TODAY’S READING: II CORINTHIANS 1-7
The comfort of God (chapter 1); instruction concerning forgiveness (chapter 2); the new covenant (chapter 3); the minister of the new covenant (chapter 4); the new covenant ministry (chapter 5); the new covenant temple (chapter 6); a restored church (chapter 7).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
Chapter 1 reveals that God is not just the God of comfort, but the God of ALL comfort (1:3). We may not always feel His comfort. We may even wish He would speed up His comfort. But He is our God, and He will comfort us in our walk with Him. The question is, what will we do with that comfort? Will we just thank God and go about our way? Or, will we respond biblically and look for others who need the very comfort we have received. We need to be aware of the people God has placed around us, and comfort them when they need comfort.
Verse 12 of chapter one is a powerful verse regarding the life of the Apostle Paul. His rejoicing is in the fact that in good conscience and by God’s grace, he has lived his life in simplicity and godly sincerity. Is that the testimony of our lives? Can we say with a clear conscience that we have lived a life of simplicity and godly sincerity toward God and others? We get so busy doing all kinds of different things, when in reality, only a few things really have eternal significance. Paul knew that, and lived his life accordingly.
Chapter 2 and verse 4 reveals the motive behind Paul writing the first letter to Corinth. He wasn’t writing because he was mad at them or because they were embarrassing him. He wrote with a heavy heart because he loved them and wanted to see them walk in the truth. Apparently, they responded correctly and even dealt with the man living in sin in chapter 5 of I Corinthians. However, even though the man had repented, they weren’t sure whether they should allow him back into their fellowship. God’s instruction was to take back the repentant man. The goal of dealing with sin is always restoration. Even when someone has to be removed from the church, the goal is always for them to repent so they can be reconnected with the body. It also important to note, that this is also one of Satan’s devices to gain control over us. Verse 11 reveals that not being willing to forgive opens up an opportunity for Satan to get a stronghold in our lives. How many believers have unknowing!
ly allowed Satan to gain an advantage over them because they were unwilling to forgive? Have you?
In chapter 3, Paul declares that believers are actually living epistles that are known and read of all men. If you wanted to see what was important to the Apostle Paul, all you had to do was read his life. People were important. He spent his life investing the Word of God into the lives or people, whether they were saved or lost. Are there people in which you have invested the Word of God that are now living epistles that can be read of all men? What is the direction and priority of our life? We have been made able ministers of the New Testament. Not because we’re anything special in and of ourselves. It’s because when God saved us, He put His Spirit in us and “made” us able ministers! You may not feel you have very many talents or gifts, but God says that if you are saved, you are an “able minister”. Do you believe God? In fact, do you realize that you and I have a more glorious ministry than Moses had? Can you believe that? We don’t realize that we are ministe!
rs of a more glorious covenant than what Moses had. We don’t realize that, because we typically look at life from a human perspective, rather than a divine perspective. What God wants is found in verse 18. He wants us to behold Him through His Word, so that we can be changed into His image. Is that what you want?
In chapter 4, Paul teaches us that there is a price to be paid for being conformed into the image of Christ. Our lives will be troubled; we’ll be perplexed; we’ll be persecuted; we’ll be cast down; death will work in us; our outward man will perish; we will have affliction. That’s certainly a great recruiting tool, isn’t it? The fact is, there is a price to living a life surrendered to Christ, and allowing Him to minister through us. It’s not something we bring on ourselves, but it will happen because this world system is against Christ.
Note however, that when we see with spiritual eyes, we see the other side. Though we are trouble, we won’t be distressed. Though we are perplexed, we won’t be in despair. Though we are persecuted, we won’t be forsaken. Though we are cast down, we won’t be destroyed. Though our outward man is perishing, our inward man will be renewed day by day. Though our lives are dying, the life of Christ will be revealed through our bodies. One perspective brings a life of eternal meaning, significance, and reward, while the other, though it may look and feel nice, is vanity.
Chapter 5 reveals that we will give an account of our service to the Lord at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is not a judgment of sin, that took place at Calvary. This is a judgment of our ministry after becoming believers. This is the same judgment talked about in I Corinthians 3. How often does the Judgment Seat of Christ come into your thinking? Paul said that it was one of the motivating factors in his life and ministry (5:10-11). Think about the context of this chapter. Chapter 3 talks about how God has made us able ministers of the New Testament. Chapter 4 talks about the life of God’s minister. At the end of chapter 4, God reveals that we are His ambassadors and have been given the ministry of reconciliation. We have been made a minister, acting on God’s authority, of bringing people into a right standing with God (reconciliation). Now, based on the context, what do you think is going to be the key issue at the Judgment Seat of Christ? While most believer!
s are making sure they don’t smoke, cuss, chew, drink, etc. (all important things), the real issue at the Judgment Seat is much larger than all of those things. The questions we need to be asking ourselves in preparation for that judgment are:
*How profitable am I in my ministry of reconciliation?
*How am I fulfilling my role as God’s ambassador?
*Am I actually ministering as a New Testament minister?
How humbling a thought in chapter 6 and verse 1, that we can receive the grace of God in vain. Does that mean someone can lose their salvation? No. However, we can waste the grace that the Lord has bestowed upon us. How? The key is the context. Think about everything we have come through in chapters 3-5. When we neglect the ministry of reconciliation; when we don’t walk as God’s ambassadors and when we’re not ministering as a New Testament minister, we are wasting the precious gift of God’s grace. We should follow the example of the Apostle Paul in verses 4-13, and in all things, approve ourselves as the ministers of God.
Chapter 7 lets us know that the church at Corinth had repented when they received the first letter from Paul. In this context, God describes two kinds of sorrow. First, “godly sorrow” that brings about true repentance. Secondly, “worldly sorrow” that brings about death. Worldly sorrow is the type of sorrow that Judas had. He knew he had done wrong, but he never turned to Christ to deal with his sin, and ultimately, he killed himself. Godly sorrow is what the Corinthians had. It brought them to true repentance. They saw their sin the same way God saw it. That’s the response God is looking for in us when we sin. Most people will feel bad when they do wrong. The question, however, is whether it is godly sorrow or worldly sorrow. Sadly, many times it is a sorrow that never causes us to turn from our sin and to seek God; we just don’t commit that sin for awhile to appease our conscience. However, we’ve never really dealt with that sin biblically. How do we know when!
it is godly sorrow and true repentance? Look at verse 11. True repentance will bring about carefulness, a clearing, and indignation against that sin, along with a fear of God, a vehement desire to follow God, and a zeal to live differently.