Exodus 32:1 When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
“But he 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.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
I’ve had trouble with addiction all my life. Actually, I have come to understand my problems are better classified as gluttony. I don’t much care for that term, but that is what it is. I tend to satisfy my problems by ingesting something, whether it be alcohol or food. I find when I give in to this temptation, it can be very, very difficult to escape. For me, it is far, far better to heed Paul’s warning, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
That’s easier said than done. The principle is simple, but the execution is very difficult. Why? First, because our very own hearts are wicked. Yes, we Christians have been changed and have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, but there is still flesh that refuses to be conquered. In fact, our own sinful desires can ruin us. No matter how “secret” we keep our sin, it cannot be hidden. On top of our own sin comes Satan, who quickly provides opportunity. His sole aim is to steal, kill, and destroy. Any activity he has is to fulfill these three purposes. Sin is a fact of life. We can’t escape its presence any more than we can escape gravity.
Romans 7:21-2 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
So, I must be on guard to not only my own wicked, destructive desires, I must also be on guard for the devil, who prowls like a hungry lion ready to destroy me. There are particular times when I can expect difficulties. One is directly after a spiritual mountaintop experience. Remember what happened right after Jesus’ baptism? He was led into the desert to be tempted. Same is true with us. I also heard Dr. Charles Stanley use an acronym – HALT which stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired – that are times when we are especially susceptible to temptation and sin. Any one of these can prove difficult. More than that and we’re definitely on dangerous ground.
I started today’s blog out with the scene of the golden calf. Remember how quickly they abandoned God? Newsflash – my mind works the same way. Once they realized Moses might be gone, they panicked and turned to sin for comfort. Hmmm. How often do I look for comfort in sin when that twinge of anxiety strikes? If I am honest, I look to sin far more than I care. Yes, I turn to my Lord, but I also turn to sin.
This gets me to Paul. In this passage, he was speaking of the thorn of his flesh, a messenger of Satan given to him to harass him, to keep him from being conceited (2 Cor. 12:7). Nobody knows what Paul’s thorn was, but the purpose was to humble him. Why that? So that he would seek Jesus’ grace. I have a thorn, too. Mine is gluttony. This is intended to keep me humble. Why? To indulge? Hardly. No, my gluttony is intended to lead me to Jesus, to seek his grace. His power does for me what sin never did – or could do.
Now, let’s talk about the word “boast” that Paul uses. I’m going to suggest that this word is a stumbling block for us in using this passage for our full benefit. It’s hard not to think of bragging when we see boast. Nobody likes bragging. Let’s look at this word a different way. When we boast, are we not acting as if we are unashamed? I think so. What if we were to look at our thorn (you have one, too) as something we are unashamed of. In fact, look at it as something we are willing to openly discuss, not to brag, but to discuss. What if I speak openly and freely about my gluttony in light of Romans 8:1, that there is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus? What if I was to speak to people about the incredible gift of Jesus in delivering me from my sin? Do you suppose I might find others to encourage me? Do you suppose I might then find others to encourage in their struggle? Remember, we are focusing on Jesus and who he is.
Shame keeps me from talking. Sharing keeps me from sin. That’s the power of Christ in me. I’m not bragging about myself at all. In fact, I’m openly telling you I can’t do this on my own. I need Jesus. I need to tell you about him. I need you to tell me about him.
See what I mean?
Folks, we aren’t designed to find comfort in anything besides Jesus. There are seasons in our life when we feel we need something. Maybe we lost a partner through death or divorce. Maybe our job is difficult, or our children are having trouble. Maybe money is tight. Maybe you don’t have enough time to get everything done. It could be any one or more of a thousand things, but all are the same. These are times our flesh combines with Satan’s temptation. We have a choice. We can choose to use our own strength, or we can be open about our problems in the company of fellow believers.
Yes, gluttony is my sin. I’m not ashamed to tell you that. You know what else I’m not ashamed of? To tell you about how Jesus is all I need. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I forget this simple lesson. Today, however, I remember it well and simply must share it with you.
Father, lift up our heads! Let us boast in our weakness and in the power of Jesus!
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers