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Paul's Thorn


Part 1: Paul's thorn, sent by God?


What was Paul's thorn in the flesh? Why was this messenger of Satan sent to buffet him? This page looks at how we can benefit from Paul's experience and the lesson God shared with him. It is a message of freedom and victory in Christ.


This pages comes as a result of email correspondence with a lady who responded to my on-line Sunday Sermon entitled 'Are you alert to spiritual warfare?' I startled her by how I spoke about the thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, that was assigned to Paul and that he sort to be rid of. 2 Cor.12:7-10.

Below are my answers to her questions. This material straightens out an area of great misunderstanding among Christians which has left many languishing in many unnecessary troubles.

Here is the main Bible text:

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. 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.And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12: 7 - 9 - NKJV


Question 1:

"The Apostle Paul's thorn in the flesh....was it sent to Paul with God's permission?"



Does the devil look for God's permission before he does something? The devil is an outlaw - he doesn't go to the town authority and ask for permission to rob the bank!


Question 2:

"If it was with God's permission, then wasn't Paul supposed to be getting 'beat up'?"



Well, as I've said above it wasn't with God's permission. God doesn't need to employ the devil to train or teach His saints anything. God has the Holy Spirit and His Word for that purpose and He wouldn't ever even think of entrusting that punk the devil to do a job for Him.


Question 3:

"Wouldn't it be wrong for Paul to resist what God had allowed to come to him?"



Now you're getting down to some really important issues here! This uncovers the reason so many Christians camp out in in afflictions and infirmities - they've got a seed of suspicion that God doesn't want to heal or deliver them because He may be using their suffering to teach them something. This is a tragic state of misunderstanding for them to be in! Please read my teaching entitled "Why Suffering!"


Question 4:

"Wasn't there a good reason for Paul to be 'beat up' for the glory of God? To show God's grace and mercy to Paul and for Paul's testimony to the New Testament Church?"



Would God be demonstrating His mercy by arranging to have Paul beat up regularly and then comforting him just a bit in it? No!

God had a marvellous way of showing Paul his grace and mercy for all the Church to see - He gave him eternal salvation and apostleship in spite of himself and his background of bigoted attitudes that led to him persecuting Christ's Church.


Question 5:

"How do we know when to resist the devil, if sometimes we are to receive what he is trying to do for us for the glory of God? I guess I can say it like this: If we never had a problem then we wouldn't know what God can do and neither would those that we witness to."



Jesus gave us a very simple rule of thumb for this. He said,

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly."

Joh.10:10. - NKJV


It is right for us to conclude from this that: 1) things coming into our lives that give life - the life of God - and give it more abundantly are coming for Jesus; 2) things coming into our lives that are stealing from you, killing you and destroying what is yours are coming from the devil who is a thief!

Please realise this is not speaking about problems - life has lots of problems and challenges for us to deal with. There will never be a shortage of those in this life. However, what we don't want to be putting up with is the devil's attempts to consume our time, our belongings and our strength by holding us down under afflictions, beatings and infirmities.


Seven further questions on this topic and the answers provided are found in the next part of this lesson.

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