Summary: When it comes to holy living, we all have weaknesses. The apostle Paul shows us how God can use our weaknesses to show His strength.
WEAKNESS AND STRENGTH
II Cor. 12:10
INTRO. This entire chapter deals with the Apostle Paul’s very peculiar experience. In vs. 1 he refers to his glorious revelations, the unspeakable visions he had seen (vs. 3-6) and in vs. 7 he mentions the thorn in the flesh which was designed by God to prevent Paul from glorying too much in himself.
Then in vs. 8-10 he speaks of the remedy God gave for the affliction. Now many would say that they would prefer for God to remove the thorn all together but Paul was wise enough to see that grace was a far superior remedy and in our text he declared that he is satisfied with God’s remedy..."for when I am weak, then am I strong."
Paul’s meaning here is unmistakable. God uses man’s weakness as an opportunity to manifest divine strength. What you can not do on your own, God can do through you.
I. Notice his reference to his experienced weaknesses.
A. "When I am weak". The Christian is sometimes so weak that.......
1. ...He is unable to do what he ought.
a. As God’s children we are to devote all we are and all we have to Him. God has an undivided claim upon us for every moment we live.
b. Rom. 12:1-2
2. But how often we neglect our duties to Christ or His church. How often is our will to resist sin so weak that we not only yield to sin but actually enjoy sin for a season.
3. Those who pretend to live a perfectly sinless life before are not the same kind of Christian Paul was.
a. He knew he was weak in the flesh and that often he did things he really did not want to do.
b. Rom. 7:15-21
B. The Christian is often so weak that he does not do that which he genuinely desires and intends to do.
1. Jesus said, "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come."
2. Peter warned us of the danger of not watching when he said, "Be sober, be vigilant..."
3. But we are so often like the disciples as Jesus went into the Garden to pray the night before His crucifixion. When we should be praying and watching we are relaxed and sleeping.
4. Oh, it is easy enough to come forward on Sunday full of determination to make a better stand for our Lord. And so we pledge ourselves to fight the good fight of faith and we promise ourselves and our Lord and the brethren and we ask for the prayers of one another that we might earnestly contend for the faith.
5. But on Monday we are exactly like the Apostle Peter in Matt. 26 when he said, "Though all men be offended because of thee, yet will I not be offended;" and when the Lord needed Peter only a few hours later where was the devout man? Following afar off.
C. We are so weak that even our best efforts are riddled with imperfection.
1. See James 5:17-18. You remember the story of how Elias prayed 7 times for the rain before a cloud showed itself? (I Kgs. 18:44)
2. Many times I have knelt in prayer and felt no better afterward than before. Sometimes our prayers become lifeless with no heart because we feel a spiritual lifelessness.
3. Our praise can become that way, listless and formal.
4. Even the sermon, both the preacher and the hearer.
a. We hear but our mind is on other things, usually worldly things.
b. Then we leave God’s House unfed and undernourished not because the food is not here but because we had no appetite.
5. An unbeliever wanted to see what there was to religion so he went to church with a Christian friend. Afterward he said, "I prayed and felt nothing, I heard the sermon and felt nothing, I read the Book and felt nothing." The Christian replied, "Like many of God’s own children you prayed with your mouth, read with your eyes and heard with your ears; but to truly commune with God requires the full use of the heart."
II. Notice Paul’s declaration of conscious strength.
"When I am weak, then am I strong."
A. A knowledge of our weaknesses will lead to strength because it will produce feelings of fear and will promote watchfulness.
1. (Prov. 28:14) -- "Happy is the man that feareth alway;"
2. When we know we are weak then we will depend on God for our strength and guidance.
3. Samson after his shave. "I will go out and shake myself as before and wist not the Spirit had left him."
4. David in Jerusalem instead of the battle.
5. When we imagine we are strong enough to deal with sin without God’s help we find ourselves in danger.