Specifically, I want to bring you the great news that: His GRACE delivers us from the grip of sin addiction, illness, and demonic influence.
Here is one Extraordinary Example of God’s Grace. Check out Jacinta’s story!
All across this congregation today we have people that are under a grip. Under the grasp. Under the hold or control of something. We have people struggling with addiction. We have people struggling with sickness, illness, disease. We have people stooped in depression, heartache and anxiety.
The Bible is quite clear about these issues. You can be bound or you can be free. Scripture uses clear language to define these scenarios. It uses the term slavery to describe someone that is out of control. In essence, we are submitted to or enslaved to whatever or whomever has power over us. That issue that we can not stop. Today, I am going to use the terms addiction and slavery interchangeably.
There are several myths about addiction:
Myth 1: When people hear the word addiction, most think that it does not describe themselves. We could probably give a name or even a list of names of others they know who are addicted to something (but not us). We never think WE are addicted. We think we could stop at any time. We think for some reason we still maintain control. There are some people in here today that know you have a problem. You want a change. You are not proud of the habits that keep you in chains.
Myth 2: We also think that the term addiction is reserved for people who can’t stop drinking or smoking, taking illegal drugs, or prescribed pain killers. However, the tenticles of addiction grow much more deeply into our lives.
Addiction – is the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit forming. a giving over, surrender.
In reality, there are people addicted to nicotine, alcohol, other drugs where they must have these things or they will become extremely irritable, angry, physically weak, unable to sleep, unable to stay awake, in physical pain, All other activities and people have to take a back seat to this habit. If you don’t get it, you will be a bad person to be around. Basically, it controls you.
However, addiction goes beyond the “big” or “regular” ones. There is sexual addiction where people are will manipulate, abuse, ostracize, belittle, lie in order to find satisfaction. Some are addicted to making money. Or a slave to advancing in your career. Always needing the next level of notoriety, the next car, the next promotion, etc. Addictions are so important that you relentlessly pursue them or you are a rotten person to be around if any of these things are out of order.
There are some who are addicted to food. Which on the surface seems fairly mundane. Until you realize that more people die from sugar in America than illegal drugs.
Obesity, diabetes, hypoglycemia, depression, headaches, fatigue, acne, skin irritation, hypertension, aching limbs, stiffening of arteries.
Over the years, it has gotten worse and worse.
A 2012 study showed how Americans have changed their sugar consumption In 1822, Americans consumed about 2 spoons of sugar a day. In 2012, we consume around 38 spoons
Well, let’s just stop eating the wrong food or too much food… WE HAVE TRIED. WE ARE ADDICTED.
Brain scans show that sugar is as addictive as cocaine. Sugar and junk food flood the brain with much more dopamine than we would get by eating real food, Junk foods and sugar flood the reward system of the brain with dopamine. Sugar also has some effects on opioid pathways within the brain, the same system manipulated by drugs like heroin and morphine. WE ARE ADDICTED.
When you are struggling with your life and you need relief, you may not smoke a cigarette or drink a case of beer. Instead, you eat a double cheese burger, large fries, 32oz coke, with a slice of cake. That food is actually relieving stress in your brain and at the same time slowly killing the rest of your body.
Beyond ADDICTION, there are others in the room that struggle with a diagnosis that you had nothing to do with. Chrones, Lupis, hereditary sickness, cancer, migraines. Sometimes we get sick just because we live in a broken world. We are victims of illness.
Others in the room are bound by generational slavery. Your dad was abusive and you are starting to see your anger get out of control. Your mom was a control freak and now you are stressed when things are out of order. Your dad was a slave to his job and getting ahead financially and now you can’t stop taking those overtime hours.
I BRING GOOD NEWS TO YOU ALL!
Isaiah 10: 27 In that day the lord will end the bondage of his people. He will break the yoke of slavery and lift it from their shoulders.
Ephesians 6:12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
1 Peter 5: 6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. 10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 11 All power to him forever! Amen.
1 Peter 2: 22 He (JESUS) never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. 23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. 24 He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. 25 Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.
John 8:34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
James 5: 13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Romans 8:5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.
By the Grace of God, I will not be an abuser.
By the Grace of God, I will not be bound by my past.
By the Grace of God, the grip of sin will be broken in my life.
By the Grace of God, the power of addiction will not control me.
By the Grace of God, I will live a healthy lifestyle. I will live a long life. I will support my kids, I will be a great parent, I will raise Godly kids, I will graduate from school, I will be responsible, I will not be a bitter person, I will not resent my parents,
The Grace of JESUS CHRIST takes ordinary people (like you and me) and makes them EXTRAORDINARY for the sole purpose of building HIS Kingdom.
Today I want to answer the question, “If we have extraordinary empowerment from God, then why do we face so much pain and difficulty? Shouldn’t we be untouchable?”
Jesus tells us that there will be a day when we are untouchable. That day hasn’t happened you. Until it does, he will empower us to face the pain and difficulty in extraordinary ways!
Living like Jesus might seem like a paradox. He was quite peculiar. Jesus made an impact on the world around him. He made it better. At the same time, he refused to be tempted or sucked up in what the world could offer him: political success, popularity, wealth, safety, comfort. He was at total peace, yet was murdered. His eye was on the eternal kingdom that was present and tangible on earth in spurts and disconnected pockets. Yet, he had a vision and knew that someday the dividing curtain between the eternal kingdom and the earthly realm would someday be dissolved. When in doubt or question, he picked to put the eternal kingdom as a priority over earthly/temporal things.
We are to LIVE LIKE JESUS. Extraordinary! Not just in practice but in principle.
2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 Now we have this treasure in clay jars,
This is one of those phrases in the Bible that really stick out to me. I want to know WHY would Paul use this metaphor of clay jars? Obviously, clay jars were a big part of their culture back then.
He is saying that we store this incredibly valuable truth…the light of God…the glory of God that we see in Jesus in clay jars.
Clay jars were regarded as fragile and as expendable because they were cheap and often unattractive. clay pots that contained everything from wealth to worthless things, from foods to liquids. Because jars, pots, and vessels were made from clay, they were subject to breakage and, therefore, were inexpensive and discarded in short order. He uses an illustration taken from everyday life:
So the paradox Paul is expressing is that although the container is relatively worthless, the contents are priceless. Although the gospel treasure is indescribably valuable, the gospel’s ministers are of little value in comparison.
Jewish rabbis used to say: “It is impossible for wine to be kept in gold or silver vessels but in the most inferior of containers, namely, in earthen vessels. Similarly, the words of the Law are kept only in the person who is most humble.”
An analogy is the valuable Dead Sea Scrolls, which were stored for more than two millennia in ordinary clay jars that were decaying while the scrolls remained intact.
Paul was an example of this as he was beaten up, abandoned, shipwrecked.
2 Corinthians 4:7 …so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us.
We hold the gospel as it were in clay jars to exhibit the phenomenal power of God, so that everyone may see that not we but God is its source. The original text reads: “the extraordinary (quality of the) power.”
2 Corinthians 4:8 We are pressured in every way but not crushed;
Physical or Psychological Difficulties
Clay pots that do not break even when placed under great strain. To be hard pressed or “afflicted” is to be troubled by physical or psychological difficulties. While Paul and other ministers of the gospel endured many afflictions as did frail earthenware, they were not crushed. They were not overcome by these afflictions because they had the treasure of the gospel of Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:8… we are perplexed but not in despair;
Confusion and Discouragement
Perplexed, but not in despair. To be perplexed is to be in a state of confusion and discouragement because of afflictions and troubles. Despair in this context means “utter lack of all hope.” Even though Paul and his company were deeply troubled at times, they never gave up because they had a great treasure.
2 Corinthians 4:9 we are persecuted but not abandoned…
hunted down or chased by others
Persecuted is to be hunted down or chased about by others. Persecution was widespread against the early church. The persecution of the ministers of the gospel indicated how much they were earthenware jars. Yet, Paul insisted that even in persecution they were not abandoned. God never left them alone. He was with them in all of their persecutions. Paul portrays himself as a fugitive hunted down by his adversaries.
2 Corinthians 4:9 …we are struck down but not destroyed.
Setback, Demoted, Fired
When Paul spoke of being struck down, he was talking about a wrestling term. BodySlam! There is a big difference between a bodyslam and defeat.
The path to victory for your family will have many setbacks, but you will be victorious over your foes.
2 Corinthians 4:10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.
Paul said there were many reasons for him to boast about this spiritual prowess. He was firmly established as a man of God. Had so many amazing visions, dreams, miracles.
2 Corinthians 12:7 So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. 8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Get a vision of how BIG God really is! Believe that he is big enough for your thorn. Believe he is big enough that even with the thorn, your life could be awesome. How could that be? Jesus’ answer: My Grace is All You Need!
For some reason, God knows that you don’t need complete deliverance at this point. At the same time, he won’t leave you alone. He provides his grace to lead you through it in an EXTRAORINDARY WAY!
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:16
In his essay, The Efficacy of Prayer, C.S. Lewis said,
“It would be even worse to think of those who get what they pray for as a group of court favorites, people who have influence with the throne. The refused prayer of Christ in Gethsemane is answer enough to that. And I dare not leave out the hard saying which I once heard from an experienced Christian: “I have seen many striking answers to prayer and more than one thought miraculous. But they usually come at the beginning; before conversion, or soon after it. As the Christian life proceeds, they tend to be rarer. The refusals, too are not only more frequent; they become more unmistakable, more emphatic.
Does God then forsake just those who serve Him best? Well, He who served Him best of all said, near His tortured death, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” When god becomes man, that Man, of all others, is least comforted by God, at His greatest need. There is a mystery here which, even if I had the power, I might not have the courage to explore. Meanwhile, little people like you and me, if our prayers are sometimes granted, beyond all hope and probability, had better not draw hasty conclusions to our own advantage. If we were stronger, we might be less tenderly treated. If we were braver, we might be sent with far less help, to defend fare more desperate posts in the great battle.”
Romans 15:13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.