We’re continuing through Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. He’s boasted about his sufferings as well as the revelations given to him by the Holy Spirit.
Now he talks about something that’s the subject of a lot of debate in Christian circles.
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
2 Corinthians 12:7
There are many who use this verse to “prove” that healing is not provided for all in the atonement. They teach that this thorn was a physical sickness – probably an issue with his eyes.
This line of thought says that Paul sought healing. God said that he would receive grace instead, to help him in spite of the sickness.
I don’t go along with this reasoning. I believe that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to use certain words for a reason. These words don’t support the sickness theory.
The first thing I see is that this was not an ongoing issue – like a sickness – but something that occurred once in a while. Why do I say that?
Paul associates this thorn with his temptation to become conceited because of his revelations. In order for that to happen, this thorn only showed up when Paul started to think too highly of himself.
Then there’s the word, torment. That’s not a good translation of the actual Greek word used. It literally means a punch, not ongoing torture. In other words, Paul starts to get conceited, and he receives a smack in the head… spiritually speaking.
Another clue we have is the being that was sent to him. Paul calls it a messenger of Satan. What does a messenger do? He brings a message.
What is this message? It’s from Satan, the accuser. I assume it must be some sort of accusation. I know from Paul’s writings that there’s something that plagued his memory.
For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
1 Corinthians 15:9
For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.
I believe that whenever Paul was tempted to exalt himself, he heard the accusing voice of this messenger. “Who do you think you are, Paul? You’re nothing but a murderer. No one should be listening to you.”
I believe that Paul tried to get the Lord to remove these thoughts from his head. He wanted to be free of these memories.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
God made it clear to Paul that no matter what’s in the past, Christ can be glorified through his life.
Questions: What does the enemy try to use against you? What’s God’s answer?
© 2020 Nick Zaccardi