The Pilgrim’s Progress written by John Bunyan and published in February 1678 has been a favorite read among Christians ever since it was first published. According to Wikipedia, it “has been translated into more than 200 languages, and has never been out of print” throughout the 335 year span since it was first printed.  If you’ve read it, you know that it is an allegorical tale of the Christian journey through this life, related as a journey along a treacherous path.  Using the device of a journey to describe many of the challenges Christians face in life was very effective since life is, indeed, like a journey.  There are many obstacles along the roads of our various lives, some of them from outside, from other people or from difficult circumstances that we have to fight through, and some of the obstacles coming from within ourselves, from our weaknesses of character or the sins of the flesh to which we may succumb.  We have a life-long struggle against this weakness within us as, bit-by-bit, God reclaims our sinful nature and replaces it with His Spirit.  The amount of growth we experience depends on how submissive we are when God confronts us about our sin, and it depends on other factors such as how much time we spend with God, in meditation on His Word, in fellowship with other believers, and in doing acts of service.  But, nonetheless, as we all walk this “pilgrim road” we will, all of us, have a lifelong struggle against the weakness within us, in our flesh.

It is all too easy to sin since we have this “treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Corinthians 4:7), the treasure being the Spirit of God within us which has resided there ever since we have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, and the earthen vessel being the frail flesh which houses our immortal soul.  Because of our flesh, we will always have a battle with temptation, always be subject to failure.  But there is a reason that God has allowed us to remain in this weak state so that “the excellence of the power may be of God, and not of us.” 

II Corinthians 3:5 puts it another way, stating “[n]ot that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God…” 

II Corinthians 1:9 puts it still another way, stating, “we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.”

And, of course, most people are familiar with Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” in II Corinthians 12, in which Paul has some sort of infirmity or weakness that He has requested three times for God to remove, but this is one prayer that God does not answer in the way that Paul requests (i.e. delivery from the problem).  Paul is not delivered from this “thorn” for a purpose:  so that Paul may be kept humble and so that God may be glorified in Paul.  II Corinthians 12:7 explains that this “thorn” keeps Paul humble:  “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.”  And II Corinthians 12:9 explains that this weakness is for God’s glory since God will fill in with spiritual power in the void where Paul is weak:  “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  Not only does God promise to give Paul power in his weakness, but it also suggests that the weaker Paul is, the greater God’s power will be within him. 

Of course, all these verses are applicable to everyone since “[a]ll Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16).  Moreover, this passage and all the ones cited above apply to all people, not just men.  When the Bible refers to “man” in such passages, it is in the generic sense as in all of mankind, men, women, and children.

I pray that you would find God’s sufficiency in your life, as He gives you power in your weakness to overcome the obstacles along the road of your life. 

 


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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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