“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)
What that thorn was is immaterial to us, it was Paul’s, it was his to endure. Whether it was an ailment of his eyes, the bitter knowledge that some in the churches he had been led to establish were falling away, being seduced, or an actual physical pain, it was his, not yours or mine.
Whether or not he asked to be taken into the third heaven or not is also immaterial, what does matter is the possibility of pride enveloping his life after that visit. The messenger of pain may have been an evil spirit, but it was the Lord who sent that spirit, but in one regard, Satan had no part in this.
“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Prov. 16:18)
I do not believe that our adversary is necessary in any form for pride to gain a foothold in our lives, it is not a needed temptation, so to speak, for it resides in all men. In this particular case it was not pride of a personal accomplishment, but, if you will, a favor of the Lord, and that my friends can be the most serious sin of pride that exists.
“For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1st Cor. 4:7)
My memory fails me here, but I would compare this event in Paul’s life to that of Moses when the Almighty granted his request to see His glory yet needed to hide him in the cleft of the rock and allow him only to see His backside. Did Moses also need a thorn? A reminder that pride, if allowed to fester, would bring destruction? John may be one of the best examples when the Revelation was given to him, but I do not know if he also received his own personal thorn.
This is the reason that those to whom the Almighty has revealed His truths to detest, might be the most appropriate word, when those they speak His truths to attempt to place them on a podium, to lift them up above themselves and their fellows. Spiritual pride my friends will bring a grievous thorn.
“For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 6:38)
The more the man of God prays for wisdom the more wisdom that man will receive, if it is used solely for the glory of the Living God, but it is a two-edged sword, for pride, vainglory never sleeps, and here Satan is more than willing to assist that man up onto that podium. You have seen it happen many times, and that man’s fall is great.
The thorn is a blessing, pain is a great persuader, and every man of God welcomes it, praises God for it, for without it the humble servant of God may begin to believe that those works done through him are actually being done by him, and this is a great sin.
“My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” (James 3:1)
Why not? Not because that thorn hurts, but because humility may be lost, because if we lift ourselves up, then by default we are dishonoring the Almighty. Moses knew this, Paul knew it, if you have been blessed with Spiritual discernment and with truth, you must know it, or the Lord will teach it to you, with your own personal thorn.
Humility’s constant battle is with pride, truths revealed must be spoken openly to others, and the moment that happens, those who hear will begin to lift you up, it is the natural response of mankind. No matter how often you point to Christ, they will look to you for answers.
“Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” (Psalm 29:2)
The thorn is not punishment, it is a blessing, men of God understand this, for they all have one.