FIRST READ- 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Have you ever made a promise to God that you knew you couldn’t keep, but it sounded good when you said it? Maybe it’s a vow to never go back to that besetting sin you can’t seem to shake. Or a promise that you’ll never go back to that man you know is no good for you. Maybe it’s even a promise that you’ll start going to church more. But what happens when that temptation comes back again? Or that man calls you to meet up for dinner? Or when you don’t “feel” like going to church for bible study? How great are our promises when temptation rears its head? Sometimes we have the habit of making promises we cannot keep. You tell God what you’re going to do, and then completely leave Him out of the equation. I know from experience that these “promises” will only be kept with the power of the Holy Spirit.
I admire singer Demi Lovato for her boldness to expose her struggles. It truly touches my heart, having struggled with similar issues. However, I have to disagree with her “Stay Strong” tattoos on her wrists. Believer, don’t stay strong, stay weak. God’s Word makes it clear how one can receive victory with the Holy Spirit. In the second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul writes that in our weakness we are the strongest. Now to some, that statement contradicts itself. To Believers, however, it makes perfect sense. When we are at our weakest point, the power of the Holy Spirit is at His strongest point. When we humble ourselves and rely on His strength and not ours, we are victorious.
Last Sunday, my Pastor preached a sermon, “There’s No Evidence,” which ties in nicely with this post. We looked at the disciple Simon Peter when he makes a promise to Jesus. He tells the Son of God that he will go to prison and even to death with the Christ. What a bold statement! I love the Lord’s reply to Peter, “…the rooster will not crow today until you deny three times that you know Me!” (Luke 22:34). Shortly after that was spoken, we see Peter’s denial of Christ in Luke 22:56-61. It’s easy to point the finger and laugh at Peter for his foolish statement. However, we have to look at the three fingers pointing back at us.
Peter thought he would keep that promise in his own strength. But Christ knew that wasn’t going to work out well. A little temptation came, and Peter realized he wasn’t as strong as he thought. Oftentimes, we get what my Pastor calls, “Peter-itis” in life, thinking we are stronger than we really are. “Lord, I’ll never do it again!” “I promise I’ll read my bible more!” We make these promises in our own strength and when temptation comes, we flop. Instead, our strength should come from the Holy Spirit. Then, as temptation creeps into our lives, we have a stronger power fighting for us.
So how can we receive victory? How can we keep those promises we vowed to God? Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but first, stop making promises to God. He knows our strengths and weaknesses perfectly. So when we make promises, we end up looking just like Peter. If you truly desire to read your bible more, or get set free from an addiction you can’t shake, you just need to stay weak. Now, I’m not saying go to a bar if alcohol is your problem so you can stay weak—that’s just DUMB! You have to stay weak in YOUR strength. When our strength is weak, it gives the Holy Spirit opportunity to show off His strength. We have to say, “God, you know I’m weak in this area, I need Your strength on this one.”
The Apostle Paul writes it beautifully, “…for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). When we admit that we can’t do it on our own, God gives us His victorious strength to handle the temptation that inevitably comes our way. Don’t become so prideful that you rely more on your strength, than the Lord’s. Tell your strength that His strength is the strongest. Your strength needs to be so much weaker compared to His. Begin by asking the Holy Spirit for more of His strength to conquer any giant in your life. Also, stop making promises to God like you did with your friend in kindergarten. You are too mature for these promises, Beloved. Ultimately, when you truly want victory, you won’t make promises, you’ll just do it. Stay weak and allow the Holy Spirit to be all the strength you need.