Enough Day 10 Perfect Priest: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper Days

Finding the original intent of Scripture and making good application to our everyday lives as we become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

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The Questions

1) Why was Paul tempted to boast? (verse 6)

2) How or why do we boast in weakness? The instruction seems counterintuitive. (verse 9)

3) What is meant by “when I am weak, then I am strong”? (verse 10)

2 Corinthians 12:6-10

For if I want to boast, I wouldn’t be a fool, because I would be telling the truth. But I will spare you, so that no one can credit me with something beyond what he sees in me or hears from me, especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so that I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it would leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 10 So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Original Intent

1) Why was Paul tempted to boast? (verse 6)
Paul had much to be proud of, much he could boast in, but he also understood the danger of boasting and pride if self brings. The apostle Paul was previously known as Saul, a young Jewish man with the proper training and upbringing. (see Acts 22:1-5) He lived according to Jewish tradition and teaching, careful to follow and obey all Jewish Laws (The Old Covenant).  That is, until he was confronted by Jesus on the road to Damascus. (Acts 6:16) Afterwards his name was changed to Paul and he began preaching about Jesus and the New Covenant just as zealously as he had once fought against Jesus. (2 Corinthians 11:22-27) A quick skim through the history of Paul’s life shows us he gave his all to whatever he was doing, which from a human standpoint is certainly cause for much boasting and pride. But Jesus grabbed hold of Paul’s heart on that road to Damascus and, through this encounter, Paul learned that none of his accomplishments meant anything. All he ever needed was Jesus. He had learned that Jesus was enough and said as much in Philippians 1:21, “to live was Christ and to die was gain” and in Philippians 4:11-12 that he “had learned the secret of being content”. The reasons for Paul’s boasting were easily understood by his readers, but his point was that none of it mattered because there is only one way to eternal life and His name is Jesus. Christ had already finished all the work necessary to pay the debt of sin owed. There was no need for anyone to prove themselves worthy because of Jesus’ finished work.

2) How or why do we boast in weakness? The instruction seems counterintuitive. (verse 9)
People normally boast in their accomplishments, success or position, but here Paul is telling his readers to instead boast in their weaknesses. These words were surely confusing for the first audience, because until Jesus’ death and resurrection, following and keeping Jewish law were thought to be the only way to have access to God. Now, a highly respected Jewish leader, who people had long elevated was teaching, “I had it all wrong; we should instead boast in what we can’t do”. This dramatic change in thinking says, “I understand there is no way I can earn my own salvation; I am too weak. But there is One who is strong (Jesus) and I’m going to let Him do what I cannot”. Paul often encouraged his readers to follow his example, which on the surface seems like a pretty prideful thing to say. However, if you dig deeper into Paul’s life and the profound effect meeting Jesus had on him, it’s easy to understand he means, “learn from my mistakes, I had it all wrong, but Jesus showed me the light. I am not enough, but He is!”.

3) What is meant by “when I am weak, then I am strong”? (verse 10)
People weren’t all that different in Bible times than we are today; no one wants to be thought of as weak, ever. Paul explains that in order to gain everything (Jesus) we must first admit our need. Admitting, and fully accepting, that it was impossible for them to live a good enough life to be acceptable before God was difficult for the first audience who carefully spent their lives following God’s laws to gain His favor. Admitting that no amount of hard work, sacrifices, or good deeds could ever outweigh the tremendous debt owed because of sin was a hard realization. No one wants to accept they are incapable and weak! Yet, when we accept our weakness and inability to be righteous before God, this is really the strongest thing we can do. This realization clears the ways for us to trust that Someone else (Jesus) can do what we cannot by satisfying a perfect God. This was a difficult concept for Paul’s readers to understand! Their entire lives they had been taught that pleasing God was wrapped up in doing enough, offering the right sacrifices, listening to the right teachers, and so forth. In a way, what Paul is teaching here is “forget everything you’ve ever been taught about God and religion and follow me to Jesus, because He is a better way, in fact the only way, to get right with God”. The law shows us our shortcomings and points us to our need for grace (Romans 3:20) and Jesus is that grace because He alone can satisfy the requirements of a perfect God. (Romans 3:21)

Everyday Application

1) Why was Paul tempted to boast? (verse 6)
Paul was tempted to boast, so we should ask ourselves a similar question, why are we tempted to boast? While I can’t answer for any of you, I can answer for myself and speculate on what some of your reasons might be. They include things like growing up in church, never missing a Sunday, volunteering, possibly even volunteering too much, books we’ve read, Scriptures we’ve memorized, jobs or positions of leadership we’ve held, places and people we’ve served, classes we’ve taught, blogs we’ve written, classes we’ve attended, etc. This list of human accomplishments goes on and on, but not a single one of them, or even all of them combined, make any of us worthy to be declared righteous in God’s eyes. Our deeds simply aren’t good enough; they are rubbish! They earn us no special privileges or back door entry into eternity. This doesn’t mean our kind actions or sacrifices are bad, quite opposite, but it does evidence how easily we feel justified in thinking we can “work our way into heaven”. This is impossible! Jesus is the only way.

2) How or why do we boast in weakness? The instruction seems counterintuitive. (verse 9)
This is a hard instruction to stomach, at least it is for me. The thought of being weak is about as appealing as the thought of being needy and asking for help. All of which I struggle with every single day! Paul admonishes us to not only admit our weakness, but also boast in it! If I’m being completely honest, I kind of wish this passage ended verse 9 with “my grace is sufficient for you”. I’m good with that part, but Paul goes on to say “Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more in my weakness”. This instruction seems counterintuitive because it is! It completely goes against our nature, but then again what part of following Jesus doesn’t? As if it’s not enough to tell us to boast about our weakness, he says to “most gladly boast”, meaning we are supposed to be happy about it! Come on, Paul, how is this even possible?! Yet, as we’ve learned when it comes to Paul, he isn’t asking us to do something he hasn’t already done himself. In fact, Paul’s theme of “weakness as an advantage” runs through both 1 & 2 Corinthians. 1 Corinthians 1:27 tells us, “God has chosen the weak to shame the wise” and 1 Corinthians 12:22 says, “weaker parts of the body are indispensable”. Paul understands the difficulty in his instruction, because he makes a point of telling us he was given “a thorn in the flesh so that he would not exalt himself”. These “thorns”, keeping us keenly aware of our weaknesses, are indeed gifts as they keep our pride in check as we realize it’s only Christ in us that makes us righteous!

3) What is meant by “when I am weak, then I am strong”? (verse 10)
One of the hardest things in this life is realizing it takes more strength to acknowledge and admit weakness than it does to pretend to be strong all the time. Yes, I did say “pretend to be strong”, because it’s true. Trust me, I know, this is a lesson I seemingly need to be taught over and over again. It’s natural, especially for us women, wives, and mothers to take on the role of always being the strong one. We are raised to be strong independent women, capable of not only raising kids, but loving and encouraging our husbands, being faithful friends, leading in generosity and hospitality while keeping our home running and, in many cases, working too! Many of us tack on even more with church, ministry, and working hard to stay consistent in our relationship with Jesus. Ladies, is it any wonder we are tired? Do you ever stop to consider why we put all this pressure on ourselves? This past summer, God brought me to a point where I had no choice but to admit my weakness and reach out for help. Let me tell you; it was hard! In many ways it would have been easier to keep on trying to carry an impossible weight. What I learned, and am learning, is the ingredient which makes us strong in weakness is that we stop trying and start letting God. Only in this place of surrender, can His strength take over. I have never been the strong one, it’s always, only Jesus! It is so stinkin’ easy for all of us to fall into the trap of trying to “prove ourselves worthy”! Just as it was for Paul, we will always fall short. We all need Jesus! The first step is always the hardest, why not stop and pray right now? Admit you are indeed weak, and ask the One who is abundantly strong, to take over. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!

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Digging Deeper is for Everyone!

1) Take this passage (or any other passage).
2) Read it, and the verses around it,
several times
3) Write down your questions
as you think of them.
4) Ask specific culture related questions and be ready to dig around for your answers. Google them, use www.studylight.org, or look them up in a study Bible and read the footnotes (click on the little letters next to a word and it will show you
other related verses!). (www.esvbible.org)
5) Check your applications with other trusted Christians that you are in community with and embrace the fullness of God
in your everyday!

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Why Dig Deeper?

Finding the original meaning is a huge deal when we study Scripture and can make all the difference in our understanding as we apply God’s truths to our everyday lives.

In our modern-day relationships, we want people to understand our original intention as we communicate; how much more so between God and humanity?!

Here’s a little bit more on why we take Digging Deeper so seriously.

Study Tools

We love getting help while we study and www.studylight.org is one of many excellent resources, providing the original Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) with an English translation.

Want to know more about a specific word in a verse? Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Discover “origin”, “definition” and hear the original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!

Want more background? Click “Study Tools”, then pick a few commentaries to read their scholarly approach, keeping in mind that just because a commentary says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. (just like the internet :-))

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