Episode 12: Comfort for the Tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Sermon text here.

The passage that has been a constant theme in my life the last few months has been 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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. 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.

Not that I have been some kind of recepient of any deeper revelation than God’s Word, but that in spite of all the amazing things God has done in my life, He has not lifted trials and temptations to sin from me. Lately I have been very conscious of the truth of this, and have had on my mind the separation that sin brings in.  It has caused me to despise my own sin all the more, and to cry out to the Lord for rest and restoration in areas that my sin has brought damage to my life and the lives of others.

Thankfully the enemy is woefully uncreative in his assaults.  The Preacher writes in the first chapter of Ecclesiastes, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”  I have found that to be very true, and the temptations that come to me seem to recur from earlier sins.  My desire is to shore up the areas that are weak like this, to prepare for the return of the desire to pursue wickedness, but I find that my weakness is still great.  I’m not strong enough, I’m not smart enough, and I have to find my escape elsewhere.

I always turn to Romans 7 in times like this, to Paul’s great cry of “Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Christ Jesus our Lord!”  My only hope is to turn to the power of Christ to overcome my sin.  And that need is one that I have to exercise, to make war on desires of the flesh and nail them to the cross day after day.  The greatest frustration comes in those times when my heart longs to run the opposite direction, to return to things I have cast off as though they have some sort of value.

So this sermon is as much directly to me as to anyone else who might listen to it.  It is a passionate cry to the parts of me that harbor doubt and fear, and that want to run to find comfort in those broken cisterns that will never hold water, empty objects of worship that can do nothing but create that wall of separation that sin creates between myself and God, my family and my friends.  In it I pray to the Spirit to preach fervently to my heart of the glory of Christ, and say to myself to pull my gaze away from my sin, and fix it on Jesus, and Him alone.

Christ is my hope, and my strength.  Let all other things serve that truth and direct my eyes to the cross.