In Our Weakness Is Christ Made Perfect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1Pet 5:5, ESV2011)

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations [given to me], a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2Cor 12:7-10, ESV2011)

Recently I received a communication from a brother in Kenya, Africa in which he was concerned about a younger relative who was “prophesying” over and trying to lord over the members of his family and telling them what they needed to do “for God.” This young woman considers herself a “prophetess” and has been using her “words of knowledge” and prophetic insight to exercise authority over his family. She has caused much confusion and heartache among them to the point that his young daughter doesn’t want to see her aunt any longer.

When I was in my thirties, I was influenced by a prophet in our non-denominational Pentecostal church to seek such a gift. Soon I was doing many of the things that this young woman was doing and drawing a lot of attention to myself (all “in the name of the Lord,” of course). The problem was that I could not discern between what was from Him and what was from one of Satan’s minions working through my flesh. I was a mixture and God hates mixtures.

Finally, after praying that He would show me how He saw me, He showed me that it was my pride working in me that made way for the devil to work there as well. I prayed that He would purge me of that terrible pride and I soon found how God uses spiritual wildernesses in our lives to strip us of everything we are in that old Adamic nature we are all born with. How I hated being put on “the back burner” for all those years! I kicked against it for 12 years until I finally acknowledged that HE is God and that all His ways are perfect and good in our lives. As it was with Moses and Israel, He had to strip me of all that was of “Egypt” that still remained in me through a 14 year spiritual famine. But the outcome of it was as Ezekiel prophesied over Israel.

I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord GOD; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel. (Ezek 36:30-32, ESV2011- emphasis added)

I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isa 43:6-7, ESV2011- emphasis added)

Isaiah also prophesied of this process.

He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isa 40:29-31, KJ2000- emphasis added)

In our youth, spiritually speaking, we have to come to the end of ourselves and “utterly fall.” It is in this state that all we can do is wait upon the Lord. The meaning of the word “renew” in this passage is that you will be given a whole new source of strength. In the Pulpit commentary regarding this verse, it reads:

We are thus “changed men,” for the Hebrew word here, “to renew,” means “to change.” Experiences like these alter alike [both] character and countenance. (1)

If God is going to use us to effectively speak by His Spirit to others whether through prophesy, teaching, writing or preaching, it will take more than any seminary or Bible school can provide. After all, the danger with these institutions is that upon completion they give us a degree and we believe that we have become “something.” The problem is that “knowledge puffs up” and we become as proud as any worldly college grad or young corporate head.  T. Austin-Sparks wrote,

Do you desire to signify something for God, to be, after all, of a right kind of significance, accountability [and] meaning? [If so] you see the need of getting Christ’s Holy constitution in us. The most powerful thing, we have… is meekness. Power is spiritual. That is the point. You see the place of weakness in the New Testament. “When I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). “Most gladly… will I… glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9). There is a lot said about human weakness. It is just the opposite of the devil; it is just the opposite of what the devil made man [see Gen. 3:1-5]…

What is your idea of power? What is your mentality concerning power? Are you clamouring for power, wanting power? Well, it all works out this way; true power from God’s standpoint is Calvary power. Christ crucified is the power of God. What is Calvary power? Well, it is emptiness of self, you and I being emptied of self – and truly, that is easier said than endured! Oh, how very much there is of this self about us still! How we hate… being emptied of ourselves! What a terrible thing it is to feel our inability… Oh, to be ABLE! And yet have we not proved, again and again, that our times of greatest emptiness and weakness have been the times when God has done most, and got glory by what He has done? Yes, it has been true. We have learnt it along various lines and different ways, but God has been working right into the very inside of us, so that the thing is done – it becomes a part of us. He does not have to maintain it by external conditions. But He frequently uses such – very often physical – conditions, to bring us to that place of utter dependence upon Himself… That is God’s way of education, but it would be very much better for us to be fit and well and as dependent upon God as ever.

“Power belongeth unto God.” Power is a spiritual thing. The true nature of power is of a totally different order from our natural idea and conception of it. The Lord is so different. Power is not a temporal matter, it is not a physical matter, it is not an intellectual matter, it is not a social, a positional, or a possessional matter, at all. Power is essentially spiritual: I say again, it is what we are… “The prince of this world cometh: and he hath nothing in me” (John 14:30), said the Lord. So, in the hour of the power of darkness, He could say, “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31). I say again, that was not objectively and officially done. It was done by what He was. Satan had no ground, and so no power. This Man defeated every contemplation of Satan as he walked round Him. “How can I get in? I have been trying all these years to find some little gap; I cannot find it, I am beaten, I can do nothing with Him, He does not give me a chance. I offer Him prizes – He snaps His fingers at them; I threaten Him with the direst consequences of the course He is taking – it does not make any difference! I cannot get this Man.” That is how the prince of this world is cast out.

So it all resolves itself into the need, in the first place, for what is meant by being born from above: an entirely new nature and disposition, to begin with, and then a letting God do His work of conforming us to the image of His Son. I am not saying that works and words do not come in, but it is a heartbreaking business to be working and speaking with no power, no registration of heaven. (2)

(1) The Pulpit Commentary (1880-1919)

(2) http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/000840.html

 

16 comments on “In Our Weakness Is Christ Made Perfect

  1. Great article, Michael! ⭐

    As you know I was in Pentecostal and charismatic circles where gift-seeking is being pushed immensely. Having been caught by these deceiving spirits myself, I know how very hard it is to get rid of their influence later on. Spiritual wilderness, nothingness, and internal emptiness is not a wonderful condition for the flesh, but like you said above, the only thing that helps crucify our proud old nature.

    You know that long after I had been set free from these spirits by Jesus, I had to learn the hard lesson to draw a line toward deceiving spirits that approach us through other Christians only four years ago and I am not done with learning, yet. I dare to offer a link to a blog post of mine where I described my experiences and wrote about the conclusions I had to draw back then (i.e., no contact with such people any more until they repent).

    https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/do-not-allow-demons-to-speak/

    Your sister in Him,
    Susanne

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Dear Susanne,
      Thanks for your comment on my latest article and the link. I have known you now for almost five years and as such have had to learn many of the same lessons as you as our dear Father has knit us together in our walks. I am glad that I have had you to walk through many of these same trials and would-be deceptions together. As Solomon wrote, “When two walk together and one falls, the other is there to lift him up.” What a joy to know someone in Christ after the Spirit and not after the flesh, though even this has been part of what He wanted me to learn as we walk together. I am so grateful that Jesus did not leave us alone, but sent His Spirit, the Comforter, to see us through that we might know the depth of what Jesus prayed before He went to the cross,

      “I do not ask for these only [the disciples], but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one.” (John 17:20-22, ESV2011)

      Your brother and friend for eternity,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kenneth E Dawson says:

    I must be undone—& it is Him that does the undoing! —–So that He can do His doing—Through me—–His child by Spirit birth.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Paul Omondi says:

    Dear Michael,

    Thank you for this article. It spoke to me deeply having gone through a wilderness experience that lasted from 2008-2013. I could not get myself out of it, it’s [was] as if it had been preplanned by God and no matter how much I tried, I just couldn’t get out of it. In summary, it involved a situation where God stripped me of everything, leaving me feeling completely helpless. He first took my job, then as a result I had to be separated from my family, my wife and young daughter, for about two years. He took away my dignity because he forced me to live on handouts then move in with my brother which was my all time low. I desperately tried to get myself out by looking for jobs and even trying to do business but I failed. I usually cried when I prayed, I felt useless, weak and vulnerable. I was ready to give up and several times I thought it would be better not to continue living anymore, I even once googled ‘painless ways to commit suicide’ after my wife went back to her parents. I was lonely, hopeless and scared. However, I still had a small amount of faith left even though I did not understand what I was going through.

    I went to several pastors for special prayers but nothing much happened. By 2013, while living with my brother, God suddenly began to usher me out of the darkness. I began getting consultancies which paid me good money. I began going to visit my wife (she was in a different city) and spending time with her and our daughter. This darkness began to end with no effort from me. We began planning to reunite as a family (I really feel the tears coming to my eyes as I write this). Eventually we were reunited in 2015, I moved to the city where my family was and we got our own place and began life afresh. I started an online translation business which has sustained us through the years. My wife also got a job. Our daughter is in school and she is the best academically in her class, always comes out top of her class and has received numerous prizes. One thing that happened to me is that I am so different now than I was before. When I think of my Christian walk before the wilderness I feel so ashamed. I was proud and self sufficient. I was proud especially after having spent two years in a seminary studying bible translation and theology. I felt that God somehow owes me for “that sacrifice.” I thought I loved God, but I was insensitive to the needs of other people. I am now able to help those who are in need and actually feel blessed doing it. I remember I once saw a young man in town helping a very sick lady to walk. She had no strength at all. I was in a bus. I saw them struggling and eventually the lady had to sit down somewhere to rest. It was near where my bus was [and] it had not started moving yet. I got out of the bus and asked the man where they were going. He told me they are from hospital heading home. He told me he did not have any money left to hire a cab. So he was going to look for a motorbike taxi to take her to the bus stop where they would take a bus home. I was moved and hired a cab to take them home. The man was so grateful. When I went back home, I felt God telling me, “I was testing you to see what you would do, you passed the test, you would not have passed that test had I not led you into the wilderness to break you.”

    God bless,

    Paul, from Kenya

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Wow, Paul! I have gone through almost everything you wrote about, job loss, searching for food in dumpsters and gleaning muddy potato fields, standing in government free-cheese lines. Being humiliated and broken in the job I finally did get on a remote volcanic island in Alaska, separated from my family… At one point my depression was so bad I was going catatonic and cried out, “God, I know you don’t want to hear from me again, but please keep my mind and body together until I can get off this island and my family again.” That was the turning point, I had hit the bottom of my pit, but the climb out took another 12 years. He did not let me out until I quit kicking against it and prayed, Lord, I know all your ways are just and perfect. I am content to remain in this death if that is your will for me.

      I can identify with being stripped of all your old natural pride and strength. I look back on “my ministry” before the wilderness started and what an ugly sight! I understand what Paul meant when he wrote, “When I am weak, then am I strong.” “It is not I, but Christ who lives within me.” “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin,” “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life”… Paul, you and I and a few more precious saints have grown into the depths of these verses, living in weakness, baptism into death, newness of life, by spiritual death and resurrection. Until that has happened it is all just a bunch of empty theory.

      The sons of God are not made in Bible schools and seminaries, These are only good for producing a lot of proud, arrogant and unfeeling people who are a disgrace to the image of Christ, unless a flesh killing wilderness accompanies it. “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.” Your story about you getting off that bus and seeing those poor people home was good. I think that we are tested again and again like that. Sometimes He has to dry us out in other shorter wilderness periods, it seem. This is why I often don’t write anything for two or three months at a time… I am under His thumb until he knows I have personally learned at His hand what He wants me to write about. He keeps us humble that way. God puts a high premium on tribulation and experience. Like Paul wrote,

      “…but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us. (Rom 5:3-5, KJ2000)

      That describes the process quite well, wouldn’t you say, my brother? Though the process is sometime gruesome, the goal is for us to have the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit as our only motivation. I am happy to know you, Paul. Stay in touch, my brother.

      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This spoke so strongly to me, Michael. I, too, have known the wilderness. Even when I thought I was lost and forsaken, however, God was there. He is the Good Shepherd who never abandons us.

    Your friendship and your insights are a blessing. Thank you for sharing them both.

    Your sister in Christ,

    A. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Thank you, Anna. It is a hard thing to go through, but the “afterwards” makes it all worthwhile.

      All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Heb 12:11, NASB)

      May the Prince of Peace keep your heart in His hands through out this season and the coming year. ❤
      Your brother,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Gloria a Dios por esta palabra. Cuántos amantes tenemos en el corazón y el Señor tiene que despojarnos de ellos con dolor y lágrimas. Cosas y personas que compiten con el Señor, comenzando con nosotros mismos y aún con cosas espirituales que se convierten en estorbos para los propósitos de Cristo en nuestras vidas. Somos rameras de corazón y el Señor debe despojarnos de todo esto con mucho fuego.

    Dios tuvo que llevarse a mi esposo para despojarme de todo lo que no era Cristo y permanecía arraigado en mí. Dios ha tenido que amputar mi propia vida a través de pruebas y dificultades día tras día. Quebrarme una y otra vez para llevarme al final de mí misma y para que entendiera que sin Él no soy nada.
    Nuestro propio esfuerzo hiede en el olfato del Señor.

    Patricia wrote:

    Glory to God for this word. How many lovers we have in our hearts and the Lord has to take them away with pain and tears. Things and people that compete with the Lord, starting with ourselves and even with spiritual things that become hindrances for the purposes of Christ in our lives. We are harlots of heart and the Lord must strip us of all this with a lot of fire.

    God had to take my husband away to take away everything that was not Christ and remained rooted in me. God has had to amputate my own life through trials and difficulties day after day. To break me again and again to take me to the end of myself and to understand that without Him I am nothing.
    Our own effort stinks in the Lord’s sense of smell.

    May the Lord help us every day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Patricia, Yes, you have been through much suffering in your life, dear friend and what would make most people bitter and haters of God, you have had His life changing grace to see you through His fires of purification. As I read your comment the following words came to me for you…

      Amazing grace
      How sweet the sound
      That saved a wretch like me
      I once was lost
      But now I’m found
      Was blind, but now I see

      ‘Twas grace that taught
      My heart to fear
      And grace my Fears relieved
      How precious did
      That grace appear
      The hour I first believed

      Through many dangers
      Toils and snares
      We have already come
      ‘Twas grace hath brought
      Us safe thus far
      And grace will lead us home

      I am blessed to call you my sister in Christ and to be with you on this heavenly journey, in Christ.
      Michael

      Like

      • Gracias Michael por tan bellas palabras, no pude resistir las lágrimas al leerlas. Dios ha sido bueno y su Gracia ha sido suficiente para soportar el amor de sus pruebas, sus disciplinas, sus castigos y sus correcciones en mi vida, doy gracias al Padre por Su Hijo, porque ha sido Él en mí quien ha soportado el calor de Su fuego.

        Yo también tengo la gran bendición de que seas mi hermano en Cristo y de caminar juntos en este peregrinaje.

        Patricia wrote:

        Thank you Michael for such beautiful words, I could not resist the tears when reading them. God has been good and His Grace has been enough to withstand the love of his trials, his disciplines, his punishments and his corrections in my life, I thank the Father for His Son, because He has been in me who has endured the heat of Your fire.
        I also have the great blessing of being my brother in Christ and of walking together in this pilgrimage.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        As He wills, dear sister.

        Like

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