“My Grace is Sufficient”

imagesToday, I wanted to look at closing up yesterday’s discussion, especially for those who struggle with the notion that “soul ties” aren’t biblical. If “soul ties” aren’t the answer, what is? The simple answer is, “the Grace of God”. Let us begin by looking to the Apostle Paul for some insight, because Paul often taught regarding the dual nature of Christians as being both sinner and saint. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul shares a personal plea to God and God’s answer to Paul should give us encouragement and comfort.

2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (ESV) | Paul’s Visions and His Thorn
1 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

If this reference to boasting seems a bit awkward, in the previous chapter Paul is calling out the false apostles (sarcastically calling them ‘super apostles’), particularly pointing out their abuse, their boasting, and their financial exploitation of the Corinthians. Paul closed out the previous chapter boasting, so to speak, in his afflictions and hard work on their behalf rather than take from them, and he continues here boasting in a way that demonstrates that while the false apostles boasted illegitimately, Paul could boast all the more. Paul is one of the few who have ever been taking up into heaven (as a point of clarification, no one since Revelation has been shown heaven for the purpose of revealing or teaching the Church about it, and no one who claims to share details of Heaven is legitimate).

This thorn in the flesh that was given to Paul was given for a specific purpose, it was allowed to afflict Paul “so to keep him from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations of heaven“. So, not only do we NOT get a detailed description of what Paul saw in Heaven, he was also allowed a tormentor, a messenger of Satan, to keep him from becoming conceited. You and I don’t need a thorn in our flesh, for our flesh is thorny enough on its own. Neither of us have been established as Apostles of Jesus Christ, and neither of us (I say with a great deal of confidence) have been taking up into Heaven. Notice here that if anyone had a special claim on an anointing from God the Holy Spirit, Paul did. If anyone could teach with authority the Word of Faith (WoF) doctrine, it would be Paul. But he doesn’t. We see here that he prayed three times to God that the thorn in his flesh, the harasser from Satan, be taken away from him, and God’s response wasn’t “you haven’t prayed the right prayer yet”, or “you still lack faith”, or even “this is to make you stronger”… no, God’s reply was simply

“My Grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness”

We don’t have thorns placed in our flesh, but we must contend with the flesh nonetheless. Our flesh desires sin, it chases after sin. This thorn was above and beyond Paul’s flesh, and still the answer from God was, “My grace is sufficient for you…”.

How many times have you prayed and longed for God to miraculously remove your fleshly desire to…

  • lust after scantily clad women…
  • drown sorrow or pain in food or drink…
  • take just one more dose to remove the edge…
  • covet a neighbor’s lifestyle, possession, or spouse…

In all of these things, and all the other temptations of the flesh… your flesh… the flesh that wages war against the Spirit, the flesh that desires sin even when un-prompted by an outside agent (be it a person or an unclean spirit), the answer from God the Holy Spirit remains

“My Grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness”

Can God the Holy Spirit miraculously heal addictions and mental illness? Yes. God was not incapable of removing the thorn in Paul’s flesh, and every demon and unclean spirit obeyed the commands of Jesus. The Sovereignty of God rests not only in His power, but in His Will as well. As we see in the book of Job, His Will isn’t always fully revealed to us, either. Nevertheless, we know that He works all things for good. All things… for good.

Romans 8:18-39 (ESV) | Future Glory
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Paul is not talking about avoiding pain, or tribulation, or distress, or persecution, he is pointing to the promise of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are several verses that are pulled from this passage to push the WoF “declare victory now” over-realized eschatology, but when read in-context we know that the hope that lies ahead is far greater than our present circumstances. There will come a day when all of creation will be set free from its bondage to corruption, including our flesh. That nothing that “goes wrong” down here has any lasting consequences and that any suffering we might endure on this earth is not fit to be compared to the Glory that awaits us in Christ Jesus.

In this life we will face struggles, from outside agents and from our own fleshly desires, for it is corrupt. We must take up our crosses daily, and we must resist temptation and flee sexual immorality. But we are weak, and the Spirit of God helps us in our weakness. When we are weak, He is strong.

“My Grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness”

The Grace of God is that He gave His One and Only Son Jesus to die on the cross as payment for our sin. Sin still has consequences in this life, and our flesh is corrupt.

Galatians 6:7-9 (ESV) 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

This isn’t about lawlessness and carnal living without consequences. This is about understanding that while we live in these fallen earthly bodies, we will sin. Our very flesh wars against our Spirit, compelling us to sin. Think of it in terms of addiction… only rather than being limited to a particular sin (drunkenness, gluttony, sexual immorality, etc.) our flesh is addicted to self-seeking, self-gratification (as a goal), and all manner of sin. The Grace of God brings our spirit to life, pulled out of the kingdom of darkness and sealed by the Holy Spirit for the Day of Christ’s Return. We must walk in the Spirit, resist the devil, and crucify our flesh daily. As Paul described it in Romans 6, we are to consider ourselves dead to sin, and alive to God, being slaves to righteousness. But we do so without condemnation, for the Grace of the Cross says that it is by His Blood we have been made righteous, not by our actions.

I pray that each of you will be set free from addictions and habitual sins. When you are going through the storm of temptation, trust in Him. The desire will be there, because your flesh craves sin, but know that the Spirit wages war against the flesh. There is no hidden secret to making the desire just go away. Trust in the Lord, God the Holy Spirit living inside of you to make a way of escape. Temptations will come… and often they come from within your very flesh. That will not always be the case. Sanctification is a life-long process, as we learn to live according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. Press on toward the goal of the upward call of God, the Great Day of His Return. In the meantime, do not be ensnared by condemnation by the accuser. Remember the cross, remember the Grace of God, for His Grace is sufficient, and His power is made perfect in our weakness.

1 John 1 (ESV) 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

May the peace of God reign in your hearts this day and every day,
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s