STUDY II Corinthians
12:7-10 (click here for
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. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is isufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (NIV)
Paul follows his discussion of his rapture into the presence of God by explaining the physical results of this spiritual revelation.
God Sovereign over Satan's Power
Paul now discusses the "thorn in [his] flesh" which he understood to have been God's allowance to prevent him from becoming conceited because of his having been ratpured into heaven and personally taught in the presence of God. He also understood that this "thorn" involved Satan's personal attack on him.
1. What other Biblical examples show Satan involved in the discipline or testing of God's people? (see Matthew 4:1-10; 1 Corinthians 5:4-5; 2 Corinthians 2:10-11; Timothy 1:18-20; Job 1:9-12, 2:3-7; Ephesians 6:12)
2. What can we conclude about God's relationship to hardship or testing in His people's lives, including Satan's influence? (see Exodus 11:10; Job 1:12, 21; 2:6, 10; Psalm 94:12; Psalm 118:18; 1 Corinthians 11:28-32; 1 Peter 4:12-19; Hebrews 12:7-10)
3. What can we conclude about Satan's power and God's sovereignty? (Genesis 3:15; Romans 16:20; Colossians 2:10, 15; Revelation 20:10)
Power Made Perfect in Weakness
4. Three time Paul pleaded with God to take away the thorn in his flesh. What other three-fold plea to be released from suffering does Paul's experience echo? (see Matthew 26:39-44)
5. Instead of release from suffering, God promised Paul his grace. What exactly is God's grace? (see Romans 3:23-24; Romans 5:20-21; 6:14; 11:5-6; John 1:14, 16-17; Ephesians 2:8; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 4:16)
6. Paul's assertion that he delights in weakness, insults, and hardship sounds masochistic outside the context of being born again and living for Jesus. Why is rejoicing and delighting in trials and suffering appropriate for Christ-followers? (see Matthew 5:11-12; 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10;)
7. God's grace involves granting his power and strength to his people. Under what circumstances does God's power most impact us, and how exactly does one become strong when he or she is really weak? (see 13:4; 1 Corinthians 2:3; Ephesians 3:16-19; Philippians 4:13; Colossians 1:10-12; 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:16-17; 1 Kings 19:12-13)
8. What persistent (or acute) problem do you have in your life that you cannot solve?
9. What grace has Jesus granted you that is not of yourself?
10. How have you experienced God's power at work in your weakness?
11. How has Jesus humbled you?
12. What weakness or affliction in your life do you need to stop fighting and release to Jesus?
13. About what do you tend to feel proud or a bit superior to others?
14. In what ways do you suspect your life is affected by spiritual attacks?
15. Ask Jesus to be your all-in-all. Give him your weakness and persistent trouble, and ask him to fill you with his grace and peace and to give you contentment and strength. Ask him to teach you to surrender to him and to accept what He brings you with trust. Ask him to glorify himself through you and to be your strength and power. Praise him for saving you and for filling you with his Spirit.
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CA USA. All rights reserved. Posted January 19, 2003.