All For You

Sunday, October 05, 2014, 12:30 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Unless You Are Born Again.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 12:11-13:10 (NASB).

I Want You

I have become foolish; you yourselves compelled me. Actually I should have been commended by you, for in no respect was I inferior to the most eminent apostles, even though I am a nobody. The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles. For in what respect were you treated as inferior to the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not become a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!

Here for this third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you; for I do not seek what is yours, but you; for children are not responsible to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? But be that as it may, I did not burden you myself; nevertheless, crafty fellow that I am, I took you in by deceit. Certainly I have not taken advantage of you through any of those whom I have sent to you, have I? I urged Titus to go, and I sent the brother with him. Titus did not take any advantage of you, did he? Did we not conduct ourselves in the same spirit and walk in the same steps?

The Apostle Paul had come under attack from those who were false apostles. Evidently there was serious concern on his part that the Corinthian believers, who were his children in the Lord, were being (or might be) persuaded by these false teachers to believe these charges against Paul. Yet, Paul’s concern was not for himself, but for the believers, that they might be led astray from their pure devotion to Jesus Christ. If the false teachers could convince the believers in Corinth that Paul had false motives for what he was doing, then perhaps they could discredit Paul and could thus get these believers in Christ to follow them and their false teaching instead. So, it was essential that Paul defend himself in order to protect the believers in Christ from being led astray to a false gospel.

So, in some cases here, he utilized the figure of speech called “irony” (or sarcasm) to make his points, frequently making mention of the charges of these false teachers against him.

Paul worked hard among the believers in Christ, sacrificing his own time and energies, and not working for financial profit, although he had a right to earn his living from the gospel. Yet, he did not claim that right. He was not slack in fulfilling the call God/Jesus had placed upon his life, but he persevered in the ministry to which he was called, proving himself to be a true apostle of Jesus Christ. He didn’t work among them so that he would get rich. He was not interested in their possessions. His desire was for them and for them to walk holy lives pleasing to Jesus. He wanted them for Jesus, and for no other reason, and because he knew that walking in daily fellowship with their Lord, and in his will, was what was best for them. So, he gladly gave of all he had, and of his life, as well, for them because he loved them.

They should have commended him for all that he did for them, but the implication is that they did not show their appreciation. I don’t believe Paul was looking for the praise of humans. He didn’t work to get praise. Yet, their lack of recognition of his apostleship was a serious issue in that it set them up for the potential of falling prey to false teaching, and thus he mentioned this slighting of him perhaps to shame them into the reality that he was indeed who he said he was, so that they would not be caught off guard and be led astray.

I believe a similar situation exists today, only the one needing to be defended here is Jesus Christ. There are many false teachers within the church today who give off a false image of Christ, only not usually in a disparaging way, but rather in a complimentary way, yet false all the same. Their purpose is to give off this false understanding of who Jesus Christ is so that they may lead people away from the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ to a false gospel. They will often present Jesus as someone who just went around doing good all the time and who said nice things to make people feel good about themselves. Yet, he was not hung on a cross to die for being nice. They hated him because he told them the truth about their sin. Jesus didn’t mince words. He was a straight shooter. He told it like it was.

Not Repented

All this time you have been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you. Actually, it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ; and all for your upbuilding, beloved. For 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; I 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.

This is the third time I am coming to you. Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses. I have previously said when present the second time, and though now absent I say in advance to those who have sinned in the past and to all the rest as well, that if I come again I will not spare anyone, since you are seeking for proof of the Christ who speaks in me, and who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you.

Jesus Christ died for our sins, not just so we could escape hell and gain heaven, but so we would die with him to our sins and live with him and for him by daily walking in his righteousness and holiness – all in the power and working of the Holy Spirit, who now lives within us (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 6-8; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24 & 1 Jn. 1-5). He died so we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (See: 2 Co. 5:15). In fact, his grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled and upright lives in this present age while we wait for his return (See: Tit. 2:11-14). And, yet so many preachers today do not even mention the need to repent of our sin and to walk in Christ’s holiness, because that would not be “nice.”

Jesus Christ is not weak in dealing with us, but is powerful among us. He doesn’t wink at sin. He died to free us from the control of sin, so how can we live in it any longer? Coming to faith in Jesus Christ is not about cleaning up our old lives a little at a time as suits us. It is about death to sin and self, and it is about being alive to Christ, walking daily with him, living holy lives pleasing to him, obeying his teachings, listening to him, following him wherever he leads us, and inquiring of him daily, etc. He died to eradicate our old fleshly lives and to give us completely new lives in Christ, free from slavery to sin, and free to live for him. He wants for us to repent of (turn from) our sins and to walk in obedience and surrender to him and to his will for our lives.

Test Yourselves

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test. Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved. For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you be made complete. For this reason I am writing these things while absent, so that when present I need not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down.

So, we should test ourselves to see if we are truly in the faith. Did we accept a false grace gospel which teaches us that turning from our sin and following Christ in obedience are not necessary components of genuine faith in Christ? Have we believed this false image of Christ that so many are presenting of him today, which pictures him as just a “nice guy” who just “loved on” everyone and didn’t make anyone feel bad about their sin? Did we accept that all we had to do was “believe” in Christ, and yet “believe” was never explained to us in terms of death to sin and of being born of the Spirit of God in transformation away from sin to a walk of faith in his holiness?

Remember, he died so we would no longer live for ourselves but for him, and his grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled and upright lives. His grace is not a free license to continue in sin and to still have the hope of eternity with God in heaven. Don’t believe that false image of Christ and of his grace.

God the Father gave his Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins. Whoever believes in him will not perish, but will have eternal life. “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already.” And, this is the verdict of the trial in God’s heavenly court: Jesus Christ, the Light, came into the world to save sinners, but people loved darkness instead of the Light because their deeds were evil. Those who practice evil hate the Light, and will not come into the Light for fear that their evil deeds will be exposed. But, whoever lives by the truth comes to the Light, “so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out by God.” [Ref: John 3]

Unless You Are Born Again
An Original Work / November 3, 2013

Based off John 3:1-21

Nicodemus came to Jesus.
He acknowledged God was with Him.
Jesus said, “You can’t see heaven
Unless you are born again.”

“How can a man be born when he’s old?
Can he enter into his mother’s womb?”
Jesus answered, “Flesh is flesh,
So of the Spirit, you must be.”

Jesus said to Nicodemus,
“You’re a teacher, and yet you don’t
Understand of what I tell you,
Because you will not believe.

“For God so loved the world that He gave
His one and His only Son for your sin.
So, whoever believes in Him
Has eternal life in heav’n.

“Light has come into the world,
But human beings love the darkness,
Because their deeds are so evil,
So in truth, they stand condemned.

“Everyone who practices evil
Fears that the Light will expose his sin.
Yet, whoever lives his life by the Light
Does so through his God.”