His escape route.

God’s way of escape is always Scriptural. Look to God’s word for insight and direction in the way to escape sin in the times of temptation. God’s word is specifically designed to guide us in the way we should and should not go in times of temptation (e.g. 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Titus 2:11-12; Hebrews 4:12; 1 John 2:1-2). When you prayerfully seek the help and direction from the Lord in His word, He will answer you and point you in the way you should go. He never fails to do this; you can count on Him to show you the way of escape in His word (Psalm 119:9-11). Your ability to avoid and resist sin and live victoriously in the face of temptation is in direct proportion to the amount of scripture in your life.


God’s way of escape is precautionary. It’s a lot easier to stop something you never let get started. God’s word warns us clearly about so many sinful behaviors. It would be best to heed the word of God from the start and not indulge in anything that God prohibits (See 1 Corinthians 6).


God’s way of escape can be difficult.  God’s way of escape is not made difficult by God, but by us when we allow sinful patterns or situations to arise in our lives. If we disregard the scriptural and precautionary steps of God’s way of escape allowing ourselves to indulge fleshly lusts and sin, once sin gets its foot in the door, it can be very hard to evict. There is a measure of pleasure in sin, otherwise why would anyone do it. Moses chose to turn away from the passing pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:24-26). Sin may have a measure of pleasure, but it is “passing,” it is temporary and fades. But oh! What a persistent and often permanent measure of pain and suffering it leaves in its wake!


Paul said those who seek to live godly lives would be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). The people around you won’t necessarily help you. Your old friends don’t want you to leave your sinful ways because that brings them to terms with the sin you are leaving behind that they may still want to indulge in. When you identify sinful behavior and seek to leave it behind, that brings conviction to those who would rather indulge the same kinds of sin. Misery loves company and sinners don’t want to be convicted of their sin. This, for example is why the LGBT+ communities do not only want society to leave them alone, but they want societies approval for their sinful lifestyle (Romans 1:18-32, especially verse 32). God never tells us that taking his way of escape is easy. He simply tells us it is possible and we do not take God’s way of escape in our own strength but in the strength He provides when we seek Him out to help us (Philippians 2:12-13; James 4:7-10; 1 Peter 5:8-9).


God’s way of escape is often common sense. Our “common sense” comes from God; it is not something we come up with. Therefore, there are some very practical common sense, logical things we can do to keep tempting situations from overwhelming us. Maybe you need to clean house and get rid of any paraphernalia that would tempt you to give in to temptation. If you have a history of substance abuse, don’t keep a pipe, bong, rolling papers, syringe, etc. around for sentimental purposes. If you are married but struggle with sexual temptations like adultery don’t keep your little black book with all your old girlfriends or boyfriend’s names and numbers in it just for a memento. You need to clean out the leaven, even the small sinful things around you (1 Corinthians 5:5-7). All of this is common sense.


Also, if you have difficulty with pornography on TV, computer, phone, or other device, arrange it so that when you are using these things you will not be alone, but with someone who will motivate you not to entertain sinful temptations. With the advent of IPhone and IPad it’s harder to avoid temptation, but not impossible. Remember God’s promise.


If you are an addict of some kind, maybe you need to change who you hang out with or the places you go. Watch the trick of the enemy who will urge your flesh to rationalize and reason that your old friends won’t get saved unless you hang with them. That’s hogwash! God desires their salvation far more than you do and He is able to save them with someone else if need be. You need to get spiritually grounded and mature in your faith, otherwise you will put yourself in a situation where you are primed to fall and sin again. That would be a bad testimony and counterproductive to how God might want to use you. Plan ahead and take steps to not put yourself in tempting situations. And if a tempting situation catches up to you, prayerfully ask God to show you the way out and give you the strength to take it.


God’s way of escape is always there, but only good for those who really want to follow it. Here is the conviction and challenge. An escape route is only good if you take it. If you are drowning and God throws you a life preserver, and you push it away, or ignore it, you will drown and it is your decision to do so. You have to ask yourself, “Do I really want to escape? Do I really want to follow the Lord or sin? Do I want to allow this sin to threaten my fellowship with the Lord? What is more important to me, the Lord and His good path, or my sin?” Jesus said


  • Matthew 7:13-14 - “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.14 “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” 

There is a way out, a way of escape. Jesus said it is a narrow way. It is narrow because His way is the only way (John 14:6). He will give you clear and direct plans of escape. We have to accept them and take them by faith. Remember, God is faithful and won’t let you be tempted beyond what you are able. That’s His promise. You can depend on it. When tempted, pause and prayerfully ask God to show you the way out. He will do it and give you strength to follow it to liberty in Jesus.



[1]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.
[2]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

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