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What About Paul's Thorn

Paul’s thorn in the flesh is probably one of the most popular passages of scripture used to convey the thought that God will put sickness or disease on you and expect you to suffer with it.

2 Cor 12:7-10 NIV
7 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. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

First let’s establish some points in the above story:
• The problem was coming from an evil spirit dispatched by Satan, not God. God uses the Holy Spirit and angels to teach His people – He does not have to rely on Satan or demons. Paul recognized it was an evil spirit dispatched by Satan, he clearly said so, “messenger of Satan.”

• The mission of the evil spirit was to hinder Paul’s ministry. It was not a physical ailment. Paul knew the difference between sickness and demons. He did not ask God to heal him because Paul didn’t need healing. The phrase “thorn in the flesh” in modern English would be “pain in the neck”. The same phrase is used in other parts of the Bible as well.
o Num 33:55 KJV: 'But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides.
o Josh 23:13 KJV …Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes…
o Judges 2:3 KJV Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you."

• God’s answer was not, “No.” – rather, God answered Paul with the solution to Paul’s problem, “My grace is sufficient.” God’s grace is sufficient to solve Paul’s problem with the devil. Just like you could ask me for bigger muscles and I would answer, “My weight bench is sufficient.”

Paul didn’t ask for healing because he didn’t need healing. A demon had been assigned to stir up persecution against Paul for Christ’s sake. Note Paul said, “for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties…” Paul realizes that in his human weakness is when God’s power kicks in. Think about it, if we can handle the situation in our own human ability (and sometimes we can) then we don’t need God’s power. But when the situation is too big for us to handle in our human weakness, then we can kick into supernatural mode with the power of God. If my car needs washed, I don’t need God for that – I can handle it. But if I need healing or I need spiritual help, I’m too weak in my own ability to handle that. In my weakness, God’s power will shine forth.

Paul knew he was dealing with a demonic force that was sent by Satan and it was on a mission. Paul was growing spiritually stronger and the devil dispatched demonic agents to try and stop God’s mission in Paul. If you are working for Christ there will be demons assigned to you as well. If you start to grow spiritually, Satan will assign even stronger demons to try and stop God’s power in your life and ministry. Through God’s grace you can overcome them. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

God answered Paul by stating, “My grace is sufficient.” In other words, God’s grace is sufficient to solve the problem. What is God’s grace? It’s everything we received from the blood and body of Jesus that we didn’t deserve: forgiveness of sin, healing, spiritual authority over the enemy, peace, wisdom and abundance. All of these characteristics of God’s grace are backed up with promises from God to accomplish each and every one of them in our lives.

Later, in a letter to Ephesus Paul describes our spiritual authority. First he establishes Christ’s authority.

Eph 1:20-21 NIV
20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion , and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

Then he establishes our authority, right there with Jesus Christ!

Eph 2:6-7 NIV
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

He goes on to describe our spiritual armor and reinforce the fact that we need to deal with the spiritual realm.

Eph 6:11-18 NIV
11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 

Copyright 2016 Gene Smith Outreach