Summary: This is a sermon that honestly looks at how even as Christians, we still struggle with the things we know we should and should not do.
One of my things as a pastor is that I try to be as transparent as I can be. I tend to share stories that show my faults as much as my strengths. It’s kind of like the pastor who was told by his church, “Preacher, we’ve always heard our pastors say they were sinners just like us, but you are the first one we have believed.” So when I preach, much of what I preach comes from the struggles in my own life, which I bet is very similar to the struggles in your life as well. Which is why I have chosen for tonight one of my favorite passages from the bible. Because it’s about an honest struggle. (Read text)
A few weeks back, I made the decision to go on a diet. Now this diet was a simple one, don’t eat what looks good and only eat what’s taste bad. No, that’s not really how it went, but I told myself I was going to eat more fruit and vegetables, lay off of the sweets, and learn to do the heave ho from the table. The one big one, which has always been a weakness of mine, is that I would quit my late night snacks. Now this is a pretty simple diet. It wasn’t complicated, not a long list of foods to eat or not to eat, but what was supposed to be simple soon met it’s match.
One night after one of our VBS nights, my wife made the statement that she would like to have a concrete from Bop’s frozen custard. Actually, she didn’t say it, I said it but she didn’t stop me from saying it so she might have well said it. Now the thing was, I had been on this diet for a while and I had been doing pretty good. And with that one phrase, my body had two reactions. The first was that little angle on my right shoulder saying “Don’t give in. You’ve come so far, don’t do it.” Then there was that little demon on my left shoulder that kept whispering to me, “Creamy, Cold, with Strawberries and Chocolate…” And after flicking my angel off the right shoulder, I enjoyed one of the best treats this side of the Mississippi. I licked the cup down to the last drop.
Yet afterwards, you can guess the feeling I had. Besides being full, and was thinking, “Why did I do that?” I knew better to eat that ice cream, yet what I knew in my mind, my body told me the opposite. Now after succumbing to the temptation, I felt myself feeling both discouraged and disappointed. Why bother? And of course I said to myself, I’ll never do this again! But as you can imagine, this episode has been repeated at least three times since then.
Now I wish that I could say that this has only been repeated in my effort to stay on a diet, but on more than one occasion I have found myself doing something I knew I shouldn’t be doing only to say afterwards, “Why did I do that?” It’s like a car wreck, you don’t want to look, but you end up looking and you say why did I look at that. One of my passions is Kentucky Basketball. When watching them play, its like a whole new person comes out. This past March, I was watching my beloved Wildcats play against the heathens of Michigan State, wait that came out wrong, against the Spartans of Michigan State, and as the game came down to the wire, my passion and temper collided, the result was an over turned table and a cracked knuckle, worse it was all done in full view of my mom, my wife, and my kids.
Afterwards, I had to apologize for my outburst…and again I said, “What came over me.” Most of the time I am a cool, relaxed, controlled individual, but on certain occasions, that raging monster within me rises from the depths and shows itself.
Now what makes this all so awful, is that I am a preacher. I’m a minister of God’s word and I’m paid to be good. Yet I have found that its not that easy. And I have found that I’m not the only one. That’s why I find encouragement in what was read to you this morning. The Apostle Paul, the man who worked miracles, the man who had amazing faith, the man who wrote 1/3 of the New Testament struggled with sin. Now some have tried to make this be what Paul was like before he came to know Christ, but because of the context and the present tense of the verbiage, this is was an ongoing struggle in the life of one who had seen Christ, knew Christ intimately, yet still struggled to live a holy, life.