Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Thorn in the Flesh


You have heard it said that the "thorn" in the apostle Paul's flesh, was likely a speech impediment (2Cor.10:10), or poor eyesight. This doctrine may seem harmless, but accepting it could prove negligent. Why?
The "thorn" in Paul's flesh was a warning and lesson to all anointed prophets. If this warning and lesson is not discerned; it puts those prophets who overlook the actual warning, in danger.
First, lets examine the scripture which introduces this "thorn" Paul dealt with.

"To 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" 2Cor.12:7
Eze.2:6; Judges 2:3; Num.33:55
At 2Cor.12:7 Paul equates this thorn with a "messenger of Satan". This "messenger" means "angel". Satan's messengers are described in scripture as messengers/angels of deception, liars, and impostors, (Matt.12:34; John8:44; 2Cor.11:14,15; Rev.12:7; Matt.24:24; 2Thess.2:2; Rev.13:11) who restrain the messengers (angels) of Truth, such as Paul was himself. (Rev.1:20; Luke20:35,36; John5:24; 4:14; Rev.11:3,4,7).

If we examine 2Cor.12:7 in more detail, we can learn much more. Paul says that the reason that God allowed this persecution by one of Satan's agents, was "to keep me from becoming conceited" (Rom.12:3). Why was Paul in danger of becoming puffed up? He explains, "because of the abundance of revelations/visions".
Paul had been taken into the spirit realm (2Cor.12:2). Sacred secrets were laid before his eyes (Amos 3:7; Num.12:6; John15:15; Rev.10:7; Dan.2:47; 11:33; Eze.29:21). The purpose of this was to educate Paul, that he might be granted understanding of God's purposes and have "opened" to him, God's prophetic Word (Luke12:37; Psalm 23:5; Luke22:27; Rev.3:20; John14:17; Rev.1:1; 20:12).
Such a unique privilege might make one feel superior. But as Paul well knew, any spiritual treasure he now possessed, was due to the grace and mercy of God 
(1Cor.4:7; Romans 9:16; 12:3; John3:27; 1Cor.1:27,28,29).

But, like Paul, we are all human. Pride is an innate defect (Mark9:33,34; Luke22:24). Therefore, God allowed a measure of discipline to remain with Paul (2Cor.12:8-10; Heb.12:6; Prov.23:13; Rev.2:27; Prov.23:14).
Finally, we are told that this "thorn" (Num.33:55; Mark 4:7; Eze.28:24NIV ; Judges 2:3; Luke21:20; Jer.4:3) was permitted, "to torment me".
These stinging thorns indeed do torment (Rev.9:5,10). The "reproach, persecution, and distress" these one's caused him (2Cor.12:10) kept Paul reliant upon the continuing strength provided by God. (2Cor.12:8,9)

Through this reliance upon God, Paul was progressively cleansed of pride, refined in holiness, perfected in maturity, and able to appreciate God's undeserved blessing. It kept him reliant upon the strength of his Heavenly father, rather than his own sense of self-righteousness.

Next is added the detail that this thorn was in Paul's "flesh" (2Cor.12:7; Num.33:55). The flesh is contrary to the spirit (Gal.5:17; Rom.8:5). Yes...pride is sourced in our sinful flesh. That is where the sting of those who challenge us, resides. Another possibility, is that the source of Paul's torment in his flesh, was his wife (Mark10:7,8,9; 1Cor.7:29 B). God did not give Paul permission to dismiss her.
While our flesh is yet weak and vulnerable to these thorns; we are under training (1Pet.5:10; Phil.1:6; Heb.5:8; Rom.8:17-18). Like Paul, we must learn to use these "thorns" (James 1:2,3,4) to learn full humility. 
As we progressively learn to walk by spirit (Gal.5:16; Rom.8:14; Matt.26:41), such cases of insult, ridicule, threat, and torment do not deter us at all....
but our Faith is for us, a shield (Eph.6:16; 1Thess.5:8).


Num.33:55; Eze.28:24NIV ; Matt.10:24,26; 2Cor.12:7
[If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. (John15:20)]


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