The Thorn in the Flesh

Text: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Keep from Exalting Self

  • Pride is a persistent problem (2 Timothy 3:2) — no matter who we are, we each have things we could boast about; but we must not
  • Paul could have boasted in the revelations (v. 7) and other things (Philippians 3:4-6) — the thorn in the flesh prevented that
  • We need to have humility (Philippians 2:3-5)

The Thorn in the Flesh

  • We don’t know what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was, even though some have proposed different theories based on certain passages (Galatians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 10:10)
  • Our thorn in the flesh could have to do with almost anything — health, finances, family, work, etc.
  • It is appropriate to pray for these things to be removed (v. 8; Philippians 4:6)

Grace is Sufficient

  • Despite his prayer, Paul’s thorn in the flesh wasn’t removed — the Lord answered, “My grace is sufficient for you” (v. 9)
  • We may pray for our thorn in the flesh to be removed and nothing changes — this does not mean God is unconcerned about us
  • God has already well demonstrated His love through His grace (Titus 2:11; Acts 20:24)
  • Even if we live a miserable life here (by the world’s standards), we still have the grace of God (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:2; 1 Corinthians 15:19, 54-57)

Content with Weaknesses

  • Physical limitations — weaknesses (infirmities, KJV)
  • Trouble from outside sources — insults, distresses, persecutions, difficulties
  • We can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13)

Important: It Does Not Say “Content with Shortcomings”

  • Paul does not say he is content with sin or spiritual weakness
  • We must overcome sin (Romans 6:11, 17-18) and press on to maturity (Hebrews 6:1)
  • This does not negate the message of grace (Romans 3:23; 6:23) — rather, grace instructs us to live to a higher standard (Titus 2:11-14) and provides no license to sin (Jude 4)

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