II. The Exhortation to understanding. 3:1-7:4
A. The influence of the Word of God. 2 Corinthians 3:1-18
The message for us today is seen in these three things –
1. Our influence on others is a reflection of who we are! 2 Corinthians 3:1-3
2. Our relationship with God is the basis of who we are – law or grace.
2 Corinthians 3:4-16
3. Our reflection should be that of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 3:17,18
Today we see –
4. Our response is manifested in our service unto the Lord. 2 Corinthians 4:1-6
Paul, in his own defense and under the influence of God – Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; – declared that he had determined above all things to rely on God for the following things –
a. Courage. 4:1 “…faint not…”
1). The definition of the word used. “to give in, to lose courage”
2). The desire was to be strengthened by the mercy of God to not lose heart!
Paul encouraged the Hebrews as to how to keep their courage and not to faint, not to get discouraged and quit. He was able to encourage them through the power of God working in his life –
Hebrews 12:1-3 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
b. Commitment to truth. The results of ministry belong to God are not to be forced.
Today we are involved in the culture of success. We put pressure on ourselves to meet standards set by the world and sometimes are inclined to use less than honest methods to reach those goals. While Paul declared that he could speak to all men of all cultures and standings about the gospel, he did not modify the truth to make it more attractive to them. He was not involved in ‘seeker sensitive ministry’.
1). Are numbers of those saved, baptized, and instructed important to God? Yes!
2). Are numbers of those saved, baptized, and instructed the measure of success? No!
Notice that Paul never mentioned congregation size or building programs. He commended the churches for their faith, their hope and their love!
1 Thessalonians 1:7-8 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.
c. Consistency 4:3-6
Paul’s ministry was the preaching of the Word of God. He was convinced that the –
1). Opposition was spiritually conceived. 4:3,4
Remember how Satan had contemplated how he could destroy the testimony of Job? This is his pattern, to know all about the person he plans to destroy. We see this same plan in Satan’s temptation of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 4: 3-9 – each suggestion was carefully presented to appeal to Jesus.
a). The lust of the flesh Matthew 4:3 food Passion
b). The lust of pride Matthew 4:5, to be ministered unto Position
(Note that Satan used Scripture – Psalm 91:11,12. Refer to –
2 Corinthians 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
He was not tempting Jesus to destroy His life, but to prove His deity before the priest)
c). The lust of the eyes Matthew 4:8,9 kingdoms Possessions
2). Overcoming the spiritual blindness is the work of the Spirit of God and cannot be accomplished by physical means. We refer to Paul’s letters to other churches –
Romans 1:15-16 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Romans 10:13,14,17 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? …..So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
1 Corinthians 1:17-21 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
3). Obedience to the Lord is the testimony of the Lord in His servants. 4:5a,6
They presented Jesus Christ and then themselves, the servants of Jesus Christ. Note his testimony to Timothy –
1 Timothy 1:15-16 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
Our family and friends see a difference in our lives –
1 Peter 4:4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:
Do they see a difference in our lives?
Do we present the message of the Gospel in word and in deed?