The Thorn of Porn

 In Daily Encouragement

Have you ever had your finger pricked by a thorn?  Or, how about getting a splinter in your finger or hand? On a scale of 1-10, we would not say it is an 8 or 9.  More like a 1 or 2.  There is a brief moment of pain, but it quickly goes away once the cause is removed.  Sometimes it can get infected and the pain level might rise some but remove it and all is well, with a little Neosporin.

Paul had a thorn in his flesh.  This is the only place in the Bible where this word is used. It can mean a splinter, but it can also mean a pointed piece of wood or a stake.  So, let’s be clear, this thorn in Paul’s flesh was probably not some mild irritant he had to deal with. He writes;

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.”

So, was this a big deal or little deal?  I am thinking it was a big deal and that for two reasons.  I think if God allowed satan the ability to try and hinder Paul’s work, satan would probably pick the largest piece of wood or stake allowed by God.  Paul does not say it was a physically painful thorn or physical ailment.  He says it was a messenger of satan.  This word found 172 times in the New Testament is the word for angel or demon.

It is also a big deal because Paul does not say it bothered him but that it tormented him.  As I said yesterday this word literally means to strike with the fist.  It means to mistreat someone violently, as Jesus was beaten the night before His death.

Lastly, I want to note that this was not some temporary problem.  Paul had this experience of going into the third heaven fourteen years before writing this passage.  This was not some minor irritation he was recently having but it had been with him for a long time. A demon pounding on him for years is the reality he faced every day.

No wonder he pleaded with God on three separate occasions for God to remove it from him.  Three times God said no.  Why did God say no?  This was Paul, formerly Saul who was persecuting believers but was now the main guy God was using to spread the gospel.  In Apostle circles, he was “THE MAN!”  He was a zealot and top in his class at Pharisee University … otherwise called PU.

He is writing most of the New Testament, starting churches, facing dangers of all kinds and to just make it more difficult God is allowing this demon to torment him.  Why would God do that?  Why would God make life for Paul much more difficult than it already was?  For that matter, why does God allow our sexually addictive behavior to continue?  If He wants us to live a pure life in our sex-filled world, why does He not just Zap all of us and we can get on with our lives?

Our Father, in His infinite wisdom and grace, allows the “Thorn of Porn” to remain for a reason.  Not because He wants us to be tormented.  He wanted to teach Paul a truth that would completely change his life and allow his ministry to flourish.  And that is the same truth we must learn and live out every day.  He writes;

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

It is like God said to Paul; “Listen, I am going to allow the demon to pound on you because I showed you things in heaven and you heard things nobody else has heard.  If I allow you to do this work I have for you to do, which is going to be successful and pride will result, then you will believe that the success is coming from your own abilities and not from Me.”

As Paul learned this preeminent lesson for one being an instrument God can use in a mighty way he realized that all God was accomplishing through him was because of his weaknesses.  When he faced insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties they drained him. They made it so that he had to crawl forward one day at a time and depend on God to be his strength because he was weak.

His weakness required that he experience God’s strength.  He learned the key to not only ministry … but the entire Christian life was …

“For when I am Weak, then I am Strong.”

Brothers and sisters … this is so true for all of us as well.  The way to live our Christian lives is being dependent upon the strength to do it coming from the Lord.  This powerfully addictive behavior that has been destroying our lives should have us convinced by now that we need His strength and power.  We cannot defeat the sexual sins pounding on us with our own power and determination.

However, we need to seek the strength to walk in purity from Jesus by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives moment by moment every day we are alive. He promises us that if we are filled with and walking in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh and will learn how through our weaknesses we can be strong.

 

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