I Am Jealous For You

Monday, July 15, 2013, 8:39 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “The Battle for Truth” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 11-13 (NIV). I will quote several selected passages from this scripture. The Bible verse of the day on BibleGateway.com also went along so well with my quiet time for today:

“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” — James 1:21

A Different Spirit (11:1-4)

I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.

As I read through these three chapters in 2 Corinthians, it became clear to me that there was a common thread among these three chapters, and Paul hit the nail on the head in just these first few verses. He said he was jealous for the Corinthian believers with a godly jealousy, for he had promised them to Christ in a spiritual union (like a marriage), with Christ as their only husband, that they might not have any others (other lovers) besides him. Throughout the New Testament our relationship with Jesus Christ is described in terms of us being his bride and of him being our husband. We need to realize, thus, that when we enter into a faith relationship with Jesus Christ that we are committing our lives to him, promising (vowing) that we will love, honor and obey him in all things, and that we will be faithful to him and will forsake all other lovers. And, we need to treat him like we would treat a “first love,” passionately desiring to be with him and to please him in all ways.

Paul said he was jealous for them with a godly jealousy. All throughout scripture we have a picture of God as a jealous God, though not in the sense of him being selfish, or of him desiring for himself what we have, as we often think of when we hear the word jealous. Godly jealousy cares about the other person, and shows concern and love, and is willing to give of one’s life to help the other person walk in peace, righteousness and fellowship with our Lord. Godly jealousy also desires fidelity, truthfulness, faithfulness and sincere and unpretentious love in a relationship between Christ and his followers, and between those men and women who have entered into marital union with one another as husband and wife. Coming to Christ means we forsake all others, and we choose to walk in faithful obedience to our Lord the rest of our days (See Lu. 9:23-25; Ep. 4:17-24; Ro. 6; & Gal. 2:20). And, God doesn’t want second place. He wants to be our Number One Love!

Yet, Paul was concerned that the Corinthian believers might be led astray from their pure and sincere devotion to Jesus Christ, i.e. from their “marital vows” to Christ. And, one might feel the same way today about those who would lead Christ’s followers astray by teaching them a false gospel which does not teach death to sin and obedience to Christ via the working of the Spirit of God in transformation of our hearts and minds away from sin and to a walk of faithful obedience in the Spirit of God. And, many are easily putting up with this false gospel, too, which is prevalent in today’s church here in America.

Masqueraders (11:12-15)

And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

Many of these false teachers of the gospel masquerade themselves as followers of Christ and as teachers of the true gospel, yet they are deceitful, cunning, manipulative, and their purpose is to get you away from the true gospel to follow them and their gospel of humans, because the true gospel offends, whereas the false gospel is popular and pleasing to the masses, because it doesn’t call for us to be crucified with Christ, or for us to forsake our sins, or for us to follow our Lord Jesus in obedience. Yet, scripture teaches throughout the New Testament that genuine believing faith involves turning from a life given over to sin and self-pleasure to a life committed to love, honor and obey our Lord Jesus Christ. So, don’t listen to the masqueraders. Listen to and obey what Christ’s word teaches us.

I Want YOU (12:14-15)

Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less?

God has given a similar message to his children all throughout Biblical history. He often told them that it was not their sacrifices that he wanted, i.e. the things they thought they were doing for God to please him, but what he wanted then and still wants now is us on the altar, living lives holy and pleasing to God, which is our reasonable service of worship. He wants us to no longer have our lives molded to the ways and thinking of this world’s sinful system, but for us to be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God (See Ro. 12:1-2). In other words, he doesn’t want all the things we are willing to do “for” him, which may be very good things, and they may even be loving and kind things. Yet, he is not pleased with us if he does not have our hearts. We may be do-gooders, and we may even be liked by many people, but if we withhold our hearts from the Lord Jesus, and if we follow after other lovers, instead, then we can pile high all the good deeds in the world but they don’t mean anything to God if he does not have our hearts. He wants YOU! And, he wants ME!

You see, this is the difference between works-based salvation and obedience, though some people tend to confuse the two. Obedience listens to our Lord and submits to the Lordship of Christ in our lives, and does what the Spirit within us asks us to do, whereas works-based salvation does what it thinks would please God in order to earn salvation on its own terms. We can’t earn salvation. It is a free gift of God. Yet, salvation requires surrender, obedience, submission and forsaking lives of sin – our cooperation with and yielding to the Spirit’s work of transformation in our hearts and minds. If it is obedience, then it can’t be works-based salvation, for thus it would not be obedience, since Christ teaches salvation by grace through faith, and not of ourselves (trying to win merit with God through human effort). Yet, if we continue in lifestyles of sin and in disobedience to our Lord, and/or if we refuse to love other humans, the Bible says that not only are we liars if we claim to know Christ, but we are not one of God’s, and we don’t have eternal life with God (Read 1 John, for example). Yet, it also teaches that the way we love God is through our obedience.

Grieving Over Sin (12:19-21)

Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.

Paul was very concerned over the lives of the Corinthian believers. Remember, he had promised them to one husband – Jesus Christ – and to spiritual fidelity in their relationship with him. Everything he did and said was for their strengthening. He didn’t chide them about sin and about the danger of following after a false gospel in order to be mean, hateful or just because he thought he was spiritually superior to them, and thus he looked down on them. He did so out of a heart of love, mercy, compassion, and out of a heart that wept and grieved over their sins. He loved them like a good father loves his children.

It was his hope that they would be convicted of the Spirit of God concerning any ways in which they had been led astray, or of any ways in which they had returned to lives given over to sin and/or to rebellion against God. And, he hoped that they would repent of their sin (have a change of heart and mind about their sin that would result in a change of behavior), and that they would turn to walk in faithful obedience to their Lord and would submit to his Lordship over their lives. Then, he would not have to exercise spiritual discipline with them when he saw them in person. What loving parent enjoys having to discipline his or her child? It is always our hope that they will respond to instruction, and that correction won’t be necessary, and that is how it was with Paul, too. And, that is how we should feel about one another – we should grieve over the sins of our loved ones and of those of the family of God, we should pray for them, and we should speak the truth in love to them concerning their sin.

Examine Yourselves (13:5-10)

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong—not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is that you may be fully restored. This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.

So, what this all boils down to is our need to examine our lives to see whether or not we have genuine believing faith in Jesus Christ that is evidenced by repentance and obedience to God in a walk of faith with Jesus Christ - in cooperation with the Spirit’s work within us in transforming us to become more and more like Jesus. We should also examine our hearts and lives to see whether or not we are giving way to sin in our lives, so we can repent.

So, what is the standard by which we must examine ourselves? – the word of truth (See Mt. 4:17 - Repent; Lu. 9:23-25 – die to live; Jn. 3:3 – be born again; 8:31-32, 51 – keep Christ’s word; 10:27-28 – listen and follow; 13:34-35 – love one another; 14:15-24 – obey Christ and his teachings; and 15:1-17 – remain in Christ and bear much spiritual fruit, etc.).

The Battle for Truth / An Original Work / May 18, 2013

Based off Malachi 1-4

I love you. Honor me.
Tell the truth. You’ll be free.
Sing My praise all your days.
I will give all you need.

Turn from sin; cleansed within.
Stand in awe of My Name.
Teach what’s true. Walk in peace.
Follow Christ, in His ways.

Show to God faithfulness.
Do not be adult’rous.
Do not shed shallow tears.
Do not be insincere.

I have sent messengers,
Who have giv’n my address.
They call for repentance,
And they warn of judgment.

I, the Lord, do not change,
So return – blessings gain:
Healing comes; joyfulness;
Freedom from your distress.