Even the Greatest Struggle Sometimes
Matthew 11:3, 11
Intro: Sometimes, we as Christians look at Christianity as a competitive sport.
We make the mistake of comparing ourselves among ourselves.
- 2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
In our mind, we elevate certain people to levels of greatness, not realizing what we are doing.
We make the Christian life unattainable.
We make achieving something great for God only for a select few.
In our text, God calls John the Baptist the greatest.
Matthew 11:11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
We could wax eloquent on all the great qualities of John the Baptist.
We could preach a sermon series on the secrets to achieving greatness.
But notice the rest of the verse:
- Matthew 11:11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
We cannot hide behind the greatness of these Bible characters.
Jesus himself said that the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist!
I. Even the Greatest Struggle Sometimes with their Faith – Matthew 11:2, 3
vs. 2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
vs. 3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
Remember: John the Baptist had unprecedented information.
All we have is a Bible.
He was there and witnessed the life and ministry of Jesus first-hand.
A. He struggled despite the PRIVILEGES.
He was the cousin of Jesus.
He was privileged to be the forerunner and warn the nation of Israel of the coming of the Messiah.
He was honored to be the one to baptize the Lord Jesus Christ. (Matt. 3:13)
B. He struggled despite the PROCLAMATION of Divine confirmation– Matthew 3:17
There was a visible endorsement – “…the Spirit of God descended upon Jesus like a dove…”
There was the audible endorsement – “…and lo, a voice from heaven saying…”
C. He struggled despite the PROOF of the works of Christ – Matthew 11:2
Even while in prison, John heard about the works of Christ.
The testimony of changed lives penetrated the prison walls.
The guards couldn’t keep out the reports of God’s transforming power.
And yet – despite the privileges, the pronouncements and the proofs, John struggled with doubts.
Why? Because even the greatest struggle sometimes.
II. Even the Greatest Struggle Sometimes with their Fear – II Cor. 2:3
Paul, the greatest missionary, preacher, pioneer of the early church struggled with fear.
Multiple times, Paul referred to his struggle with fear.
I Corinthians 2
- 1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
- 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
- 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
- 4 And my speech and my preaching [was] not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
- 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
- 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
- 19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
- 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
A. He struggled despite his Education
- 3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
- 4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
- 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
He knew more about the Scriptures than probably anybody in his time.
In fact, he commended those that went and searched the scripture after he preached to confirm his message.
He quoted scripture all the time.
He told Timothy to PREACH THE WORD!
He told him to STUDY TO SHOW THYSELF APPROVED UNTO GOD.
Yet, Paul struggled with fear and intimidation and trembling.
He had no confidence in his flesh.
B. He struggled despite his Experiences
Paul stood before kings.
Paul the Apostle performed miracles.
He struck a man blind in Acts 13.
He healed a blind man in Acts 14.
He was stoned and came back from the dead in Acts 14.
They were accused of turning the world upside down in Acts 17.
C. He struggled despite his Endorsements
In Acts 13, the Bible says that they were SEPARATED and CALLED by the HOLY GHOST.
It goes on to say in verse 4 that Paul and Barnabas were sent forth BY THE HOLY GHOST.
Their local church and all its prophets and teachers laid hands on them and sent them.
They were sanctioned by the Holy Spirit, and by their local church.
Paul had the full support of their church.
But even the greatest struggle sometimes!
III. Even the Greatest Struggle Sometimes with their Flesh – Romans 7:14-25
In my estimation, Paul was one of the, if not the greatest Christian in the New Testament.
John the Beloved would be right up there with him in my book.
Yet the Apostle Paul struggled with his flesh.
- 14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
- 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
- 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
- 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
- 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
- 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
- 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
- 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
- 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
- 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
- 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
- 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Conclusion: The bottom line is this; just because you struggle, that doesn’t mean you can’t overcome.
Just because you have weak moments and hard days, you can still live for God and please God.
Don’t let your struggles define your Christian life.
Face them, confront them and give them to God.