(2 Corinthians 12:1-10)
Paul boasts in this section of scripture. But his boasts are not like the boasts of most men.
Here we see Paul boasting of his weaknesses and failings, not his strengths or achievements, as most men would do. Paul understood that all of the things he did well, all of his learning and the work he had done in the name of Jesus, were not really his work. The work he did and the things he achieved were done through the power of the Lord and by the working of the Holy Spirit in him.
And so if all the strong things, the good things and the achievements he made were done by the Lord, then all that is left are the weaknesses, the failures, the mistakes and the frailties. It is these he boasted of, not because he was proud of them, but rather because the Lord had shown him that, “My power is made perfect in weakness.”
What is it that we are all aiming at in Jesus Christ? What is it that every Christian seeks to find by following Christ?
Surely it is perfection for as Jesus told us in no uncertain terms:
”You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
Perfection is the target so that we can be like our Heavenly Father. To achieve perfection we must be perfected in love, since God is love. The walk we walk in Christ is designed to bring us to the place where we are perfected in love. But until that time we are still in weakness and we still suffer because of the weaknesses of the flesh that we all still have.
Paul knew this and even though he sought to be strong and to overcome, what did the Lord say to him? He said, “My power is made perfect in weakness.”
So if it is through our weaknesses that we are made strong, then it is through the strength we receive from Jesus Christ that we are being perfected.
We all make many mistakes, and these represent the many weaknesses we all suffer from. James said that the tongue is the last thing to be tamed and that it is only the perfect man who makes no mistakes in what he says and I doubt any person on earth can claim that level of perfection.
But clearly we must get there because we are called to perfection and to be perfect like the Heavenly Father.
So how is it possible to be THAT perfect? And how does this level of perfection come about through weaknesses?
Walking in the Spirit
The answer to these questions lay in the power of walking in the Spirit.
We suffer many weaknesses in the flesh. It is the sinful nature of man that leads him astray constantly. The Lord gives us grace to overlook our faults when they occur, but His desire is for us to grow into maturity so that we can live as Christ lived, not constantly relying on God’s grace, but mature in Jesus Christ and able to make the right decisions and do what is right.
To do that God gave us the indwelling Holy Spirit who works with us on our weaknesses.
13 for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:13-14)
As we see in this verse, it is by being led by the Spirit that we are the children of God. And we use the power of the Spirit to put to death the weaknesses, passions, lusts, desires and the sinful nature that is common to all mankind.
One of the key things to also note in this verse that it is YOUR responsibility to use the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not take us over to overcome the weaknesses of our flesh. Rather, “…you put to death…” the weaknesses by the power of the Holy Spirit.
When the weaknesses of the flesh rise up in us to lead us astray, we need to recognise those times and do something about it. It is then that we need to call on the power of the Holy Spirit by walking in the Spirit and so kill off the desire.
Remember that all passions, lusts and sinful actions begin in the mind. It is the mind that is tempted to do evil and it is in the mind that we must fight and wage war, becaue the mind of man is spirit and the war we are fighting is a spiritual war. We are not fighting a flesh and blood war against other men. We are fighting a war against the spiritual hosts of wickedness that are arrayed against The Lord and His people.
3 For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)
This verse shows clearly the actions that we must take and the fact that we are waging a war in the Spirit. And it is the Spirit who will fight for us when we invoke the power of the Spirit and use the weapons of spiritual warfare, as described in Ephesians 6.
My Power Is Made Perfect In Weakness
This is how the power of the Lord and the perfection that is working in us is made perfect in our weaknesses.
When we are weak, then we rely on the Lord and we use the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome and strengthen us. In His power we find the path to perfection as HE overcomes and we learn.
Thus, Paul says, “When I am weak, then I am strong” in verse 10 of this section. He may be weak in the flesh, but as he relies on the Spirit and the Lord to carry him through the persecutions and hardships, he is strong in the Spirit and he sees the victory over the enemy and his faith is made even stronger.
This is the path we all must walk. We all must receive the Holy Spirit and so have the power of the spirit available to be able to walk in the Spirit when we too are weak. And as Paul said, we too will be strong when we are weak because the power of the Holy Spirit is at work in us and as Jesus said, “My power is made perfect in weakness.”
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