Sunday, September 8, 2019

Interesting Context and additional lessons clustered around “That hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man”



1 Cor. 10:13 is that famous scripture, “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.”

This time when reading through, I thought it would be interesting to look at the context around the scripture and see how Paul gets to that fabulous pronouncement.

1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
11 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.
12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
13 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. (1 Cor. 10:1-13)

I noticed that Paul uses the story of the children of Israel in the wilderness with Moses and points out a number of lessons based on the story of the Israelites’ blessings and temptations.  They were all blessed the same way, but a number of them were overthrown in the wilderness because various temptations were too much for them.

I thought to highlight the kinds of challenges that Paul lists.
  • Listing after evil things
  • Idolatry/idleness
  • Committing fornication
  • Tempting Christ
  • Murmuring
I thought about those challenges and temptations and I realized that in the past I had made an incorrect assumption about the Israelites. I had assumed that ALL OF THEM were affected by ALL of those temptations.  I’d always thought they were ALL lacking in any kind of spiritual strength whatsoever and that as soon as they had been taught a lesson in one area they immediately backslid in another and had to have the lesson all over again.

I realized instead that it was different segments of the Israelites that had these different troubles. Some had troubles with lusting after evil things, others had troubles with idolatry, others had troubles with fornication and yet another segment had troubles with tempting Christ and others had troubles with murmuring. 

Once I realized that, it made perfect sense that Paul would write, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”   Because if one type of temptation isn’t getting to you, you might be in danger of falling to the next one.

This particular principle is very powerful and we can still see it playing out today in the church. Anytime the prophet makes a statement on something and some segment of the church balks, you can’t get cocky and scornful of them because the very next announcement might give you problems.  Just as an example, some people have troubles with President Nelson’s instructions to use the full name of the church and not call ourselves “Mormons.”  I hear some people retorting, “Just get with the program and follow the prophet!”  More recently, the clarifications on the Word of Wisdom have created some problems for people, and then another more recent change in the Handbook about handguns being prohibited in church have caused another segment of members to rebel.

You see?  It still happens today.

But the fact that it was a segment of the Israelite population that had troubles with those various temptations shows that the temptation are indeed common to man.  Thus, when we discover we’ve gotten hit, we don’t have to feel like we’re alone.  And God can help us resist and escape the temptation if we will pray for help.  (It takes a lot of maturity to realize you can pray for help to resist.)

Paul also points out that the experiences the Israelites went through were written so that everyone could know the specific kinds of behaviors that displease the Lord so that we don’t fall into them ourselves—or if we discover we’re falling into them, we can realize it and repent quickly.

As you can see, Paul actually extracts about three lessons from those stories, which is pretty awesome. We just gravitate the most strongly to verse 13 about how every temptation is a common one and God can help us escape them.