February 22, 2017
By Pastor Cook
February 22, 2017

2 Corinthians 12:8-10

The Christian life is not always an easy life to understand. There is an element of mystery because we are dealing with the supernatural. We have the Holy Spirit within us and we fight a spiritual power- the Devil. We have a Gospel that saves us, a supernatural Gospel. One word that comes to mind when I think of the Christian life and read my Bible is the word paradox. What is a paradox? The dictionary defines it as "something that seems unbelievable or absurd but can actually be true". Dr. Packer in his Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God describes it as, "a figure of speech, a play on words in the form of a statement that seems to unite two opposite ideas". The Christian life is full of paradoxes. We have one here in our passage. "When I am weak, then I am strong". Other paradoxes: we rejoice, we mourn. The Christian life is one of rejoicing, but also mourning. Those two realities coexist. Another: we have the peace of God, but we are in a battle every day. #3 The flesh lusts against the spirit. #4 We can't see God, but we can see God. We can't see God because He's invisible, yet Jesus could say, 'the pure in heart shall see God'. How do we see God? Not literally with our physical eyes, but with the eyes of faith.  We see God. #5 Romans 7, sin is in us, but Romans 6, we are not in sin. We have been set free from sin, but we still struggle with sin. #6 The Christian life can be described in terms of loss and gain. We can lose much, friends, comforts, our home, a job. I think of Hebrews 11. Those Christians were wandering in deserts and living in caves. Paul describes himself as starving at times, naked. But we also gain. What does the Christian gain? Eternal life, an incorruptible inheritance. #7 paradox: As a Christian we have the greatest friend and the greatest enemy. We have God in Christ as our friend and, as our enemy, the Devil Himself. #8 The Christian life is perfect and imperfect. How? Perfect pardon, perfect justification. Imperfect sanctification. We are confronted with paradoxes over and over again. Even when we pray: we pray to a God in light unapproachable. Yet the Bible says this God is near. How can we get near? He comes close. You draw near and He draws near to you. When we pray, we come with a deep sense of our poverty, but also knowing how blessed we are in Christ. In the Puritan collection of prayers, Valley of Vision, we read: "Let me learn by Paradox, that the way down is the way up". Jesus said become like a child and you will inherit the kingdom of God.  Humble yourself and God will lift you up. The way down, God said the way of the servant is the path to greatness in my kingdom. "A broken heart is a healed heart.  To bear the cross is to wear the crown. To give is to receive. The deeper the well, the brighter the stars. There is light in my darkness, joy in my sorrow, riches in my poverty". The Christian life isn't always easy to explain. #9 We are in this world but not of this world. #10 Sometimes our greatest defeat becomes our greatest victories. Often when we suffer greatest weakness like Paul, that is when we become strong. Sometimes we go into a wilderness and experience barrenness, but it can be the most fruitful times in our life. The Christian life is full of paradoxes. It is a blessed life, but not always easy to understand.


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