Summary: You have the responsibility of receiving God’s promises for your life.
March 15, 2009
Text: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Subject: The Grace of God
Title: The Stuff Winners Are Made Of
I like jokes. I like to tell them and I especially like when someone tells me a really good one. I am completely blown away when someone who normally isn’t a really good joke teller comes up with one that is good. I used to work with a man who was like that. He used to tell jokes and actually did a really good job telling them until he got to the punch line, and then he nearly always blew it. Actually, most of the time he never got to the punch line, because he would get so caught up in the story leading to the punch line that he would forget it. That was part of what made him so funny. But I remember one time when he made it all the way through. It was so out of the ordinary for him that we never saw it coming – and it was hilarious.
Most of the time the better you get to know someone the less likely that is to happen. What I mean by that is when you know someone you kind of know what to expect from them so that you are not surprised by the things that they do.
Now, there is one that we all know who is called the enemy of your soul. It is satan, and even though we know him and what the Bible says about him we are often surprised by the ways that he attacks. The reason we are surprised is because he changes his tactics so that he comes at a time when we least expect it, or comes in a way that we don’t expect. Let me explain. We know that the Bible says that the enemy comes in like a flood (Isaiah 59:19), he roams around like a lion seek those whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8), and that he is the one who shoots fiery darts or flaming arrows (Ephesians 6:16). Those types of head on attacks are obvious. But the enemy also attacks in other, more subtle ways. He uses well-intentioned friends. (Matthew 16:23, 23Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”). Acts 5:3, Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit…?). He works from within the church. Jude 4, For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.) My point is this, even though you may not know the direction your oppression is coming from and you may not see it coming, you still have everything you need to stand against it.
I want to look today at three areas of the battle that is coming.
1. The attack comes through an open door.
2. Prayer initiates the battle.
3. The victory is in your hands.
Lord, open my eyes to see, and my ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
I. THE ATTACK COMES THROUGH AN OPEN DOOR. I want to begin by saying this – satan cannot do anything to you that you have not opened yourself up to. 7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Paul was a Pharisee of all Pharisees. He was well educated. He had all the right connections. He was confident in who and what he was. Before he was saved he was proud and was not about to let this new thing called “The Way” steal what he believed was the right way to God. Even after he encountered the risen Lord on the Damascus road and became the apostle to the Gentiles, an element of pride was still there. In his early letter to the Galatians Paul considered himself equal to other apostles (Galatians 1:17). The tendency to be proud apparently was always there. It was a battle that he constantly fought. We always say that satan attacks us at our weakest points. Amen! Now, if you think that it is not the enemy who is bringing these attacks, but that you are just doing it to yourself lets look at verse 7 a little more closely. 1) There was an open door in Paul’s life that could lead to conceit. 7To keep me from becoming conceited… 2) One of the sources of his conceit was his spiritual life. He was one who had visions and revelations and dreams and was used by God in the spiritual gifts. When the Spirit of God moved through him he had to make himself remember that it was God and not Paul who was at work. 3) This spiritual attack came in physical form, there was given me a thorn in my flesh… We do not know for sure what this physical affliction was. There are a lot of speculations but no one knows for sure. We just know that it was “in the flesh”. 4) It came from satan. The word “messenger” is the same word that is translated “angel”. So we know this was a demonic attack. And finally 5) It came to torment. So what does that mean to us? Well, do you believe that sickness is from the devil? Do you believe that financial struggles are from the devil? Do you believe that emotional attacks are from the devil? Or, are all these things just part of life? The Bible is pretty clear that death and sickness and all kinds of oppression have one source – and that source is not God. It is the devil. When it comes to sickness we often look at the obvious and see how we have opened the door for satan to work – smoking, alcohol, drugs, etc. But what about overeating or not eating a balanced diet, or personal hygiene, or lack of exercise? We open the door for the enemy to attack. What about frivolous spending or not tithing or not being a good steward of the things that God has given you? You open the door for financial attacks. OR, what do you watch on TV? What kind of music do you listen to? What kinds of books are you reading? If you are not filling yourself up with the things of God you open your minds up to be attacked emotionally. If you think that you don’t have an open door to any attack from the enemy, congratulations. You are greater than the greatest apostle of them all. But I think we would all agree that there is something that we have to watch carefully in our lives in order to protect ourselves from open doors. Daniel 7:25 refers to the antichrist, but I want you to understand that the spirit of the antichrist is satan. 25He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints… One translation says, “He will wear downs the saints… He will keep coming against you in order to try to wear you down.