A thorn in the Flesh
A week ago we considered the sufferings and sorrows of Jesus Christ, and today I want to focus on Human suffering, and to ask the question, “Why do we suffer?” in this Sermon which I have entitled,
“A Thorn in the Flesh”
People spend millions of pounds every year on drugs, and the side effects of some of them, are often more terrible than the disease they are trying to alleviate or cure. Why do they do so? No one likes to be sick, and universally the one thing we all have in common is that we all hate sickness! I believe that this is because God did not create us to be sick nor did He create us to die. Sickness was not a part of Gods original plan, that’s what we chose ourselves, in making the choice to disobey God. Man chose to die not believing that his disobedience was linked to death, even though God had warned of such consequences. Those who study medicine, will tell us that the body is capable of healing and repairing itself.
Indeed a few days ago I received a bad cut to my finger, which needed a lot of applied pressure to stem the blood loss, and a “band-aid” which had to be tightly wrapped around the offending wound, yet in a few hours, there was no longer any blood, and the wound had closed and repaired itself. The Psalmist rightly says “We are fearfully and wonderfully made”(Psalm. 139:14) Now many will fight against me for Preaching God as a Healer, they may even say I am off the Devil because I preach and teach the healing power of God. They will say it is not Gods will for all to be healed. Those who hold such views have been taught in error, and do not understand the scriptures nor the power of God. I firmly believe that when this message is concluded today, you will be forced to re-think your Theology in the light and liberty of the inspired, inerrant, infallible and indestructible word of God. God has provided for our healing just as much as he has provided for our forgiveness.
To separate the two is unbiblical and unsound doctrine. Most of the Greek words used in the New Testament and translated “Salvation” are also translated as “Healing” … it is often the self same word. For you see our healing and our Salvation are one and the same thing, all part of the Redemptive work of the Cross, the efficacy of the Blood of Jesus Christ. Praise God.
Ps 103 verse 1-3 says
“Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: 3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;” It is what the Hymn writer calls …
The Double Cure!
We have for too long been prejudiced and biased as a result of wrong teaching, and I purpose to help enlighten you today as I share with you these precious and purposeful scriptures.
Look firstly with me at
Paul’s Second letter to the Corinthians in Chapter 12. Let us read from verse 2 … where he writes
“I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such a one caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. 6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which
he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me”.
This is an amazing portion of the apostle Paul‘s testimony:
he begins by telling us that “he knew a man” who was caught up to the third heaven, and then makes it clear that even though he began by attempting to conceal his own identity, he fails to do so, and clearly concludes, talking about himself?
Most agree that the term “third Heaven” simply refers to what we believe to be the present dwelling place of God. The First heaven being our own earths atmosphere, the second being the regions of outer space beyond it, and the third, a spiritual yet very real heavenly place which we commonly refer to as
“The nearer presence of God” or the Paradise of which Jesus promised to the dying thief.
At any rate, this is where He found himself, and this is where He not only saw things He had not seen before but heard words that he had not heard before, and could not repeat them. He says it is…“Not lawful for a man to speak” those things. These things are I believe the things of the Spirit, and cannot be uttered in the flesh. They are the “tongues” of “Angels” a heavenly and holy language, which when under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, a man might utter in Praise to God. They are the things of Heavenly Wisdom, imparted only by the Holy Spirit. Any man might as a result of such a revelation, become
“big-headed” or proud, or arrogant, or Glory in himself, and in
order to prevent this Paul received a “thorn in the Flesh” so that He might Glory in his infirmities instead. Remember that God did not give Paul this “thorn” as most Christians believe He did. Thus Church people will sometimes say “if God gave this to Paul, then what kind of “thorn” might he give you?
But God did not give this to Paul, it was “The messenger of Satan” v 7 albeit, permitted by God.
God may permit suffering, but he does not produce suffering in the lives of his children.”
Fear of God, rather than Relationship with God can keep us from believing for our healing, fearful that we do not in some way measure up to some prerequisite that qualifies us for health and healing? Thus we cannot agree with God for the whole Salvation of Spirit, Soul and Body. Then there are many who desire a healing but not the healer? They want to be better, to be well, to be healthy, but they do not want God, nor his son Jesus Christ. These people need first of all, to Root out all that will prevent them from receiving their healing miracle. After all, Jesus said “Ask of me” not “ask from me”. We cannot have the Health without the Healer. We need to see God as the “lover of our souls”. We need to get our focus back on Him who is the very embodiment of love. God does not hate us, God does not want to destroy us with Arthritis, or Cancer, with HIV aids, with Liver disease or any other disabling condition. God loves us and wants to give us life and life abundant. Anything other than this is heresy This is the central message of the Gospel. Just look at Jesus in the Gospel, God in flesh amongst us, and we read
“He laid his hands on everyone of them and healed them all” When God delivered the Children of Israel out of Bondage in Egypt every sick amongst them got healed. As they came out of slavery they came out of sickness and every one of them were
healed – and remember there was about 3 million of them.
Did God ask them for any proof of Church Loyalty first, Did God set them all a religious examination, or a test in the law of Moses? No! Absolutely not – God loved them, as He does you, and wants us well, today and every day.
The apostle John writing to the Church Elder Gaius, could say
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” 3 John. 1:2.
Gods will for us is to be Healthy, in Spirit, Soul and Body. Returning to Paul’s letter in 2 Cor: 12, sometimes what happens is that people use these kinds of scriptures and try to impart doubt as to whether or not God will actually do what he says? Now it is easy to doubt, it is difficult to believe – but practice makes perfect. Remember Peter who looked away from Jesus who wanted him to walk on the water towards him, but taking his gaze off the Christ and onto the Crisis, he began to sink fearing the storm. Jesus said “Why did you doubt Peter?” Doubting stops the supernatural working of the word of God.
The enemy of the Christian, Satan has been using “doubt” since day one. He came and said to Eve, “did God really say you would die?“ Here he injected a tiny seed of doubt in her mind. Tiny it may have been but it was enough to destroy her. God shows us that if we can get hindrances and unbelief out of the Church then there will be a work done, a supernatural work done in peoples lives in and outside the Church. God wants to add the “Super“ to your “natural“. We need to chase all the clouds away from the sunlight!
One of the major clouds is what I am calling the cloud of negativity. Lets become positive, lets be a plus, not a minus for God. Lets start saying things like …
“Healing Belongs to me“ & “Health belongs to me as a child of God“.
Consider again the story of Job: Here was a man of God influencing the entire Region, and walking every day in a perfect relationship with His maker. Satan hates it, and sets out to destroy him, as He still does in the lives of every man or woman who wishes to walk faithfully with God. (You have no idea of the battles I face every single day, in order to bring you these inspired messages from the Heart of God; and I know that Satan is hell bent on my demise also) Nevertheless we find Job with a spirit of anxiety and heaviness over his family, and such things can often open the door to Satan. So although God did not want it, Satan presents a challenging argument, and God permits Satan to take away his business, his family and his health from Job.
A lengthy discourse enfolds with his friends and “comforters” but in the analysis Job testifies “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord“. ( Job 1:21)
I can tell you that YES, the Lord DID give to Job, He was truly a Blessed man, but the Lord DID NOT take away!
God did not take away, but Satan who comes to steal, and kill and to destroy, took it away. Like Paul’s “thorn” This “ill” had a Reason for a Season” Gods will sometimes permits Sicknesses, Suffering and Sorrows for a Season, but we should not tarry in them for ever. God gave Job double for his trouble. Look at the end of the story in Job, chapter 42.
Let us then consider another negative argument which can rob us of our healing. Look with me in the first Chapter of Marks Gospel. Here a Leper approaches Jesus and says “if you will you can make me clean“. We read that Jesus moved with compassion loved him and touched him and said, I will, be thou clean. v40-42, and as soon as Jesus had spoken immediately the leprosy was cured and cleansed. But consider what was it that this leper questioned? whether God could, or if God would make him clean.
His issue was the will of God and that is many other peoples issue today.
Few doubt that God CAN, the issue is WILL he? Well I am pleased to be able to tell you that he has already healed you 2000 years ago! Jesus was the walking will of God, he said “if you have seen me you have seen the Father“ and he died to make us free, meaning that WE are the redeemed from the curse of Sin and Death. If you have faith to receive your forgiveness, then you have the faith to receive your healing. But in order for that healing power and presence to work, We need first to hear the word, and “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God“ Romans 10:17. I pray that today your faith may be strengthen by the Word so that you may believe for and expect your miracle…. for “the Just shall live by faith“.
The Enemy knows that the word will get the work done. In Numbers 11:18 the Children of Israel wondering in the wilderness, seemed to DESPISE (have a low opinion of) or contempt for the word of God. There was a worthless murmuring amongst them which is often mirrored in the Church of today. If Satan cannot get us to Doubt the word, then He may try to get us to Despise the Word?
Let me illustrate this point for you. Supposing you find a lump where a lump should not be and you set off this week to see your Doctor. He in turn send you immediately to see a Specialist, who with a worried look informs you that you may have a Cancerous tumour. Now you are set for surgery to remove it. You are admitted to the Hospital, you come in, and under an aesthetic, the lump or tumour is removed and you are sent back to the recovery ward. A day or two later, one of your relatives comes to see you and the Doctor informs them and you that although they found the tumour, it was not malignant and you will most likely be home in a week, and back to work in about a month. You are doing great, and all is well… Praise God.
Now what has happened here?
On the word of a Surgeon, who you had never met, or seen before, in all of your life – you allowed yourself to be anaesthetized, operated on, cut open and stitched back up, and yet You didn’t see any tumour, you weren’t awake, the only evidence is that there is a cut on your body and some tape and a drip in your arm; everything else you have taken on the word of a MAN, and taken his word as “gospel”
When God says “by his stripes you are healed ” (Isaiah 53:5)
we treat such remarkable words with contempt: and that is exactly why Faith will not work, because it takes a believer, who will take Gods word over the word of any Physician. Take Gods word to your Bank, lodge it and treasure it, and don’t let anyone steal it from you. The God who delivered Israel, the God who delivered Joseph, the God who delivered Daniel, the God who Delivered the woman with the Issue of Blood, – is the God who will deliver you … its his promise! Just believe it and, walk in the victory of it.
The Doctor may say, “there is no known cure” and if so, then you can say ” I know a cure, I know that “there is a balm in Gilead” I know where there is one who has been lifted up, and there is life for a look at that Crucified one. I Know it, I Believe it, and if you can do that – your miracle is on its way! How big is your Problem, and How big is your God? If the Problem is bigger than your God, then you really are in trouble. I don’t know of anything that’s bigger than God, stronger than God, mightier than God, more powerful than God, more infectious than God, and Satan is certainly not bigger than God, … MY God is able to do, exceedingly abundantly above all that I could ask or even think. Praise God. How big is YOUR God?
The Problem with the Church today is that it is trying to take faith and dismantle it into the senses mentality. But when God told Abraham that he would give him a Son, Abraham had nothing in the natural to convince him that it was true. All the natural evidences were against him, yet he became fully persuaded that what God had promised him, He was able also to perform it. You don’t have to do it, if God said it, just believe it!
Instead, what is happening now is that we are trying to bring the word to academic sense, logic sense, reasonable sense, or common sense, but God wants to take his children to places were other men don’t go, only Princes go there. Otherwise you are despising the Lord, treating His word as something Low when it is the Highest thing on this earth. He has “magnified his word above his name ” Psalm 138:2 The Bible is not just full of stories, it is a living word; so “Let God be true and everyman be a liar” – “God is not a Man that he should lie”. Numb 23:19 His word is specific, there are no errors, no contradictions, and no mistakes.
Look at the Prophet Micah, who said 400 years before the event, that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem Ephrata…. that’s just like saying, born in Christchurch Dublin, not Christchurch New Zealand ….the Word of God is Specific. Joseph came back to the place of his ancestral home, and in spite of the fact that the hotels and inns were all full, Jesus was still to be born there and God found a place in a cattle feeder in the stable. Most of the gospel is not reasonable. God put it there on purpose so that your mind cannot capture it, – so you’ve got to put it beyond what the mind can appreciate. It is the Power of God, the WORD is the Power, the Authority of God. This means God and I working together. and when God and I work together Jesus says that I can remove a mountain, and I can walk on water.
Now this Final Word
This Saving & Healing Gospel is by Divine Revelation only!
I can preach it until I am blue in the face and you will not get it, you will not agree with it, you will not see it, unless and until the Holy Spirit reveals it to your Spirit, you will remain searching for your health and Healing, and for your Salvation also. For it is “not by might, nor by power but by my spirit saith the Lord”. Zechariah 4:6.
But there is one other necessity that cannot be overlooked? It is the need for confession. One is never truly Born Again, truly regenerate until one confesses Jesus as Lord with the lips.
One can never be truly healed, permanently healed, unless one is prepared to say it, even without feeling it, or seeing it. This is Faith, and without Faith there can be no Salvation, and no Healing. As you keep speaking the word that you believe in your Spirit, as you keep saying it, it will eventually manifest itself in the natural. What is released in the Spiritual first, will become evident then in the natural second.
Gods work of Grace in our “wholeness” of Body Soul and Spirit, is done first in the Spiritual Realm, before it is done in the Natural. Gods Son was “slain before the foundation of the earth” before He was slain at Calvary? Rev 13:8
So my dear friends, may God give you vision to see what is already yours today in Jesus Christ our Sin Bearer and Saviour – Amen.