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Study Of Paul's Thorn


Cause And Effect - Bible Study

1. Paul clearly states that he had a thorn from Satan to keep him from his weakness of pride. Pride tendencies gave space for this affliction.

2 Cor. 12:7: "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."

2. Paul prayed three times to have the thorn removed. Notice, he did not pray to have the cause removed.

2 Cor. 12:8: "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me."

3. Christ reveals to Paul that His grace will be sufficient for Paul to do his work and that Paul would have God's strength working in him as he could see himself weak.

2 Cor. 12:9: "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."

4. Paul sees that he would not have the power of Christ without a thorn so he chooses the thorn, rather than not having the power of Christ.

2 Cor. 12:9,10: "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...."

5. So, Paul received what he wanted.

Cause And Effect - E.G. White

"Let me assure you that the struggles and conflicts which must be endured in the discharge of duty, the self-denials and sacrifices which must be made if we are faithful to Christ, are not created by Him. They are not imposed by arbitrary or unnecessary command; they do not come from the severity of the life which He requires us to lead in His service. Trials would exist in greater power and number were we to refuse obedience to Christ and become the servants of Satan and the slaves of sin. Jesus invites us to come to Him and He will lift the weights from our weary shoulders and place upon us His yoke, which is easy, and His burden, which is light. The path in which He invites us to walk would never have cost us a pang had we always walked in it. It is when we stray from the path of duty that the way becomes difficult and thorny. The sacrifices which we must make in following Christ are only so many steps to return to the path of light, of peace and happiness." 4T 558.

"At the beginning of the great controversy, the angels did not understand this. Had Satan and his host then been left to reap the full result of their sin, they would have perished; but it would not have been apparent to heavenly beings that this was the inevitable result of sin." DA 764.

"When parents or rulers neglect the duty of punishing iniquity, God Himself will take the case in hand. His restraining power will be in a measure removed from the agencies of evil, so that a train of circumstances will arise which will punish sin with sin." PP 728.

"While we should be keenly alive to our exposure to the assaults of unseen and invisible foes, we are to be sure they cannot harm us without gaining our consent." AH 405.

"Every failure on our part is due to lack of faith." PP 657.

"Terrible is this truth and deeply should it be impressed. Every deed reacts upon the doer. Never a human being but may recognize in the evils that curse his life, fruitage of his own sowing." ED 146.

"Show that it is not God who causes pain and suffering, but that man through his own ignorance and sin has brought this condition upon himself." 6T 280.

"Sickness does not come without a cause." AH 22.

"By the laws of God in nature, effect follows cause with unvarying certainty. The reaping testifies to the sowing. Here no pretense is nature there can be no deception.... And in the highest sense this is true also in the spiritual realm. It is in appearance, not in reality, that evil succeeds." ED 108.

"Many parents do not understand how much they are responsible for these traits in their children.... Jesus looks upon these children with pity. He traces from cause to effect." MH 44.

"Deformity, imbecility, disease, and human suffering have been pressing heavier and heavier upon each successive generation since the fall, and yet the masses are asleep as to the real causes. They do not consider that they themselves are guilty, in a great measure, for this deplorable state of things. They generally charge their sufferings upon Providence, and regard God as the author of their woes. But it is intemperance, to a greater or less degree, that lies at the foundation of all this suffering." 2SM 411.

"In the laws of God in nature, effect follows cause with unerring certainty. The reaping will testify as to what the sowing has been. The slothful worker is condemned by his work. The harvest bears witness against him. So in spiritual things: the faithfulness of every worker is measured by the results of his work.... Every seed sown produces a harvest of its kind. So it is in human life. We all need to sow the seeds of compassion, sympathy, and love; for we shall reap what we sow....God destroys no man. Every one who is destroyed will have destroyed himself." COL 84.

"Thousands need to be educated patiently, kindly, tenderly, but decidedly, that nine tenths of their complaints are created by their own course of action." MM 225.

"There are divinely appointed rules which, if observed, will keep human beings from disease and premature death." MM 49.

"Present the matter tenderly, but never keep silent as to the cause of the affliction." MM 49.

"Let parents study to find the causes of the sickness and then remedy the wrong conditions as soon as possible." AH 263.

"Teach your children to reason from cause to effect. Teach them that if they desire health and happiness, they must obey the laws of nature." MH 386.

"Many fearful losses and fatal accidents have occurred by putting off matters which should have received immediate attention." 4T 453.

"Many have inherited disease and are great sufferers because of the wrong habits of their parents, and yet they pursue the same wrong course in regard to themselves and their children which was pursued toward them. They are ignorant in regard to themselves. They are sick and do not know that their own wrong habits are causing them immense suffering." 1T 488.

"The health of the body depends more upon heart healthfulness than many suppose." 2SM 237.

"I am assured that this lesson of suffering will be to the glory of God, a means of warning others to avoid continuous labor under trying circumstances so unfavorable to health of the body." 2SM 238-239

"...I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.... 'Thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.' Then the wicked shall not be: Yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be;' they shall be as though they had not been.' This is not an act of arbitrary power on the part of God. The rejecters of His mercy reap that which they have sown. God is the fountain of life; and when one chooses the service of sin, he separates from God, and thus cuts himself off from life. He is 'alienated from the life of God.' Christ says, 'All that hate me love death.' God gives them existence for a time that they may develop their character and reveal their principles. This accomplished, they receive the results of their own choice. By a life of rebellion, Satan and all who unite with him place themselves so out of harmony with God that His very presence is to them a consuming fire. The glory of Him who is love will destroy them." DA 763-4.

"The swallow and the crane observe the changes of the seasons. They migrate from one country to another to find a climate suitable to their convenience and happiness as the Lord designed they should. They are obedient to the laws which govern their life. But the beings formed in the image of God fail to honor Him by obeying the laws of nature. By disregarding the laws that govern the human organism, they disqualify themselves for serving God. He sends them warnings to beware how they break His law in breaking the laws of life; but habit is strong, and they will not heed. The days are filled with pain of body and of disquietude of mind because they are determined to follow wrong habits and practices. They will not reason from cause to effect, and they sacrifice health, peace, and happiness to their ignorance and selfishness." CT 189-90.

"The obligation resting upon us to keep the body in health is an individual responsibility. The Lord requires each one to work out his salvation day by day. He bids us reason from cause to effect, to remember that we are His property, and to unite with Him in keeping the body pure and healthy, and the whole being sanctified to Him." CT 300.

"Another deception was now to be brought forward. Satan declared that mercy destroyed justice, that the death of Christ abrogated the Father's law. Had it been possible for the law to be changed or abrogated, then Christ need not have died. But to abrogate the law would be to immortalize transgression, and place the world under Satan's control. It was because the law was changeless, because man could be saved only through obedience to its precepts, that Jesus was lifted up on the cross. Yet the very means by which Christ established the law Satan represented as destroying it. Here will come the last conflict of the great controversy between Christ and Satan." DA 762-3.

"They follow Christ through sore conflicts; they endure self-denial and experience bitter disappointments; but their painful experience teaches them the guilt and woe of sin. And they look upon it with abhorrence." MB 31.

"Over every man good and evil angels strive. It is the man himself who determines which shall win." 1SM 58.

"If you will seek the Lord and be converted every day; if you will of your own spiritual choice be free and joyous in God; if with gladsome consent of heart to His gracious call you come wearing the yoke of Christ, the yoke of obedience and service, all your murmurings will be stilled, all your difficulties will be removed, all the perplexing problems that now confront you will be solved." DA 330.

Is God ever active in the effective death of the wicked?

"The same angel who had come from the royal courts to rescue Peter, had been the messenger of wrath and judgment to Herod. The angel smote Peter to arouse him from slumber; it was with a different stroke that he smote the wicked king, laying low his pride and bringing upon him the punishment of the Almighty. Herod died in great agony of mind and body, under the retributive judgment of God." AA 152.

"Korah would not have taken the course he did had he known that all the directions and reproofs communicated to Israel were from God. But he might have known this. God had given overwhelming evidence that He was leading Israel. But Korah and his companions rejected light until they became so blinded that the most striking manifestations of His power were not sufficient to convince them; they attributed them all to human or satanic agency. The same thing was done by the people, who the day after the destruction of Korah and his company came to Moses and Aaron, saying, "Ye have killed the people of the Lord." Notwithstanding they had had the most convincing evidence of God's displeasure at their course, in the destruction of the men who had deceived them, they dared to attribute His judgments to Satan, declaring that through the power of the evil one, Moses and Aaron had caused the death of good and holy men. It was this act that sealed their doom. They had committed the sin against the Holy Spirit, a sin by which man's heart is effectually hardened against the influence of divine grace." PP 404-5.

"A single angel destroyed all the first-born of the Egyptians and filled the land with mourning. When David offended against God by numbering the people, one angel caused that terrible destruction by which his sin was punished. The same destructive power exercised by holy angels when God commands, will be exercised by evil angels when He permits." GC 614.

"Under God the angels are all-powerful. On one occasion, in obedience to the command of Christ, they slew of the Assyrian army in one night one hundred and eighty-five thousand men. How easily could the angels, beholding the shameful scene of the trial of Christ, have testified their indignation by consuming the adversaries of God!" DA 700.

Self-Knowledge Resumé

  1. How many accidents have I had in my lifetime? Recount them.
  2. Considering my life record, what has seemed to recur time and again?
  3. What is the recurring pain in my life? Is the pain received in the form of physical accidents or is my pain more often emotional and relational in nature?
  4. What are my special blessings? Which blessings seem to happen to me over and over again?
  5. What things are there that seem creative in my life?
  6. What are my prevalent private feelings?
  7. What are my attitudes towards certain people or things?
  8. Do I resent people in my space?
  9. Do I resent not being recognized for who I am?
  10. What are my attitudes about money?
  11. Am I benevolent or generally stingy?
  12. Do I feel I do not have enough money to buy the things my family desires?
  13. How do I feel about success?
  14. If I see someone having success and honor for something they do, do I want to do what they are doing so that I might be honored as they are?
  15. If I see someone write a book, do I want to write one so that I might have some good I imagine they are having?
  16. If I notice someone teaching, and am impressed with their teaching, do I want to teach so that I might receive the reward I think they might be receiving?
  17. Do I recognize any other emulation in my life?

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