The Apostle Paul had a thorn in his hip. We are not told what it was, but I think it represents all of our trials and temptations- take your pick. For me there have been temptations and trials that The Holy Spirit of God has worked through me to overcome. Note the title of this essay is “Perfecting Power.” This power is the power of the Holy Spirit of God working within us. Remember Paul’s crying out to God for his thorn to be removed and God responded with, “My grace is sufficient for you, My power is perfected in your weakness. When you are weak, then I am strong” (2Corinthians 12:9). This is the perfecting power of God that works. It is usually slowly and painfully. To some we are told that He gives miraculous powers. He healed me miraculously, but I don’t believe that He gave me the miraculous power of healing. He does continue to work in purifying me.
Moreover, God is working in me to overcome my thorns. I am praying and seeking and realizing that we have a role. “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence to God” (2Corinthians 7:1). Throughout Scripture God is admonishing us to purify ourselves. Yes, God has cleansed us of all sins on the cross, but our sinful nature is not totally gone. We are working out our salvation with fear and trembling Philippians 2:12 instructs us. It is a process and God is orchestrating it through the perfecting power of His Holy Spirit in those who believe.
I have written about “perfect,” the word of the decade that seems to be the common response to any offer. But only God is perfect and some day, God willing, we will see His perfect face and be perfected. But until then, we are to continue to purify or perfect ourselves. And remember that we cannot do this on our own; it is the perfecting power of the Perfect One working within us.
So how hard is this? Remember what Paul said in Romans 7:14-25 one of the most difficult to interpret passages that is clear on the subject of sin lest you should think you can handle it:
“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”