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In the scriptures, it says in Romans 8:20

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope.

I also remember Paul saying in 2 Corin. 12:9 that:

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.

Did Paul mean God's grace is made perfect in his weaknesses that are sins? I don't know.

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    There is the question of whether the 'subjection' was the judgment of the Flood and the, both heavenly and earthly, consequences of that catastrophic judgment.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 7 at 19:58
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    @RexfordBenon Any feedback on the 2 answers? If everything is satisfactory, you can accept one of them. Aug 10 at 19:37
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This answer is from the Reformed perspective (as requested in the tag) based on a 1991 sermon by John Piper, a Reformed pastor: Christ’s Power Is Made Perfect in Weakness. His sermon addresses 3 questions that match your questions:

  1. What are the weaknesses that Paul has in mind here when he says, “The power of Christ is made perfect in weakness”?

  2. What is the source of such weaknesses? Do they come from Satan or from God? Or both?

  3. What is the purpose of such weaknesses? Is there a goal or an aim for why the weaknesses come?

Below are quotations from his sermon that answer your questions.

What are those weaknesses?

Answer: Insults, Hardships, Persecutions, Calamities. Quote from the sermon:

They are circumstances and situations and experiences and wounds that make us look weak; things we would probably get rid of if we had the human strength.

...

But in reality, we don’t usually have that kind of human strength, and even when we may have it, Christians don’t use it the way the world does. Jesus tells us not to return evil for evil (Matthew 5:38–42). Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:12–13, “When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we try to conciliate.” And then he added, “We have become like the refuse of the world, the off-scouring of all things.” In other words, this kind of lifestyle, this kind of response to abuse, looks weak and beggarly and feeble and anemic and inept — at least it looks that way to those who thrive on pride and equate power with the best come back.

Are they sinful?

Answer: No. Quote from the sermon:

So you can see that what Paul has in mind here is not sin. He is not talking about a kind of behavior — like we might say he has a weakness for lust; or she has a weakness for overeating. Paul is not talking about bad choices that we make. He is not saying the power of Christ is perfected in my bad choices. Or, I will all the more gladly boast of my bad choices. Weaknesses here are not imperfect behaviors.

Are the weaknesses in man intended by God?

Answer: Yes. Just like how it was with Job, God permitted Satan (v.7) to harass Paul with a "thorn in the flesh" (v. 4).

... the source of our weaknesses may sometimes be Satan and his destructive designs for us; but always our weaknesses are designed by God for our good. This is why the truth of God’s sovereign grace is so precious in the midst of hardship and calamity. God is in control of Satan. Satan does nothing to God’s children that God does not design with infinite skill and love for our good. This brings us to the final question, which we have already answered.

Did Paul mean God's grace is made perfect in his weaknesses that are sins?

Answer: No, it's Christ's power that is made perfect. Also, as explained above, those weaknesses are not sins. In the sermon, John Piper taught that God's purposes are 3:

  1. To pray to God for relief from Satan's purpose to harass us

  2. To prevent us from pride and self exaltation. God thinks humility is more important than comfort or freedom from pain.

  3. To glorify the grace and power of his Son Jesus (v. 9-10). God wants to make us a showcase for Jesus's power when we rely on Him not to escape from weakness but for us to trust God by faith while we are suffering, just like how Jesus trusted God while suffering on the way to the cross.

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None of those passages talk about weakness as sin, but it is about suffering and the general vanity of the mortal life. See Ecclesiastes 2 on vanity. Paul talks about the predestination language- the creation was subjected to vanity, not by itself but by God who suffered/allowed (not intended) it, in hope of redemption from the corruption and vanity to glory.

David Stern commentary:

19–25 Our inheritance involves an ecologically ruined world that will one day be restored (Ac 3:21, 1C 15:23–28, MJ 2:8–11, Rv 21:1). It was made subject to frustration because of human sin (Genesis 3:16–19)—the intractability of the physical world is not merely a natural law, and one day it will end (for an imaginative fictional portrayal of such a phenomenon see the final two chapters of C. S. Lewis’s The Last Battle, in his series, “The Chronicles of Narnia”). Of this we have a certain hope, for which we are waiting eagerly, but with patience. This is the larger context of whatever suffering, discouragement and doubt we experience—a context of hope.

In 2 Corin. 12:9, Paul talks about the suffering, and it can be applied to all general situations of frailty, anxiety, troubles, hardship we find ourselves. The power of God will be manifested the most when we are in the lowest. It is not about sin, which grieves God, from which he came to save us from by his sacrifice, to implore us to repent from sins and be reconciled to God. Sin grieves God, and repentance makes him rejoice. See Ezekiel 33, Luke 12.

[Isaiah 40:29-31 ESV] 29He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

[2Cor 5:18-21 NHEB] 18But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and having committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20We are therefore ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

[2Cor 12:20-21 NASB] 20For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps [there will be] strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances; 21I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.

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  • your answer cought my attention as you mentioned at the beginning of your answer to mean that weaknesses are not sin and later on at the end quoting 2Cor 12:20-21, I do not exactly know what you want to communicate across by those verses. I need more clarity on it. Are the 'strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance' not sinful acts. Are they weaknesses or sins? Aug 16 at 21:17
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    @RexfordBenon . I actually mentioned those ref to counter the assumption that of the interpretation that God's power is made perfect in "sin/weakness". I tried to show that sin grieves God, his power doesn't make perfect in it; he wants repentance. So the weakness which makes his power perfect is the suffering and frailty of our lives where his power and blessings are abounded and proved the most, through healing, guidance, and deliverance. The strong needs no doctor, but the weak.
    – Michael16
    Aug 20 at 13:32
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    Apologies, @Michael16. I didn't read it carefully. Thanks a lot Aug 21 at 14:06

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