INTRO: Growing up – as we all have experienced – I heard of numerous theories about God – Some good – some damaging and of course bad 

My belief system wasn’t formed correctly – the good news…

Here are ones that damaged – brought wondering, doubt, even fear

We don’t have any recorded scripture that after Paul was saved – that he sinned against God:

2 Cor. 11:23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labours, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.

2 Cor. 11:24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.

2 Cor. 11:25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea;

2 Cor. 11:26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers;

2 Cor. 11:27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

2 Cor. 11:28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. (ESV)

Do these apply for him? 

The biggest enemy of God and the church was behind all of those…

Here’s a few thoughts: (concerning correct beliefs)

If the truth sets us free, then untruth places us into bondage. 

TODAY: “Scriptural Balance” 

ILLUSTRATE: WENT to doctor- Stronger chest muscles pulling on weaker back muscles 

It brings GREAT stability when our understanding of God’s character and His ways are Biblically balanced.

What we believe about the nature/character of God is of utmost importance. We are either growing in freedom or we are held captive by lies about God.

2 Cor. 12:3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—

2 Cor. 12:4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.

2 Cor. 12:5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses—

2 Cor. 12:6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me.

2 Cor. 12:7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.

2 Cor. 12:8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.

2 Cor. 12:9 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Cor. 12:10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (ESV)

Q: Reason for Paul’s thorn?

A: He received so much revelation – that a thorn in the flesh came – in order that he wasn’t exalted too highly

Q: Was God against him (us) being exalted?

A: The Bible mentions two kinds of exaltation

God is displeased with the first

The Word of God is clear on this…

Matt. 23:12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (ESV)

Luke 19:17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ (ESV)

1 Pet. 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, (ESV)

Second Question: 

Q: Was God against him receiving too much revelation knowledge?

Eph. 1:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,

Eph. 1:18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, (ESV)

Third Question: 

Q: Did God send the thorn to humble him?

2 Cor. 12:7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. (ESV)

This is so clear:

God’s messengers can be

The devil’s messengers can be

It’s the devil who is against people that God exalts

Mark 4:15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. (ESV)

Fourth Question:

Q: Was Paul’s thorn sickness? 

2 Cor. 12:7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. (ESV)

First let’s look at “messenger”

The next thing – let’s look at is “harass” – KJV is “buffet”

Strong’s # 2852 kolaphizo (kol-af-id’-zo); from a derivative of the base of 2849; TO RAP WITH THE FIST: TO STRIKE WITH THE HANDS – KJV – buffet. 

Based on what we see here …

In the O.T look at phrase: “thorn in your sides:

Num. 33:55 But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell. (ESV)

Josh. 23:13 know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the LORD your God has given you. (ESV)

These 2 examples of a thorn do not relate to sickness

I don’t think Paul’s thorn was sickness

2 Cor. 12:7 And judging by the stupendous grandeur of the revelations—therefore lest I should be over-elated there has been sent to me, like the agony of impalement, Satan’s angel dealing blow after blow, lest I should be over-elated. (Weymouth)

Fifth and Final Question: 

Q: How can understanding this portion of scripture help me today?

2 Cor. 12:8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.

2 Cor. 12:9 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 of my weaknesses, SO THAT the power of Christ may rest upon me.

The word boast: Kauchaomai; to glory, boast, to rejoice, exult, brag – (Mounce Greek Dictionary)  

Kauchaomai; to vaunt (in a good or a bad sense): — (make) boast, glory, joy, rejoice. – (Strong’s Greek Dictionary

What happens to us when we: REJOICE 

Grace strengthens us in, delivers us from – helps us through – and makes us strong in all our circumstances 

2 Tim. 4:17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

2 Tim. 4:18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (ESV)