Dale Johnson: This week on the podcast, I’m delighted to have with us Pastor John Crotts, who is the pastor of Faith Bible Church in Sharpsburg, Georgia. He has been there for 26 years, and praise the Lord John for your faithfulness and your work there. I’m sure it’s always been simple, right? Certainly not as you pastor a community, but there’s something to be said about pastors who stick with the role and the work long term and the benefit that it is to the church for stability, for teaching, for consistency. I’m so grateful we get to see in ACBC some of the benefits or the fruit of that long-term ministry by so many of the counselors that we see going through our process and the quality that they are and their devotion to the ministry there in Sharpsburg. That’s just a beautiful thing for me. I want to say thank you for that, thank you for your faithfulness. Faith Bible Church is one of our training centers in the United States. And so, I’m just grateful for the way that John leads.
Today what I want him to do is to sort of build off of a book that he wrote recently called Hope: Living Confidently in God. I wanted us to continue a conversation and specifically look at passages, the specific passage in the Scripture that really helps us to understand the beauty of hope and how hope is intrinsically helpful no matter what scenario, particularly for our case today, when we’re talking about temptations, in our own temptations and then the temptations of our counselees. John, I’m grateful that you’re here to help us work through this. And so, where I want us to start, if we can, is just to help set the context for the passage that we’re going to be talking about today. 1 Corinthians 10:13, it’s a familiar passage to many, but reminds us of the context here.
John Crotts: Sure, in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, it kind of starts out with avoiding Israel’s mistakes. They had great spiritual privileges at the beginning of chapter 10, but then they had miserable results of sin, and Paul wanted the Corinthians to know, hey, these are relevant examples; it’s not just a Sunday School story. This is real, they sinned, and they received punishment from God. And so, when he gets to verse 12, “therefore, let anyone who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall,” then we come to our sweet promise itself. One of my favorite verses in the whole Bible. “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 provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it.” And so, we’re cautious and humbled by the negative examples of Israel, and he tells them don’t be so sure of itself. If it happened to you, it can happen to them. And so, then we come to our pastoral word of encouragement. Our word of hope.
Dale Johnson: So, how in the world do we use a verse like this? And the reason I ask is because, you know, we can easily read a passage like this and sort of take it out of context, not understand its primary aim, and maybe even misapply especially when we’re talking about a counseling context of misapplying. I think many of us are probably familiar with some of the ways that this verse has been misapplied over time but helps us to work through a proper understanding certainly and then a proper application of how we can use this verse in an appropriate way to provide hope.
John Crotts: Right. Well, I do definitely agree that sometimes I’ve heard people almost use verses like magic verses, like if you say these words enough times, then your problems will go away or something like that. And really, the way that the Bible transforms us is by changing the patterns of our thinking and our attitudes, which brings about a change of heart and life direction. It all kind of flows from thinking biblically. So, I’ve kind of compared a verse like this to like a piece of hard candy, which, as you think about it and you’re sort of sucking on it. It turns your tongue the color of the candy, we’ve certainly seen that with our kids over the years, and then even like when we just take a cough drop or something like that. Well, we want to suck on this verse in the sense of thinking about it and meditating on it so that we can draw out as we steep our hearts to change the metaphor, it’s like the whole liquid turns to the tea, and we want these truths to change the way we’re thinking about the problems that we’re going through.
Dale Johnson: Now, I think that’s actually a perfect explanation even for your book is you talk about in 31 sorts of small bite-sized pieces things that you’re just marinating over, mulling over on a consistent basis where the Lord really has an opportunity when we’re meditating on this idea of hope to change a person’s heart in a very different direction. And so, I think that’s a perfect example. So, talk about some of the wrong ways that we sometimes think of the uniqueness of our trials, the uniqueness of these temptations that we experience.
John Crotts: Right. Well, this verse deals with that directly as it begins, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man,” so we need to see that the truth of God’s Word says your promises, your temptations are never unique, and some of the lies we tell ourselves is nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen, nobody knows my sorrow, no one understands. This is way too difficult for me. If you were going through what I was going through, you wouldn’t be so positive and hopeful, but no, that’s not true at all. Our temptations are common to man. That doesn’t mean every one of us experiences every temptation, but you’ll never experience any kind of temptation or trial that is just specifically for you that no one else can identify, even we think of our Lord Jesus in Hebrews 4:15, “he was tempted in all things like we are yet without sin.” And Hebrews 2:18 “He’s able to come to our aid.” Our temptations aren’t unique. There are even the same sorts of things that Jesus experienced as well in His earthly ministry.
Dale Johnson: And I think what happens often is when we become convinced in our minds deceptively so that whatever trial or difficulty we’re working through is unique to us. It has an isolating effect, and that’s really the work of the evil one, right? Where the evil one wants to isolate us as if we’re the only ones working through this, no one has ever been at this particular junction in their life before. And that to me is the work of evil one, the roaring lion seeking whom he may devour; he’s trying to isolate you and allow you to be deceived and disconnected from the truth and from other people from fellowship and that sort of thing. So, yeah, I think that’s an important point that for all of us, there’s nothing new under the sun. We walk through trials that other people have experienced as well.
Now, let’s turn the corner and talk a little bit about from this passage. How does God’s character really inspire hope that our trials will never be unbearable because listen, the truth of the matter is, when you’re in the middle of difficulty, man, it seems like this day is going to turn into the next, and is going to turn into the next and how in the world am I going to live the rest of my life like this, or whatever, and it just seems like it is an unbearable wait. So, how do we look at the character of God to really inspire hope during these times?
John Crotts: Isn’t it so important that when we’re ministering to people getting God in their thinking is such an important component of our ministry, and that’s what Paul does right in the middle of the verse: God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability. And so, he points the readers, and by application to us to the faithfulness of God, it’s not just you and your problem. God is there. What’s God doing? What’s He up to? And He is faithfully working out His plan. He cares for you, He will not let you be overwhelmed. Your temptation is not going to be unbearable, not because the world might not keep spinning in a bad direction, but because God is faithful, and He will make it to where it will never be overwhelming. So, if you’ve been tempted to say, I can’t take it anymore; it’s too tough. I might as well just sin and get it over with. Well, the answer to those kinds of wrong thinking is to soak the truth of God’s character in your mind at this point. No, even if it feels like it’s overwhelming, God’s Word says it’s not unbearable.
Dale Johnson: Now, you just mentioned, I think an important point is somehow, when we get in the middle of trials, we can be so easily deceived that we just think, “well, I’ll just throw in the towel. I’m going to give in. I’m tired of fighting this.” And we fall into the very temptation that seems unbearable at the moment, and somehow we convince ourselves that maybe this is the best route or man, I’m not sure that I can believe what God says that He’s going to allow me to bear up under the weight of something like this. So, why in the world is this wrong thinking?
John Crotts: Well, the verse concludes with yet another glorious promise that your temptation always has a way of escape. It ends with, “but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it.” And so, even though it seems like, and it feels like it’s inevitable that I’m just going to go ahead and sin, so I might as well get it over with. That’s not true. That’s a lie. And we want to capture those lying thoughts, and we want to replace them with what the Bible says is true. And so, we remind ourselves of promises just like this. Now, this doesn’t mean that God will make the temptation go away completely, instantly as we would wish, but it does mean that he will give you grace to keep going through this thing. You don’t have to sin. He will always give you grace to honor Him in the trial.
Dale Johnson: You know, that reminds me of a passage of Scripture that I’ve been thinking about the last several days, in Psalm 27:14, and what you’re describing there is us learning to be patient even in our temptations, even in our trials that we learn to wait for the Lord, the Bible says, be strong and let your heart take courage, wait for the Lord. It teaches us just a holy pattern of patience and hoping that God will make a way even when it doesn’t seem to be possible, so I love that.
Now, let’s take this into the counseling room. We can take it in certainly application to ourselves, but take it into the counseling room as we’re ministering to others. What are some of the ways that these promises become applicable, and useful in the way in which we minister to other people?
John Crotts: I think that these promises help our counselees to have a sense of reality. This is a biblical framework for viewing their circumstances. They can understand the reality of their situation better. This is not unique, this is not unbearable. I’m not trapped. It also points them to the reality of themselves, as they get so focused and they don’t realize God is working in this, and they see the reality of God. He’s faithfully involved all the way, God was with you at the beginning of this trial; it was customized by God, He knew what you can handle, and He assures you He’s not bringing this to overwhelm you. He’s there with you in the middle of your trial. He’s there with you at the end of the trial.
Another way that this is useful is encouragement. I can make it like we’ve been talking about hope. I’ll never be overwhelmed. I’ll always have an escape. God is intimately involved with my circumstances. There’s another way that this verse helps us as well is the conviction of sin because if it’s not overwhelming, and if it’s not unique, that means when I do sin, I’m not just a victim of my circumstances. I have to be accountable and deal again with the reality that, no, I’m not a victim here. God has promised that it wouldn’t be overwhelming. So, therefore, when I just gave in to that sin again, I need to repent. I need to own that. So, it’s humbling. It’s encouraging, it’s comforting, a promise like this is gold, just gold, and so I would think this is one that we need to have close at hand as we minister, even just over the back of the pew on Sunday morning, this is one that’s so relevant because everybody’s going through something and if they’re not, they will be next week. So, in addition to just thinking rightly, I would really encourage anyone in personal ministry to memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13. It’s going to be a helpful tool for you, but you want it right by your side to be ready to pull out and minister to your brother or sister in need.
Dale Johnson: I mean, this is so helpful, John. I think of Paul’s encouragement in Colossians let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. And this is certainly one of the passages that, as you dwell on it personally it changes you, but it also engages you in ministry to others so that you can provide hope even when they’re walking through difficulty.
So brother, thank you for this. This has been great to hear a little bit about your book but specifically dive into a passage that really fuels our idea of hope. And that we have hope specifically in God, not in our circumstances, not in our trials. It’s very pastoral. I love when we dive into passages like this, and it becomes applicable immediately for our listeners, and for our counselors. So, thank you, brother.
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