“My grace is sufficient for thee:
for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
How mysterious are God’s dealings! That such a highly-favoured man as Paul should come down from the “third heaven” to the very gates of hell (that is not too strong an expression, for “the messenger of Satan” came from hell), that he should sink in soul-feeling to the very gates of hell, there to be buffeted by “the messenger of Satan;” and all to teach him a lesson that heaven did not teach him, the strength of God made perfect in weakness! Do you not think, that if we are to learn our weakness, we must learn it in the same way? How did Paul get his religion? And must we not get ours, in our feebler measure, through the same channels, by the same means, and by the same inward teachings?
If we are to learn the secret of Christ’s strength, it is not by making daily advances in fleshly holiness, and getting stronger in self day by day. It is not by old nature being so mended and improved, as bye and bye to be shaded off into grace, just as the colours in the rainbow are so harmoniously blended that you can scarcely tell where the one ends and the other begins. For this is what is really meant by “progressive sanctification,” that the old nature is so gradually softened and blended into grace, that we can scarcely tell where the old man ceases and the new nature commences. Did the Apostle learn Christ’s strength in that way? No; but by being buffeted by Satan’s messenger, and thus being beaten out of his own strength, he found Christ’s strength made perfect in his weakness.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869