THE THORN IN THE FLESH
I have sat through many sermons listening to preachers teaching that Paul's thorn in the flesh was a disease that God had given him and refused to heal him of so that he would stay humble. Obviously I can call the thorn anything I want to also because the bible does not clearly state what his thorn in the flesh was. It seems strange though to think that Paul did not have enough faith to believe for healing considering he spent most of his time preaching the gospel and performing miraculous healings in the name of Jesus Christ.
The scriptures that are always quoted to prove that God does not always answer our prayer for healing is 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. There are several things I consider to be errors in the explanations that I have heard from pulpits.
First, it is commonly taught that God sent this thorn to Paul, however, if we take a closer look at the scripture and keep everything in context we notice that it states clearly who sent the messenger.
2 Corinthians 12:7 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.
Notice that this verse states clearly that the messenger was from Satan. His purpose was to keep Paul from getting exalted above measure because of the revelations that he had received. Who was going to do the exalting? If we read from verse one of this chapter we find that Paul was talking about his revelations that the Lord had given him. He spoke of being taken up into the third heaven and hearing unspeakable words that were unlawful for a man to speak. Obviously Paul was referring back to the revelations that he had just gotten done talking about in the previous verses. What Paul must have remembered is how many people tried to call the apostles gods because of the miracles they performed and the visions that they had seen. Surely the devil would not want to allow Paul to be exalted by those that heard him because that would only lead to more believers in Christ and we know that the devil always resisted the apostles during their ministries as he still does today.
2 Timothy 1:8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou PARTAKER OF THE AFFLICTIONS of the gospel according to the power of God; 9 Who HATH SAVED US, and called us with an holy calling, NOT ACCORDING TO OUR WORKS, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath ABOLISHED DEATH, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: 11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12 For the which cause I ALSO SUFFER THESE THINGS: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that HE IS ABLE TO KEEP THAT which I have committed unto him against that day.
Clearly these verses are speaking of the afflictions of the gospel. I have listed major points below:
1. PARTAKER OF THE AFFLICTIONS OF THE GOSPEL.
Paul's afflictions were a direct result of his boldness to preach the gospel. He was in prison most of his life, he was beat to the point that his eyes were failing. He was clearly not talking disease in the context. He states clearly that he suffered those things because of preaching and teaching the gospel.
2. God HATH SAVED US. This is past tense not a future hope.
3. We have a Holy calling that is NOT ACCORDING TO OUR WORKS but God's purpose and grace.
4. Jesus Christ has abolished DEATH, past tense.
5. Paul suffered the things he suffered because of the gospel.
6. Paul said that he was not ashamed of Jesus because he knew that He was able to keep that which he had committed to Him against that day. The context is clearly speaking of his salvation.
In conclusion, if we study the miraculous healings that Jesus performed in His ministry on earth we will find that the bible says that He healed ALL who came to Him in faith. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever so if you need healing, go to Jesus in faith knowing that He will deliver you.
My friends, you can be fully persuaded as well that Jesus will keep your salvation against that day though you will suffer persecution for His name's sake. Be bold. Be strong. Preach the name of Jesus for it is only by Him that we have our freedom. Don't let yourself be brought back into the bondage of works for justification.