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Half-Truths Are Nothing but a Lie

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About a year ago I had the pleasure of sitting down over coffee with a dear friend, and great example of honest faith. While we discussed life and family she referenced a quick phrase that gets thrown around a lot in the Christian culture-

“I know God won’t give me more than I can handle.”

She went on to say that what she was going through seemed to be more than she could handle. I was taken off guard because, while I have heard that said a million times I suddenly felt unnerved by it.

Where did that half-truth come from?

I am assuming it started with 1 Corinthians 10:13 which reads, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (ESV)

Now that is quite different from, “God won’t give you more than YOU can handle.” If we were to condense this verse to a pass-it-around phrase we may be better off saying, “Temptation is too much for all men, but God is faithful.” I mean, look at the verse DIRECTLY PROCEEDING: “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”

Basically, if you think that you are strong enough to stand apart from idolatry and sexual immorality in this world, you will see that you are just like the rest of mankind who are overcome by temptation. But Our God is faithful and he is the only One who can offer you victory. He will provide a way out.

So how did this happen? How did we move from “temptation is more than we can bare and we need God” to, “be stronger because God tells us we can do this”!? Not only that, but how has this trickled into things not even dealing with temptation, like the death of a friend, being homeless or feeling like you have no direction?

The temptation of independence

I think we are ready and willing to accept the lie that we can handle what is in front of us because deep down we want to be independent. This temptation to be self-sufficient has been the plague of humanity since the Garden. When Adam and Eve stood before the forbidden fruit, the father of lies proclaimed, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

In other words, you can keep being dependent on God, or you can choose to be a god and depend only on yourself. Independence was chosen that day and has continued to be the choice of the sons of Adam ever since. In consequence, mankind has not experienced the life intended in the garden where needs were met without struggle.

No longer sons of Adam, but sons of God

Praise be to God for there has been a new line established. In Christ we participate not in the perishing line of Adam, but in the everlasting line of Jesus Christ. So why do we inflict on ourselves the same pressure as those who do not know Christ? Why do we allow ourselves to worship independence the way that we do?

Once I look at it from a distance, I see how the father of lies has twisted truth once again, and then confirmed it with experience in this success driven world. We must stand up to half-truths like this. Jesus did, and by his Holy Spirit we can too. Unlike Adam and Eve, Jesus knew God’s word. So when he found himself tempted in the desert with the same sort of half-truths that faced Adam, he combatted them with God’s truth.

God has called us to live dependently. We will constantly be faced with more than we can handle. We will be tempted to rely on our own strength and understanding to push through. The world will seduce us with stories of people who have overcome on their own strength and have perfect lives of health, wealth and happiness. We will be tempted to do things on our own, without God and without the body of Christ; however, in the midst of temptation, God will provide a way our for us because he is faithful.

Posted in: Theology

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