Section navigation

When I Am Weak, Then I Am Strong

Author
Category Articles
Date February 28, 2019

‘Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’
–2 Corinthians 12:10

Notes from a Sermon of the Rev. Thomas Jones (1752-1845).

The subject before us can be understood only by Christian warriors, and it is understood by all who have any knowledge of themselves. Though it appears a contradiction, yet it agrees exactly with the experience of every believer; the more he feels of his own weakness, the more he applies to his Lord; and the more he applies, the more strength is communicated. If ever we are strong, it must not be in ourselves, but strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might; strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus: we are commanded to have no confidence in the flesh. This weanedness from self and oneness with the Lord is the main study of a Christian’s life; it is one of the greatest difficulties, to learn that we are perfect weakness. We may learn the truth in a study; I could teach you all in a fortnight: but life is short enough to learn, that of ourselves we have no power to help ourselves. What strength have we to stand before the holy law of God? to break through all the chains that tie down our captive souls from glorious liberty — from running the race set before us? What strength have we to open prison doors — to subdue spiritual enemies — Satan, the world, and the cheating of our own hearts? What power to do all the work, which the Lord has given us to perform?

We are prone to think more highly of ourselves, than we ought to think; it is called ‘the pride of life,’ because it is with us all our life long: but lofty looks must be humbled, self must be denied. A hard lesson. How often have we failed, where we had the greatest confidence; and fallen, where we thought ourselves most secure; enemies we disdained overcame us, temptations we thought light of have thrown us down. To be sensible of our own weakness, is the way to be strong: none will trust God but those who cannot trust themselves; none lean on Christ, till they feel themselves sinking.

We will consider the advantages of being convinced of weakness. First, it will teach us to be on our watch-towers: so long as we think we have strength, we run into this and that temptation read this and that book, go into this and that company, etc. The man who has discovered danger everywhere, has his eyes about him, dares not trust himself. Lot thought he could live in Sodom; had he stayed one day longer he would have been burned with it; Abraham thought he might go into Egypt, and be safe; temptation took hold of him, he fell he told a falsehood: Peter had strong confidence in himself, he would go into the judgement-hall, thought he was a rock, but found he was a reed; the breath of a woman threw him down.

Where there is self-sufficiency there is little self-knowledge, little safety; we always find the self-confident one the first to fall. He who cries, ‘Hold Thou me up,’ having Christ to lean upon, may walk upon the waters.

Secondly, who are the praying souls amongst us? who are the men that live in prayer, on their legs, on their knees, in bed and out; those who have sweet intercourse with heaven? It is those who have no confidence in the flesh. The rich do not go begging; those alone will go to the door of God who are driven out by pinching poverty; and of all trades this is the best — begging at the door of One who gives according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

This accounts for there not being more prayer: people think they have strength, wisdom, righteousness, of their own. When we know how guilty, how foolish, how helpless we are, we cannot help but pray, ‘Give me this day, daily bread.’ This is the life God has ordained for us. The more we feel our poverty, the more we pray; and after praying most earnestly, we turn again with renewed desires as the child to the breast. Though the Lord fed us yesterday, we cannot do without him today.

Thirdly, who are they who will lean on Christ, but those who feel sinking. God, by various means, convinces his own children that they have no strength; they find their old corruptions too strong for them; they get entangled in the wilderness. The Lord restores his wandering child, sets his feet upon the rock, establishes his goings. What does the restored one now say? He goes on a little way, but soon omits prayer; gets into a dry spirit: the enemy comes, and overcomes him by the very same temptations which caused him to fall before: this teaches him the desperate wickedness of his own heart, and drives him with fresh earnestness to Christ: this is the end of all falls and troubles, to convince us of our weakness, and send us to Christ.

We ought not to be too much dejected under infirmities; they are painful to feel; but it is God’s appointed way; he has ordained that they shall cleave to us all our way home. It is no accident, but in order to instruct our blind souls where our strength lies. Thank God that you feel your great infirmities. When we really know that we are without strength, our language is not what it used to be, but ‘I will go in the strength of the Lord.’

Look at David, when Goliath threatened to give his flesh to the fowls of the air; did David trust in his arm of flesh to sling the stone? or in his skill to make it penetrate the giant’s skull? No, no: ‘I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.’ Every Christian who thus leans on the name of the Lord must conquer.


This article was first published in the October 1956 edition of the Banner of Truth magazine.

More on God’s Strength in Our Weakness

    The Heart of Christ
    price $9.00 $7.20
    Avg. Rating

    Description

    ‘Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’ –2 Corinthians 12:10 Notes from a Sermon of the Rev. Thomas Jones (1752-1845). The subject before us can be understood only by Christian warriors, and it is understood by all who […]

    image of Deserted by God

    Deserted by God?

    Hope For All Who Do Not Sense the Lord's Sustaining Presence During Life's Most Troublesome Times

    by Sinclair B. Ferguson


    price From: $8.50

    Description

    ‘Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’ –2 Corinthians 12:10 Notes from a Sermon of the Rev. Thomas Jones (1752-1845). The subject before us can be understood only by Christian warriors, and it is understood by all who […]

    Book Cover For 'Cross He Bore'

    The Cross He Bore

    Meditations on the Sufferings of the Redeemer

    by Frederick Leahy


    price From: $7.00
    Avg. Rating

    Description

    ‘Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’ –2 Corinthians 12:10 Notes from a Sermon of the Rev. Thomas Jones (1752-1845). The subject before us can be understood only by Christian warriors, and it is understood by all who […]

Latest Articles

Music in the Life of Calvin (Part One) December 6, 2019

This address by the most eminent of all Calvin’s biographers was delivered in the ‘Salle de la Reformation’, at Geneva, in April 1902. It was translated and printed in the Princeton Theological Review, October 1909, from which source it is here reprinted with very slight abridgement. The allusions at the opening of the Address are […]

The Life of P. B. Power December 3, 2019

Philip Bennett Power was born in Ireland in 1822. He graduated at Trinity College, Dublin, and entered the Church of England ministry about 1846, his first charge being at Leicester, where he remained for some two years, during which he began a week-night service in the parlour of a local pub! From Leicester he moved […]