“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.” (2nd Cor. 12:7)
Let us presume a brother in Christ has had a lifetime of difficulty with pornography, this sin is not nearly as prolific as it was before the Holy Spirit came into his heart, but it still rears its ugly self far too much for his liking. It is, in its greatest sense, a cross he must bear, but I ask you, would it be profitable for this person to ask the Almighty to send a thorn in his flesh each time his eyes look at what they should not see?
“Dear Lord, please send unbearable pain into my life if I sin against you?”
No, we beg for forgiveness, we ask for help, we promise that it will not happen again, no matter what it is you just envisioned in your mind in regard to your own personal sin that just will not abate completely, and then we repeat, ad infinitum. Albeit not as often.
“Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.” (Psalm 19:12)
And if He honors that request, what’s the plan?
Everyone who has been born-again carries a cross, that cross is not the sin, but the hatred of it, it is not the deed, it is the return of it in our minds, minds that are to serve Christ, minds that war against our own flesh every day. And my friends, somedays that cross is oh so heavy.
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15)
The Lord Jesus Christ knows, there is no reason to attempt to hide this from Him, He knows, in fact better than you do. What would you offer to Him if He would remove it, even the errant, unwelcomed thought of it, what would you not pay, so to speak, to have it thoroughly and completely removed from your life?
Would you pray for that thorn?
How badly we want something removed from our lives reveals how much we hate that thing, how much we hate even those unwelcomed thoughts reveals a truth about us, if we want them gone solely for this reason, that they are not befitting of one who has been chosen by the Living God, whose life is to be lived for His glory, one who is to be Christlike.
“And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27)
I believe there is something that we all need to understand here, that as long as you are breathing the air of this earth, as long as we are in the flesh, we will carry that cross. And you must also understand this truth as well, that cross is extremely personal.
This is not James 5:16, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
It is not “But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numb. 32:23)
This is more than a burden, this is the yoke we share with the Lord Jesus Christ, it is your cross and yours alone, but He is the only One that can help you with it. It will not be removed in this life, but rest assured, it is not going into heaven with you.
I cannot say if it is completely a product of the flesh, it may be, I can only say with all assurance that we are expected to carry it.
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2)
That is what we should experience when we feel its weight, when the old man, our old nature attempts to lead us back into the world, into the lust of the flesh, we should feel a sense of shame. But we should not allow it to linger. It is, after all, who we are, albeit only in part, for we are not only a mind that serves Christ, but a flesh that serves sin, and so the battle continues.
Sometimes raging, sometimes there are moments of peace. Our Savior carried His, you carry yours. We will all leave them in the place outside the narrow gate.