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YOU ARE BORN TO SHINE

2 Corithians Chapter 4 verse 6

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Friday, December 01 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

Introduction: There was no place in which the apostle Paul met with more opposition from false apostles than at Corinth; he had many enemies there. Although he was “blameless and inoffensive” in all his carriage, so condescending and useful to all, yet there were those who bore him ill-will, who envied him, and did all they could to undermine him, and lesson his interest and reputation. Paul distinguishes himself and the other authentic apostles by contrasting the characteristics of the cultist leaders of that day with the doctrine, attitudes, and practice of the true apostles. These characteristics are just as true of leaders today as they were in Paul’s day, so let us be very attentive to his words.

 

Verses 1-2 - Characteristic #1: Paul Is Meek and Gentle, Unless Forced to Act Otherwise

“I plead with you—yes, I, Paul—and I plead gently, as Christ himself would do. Yet some of you are saying, “Paul’s letters are bold enough when he is far away, but when he gets here he will be afraid to raise his voice!” 2 I hope I won’t need to show you when I come how harsh and rough I can be. I don’t want to carry out my present plans against some of you who seem to think my deeds and words are merely those of an ordinary man.”

In verse 1, we see the mild and humble way the apostle addresses the Corinthians, and how desirous he is that no occasion may be given him to use severity. He was addressing the false apostles who had particularly levelled their reproaches; yet amid the greatest provocations he shows humility and mildness, from the consideration of the meekness and gentleness of Christ, and desires this notable example may have the same influence on the Corinthians. In verse 2, He begs them to give no occasion for him to be bold, or to exercise his authority against them in general, as he had resolved to do against some who unjustly charged him as walking according to the flesh, that is, regulating his conduct, even in his ministerial actions, according to carnal policy or with worldly views.

 

Verses 3-6 - Characteristic #2: Paul’s Spirituality Is Vastly Different from That of His Critics

& Characteristic #3: Paul’s View of Spiritual Warfare Differs from That of His Critics

“3 It is true that I am an ordinary, weak human being, but I don’t use human plans and methods to win my battles. 4 I use God’s mighty weapons, not those made by men, to knock down the devil’s strongholds. 5 These weapons can break down every proud argument against God and every wall that can be built to keep men from finding him. With these weapons, I can capture rebels and bring them back to God and change them into men whose hearts’ desire is obedience to Christ. 6 I will use these weapons against every rebel who remains after I have first used them on you yourselves and you surrender to Christ.”

The carnal weapons Paul renounced were the manipulative and deceitful ways his opponents used. And though ministers walk in the flesh, or live in the body, and in the common affairs of life act as other men, yet in their work and warfare they must not go by the maxims of the flesh, nor should they design to please the flesh: this must be crucified with its affections and lusts; it must be mortified and kept under.

He asserts the power of his preaching and his power to punish offenders in verses 3 and 5. From these verses we learn that the work of the ministry is a warfare, not after the flesh indeed, for it is a spiritual warfare, with spiritual enemies and for spiritual purposes. The apostle’s power to punish offenders (and that in an extraordinary manner) is asserted in v. 6. The apostle was a prime-minister in the kingdom of Christ, and chief officer in his army, and had in readiness (that is, he had power and authority at hand) to revenge all disobedience, or to punish offenders in a most exemplary and extraordinary manner. The apostle speaks not of personal revenge, but of punishing disobedience to the gospel, and disorderly walking among church-members, by inflicting church-censures.

 

Verses 7-11 - Characteristic #4: Paul Differs from the Cultists on Judging Spirituality and Success

7 The trouble with you is that you look at me and I seem weak and powerless, but you don’t look beneath the surface. Yet if anyone can claim the power and authority of Christ, I certainly can. 8 I may seem to be boasting more than I should about my authority over you—authority to help you, not to hurt you—but I shall make good every claim. 9 I say this so that you will not think I am just blustering when I scold you in my letters. 10 “Don’t bother about his letters,” some say. “He sounds big, but it’s all noise. When he gets here you will see that there is nothing great about him, and you have never heard a worse preacher!” 11 This time my personal presence is going to be just as rough on you as my letters are!

In our passage, Paul points out how his critics differ from him in the way they judge spirituality or success. He first writes in verse 7: “You are looking at things as they are outwardly.” Then in verse 10, he gives us the words of his opponents who criticize his personal appearance and preaching style: “His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive, and his speech contemptible.” The most important thing Paul says about his authority is its source: “which the Lord gave …” (verse 8). Paul’s authority came from God and not from men. His critics could not make the same claim. They promote themselves and commend themselves, or as rendered loosely from above, they “write their own press releases.” The counterfeit apostles “measure themselves by themselves,” and “compare themselves with themselves.” These men seek to elevate themselves by misrepresenting their own accomplishments and minimizing the accomplishments of others.

 

Verse 12 Characteristic 5: Paul’s Critics are Exclusivists and Short-sighted

“12 Oh, don’t worry, I wouldn’t dare say that I am as wonderful as these other men who tell you how good they are! Their trouble is that they are only comparing themselves with each other and measuring themselves against their own little ideas. What stupidity!”

They measure themselves against their own little ideas! In this verse, Paul criticizes his opponents for measuring themselves against themselves. We see that they are not working for the common goal of the gospel but for their own personal gratification; their mindset looks down on others as being less spiritual. Then, almost inevitably, they become exclusive. In our present day, you hear statements like “If you are not a member of the church of ________, then you are not saved.” “Unless you have been baptized by ________, you are not a genuine Christian.” “Unless you are a member of this man’s organization … Unless you have spoken in tongues, you cannot be …” and so on.

Verses 13-16 -  Characteristic #6: Paul’s Critics, the Cultists, Prey Upon the Sheep

& Characteristic #7: Paul’s Critics, the Cultists, Are Thieves

13-14 We aren’t making outrageous claims here. We’re sticking to the limits of what God has set for us. But there can be no question that those limits reach to and include you. We’re not moving into someone else’s “territory.” We were already there with you, weren’t we? We were the first ones to get there with the Message of Christ, right? So how can there be any question of overstepping our bounds by writing or visiting you?

15 We’re not barging in on the rightful work of others, interfering with their ministries, demanding a place in the sun with them. 16 After that, we will be able to preach the Good News to other cities that are far beyond you, where no one else is working; then there will be no question about being in someone else’s field.

The cultists of Corinth seek to make personal followers of those who are saved through Paul’s ministry and who have come to trust and follow Christ. They take credit for Paul’s ministry. They boast in things for which they should never take credit. They boast in that which God has done. They boast in what God has done through others than themselves. They boast in the labours of others. Paul reminds the Corinthians of his labour among them, and that many of them are his children in the faith. He also indicates that he and his colleagues continue to minister to them, and as they continue to grow, there will be even further reason for them to be “enlarged” by these Corinthians.

Verses 17-18 Characteristic #8: The Cultists Seek the Approval of Men Rather Than of God

17 As the Scriptures say, “If anyone is going to boast, let him boast about what the Lord has done and not about himself.” 18 When someone boasts about himself and how well he has done, it doesn’t count for much. But when the Lord commends him, that’s different!”

The Corinthian cultists are those who take credit for ministry that is not their own. They even compete with one another and criticize Paul and his fellow-apostles. They appraise spirituality and success by external appearances. They take pride in that for which they should not take credit. In the end, it is apparent that they are more interested in gaining the approval of men than of God. Paul concludes this chapter by setting this matter straight: “But HE WHO BOASTS, LET HIM BOAST IN THE LORD. For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends” (2 Corinthians 10:17-18, NASB).

To think of himself (or herself) as superior to others, the cultist must compare himself with others in a way that makes him look superior. In the end, Paul’s opponents are boasting. Paul reminds all who minister that their ministry is God-given, just as the fruit of their ministry is God’s work If there is any boasting to be done, let it be boasting in God and what He has done through us (and often in spite of us). If there is any approval, any commendation to be sought, let it be His commendation. Let us labour so that He will say to us in that day, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

 

This study was culled from https://bible.org/seriespage/contrasting-christian-leaders-cultists-2-cor-101-18

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 07:02 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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