There is no denying it. Sin and wickedness has subjected mankind to weakness, sickness, and death. Nonetheless, the Apostle Paul revealed how the sober-minded believer can overcome the enemy and live in victory by turning his weaknesses into power. God permitted a demon to buffet the Apostle in order to teach him the secret of ‘Perfect Weakness.’
A Messenger of Satan
Why would God permit a ‘messenger [angel/demon] of Satan’ to be given to the man who is accredited with laboring more than any other in the establishment of the Church and the writing of the New Testament? To discipline him for his sins and lack of faith? — on the contrary, the Apostle Paul was rewarded with a demon because of his outstanding level of spiritual growth and excellence in ministry, kinda like Job & Daniel. The ‘messenger (angel) of Satan’ was given to Paul, not because he lacked faith, but to build up his faith even more. ~ “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” (2 Corinthians 12.7). Good is always looking out for us, but in ways beyond imagination for most of us.
The Apostle was given a ‘thorn in the flesh’ to help him to minister the Gospel more effectively, more specifically to spare him of the temptation to trust in his own ability, and to stimulate him on to new levels of spiritual growth and power. It was not to discipline him, but rather to reward him and qualify him to receive even more spiritual revelation from God. When the man of God prayed three times to have the ‘thorn in the flesh’ removed, God said ~ “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” (2Corinthians 12.9). God told Paul to rely on the grace (goodness) of God. God knows that hidden within our greatest weakness is our strength, so in His mercy He permits us to suffer diverse attacks of the enemy, to the end that we will not rely on our carnal human strength, but rather that we will be inclined to conduct all of our works in lock step with the Spirit by faith. Too often Christians forget that the true nature of evil usually comes to us disguised as ‘good works’ conducted un or own strength ~ “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2.17). Notice, good works is equal to eternal death in God’s economy. God’s way is tree of life (Spirit). The Spirit led life.
The Real Church
The knowledge of good works is destroying the modern church. Since the 1930s, church attendance has declined in North America. Why? —because of those who were strong in the flesh, strong in ‘knowledge of good,’ but weak and ignorant in the knowledge of the Spirit and of the Word of God. As stated in Genesis, all ‘good works’ are condemned to death because they are a human product of the flesh (fallen nature of Adam), not of the Spirit. The real church is built by God through the weakness of men. Jesus said that He would destroy every church built on the good works of human hands, and build up the real Church of God that is completely constructed stone upon stone by the Spirit — without (human) hands. ~ “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands’” (Mark 14.58).
Working Without Hands
These are the true churches and Christians who have no strength in the flesh. They are weak in their own ability and are forced to wait on God and to perform all things by faith and prayer, instead of by marketing techniques, money, and human reasoning. It is no accident that the New Testament highlights how the Apostle Paul built the authentic first churches while he spent a large part of his time in prison for preaching the Gospel. Every Christian should understand clearly why four of the most important books of the Bible were written from inside a prison — to demonstrate how the only true church is built ‘without hands.’ ~ “However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet say” (Acts 7.48). The founding Apostles and Christians of the Bible knew that “the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands.” God’s lost sheep wander the streets of our cities seeking for the true church of God. They are tired of gimmicks and fads, tired of marketing techniques and the empty solitude of digital media. ~ “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16.18). David, the architect of the first Temple, wrote about how it too was built without hands. He said ~ “A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalm 127.1).
Rejoice in Your Weakness
Paul was wise enough to perceive that the jail cell where he was imprisoned for six years was actually the authors desk Bid had provided him, where in perfect weakness the Spirit showed him how to build the true Bible church constructed ‘without hands,’ as he prayed and wrote epistles from behind the prison walls. This is what is meant when he said, ~ “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2Corinthians 12.10). Instead of striving in the flesh to overcome your needs and difficulties, learn to embrace them and use them as an opportunity to harness the power of God in your perfect weakness by developing your faith in the Spirit by the Word of God.
Colossians 1:29 To this [end] I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.
© L. Jonathan Blais 2021 All rights reserved. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission.