Thorns, Thistles, and Transformation

Text: Genesis 3:16-19
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.  And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;  In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Introduction
Ever since Adam and Eve fell into sin, everything in life has been negatively affected. Even when Jesus was about to be crucified the Romans crowned Him with thorns, which is symbolic that all the world could give the Son of God as the Second Adam was thorns and pain, because He was about to bear the sins of Adam and the human race. Paul the Apostle found thorns in everything he put his hand to. There are those who preach that if we follow Christ everything will be sweet in life, but even the anointing oil that comes upon the priests to minister (Exodus 30:22-31) and the Passover meal had bitter herbs along with the bread and meat to symbolize that in this world God will allow pain to come to our lives (Exodus 12:8). Psalm 90 has a prayer in which the psalmist asks God that He would make him glad for as many days as he has been afflicted (Psalm 90:15).

I. Thorns and thistles from the beginning (Genesis 3:16-19)

Two major things are cursed with thorns:

1. Relationships: “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”

A. We see here that Eve was struck with sorrow regarding having children and her relationship with her husband—basically, every aspect of family which is the core and central grid that determines all relationships.
B. There are hundreds and even thousands of invisible people here in this room because of the relationships we carry–past relationships with us in the present. (For example, when you marry a person you are also marrying their mother, their father, and every person who had a profound affect on their life, because we all have “baggage.”)
C. There are no perfect marriages, relations with children, friends, co-workers, etc. Because we are human there are thorns in each of our relationships.

2. Our work: “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;  In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground.”

A. The main thing a man generally lives for the most is his vocation/work; the main thing a female lives for is her relationships. God cursed both. He didn’t totally curse them but He called for thorns to come up with good fruit. So, in our work there will always be present “good and bad.” There is no perfect work environment, there is no perfect ministry, or church, or organization, federal government, charity or corporation, because there will always be present in each entity thorns!

II. Paul the Apostle proved his apostleship not by great ministry but by enduring through all he suffered in this world.

1. 2 Corinthians 11:22-12:10. In this passage Paul demonstrates his apostleship by ministering out of his weakness, not out of his strength! (Unlike a lot of preaching today that gives the impression if we follow God we will have victory all the time! Yes, we will have ultimate victory, but before the victory is usually a very hard test! God told Paul the reason for the thorns in 2 Cor. 12; we need thorns because they enable us in our sinful nature to remain humble and dependant on God!)

2. Paul taught a Gospel in which God’s power was manifest through our weaknesses!

3. Everyone has a thorn in their flesh. The context of these passages shows that the thorn is relational and work related, not sickness or disease. If you don’t have something that brings you to your knees or causes you to cry out to God for His strength to go on, then you are the first one on the earth to live without the curse of Adam! Galatians 3:13 teaches that Jesus broke the “curse of the law” but the Bible teaches that the full curse of Adam has not yet been broken on the earth (1Corinthians 15:26).

III. Unrepentant people do three things instead of seeking God because of their thorns:

1. Run from it by running to something else. Oftentimes we attempt to medicate ourselves or insulate ourselves from our pain (thorns) by addictive behavior: compulsive work, sexual relationships, hobbies, succeeding in our profession, drugs, alcohol, excessive entertainment, throwing ourselves into our children’s lives, etc.

2. Rage. Many people respond to the thorns in their lives by violent behavior, anger, bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness. Often, these angry attributes can come out through religious or self-righteous behavior, preaching, and a critical spirit of judgment against others–all hiding the root cause of bitterness from undealt issues with other people.

3. Hiding the facts. Often, we are guilty of exaggeration as we only speak of positive things when in conversation with others, all the while glossing over some of our biggest challenges and failures.

(The following are ideas taken from Peter Scazzero’s book The Emotionally Healthy Church, pages 110-114)

To subscribe to a free weekly teaching click here!