BY JIM KASEMAN
Traditionally when we look at 11 Corinthians 12, we talk about Paul’s thorn in the flesh. However, the scriptures are also talking about our thorn in the flesh.
As you begin reading II Corinthians 12, you might begin to wonder what in the world this has to do with you. Certainly you’ve never been caught up into the third heaven, in or out of the body, much less
receive visions, revelations and inexpressible words in heaven like Paul did.
Well, perhaps you can relate to my heavenly experience when I received inexpressible words and revelation from heaven.
In April of 1972 1 was invited to a neighborhood Bible study where, for the first time in my life, the Redemption Plan of Salvation through Jesus Christ was shared with me. Although I had been raised in a large denomination all my life, I had never been presented the simple plan of salvation and how to receive it personally in my life. So, at 29 years of age I heard how God had given His best, the Lord Jesus Christ, so
that I could be saved (born-again) and live in victory in every area of life! Free from the power of sin and Satan through the shed blood of Jesus Christ! In the natural it was too good to be true. When the time came to share the Good News with friends and relatives it was almost inexpressible in words to share the revelation that God had placed in my heart of total victory in Jesus as a way of life!
And, when you consider that the scriptures call Jesus the Living Word, that means we’re hearing directly from heaven whenever we read arid share God’s Word! So like Paul, we all have had and continue to
receive, revelation and inexpressible words from heaven!
Here Comes Satan
II Corinthians 12:7 tells US that a messenger from Satan was sent to Paul immediately because of the abundance of revelation (Word of God) that he had received.
Now in the Greek the word “messenger” was always used to describe a person or being not once was it ever translated sickness and disease. So, Paul very plainly tells us that an evil spirit was sent to buffet him in order to take the Word of God away from Paul before the “Word” produced fruit or faith in Paul’s heart.
This is clearly seen in Mark 4:14-20. Like Paul, the ones in verse fifteen heard words from heaven and they were sown in their hearts. Then Satan came immediately to take away the word before it would have
a chance to take root, grow and produce fruit as described in verse twenty.
We also can see in verse seventeen through nineteen that Satan comes against us with hardships, trials, tribulations, persecutions, worries of this world, deceitfulness of riches and lusts (desires) for other
things besides Jesus, so, that the Word of God will become unfruitful producing no faith and no victory in our lives.
Faith or Pride?
I’ve always said that Satan will make a fool out of you through religion. And here is another example of such.
Religious folks would say that God allowed Satan to buffet Paul so that he would not be exalted in pride because of all the revelation he had received from God. This belief is totally contrary to God’s nature and
His way of doing things. This is another example of religious people always reading the Word of God in a negative way.
Seeing what Paul says the Word of God will do in Ephesians 3:20 gives us godly insight that is consistent with God’s Word. Now Jesus is the Word of God, and the Word of God produces faith and power in our lives. So verse twenty could correctly be read as follows: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the Word (power) that works in us”!!! Glory to God!!!
So when Paul said in 11 Corinthians 12:7 ” … lest I be exalted above measure”, he is saying that before the Word could produce fruit and victory in my heart and life, far above my wildest imaginations, Satan
sent an evil spirit to try to get the Word away from me before it had a chance to take root in my heart and produce answered prayer and victory in every area of life!!!
Glory to God, the Word of God will exalt each one of us far above what we could ever imagine if we’ll keep God’s Word in our heart and not let the devil choke or take the “Word” away from us! That’s inexpressible
words from heaven, people!!
Perfect in Weakness
In II Corinthians 12:8-10 Paul tells us how fourteen years earlier he had prayed for God to take away this evil spirit from him. But God revealed to Paul that He had already removed the evil spirit through
the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That all authority and power over the enemy had already been given the church through Jesus Christ (Mark 16:17). That God’s grace, God’s divine ability in us, the
blood of Jesus Christ, the name of Jesus, the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit, etc., is all sufficient for us as believers. And as we totally depend on Jesus we will be made strong in Him!
It’s interesting to note that the word “infirmities” in verse ten is always translated as human weakness, never sickness or disease. So, when we come to the place when we know we cannot do anything apart from
Jesus, then we are strong in Him!
Paul – A Man of Faith?
So far we have seen that what Paul went through we are also experiencing in our lives. Now, let me ask you a question. Was Paul a man of faith and power? Without a doubt, Paul certainly was a man of strong faith and next to Jesus, one of the most successful Christians in the history of the church.
But look at all the tests, trials, persecutions, hardships, worries, etc., the messenger from Satan buffeted Paul with in 11 Corinthians 12:23-29. Now when you and I get into similar situations the religious
people are quick to say, “Where is your faith, Brother?” or “If you had such great faith, you wouldn’t be going through that hardship you’re in now.”
No place in the Bible does it ever say that we’ll never have hard times, trials, persecutions, etc., when we put our faith and trust in God. However, the Bible has much to say about men and women of faith
fighting the fight of faith as a way of life! That’s why we’re to keep the armor of God on at all times (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Hinder But Not Stop
Now the devil may hinder us at times, like he did Paul, but if we’ll stay faithful to the Lord, the devil will never be able to stop us from fulfilling our mission here on earth!
For example, Paul was in three different ship wrecks. Well, that would hinder or delay you a day or two until you could swim to shore and find a new ship. But it didn’t stop Paul from moving on in Jesus and these supposed “setbacks from Satan” should not stop up from pressing on in Christ until we see the total victory in every area of life!
If Paul can finish his course in life, certainly we can. Considering that not very many of us have even come close to experiencing what Paul went through in his lifetime.
Flesh or Spirit?
Here’s an important point well worth remembering. The reason Satan was never able to stop the apostle Paul was because all of the demonic activity in Paul’s life was always a “thorn in the flesh” and Paul
never allowed them to become a “thorn in his spirit”!
In other words, never allow the attacks of Satan, people or circumstances to get into your spirit and Satan will never be able to stop you from walking in victory (Proverbs 4:23).
Think It Not Strange
Sometimes Christians allow themselves to get depressed and then they begin to feel sorry for themselves thinking that nobody else on earth is experiencing the difficulties that they are going through or that
they’ve never had so many problems like they’ve had since they’ve been a Christian.
According to I Peter 4:12, we are not to think it strange concerning all the fiery trials that have come upon us as though something strange has happened to us.
Some think that all the hardships of life came on them just at the time they became Christians. But that’s not true. Before you became a Christian you experienced many of the same hardships of life. Except
you could not do anything about them but as a Christian we have authority and power over all demonic activity and we can change the circumstances, repel the devils and experience victory!
Actually, these hardships of life entered the earth way back in the garden of Eden when man sinned. So don’t think it strange concerning these fiery trials-it’s just part of life here on earth. So let’s simply take the Word of God and rise above it!!
More Than Conquerors
As we look at Romans 8:35-37, we see that Paul is still talking about the same subject. He mentions tribulation, distress, persecution, etc. Then he says, “Yet in all things we are more than conquerors.”
Now some Christians are never conquerors because when hard times come they quit and run or just give in to the devil with no resistance on their part. I call them conscience objectors in God’s Army. They refuse to take up their spiritual weapon and fight! A conqueror is one who engages in battle and wins. We must face the trials of life as attacks from our enemy, refuse to accept them, engage in a good fight of faith, and become more than conquerors! Glory to God!! This kind of faith is more precious than gold in God’s eyes (I Peter 1:7) and will bring praise, honor and glory to Jesus Christ. And likewise, not to exercise your faith in these areas would be like the man who buried his one talent instead of putting it to work for his Master. To live a defeated life does not bring praise, honor and glory to God!
Don’t Get Weary
We are exhorted, in 11 Thessalonians 3:13, not to become weary in well doing. If you’re not having difficulty being more than a conqueror, you’re faced with the temptation to give up or go back into the world, more than likely you’re trying to do it all in the flesh. When we walk in Him, in the Spirit, then His strength is our strength. When we slip out of the spirit and into the flesh, that’s when we begin to walk the
Christian walk in our own strength and we’re soon defeated by the enemy.
You might also say that when we allow the trials of life to get into our spirit, then our eyes have come off of Jesus. We’re back in the flesh. And, our weapons of warfare are to be spiritual and not carnal or fleshy!
Don’t Worry – Be Happy
A few apparent setbacks or opposition doesn’t mean you have no faith. It simply means the enemy is opposing us and it’s time to exercise the faith we do have in God more than ever.
None of us are perfect or know all there is to know about God. But we are learning and growing. It’s time to stop listening to what the devil says, what people say, what your feelings say or what circumstances may
say. It’s time to hear what God’s Word has to say about the matter and settle for nothing less than what God has promised us in His Word.
So, in spite of all the thorns in the flesh-we are more than conquerors in all these things through Jesus Christ, and the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY JIM KASEMAN MINISTRIES, JUNE 1996, VOL. 22, NO. 8, PAGES 1,2. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.