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“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)
Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:12 have been words I have never forgotten since that day back in 1997 when I first heard it shared from a small group leader in my college Christian fellowship group. The leader was talking about how we all struggle with sins, but that sometimes we can get to the point where we have experienced some degree of victory, and no longer feel like it is a struggle. However, she said, that is precisely when our sin can often sneak up on us and cause us to fall to it once again, because we have grown confident and let down our guard. The moment you think you are standing firm, watch out – you just might fall.
Jerry Bridges, in his book The Discipline of Grace, contrasts two people he met in his life in order to illustrate this point. One friend, upon hearing about a minister’s adulterous affair, responded that he was not concerned for himself because he had set up guidelines which governed his association with women. The second person was a Christian teacher who would say, “There is no sin which I am not capable of committing.” Bridges’ summary was that the second man was better fortified against temptation than the man who had such self-confidence. He writes, “Our only safeguard is a sense of deep humility as we realize how powerful indwelling sin still is.” And as the Puritan theologian John Owen wrote, “Our enemy is not only upon us, as it was with Samson, but it is also in us.”
In fact, one only has to look so far as King David, the man who was called a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). Despite his love for God and devotion to Him, it only took a moment of weakness to lead him to commit adultery with Bathsheba and subsequently have her husband murdered. Be careful how you stand, indeed – if even King David could fall like that, let us not become so self-confident that we turn a blind eye to the sinful nature that still rages within us and seeks to control us.
If you have experienced victory over sin in your life, praise God for that! But also stay humble, remembering that “there but for the grace of God go I.” If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you do not fall.
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