Sunday, December 13, 2015

Paul's Epistles - 2 Corinthians Part 18 – Paul’s Thorn

Paul's Epistles - 2 Corinthians
Part 18 – Paul’s Thorn
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |

Paul's second letter to the church in Corinth began with letting the church know that Paul was happy to hear that the church had received and responded correctly to his first letter.

Remembering James 5:19, 20 " My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins."  

Paul explained why he didn't visit them and that he was pleased they had responded well to his first letter, even though not all had repented.

Last week we looked at Paul encouraging the church to allow the offender of incest return to the congregation, because he had truly repented and turned away from his sin, therefore he had been forgiven. Paul said that his punishment by the church forcing him to leave the congregation was enough, and that since he had repented and was forgiven, they must allow him back.

Paul reminded them that it was not that long ago, they too were not living as God wanted them, and they repented, and were forgiven by Paul.

Paul reminds the church in Corinth, and us as well, that forgiveness to those who have repented is essential, not only because we are commanded to do so by Christ, but because when we forgive, we keep Satan from having a way to outwit us.

Satan will use our unforgiveness as a weapon against us in his schemes.

As long as we have unforgiveness against someone who has repented, we are being disobedient to the Lord, which in turn allows a foothold for Satan to work against us.

Satan is always looking for an area of our lives where we are being disobedient, which allows him room to work his schemes against us.

Last week Paul spoke about his struggles, this week about the torn in his side

SCRIPTURE REFERENCE II Corinthians 12:1-10

 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say,or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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.

a. must” because Paul is still correcting the Corinthian church
                                                     i. Though most have confessed and repented, Paul is trying to squash any further false teachings or attacks on him as a minister of the Gospel of Christ.

                                                  ii. This letter (II Corinthians) will be the definitive defense for Paul, his Apostleship, and qualification to not only instruct but correct the church.

b. Although nothing is to be gained (for Paul)
                                                     i. Paul acknowledges that “he” has nothing to gain by doing this, other than solidifying the churches returned position to favor with the Lord.

                                                  ii. This “boasting” that Paul felt was necessary would be one of many “evidences” Paul had given the church.

                                               iii. If anyone question Paul’s authority, or believe false teachers over his instruction, they would be guilty of being “willfully” blind to the Truth.

c. Visions and Revelations from the Lord
                                                     i. Paul shares that he had received visions and revelations from the Lord

a. (Paul separates himself from the boasting) Called up to the 3rd Heaven
                                                     i. 1st heaven is the sky
                                                  ii. 2nd heaven is space
                                               iii. 3rd heaven is beyond space where God the Father dwells

b. Whether in body or spirit, only God knows
                                                     i. Paul states he doesn’t know if he was in body or spirit while there.

                                                  ii. This is telling of how real it felt

                                               iii. I believe Paul was in spirit for a few reasons
1. God the Father is a Spirit, and can only be worshipped in Spirit and Truth

2. Scriptures make it clear that although our souls can be redeemed, our flesh is still sinful and will not be allowed into heaven.

3. So I believe Paul was called up in Spirit.

c. Paul heard LIT - “unutterable sayings”
                                                     i. Things that were not possible for man to speak

                                                  ii. It is not that he wasn’t allowed, rather, it was impossible for Him to put into human words.

a. I could boast of myself this way because it is truth
                                                     i. But instead I will boast of being counted worthy to suffer for Christ

                                                  ii. Being weak is what made Paul strong
                                               iii. In Paul’s (followers of Christ) weakness, we must rely on the Lord for our strength, and this is when we are the strongest, when we are in the Lord.

b. I have a messenger of Satan, a thorn in my flesh
                                                     i. What is the thorn? II Corinthians 11:23-27
                                                  ii. Paul was referring to the continued attacks from Satan’s messengers (angels) Thorn in his flesh is the same as our slang, “Pain in the neck.”

c. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to remove it
                                                     i. 3 represents “completeness” in the bible

                                                  ii. Meaning, Paul prayed with completeness, lacking in nothing when he had prayed to the Lord.
1. Jesus prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest.

2. Peter rejected Christ 3 times (completely)

3. Jesus asked Peter after His resurrection if he loved Him 3 times (completely)

                                               iii. The Lord allowed these attacks, although He continued to save Paul from them.

CONCLUSION - “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.

The Lord does not “make” bad things happen to us.
·        James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

·        Psalm 119:68a “You are good, and what you do is good;”

·        Luke 6:43No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.”

·        John 15:5 “I (Jesus) am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

The Lord does “allow” things in our lives, but ONLY if it is good for us!

In Paul’s case, it is revealed that the Lord allowed these attacks to continue in Paul’s life because of the visions and revelation he had received. These things, by Paul’s own admission, were great, and easy to boast about, and therefore he “needed” to be constantly reminded of his weakness, and to remain humble.

God saved Paul from death many times, and as long as Paul continued to “remain in Christ” as we are told in John 15:5, then whatever happened to Paul was going to be for his good.

Next week Paul will take all he has shown us and explain why he has such concern for the Corinthians.

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