Over the past few months I heard or read people assert, “God WILL give you more than you can handle” (Click here for example). I take issue with the idea that God will put more on a Christian than they can handle… take… deal with… overcome… or whatever words chosen to describe the hardships of life. Let me give my perspective for consideration. The verse most addressed in this discussion is 1 Corinthians 10:13 where it is written…
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.
The key word is “temptation.” The key phrase is, “Beyond your ability.” “Escape” and “Endure” are also important to get a good handle on.
The Greek word translated temptation is PERIASOMOS. The definition according to Strong’s Greek Concordance is, “A putting to proof (by experiment [of good], experience [of evil], solicitation, discipline or provocation); by implication, adversity.” The word carries the idea of testing or proving in the religious usage (Kittle Theological Dictionary of the New Testament). John MacArthur writes in his commentary…
No believer can claim that he was overwhelmed by temptation… No one, not even Satan, can make us sin. He cannot even make an unbeliever sin. No temptation is inherently stronger than our spiritual resources. People sin because they willingly sin. The Christian, however, has his heavenly Father’s help in resisting temptation. God is faithful. He remains true to His own. “From six troubles He will deliver you, even in seven evil will not touch you” (Job 5:19). When our faithfulness is tested we have God’s own faithfulness as our resource. We can be absolutely certain that He will not allow [us] to be tempted beyond what [we] are able.
Now, what does it mean to experience a test “beyond (our) ability?” I suggest this refers to catastrophic ultimate spiritual failure… turning away from God… losing salvation. It does NOT refer to the degree of or exceedingly difficult adversities like those Job endured. One thing is sure, no matter how hard or difficult the trial, a genuine Christian endures or experiences, they will NEVER encounter more than they can handle with the faith God supplies. This is not in doubt. It is sure and certain that the true believer will persevere through the test (“Temptation” in ESV, NASB, NIV, ASV, and KJV) and one day stand before God perfected by the blood of Jesus.
What DOES happen is as a test is or becomes more severe, it exposes weakness and the need to rely on God’s power to overcome the test. Thus the Christian’s strength is increased because of God’s power. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “But (Jesus) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
IF God allowed more than we can handle to come upon us, which would result in abandoning the faith and turning away from God and Christianity, it would contradict several passages…
Jude 24 “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy..
John 17:11, “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” 15 “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.“ 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
John 10:28, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
Luke 22:31, “(Jesus said) Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
The point of 1 Corinthians 10:13 is this; God controls all tests (“Temptations”) Christians experience so that they will NOT be so severe that the believer is crushed spiritually to the point of turning away from God and thus losing their salvation. The whole point of severe tests is to make the believer rely on God to deliver them. Thus the Christian may think the test is too much but it is at the point of what WE think is more than we can handle that God provides for us what we need to rely on him which means HIS provision gives strength and deliverance. Thus what is found in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9…
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.
Our perception is that a test is more than we can handle… that our faith will fail and we will be crushed. One point of an exceedingly difficult adversity is to strengthen the Christian in their faith. It is to push the believer further than they think they can handle. It is the way God increases faith. Thus, because God NEVER allows the believer to fail, the test is NEVER more than can be handled since God gives whatever is needed to be victorious. Because ultimate failure never occurs, the believer is never given more than they can handle.
Each and every time the Christian WILL come through the test with their faith intact. Whatever you go through as a believer in Christ, GOD will control the severity so that you WILL NOT be overwhelmed and ultimately fail the test. The evaluation of how you were victorious in the test is God’s to determine, not yours or mine.