1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)

13 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.

If God's grace is irresistible, then the grace God offers to resist temptation should also be irresistible. Yet Christians still fall into sin, which sounds like a logical contradiction.

How do Reformed Calvinists make sense of 1 Corinthians 10:13?


  • Perhaps a better question would be to ask Christians who hold to determinism how they make sense of this verse May 16, 2022 at 20:37

1 Answer 1


Reformed teachers & believers who are well studied in the Doctrines of Grace will assert that God’s grace is irresistible in terms of Monergistic regeneration/conversion.

Your people shall be volunteers In the day of Your power; In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, You have the dew of Your youth. Psalm 110:3

Psalms 110:3 is a traditional reformed quotation of asserting believers will be volunteers in the day of God’s power to draw them.

See: Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 10 (Of Effectual Calling) Article 1

So Reformed people assert and believe that God’s grace is irrisistable only in regeneration & calling (John 6:37-40, Romans 8:30)

1 Corinthians 10:13 will assume the implication of a synergistic mode of sanctification. We are to work to resist temptation in our lives.

R.C. Sproul, a Reformed theologian said this:

“Paul calls the Philippian believers to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).

In using this phrase, Paul does not mean to say that we earn our salvation by means of our works, but that our obedience (see his commendation of his readers’ obedience earlier in the verse) plays a role in our sanctification. In turn, our sanctification plays a role in our persevering.

This is a clear call to labor, to toil, to put forth effort, and this effort is not to be casual, light-hearted, or cavalier. The phrase “fear and trembling” calls attention to the sobriety and earnestness with which we are called to press into the kingdom of God.

Jonathan Edwards once said in a sermon that seeking the kingdom of God should be the urgent, primary business of the Christian. We are called to work as hard as we can to persevere. Note what follows this exhortation: “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (v. 13).

Here we see an example of the New Testament’s description of the Christian struggle for perseverance as a synergistic work. Synergism refers to a work that is done by two or more people.

By contrast, monergism means that only one person is exercising power or effort. These words have a checkered background within the history of theology because Reformed scholars and pastors have insisted over and over again that the first step in by our salvation is a monergistic work of God.

That is, Reformed theologians maintain that the Christian life begins at regeneration, which is the work of the Holy Spirit in quickening us and raising us from a state spiritual death to make us alive in Christ.

This is nothing short of a spiritual resurrection, and it is accomplished by God alone, without any human effort. Reformed theologians thus use the word monergism or monergistic to describe the process of regeneration.

As a result, many people who hear this tend to think that a Reformed perspective teaches that the whole Christian life is monergistic.

Have you ever heard the phrase “Let go and let God”? In one sense, that’s a perfectly good phrase, because sometimes we rely on ourselves so much that we fail to find rest in God. But the phrase can become a kind of license for what we call “quietism.”

This is a view that says, “If God wants to change me and if God wants me to grow spiritually, it’s His job to do it, and I’m only as strong spiritually as God makes me.” A person who thinks this way rewrites the apostolic admonition: “It is God who works in me, both to will and to work—so I don’t have to work out my salvation with fear and trembling.”

This is a distortion—the passage calls us to labor because God is working in us and with us; thus, the whole process of persevering is a synergistic action, not a monergistic one. I am called to work, and God is working as well. In the final analysis, whether my labor becomes fruitful depends on the donum perseverantiae, that is, on the gift of perseverance on God’s part to preserve me to the end.“.

  • Can I lose my Salvation? By R.C. Sproul


So being tempted means we must resist temptation as a Christian, not assume God’s grace is irresistible in sanctification.

  • I see. So if perseverance is synergistic, it follows that it is possible for a person to fail to cooperate, and therefore fail to persevere, and thus ultimately end up losing their salvation, correct?
    – user50422
    May 16, 2022 at 17:08
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator According to my studies someone like R.C. Sproul (I've read a good number of his books) would argue that even despite sanctification being synergistic, that he actually holds to the final perseverance of all saints (past, present, future). See especially his treatment on Romans 8:30 and Hebrews 6:4-9 in his book: "What is Reformed Theology?" I also recently read this: "All Arminians have not been agreed on this point; some have held that believers are eternally secure in Christ-that once a sinner is regenerated, he can never be lost. (The Five Points of Calvinism,pg8
    – Cork88
    May 16, 2022 at 17:59

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