This past Sunday was Pentecost Sunday and it has become for me an important Sunday because the place and work of the Holy Spirit in my faith and life is a critical part of it. I shared this past Sunday with the congregation I serve, that the Holy Spirit has moved and acted in some powerful ways in my life especially during the darkest times when I was not walking with God as I should have. He was both a convictor of my sinful state and my advocate with God the Father.
Here then is an edited excerpt from this past Pentecost Sunday’s sermon. May it be of help to you and others.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”
Got a problem with kindness? The Holy Spirit can help here.
Got a problem with loving someone close to you? The Holy Spirit can help here.
So often I think we think that “because I am weak, that I have done something that I know, that I need forgiveness that God doesn’t want to have anything to do with me…”
We read in 1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
When I have read this verse, and I have read it often over the years, the phrase that has caught my attention the most is this one
when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
But I know that others have been drawn to the phrase that precedes it:
And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
The temptation to do what is wrong…
To cheat on a test
To lie to protect yourself
To let bitterness, take root in your heart and cause an important relationship to break up
To compromise your standards and values so that you will be liked and admired
To take what is not yours in the first place and justifying doing so for what you call right reasons…
All of these things, and more, are temptations.
Temptation never goes totally away. It is always present. It is always nearby and Satan knows that and knows how to strike us with it when we are both weak and when we are doing well.
How then do we say no?
How then do we stand firm in our faith and resist the pressure to say ‘yes,’ to compromise, to give in?
Here are four things to remember and practice.
Job lost everything, except his wife who told him to ‘curse God and die, his possessions and wealth, even his reputation. But he did not curse God and die. Job stood strong even when overwhelming loss was all he experienced for a time.
Daily pray for the Lord to plant and nurture the Fruit of the Spirit in you.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindess, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
These qualities, these evidences of a maturing faith, come through both temptations and testing. They come when we are challenged to stand up in our faith and for our faith. But I also believe that as they are formed and lived out in our daily lives, the also become ways we stand up to temptation for when we are full of these wonderful qualities, the ability to resist temptation in increased because they evidence of a Holy Spirit filled life.
Tell the truth about what is going on in your heart.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
I used to feel that being tempted was a sin. No, being tempted is not a sin. Giving into the temptation is a sin. Telling what is going on in our heart before we give into the temptation is just as important as confessing what happened after we gave into the temptation.
Telling the truth can put us into a position where the power of the temptation can be taken away. It runs away because truth telling brings it into the light where it can be seen for what it is – a temptation.
Finally and this might sound strange… follow Jesus daily.
I recently heard a story about a man who had been part of a church for many decades and was involved in the church. But no one asked him about Jesus until a few years before his death. When I heard that story, it took my breath away. If we want to resist temptation, Jesus must become the center of our lives. Not the church not the family, important as those things are, it must be Jesus. The church cannot save us – only the God of the church can. Our family cannot save us – but they can point us to Jesus because it is only Jesus that can save us from our sins and help us overcome temptation.
Let the Holy Spirit live within you to be God’s person and resist the pressure of temptation.