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2 Corinthians 12-13 - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
May 15, 2024 6:00 am

2 Corinthians 12-13 - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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May 15, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Skip shares a powerful lesson on fighting your spiritual enemy, the Devil.

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J.D. Greear
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So again, God knows how to perfectly balance and you go, this is from the devil.

So what? Don't you think God is sovereign enough to control what he allows in your life? So learn how to fight the devil. Learn how to use spiritual warfare.

Put on the whole armor of God. As a Christian, you need to know you're engaged in a spiritual battle. And today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Pastor Skip shares a powerful lesson on fighting your spiritual enemy, the devil. We're glad you've joined us today. Connect with Skip Heitzig exists to bring more people into God's family and connect listeners like you to his unchanging truth.

That's why we make teachings like this one today available to you and others on air and online. If you've been encouraged by today's program, please consider giving a gift to help others around the world connect with God and be strengthened too. Just call 800-922-1888. That's 800-922-1888. Or visit slash donate.

That's slash donate. Thank you. All right, now let's turn to 2 Corinthians 12 as we join Skip for today's message. Most people, if they had a vision of heaven, they wouldn't hold on to it for 14 years. They wouldn't hold on to it for 14 hours. They would tell you within the first 14 minutes what happened.

In fact, they would probably call a publisher and get a book deal and make a movie about it and get the rights to it. Not Paul. It was such a personal experience. He heard things that were for his ears only, and all he can say is, if I were to try to explain it to you, it'd be a crime. Now, on one hand, I tried him for that. You just heard me do that.

On the other hand, I understand that. How would you explain a beautiful sunset? And we have some beautiful sunsets around here.

Or if you've ever been to the Pacific Ocean and watched the sun sink down in the horizon, explain what you're seeing to a blind person. Oh, you know, the sunset had this beautiful hue of orange. Orange? What is that? I'm not sure. Orange?

What is that? I felt an orange. It's kind of rough. Well, more later on, like red.

Red? I mean, they don't have a point of reference. How would you explain to somebody who lacks the faculties to appreciate it?

It defies a description. It would be like telling a six-year-old, really going to enjoy your honeymoon. Why bother? Or like kids at a dinner table and they're supposed to eat their vegetables while you have a cake on the other end of the table. It's like, I'm sorry, I'm distracted by that cake. It's hard for me to focus on this while being distracted with that. And so perhaps we aren't told that for that reason.

The distraction may be so great. But anyway, Paul experienced it. It was for his ears only. He said it would be a crime for me to even, not even lawful for a man to utter of such one I will boast, yet of myself I will not boast except in my infirmity. So I'll explain that in a minute. For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will speak the truth, but I forbear lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. 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. I want to unravel that.

First of all, understand this. The Lord knows how to perfectly balance blessings and buffetings in your life. And He will allow both. In fact, He will prescribe both. I know you want all the blessings.

You want none of the buffetings. But the Lord wants you to go deep and be mature so He knows the perfect combinations, blessings and buffetings. And Paul received many blessings, revelations, visions, spiritual power, supernatural power, but also many buffetings. We all know the story of Job. We know how that Job was righteous, godly, prayed for his family.

But one day when the angelic host appeared before God to give some kind of an account, Satan was with them. And God said to Satan, have you considered my servant Job? Look at Job. I want you to check Job out. Now, had Job known all this, he would have said, thanks a lot. Did you have to stop with me? There's plenty of other fish in this sea.

Have you considered Job? He's godly. He's perfect.

He's upright. He fears God. He hates evil. Satan says, let me at him. He'll curse you to your face. And you know what happened to Job.

What happened to Job also in a similar kind of a way happened to Paul. Blessings from God, buffetings from Satan. But notice the wording here. Lest I be exalted above measure by the abundance of revelations, a thorn in the flesh, I'll explain that in a moment, was given to me a messenger of Satan to buffet me. When it says it was given to me, quick language lesson.

It's in the aorist passive, that's in the Greek tense, aorist passive indicative. Which means, a better translation, a messenger of Satan was given to me by God. God allowed it. God is the agent that allowed that to happen. And I know that because it says in the next verse concerning this thing, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.

So here's what I want you to see. Like Job, so Paul had two agents at work in his life, Satan and God, or a messenger of Satan and God. A messenger of Satan had a goal, a plan, a motivation. God, who allowed that and gave that experience to Paul, also had a goal, a plan, and a motivation. The goal and plan and motivation of Satan was very different than the goal, plan, and motivation of God.

And I just want you to pick this. This is transformative. The goal, plan, and strategy of Satan was to destroy his faith. The goal, plan, and strategy of God was to develop his faith by the hardship that he allowed Satan to inflict.

One was to destroy, one was to develop. Same with Job. Job was blessed in the end far more than at the beginning. He had wacky, wonky ideas about God.

His three friends even had worse ones. They matured, they grew, they developed in that, especially Job, and God blessed him at the end. Satan wanted to attack Paul, this messenger of Satan, whoever, whatever it was, to destroy him. God wanted to use that attack to develop him. So, again, God knows how to perfectly balance, and you go, well, this is from the devil.

So what? Don't you think God is sovereign enough to control what he allows in your life? So, learn how to fight the devil. Learn how to use spiritual warfare. Put on the whole armor of God. Don't flip out because the devil's attacking you. Join the human race. Join the Christian life. We're all getting attacked by the enemy. Learn how to fight and find out why God is allowing it.

To develop your faith. So, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, implied by the aorist passive indicative, by God. A messenger of Satan to buffet pound beat me up.

Tossed me around. Lest I be exalted above measure. Have you ever heard of this verse?

Romans 8 28? Who hasn't, right? That's what you're saying.

Who hasn't? We know that God causes all things to work together for good. That's what God does. All things. Even temptations. Even attacks of the devil. Even assaults by the enemy. Even messengers of Satan.

God might allow that. Just like the right combination of harmful elements, if combined correctly, can benefit you. Sodium is a poison. Chlorine is a poison in its pure form.

Mixed at just the right amount, you get sodium chloride, or table salt, and most of you cook with it, and you find it a beneficial thing to add to your taste. So, God knows how to bring the flavors out in your life by adding blessings and adding buffettings. And he might say, oh, that person needs a little more buffeting. Oh, that person needs a little more blessing. Our problem is, when we're being buffeted and others are being blessed, we have a huge problem with them. Not with our buffettings, but their blessings. But the Bible says, rejoice with those that rejoice. Weep with those who weep. When somebody's blessed, thank God for the blessing. Somebody's getting buffeted, pray for them.

Stand with them, encourage them. So, lest I be exalted above measure by the abundance of revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me. The question is, what is this thorn in the flesh?

I'm going to give you a suggestion. If you turn a couple pages to the right, you'll get to Galatians, and if you come to Galatians 4, I want you to notice something. Galatians 4, verse 11, I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain. Brethren, I urge you to be come as I am, for I am as you are.

You have not injured me at all. You know that because of physical infirmity, physical infirmity, I preach the gospel to you at the first. Paul had some physical disease or ailment, which should put a nail in the coffin of the prosperity doctrine that says, God's children should always be blessed and never suffer disease and just claim it in Jesus' name and be healed. That's stupid. That's nonsense. That's unbiblical.

It's wrong. Paul said, the only reason I preach the gospel to you is because I got sick and I had to. I had a physical infirmity among you. And my trial, which was in my flesh, key word here, you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me. What was Paul's thorn in the flesh?

Let me put this right out there so I'll work my way from this position. I don't know. Nobody knows. Lots of guesses. Lots of guesses. One Scottish commentator says he believed the thorn in the flesh was his wife.

I'm guessing that Scottish commentator was having marital problems at home when he wrote those words, because there's no indication of that. Others say it was malaria. Others say it could have been a migraine and epilepsy. There's a number of guesses.

No one knows what it is, so we don't know. But here's a guess. When they stoned him at Lystra and they thought he was dead, it could have been that he suffered something from that attack, from the rocks hitting that messed with his vision. He wasn't able to see as well anymore. That's one of the guesses. And so some descriptions of Paul say that he had runny eyes, that they were constantly running, and that he lacked the ability to see. And this is a hint.

You would have plucked your own eyes out and given them to me if you could. And then toward the end of that letter in chapter 6 in verse 11, he says, see with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand. Paul would always close his letters by writing the last couple of sentences and sign his name, or just the last few sentences in his own handwriting to authenticate that it came from Paul himself. But he says to the Galatians, I've had to use large letters.

Not I've written a large letter to you. Galatians is a short letter, but large letters in the sentences themselves, so that he had to write large because of his inability to see, stemming from the fact that they almost killed him in Lystra. That's one of the thoughts that it's one of the possibilities as to what the thorn in the flesh was. But end of the day, end of the Bible study, we don't know.

And I like it that way. Because if it was malaria, you would say, well, I don't have malaria, so I can't really relate this principle to my life. If it was epilepsy, you could say, well, I have malaria, I don't have epilepsy, I can't really apply this to my life. The fact that it's ambiguous, ambiguous, we can all apply it to whatever thorn in our flesh we're experiencing, whatever trial or tribulation that we're suffering. So I love that, that it's sort of like, well, we don't know exactly what it is, but I love the principle. So some thorn, and by the way, the word thorn, better translation is stake, not S-T-E-A-K like you barbecue, but S-T-A-K-E like a tent stake, a tent peg, an impaling stake. The other day, I was in my garden, and I was pulling some weeds, and I wedged it in a rock, my finger in a rock, and this thorn, part of it is still in my throat, part of it is still in my finger, I got a thorn in my flesh. And that's how we think of thorns, we read thorn in the flesh, we're like, oh, that's, you know, whatever, some little annoyance. So understand, Paul says a stake in the flesh, he was a tent maker, he used to pound stakes in the ground to stabilize tents. It was something formidable, it was something huge, it was something annoying and bothersome and always there, and he was experiencing it physically. And then verse 8, concerning this thing, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.

Now that's typically what we do, right? When we have a thorn, when we have an affliction, an ailment, a trial, our thinking goes like this, okay, I have a thorn in the flesh. I have to get rid of that thorn in the flesh. For me to move forward, the thorn in the flesh has to go.

There's no room for that thorn in my life. So I'm gonna pray it away. So we pray, and we pray again, and we pray again.

Paul said I prayed three times that it would go. Our thinking, as Americans, especially Western Christians, is that I would serve the Lord better if only certain things were changed in my life, then I would serve Him. If only that annoying person at work were removed, if only my husband weren't such a flake, if only my wife were more godly, if only this disease wasn't a part of my life, then I would serve the Lord.

That's not how God thinks. I had a man from Washington, D.C. call me and he said, I have an unusual disease. Do you think God could ever use me overseas in ministry? I've felt for a long time a desire to go overseas and serve the Lord, but I have this very unusual disease.

He tried to explain it to me. Do you think I could ever be used in that capacity to minister overseas? I said, why not?

Paul had an unusual ailment, and he was used overseas quite regularly. Why not? Go for it. Why? Because you having that trial, tribulation, disease, whatever it might be, causes you to lean harder on the Lord.

That's why. Why would God want to remove something that has caused such benefit for you to cry out to God and trust God so much? For him to remove that?

Okay, great. Next time I have a problem, just pray it away and move on. Well, maybe God won't remove it.

He didn't with Paul. So I prayed three times that it would depart from me. Now, verse 9 is the answer. And he said to me, here's the answer. My grace is sufficient for you.

My strength is made perfect in weakness. I don't think that was the answer Paul was looking for. I think the answer Paul was looking for is not no, but yes, Paul, I will deliver you from the throne of the Lord.

Of course, I'm removing it. That's the answer he expected because he prayed once, prayed again, prayed again. The answer he got was basically no. Think of it this way.

Maybe this will help. If the request isn't right, God says no. If the timing isn't right, God says slow. If you're not right, God says grow. But if the request is right, the timing is right, and you're right, God says go. And you're right, God says go. So if God doesn't give you what you pray for immediately, check some of those other boxes.

Is he wanting me to grow? Is this not the right timing? Is it the wrong request? Et cetera.

Therefore, because of that, that's the answer that I got. Therefore, most gladly, I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, and distress, for Christ's sake. For when I'm weak, then I'm strong. I'm humbled by Paul. I don't know that I've gotten to this place where I say, yeah, I take pleasure in that.

Oh, this is so hard. Yes, bring it on, Lord. Bring it on. This is such a trial. Yes, I take pleasure in that.

I'd like to get there. At the same time, well, let me put it to you this way. When I was a kid at Christmas time, I got two types of gifts from my parents. One type were the things I wanted. Another type were the things I needed. Sometimes it was a fire truck or it was a bicycle or it was something that I wanted. But every Christmas, I also got gloves, t-shirts, underwear, socks. I wasn't particularly thrilled to open up those gifts.

Oh, boy, a pair of socks. But I needed them. And so Paul says it was given to me, this messenger of Satan to buffet me, given to me by God. And so I'm taking pleasure in these things because I realize behind it is a good God who knows how to make the right balance. He knows what I need.

He's maturing me. I take pleasure in persecutions, distress, for Christ's sake. For when I'm weak, then I'm strong. it possible to know him? How you answer those questions shapes how you see the world and navigate life. And Skip Heitzig knows how important it is to have an accurate view of God's character. I've noticed that almost every problem that a person has in their life stems from an inadequate view of God. In Skip Heitzig's book, Biography of God, learn to recognize and remove the limits you may have placed on your idea of who God is. The truth is, I am a fellow traveler on this same road that you are on.

And we have access to the same information, the same documents, but I hope to offer a fresh perspective on God himself. Biography of God is our way to thank you for supporting Connect with Skip Heitzig as we reach a lost world with the gospel. Request your copy with a gift of $50 or more when you give securely online at slash offer or call 800-922-1888. That's slash offer or call 800-922-1888. Your support helps keep Bible-based teaching by Pastor Skip on the air for people around the globe and around our nation.

And it helps provide a host of relevant resources to equip listeners like you through Connect with Skip Heitzig. You can partner in this life-changing work today with a generous gift to help encourage other believers around the world. Just call 800-922-1888 to give. That's 800-922-1888 or visit slash donate. That's slash donate. Thank you. Come back tomorrow as Skip encourages you to examine your life, to determine if you are truly a believer. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-15 07:32:11 / 2024-05-15 07:41:03 / 9

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