Godly Chastisement Brings Godly Character

Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. 2 Cor. 12:5

This is an awesome scripture. Notice Paul talks of two different people here: “an one” and “myself”. Of this “an one” he says he will “glory”, or boast; but of the persona he calls “myself” he says:

“yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.”

Who is this person of whom the Apostle Paul is willing to boast in?

He tells us exactly who this person was: he was a person who

“was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” (v.4)

This was a spiritual person because Paul says of him:

“(whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)”

We could use language here to describe these two – the “an one” and the “myself” – as two personalities within the same person. The “an one” is the spiritual man and the “myself” the carnal man. These two personalities dwelt inside Paul, just like they do in each one of us. And the Bible in Galatians 5:17 tell us that the two are in a perpetual state of war.

“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

The incredible fact about the Apostle Paul was that he took sides with the Spirit in its war against the flesh. That is a detail that we take so much for granted; and yet to take the side of the Spirit against our own selves is without a doubt the most difficult undertaking that any human being can attempt. It is therefore profound what Paul says of himself:

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (v. 10)

It is a powerful testimony of a man who had surrendered his life completely to Christ that the resurrection power of Christ may dwell in him. Paul allowed himself to become weak in the flesh in order that the power of Christ may rest on him. Christ had told Paul:

“My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (v. 10)

To which Paul responded by declaring:

“Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Oh, the glory of that! The long and short of it is that when we are strong in the natural, we are weak in our spirits. Conversely, when we allow ourselves to become weak in the flesh through Godly chastisement, we become strong spiritually. If, for example, an argument arises between me and my wife, I as a man am tempted to use my ‘machismo’, or male chauvinism, to remain on top. And she, having heard about the Beijing Conference and women empowerment, will try and stand her ground. Neither one will be willing to go down without a fight.

But the Bible tells us exactly how to bring the power of Jesus into our homes, into our churches and even into our communities: it is through spiritual humility. And spiritual humility comes about through buffeting of the carnal mind in us.

The Bible says in Rom. 14:17:

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

How do we bring righteousness, peace and joy into our lives and into our homes?

It is by following the Apostle Paul in accepting Godly chastisement. It is the only way we can let the Spirit to win in us.

Advertisements

The Holy Spirit is Grieving

Jer_9:1  “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!”

I now know that all the men and women whom God ever called to Him were men and women of tears. When I say ‘I now know’ that means there was a time when I did not know that. In fact, it has taken me a long time to really appreciate this truth. I have come to know that the Spirit of God is a grieving Spirit. God has nothing to rejoice about in this world. On the contrary, there is much, much to grieve Him, particularly in the days we are living in, and especially within the Church itself.

Some years back, there emerged a wave called “laughing in the presence of the Lord.” I remember participating in one such event. True, we laughed our heads off, but to be honest I felt nothing in my heart. I went home feeling empty and used. These are the kinds of strange, crazy doctrines that the Church today has allowed itself to accommodate!

But no, Sir. That kind of spirit never was, and never will be the Spirit of God. These are demonic doctrines brought in by the enemy to weaken the Church.

Nothing much is written about the Apostle Paul on the topic, but I realize that he also was a man of many tears. When Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:10 that  “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake”, I believe it was no laughing matter. It was a breaking experience and it was accomplished with much tears on his part. Of necessity he had to constantly be on his knees, so that he could conclude: “for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

In my humble experience I have come to discover the only place to really meet God is when the tears are flowing from my eyes. Even in the most mundane of my experiences with God I always know it when the Holy Spirit is visiting me. My eyes fill with tears, and immediately I know He is there. I can just be standing somewhere, and all of a sudden I feel my eyes burning, and I have to quickly make sure I am alone because I know He is there and He needs my attention. And when the Holy Spirit wants your attention you need to be alone because no one else will understand what is going on. One time, many years ago, a lady invited us to dinner in her house, and there was a song playing there, and I just began crying. I was naïve, of course, and I should have known better. But I sat there shaking like a rattlebox; and the pastor who was the senior member of our team began laughing and said, “What is this stupid fellow doing?”

When I got saved I was a final year university student. I remember clearly whenever we entered the chapel for a service, even before the service began I would sit down and begin crying silently, the presence of God was so pervasive.

If there is one thing I can thank my God for today, it is that the tears have not dried from my eyes. The day they dry I know I will be a dead man. The one moment when I know without a doubt that “I am weak, but He is strong in me” is when I feel exactly that: weak. The Lord has won many battles for me as the Holy Spirit led me to simply sit in His presence and let the tears flow.

The Bible talks of Jesus in Hebrews 5:7 and Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:4, and I see this was exactly what happened to them. Of course, it is not a principle, or something that you can just decide to do by yourself. It cannot be an emotional thing that you can just work up. But I am sure that this is a grace that God alone can give. He alone knows our hearts and only He can lead us to that place of humbling ourselves before Him; and at the end of it all, we are left praising and thanking Him for such a grace! If anything we do is not initiated by the Holy Spirit, however spiritual it might appear it is of no spiritual value.

The Church is not in a position to laugh now. We are in a position where all we can do is to allow the Holy Spirit to touch our hearts, and we will first allow God to change our lives; then He will commission us to go out and effectively reach out to a dying world. God will come down and He will move on behalf of His Church.

Let us end by seeing what this broken man of God accomplished. “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” verse 12