Monday, August 21, 2006

Start Punching Back!

We have all heard the story about Paul and his "thorn in the flesh". You should be familiar with the amazing passage of scripture in 2 Corinthians 12. He has just been talking about the great revelations he has received from the Lord. Having been taken up into the third heaven fourteen years before, he heard things that he wasn’t allowed to talk about to anyone else. The same thing actually happened to John in his journey through the heavens when he was about to write down something he heard and was stopped by his prophet guide. (Rev 10:4) It makes one wonder what is going on up there that we aren’t supposed to know about yet. But let’s get back to Paul.

“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.” 2 Corinthians 12:7 (New King James Version)

There has been a lot of speculation as to what Paul’s thorn in the flesh actually was. I heard a preacher say it was bad eyesight because of Galatians 6:11. I even heard another say it was an addiction. But one thing is for sure, his thorn was a spirit sent from the evil kingdom. He says what the thorn was: a messenger of Satan. The Greek word for “messenger” is the same word translated “angel” in other New Testament places. And this is not the first time a fallen spirit has done the will of God. If you haven’t read my post on trash talking, do so after you finish this. The book of Job is a prime example. God sent a lying spirit to the mouths of his prophets in 1 Kings 22 to make Ahab fall. In Judges 9, God sent another evil spirit to buffet Abimelech. And of course, who sent the evil spirit to torment God’s own chosen king Saul? That’s right: The Lord. Yes, God is mercy. But God is also judgment. And many people don’t like to believe this scripture:

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12

Who sends the delusion? God!

So if Paul’s thorn was an evil spirit, why didn’t he just cast it? He knew about casting devils. It makes sense to believe that he tried, and failed many times. This isn’t a new thing. There was a devil that the disciples of Jesus couldn’t cast in Mark 9:28. The fact that it didn’t move shows that his “thorn” was no rookie in Satan’s kingdom, and his ability to beat Paul like a piƱata was the reason Paul went to God three times. Every time he seriously asked God to move this mountain, the answer came back “No”. I hear so many preachers say that God never says “No”; He only says “Yes” or “Not Yet”. The Bible is full of times when God said “No”. Moses brought down some “No’s” carved in stone from the mountain. God said “No” to things like other gods and adultery.

The last thing we should think about is the word translated “buffet” in this passage. The Greek word literally means “to rap with the fist”, and it is the same word used in Mark 14:65 to describe the way Jesus was punched in the face during his pre-crucifixion ordeal. The messenger of Satan is punching Paul in the face. It was an enemy he couldn’t defeat, so he took his cause to God and pleaded for some divine intervention. God said “No”.

What is your thorn? Who is your foe? Are you even fighting back? Are you doing the “rope a dope” and letting him beat the crap out of you? Remember you are a soldier of Christ, and a warrior in this plan. You are destined for ultimate victory because Jesus has made us more than conquerors.

“Fight the good fight of the faith.” 1 Timothy 6:12 (KJV)

“You have not yet struggled and fought agonizingly against sin, nor have you yet resisted and withstood to the point of pouring out your [own] blood.” Hebrews 12:4 (Amplified Bible)

Start punching back! There is a reason we have been given the weapons of our warfare.

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