We should AVOID both Self-CONFIDENCE & Self-SUFFICIENCY: "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." (1 Cor. 10:12-13)
The above scriptural passage starts with the word “therefore”, which denotes that it is a concluding statement of what Apostle Paul had narrated earlier in this chapter (10). In the first five verses (vv. 1-5), Paul somberly reviewed the disobedience of the Old Testament Israelites in the wilderness as the people that Moses had led from their slavery in Egypt kept turning their backs on God who had delivered them. Idolatry, immorality, grumbling and complaining were among the many indiscretions that eventually brought them down to their graves in the wilderness. Paul then urges us to learn from their sins and not repeat those in our lives so that we do not receive greater condemnation (see vv. 6-11). These have been written so that they are an example for us not to repeat in our lives and actions!
Thus, the Old Testament history gives us a record of the perspective, context and consequences with regards to the Israelites who journeyed through the wilderness destined for their Promised Land. Paul saw a great value of embracing the lessons of history (v. 11) that contained both examples and warnings to guard us against our worst inclinations, and guide us to learn from both the successes and failures of those who have gone before us into eternity. We should learn from these lessons of the past and not repeat the mistakes of those who have traversed the life journey before us!
After this historical narrative and life lessons, Apostle Paul warns us regarding our self-confidence and self-sufficiency that tend to creep in our attitude stealthily. If we think that we have a sure foothold and we are standing on our personal merits, we should take utmost heed that we do not fall down in disgrace. Self-confidence is a feeling that we possess just before we really understand our precarious situation. Self-sufficiency happens when we tend to draw strength from within, which may be the result of a smug feeling that we have the experience, background, education and ability to tide over any “fiery darts” that the enemy throws at us. Rather, we should trust in the strength of God alone! "(God) gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength" (Isaiah 40:29). We should trust in the Lord rather than put our confidence in people and princes! (Psalms 118:8-9)
We need to always remain on high alert always against the attack of the enemy. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8) Someone has once said: “unguarded strength is double weakness”. At times temptations will knock on the door of our lives, but we have to guard against inviting them into our lives. With God’s help, we can turn away from sin and find a way to escape (v. 10). Let our constant prayer to God be that He keeps us from presumptuous sins that they may not have dominion over us (Psalms 19:13).
Let us always remember that some activities in themselves may not be sinful but they could lead us to committing grievous sins and disobeying God eventually. Let us be aware of God’s presence that is constantly by our side even as He has promised: "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Heb. 13:5). When sin tries to entrap us in unguarded moments, let us always be sensitive of God’s presence, and like Joseph, refuse to entertain sin by making the following confession: "How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" (Gen. 39:9) Even if we eventually stumble, God will never allow us to be cast down for He will hold us in His arms: for He is faithful.