“God is not obligated to give us answers; but He promises His grace.”
– WIHS 104.9 FM, Thought For Today (part 3)
For some time, the apostle Paul pleaded with God to remove a “thorn in the flesh” (whatever it was) which had been greatly troubling Paul. God, however, told him, “My grace is sufficient” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
The apostle Paul was a champion on how Christians are under grace and not under the law. If Paul believed and taught grace, why did God tell him that His grace was sufficient?
What did God mean when He answered Paul, “My grace is sufficient”? Did God short-changed Paul by not answering his prayer the way he wanted? Is God’s reply relevant to us Christians today? Is God’s grace sufficient for Christians? When we go through difficult trials, can His grace alone be enough? That is what I want to discuss here in this post.
In last week’s post, On Being The Ten Commandments, I stated that grace is more than keeping the Ten Commandments. It is being them. Grace is walking with Jesus Christ because He, The Word, wrote His Commandments in our hearts and He dwells within us.
There has always been much disagreement as to whether we Christians are to live by grace, by law or both. Many Christians believe that salvation is only by grace alone. Other Christians are concerned that living by grace alone leads to carelessness and lawlessness. They believe that God’s criteria is that the Law must be kept.
But, at conversion, we each became a new creature before God. We became something new. The law of God has been internalized. We are now justified before God because of Jesus Christ living in us. And I believe, since Christ is in us and He is righteous, He continually has us be righteous before God the Father. As we therefore conform to Jesus Christ and become perfect, as His Father is perfect, then we have, in a way, become The Ten Commandments. This is just the way I have been viewing this subject on law and grace. It is not some new doctrine I came up with that everyone else has to accept.
Anyway, it all has to do with grace. What God told Paul in the verse above was not what Paul should do, but what God will do for Paul in helping him persevere with his trial. It has to do with walking in Christ’s footsteps. How did He walk while on earth among His people?
As many of you already know, grace is defined as unmerited favor, approval, or blessing. But….
Enough Is Enough
Is God’s grace sufficient for us in our daily walk with Christ as a Christian? There is a tendency for us Christians of limiting God and what He can do. Well, what does the word, sufficient, mean? In the English language the word, sufficient means “enough, adequate, and competent.”
But how much is enough? Whenever I read the 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 passage mentioned above, I tend to read sufficient as being in a limited quantity. For example, “I have done enough for one day and will stop.” But, how much of God’s grace is “enough”? Answer? It is limitless! God’s grace is without end! Why should we see sufficiency as a somewhat disappointing amount? It is not.
With that in mind, is God’s grace sufficient for us in our daily walk with Christ as a Christian? Well, how did Jesus walk under God’s grace when He was on earth?
One aspect of the grace of God is it enables us to receive strength from God. God indeed wants us to be strong – not stay the same way trying to overcome the world, Satan and ourselves by ourselves. We need God’s strength.
2 Timothy 2: 1 says:
“Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 8:37 says:
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”
In Philippians 4:13, it states:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”
Psalms 27:1 says:
“The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
There are many verses of how God sustains us all because of grace. This is a huge subject.
The Thorn In Flesh Of The Church
The verse in 2 Corinthians 12 stated above has been a very vital passage for Christians ever since the church began until today. Just as Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” which God left alone by continuing to provide Paul His grace, so the Christian church, the Body of Christ, has a thorn in its flesh today. I believe that thorn is persecution.
Jesus Christ told His disciples that if the world persecuted Him it would also persecute the church (John 15:18-20). Throughout the ages, the saints have had to endure imprisonment, torture, and martyrdom. Many had to flee their homes or face rejection and abuse from family members. Persecution, to me, is the thorn in the flesh that the church has – and will always have to overcome.
This thorn against us will always be around until Jesus Christ returns. It will even intensify in the last days. So much adversity will abound that many in the church will be becoming totally deceived (Matthew 24:9-14). Perhaps even half of the church will not be ready to meet Christ. Why? Well, as more and more of Christianity compromises with this world’s ways, many will become less reliant on God’s grace. Big subject here.
But God’s grace is greatly available. And it will noticeably be evident when many of us begin undergoing horrific ordeals immediately before Christ returns.
In any event, God plans to give us more strength – up to and until His kingdom is established universally on earth. But in the meantime – His grace is sufficient.