Though We Live In The World

Friday, April 25, 2014, 4:57 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “Give God the Glory.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 10 (NIV).

False Accusations

By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.

Evidently Paul was under fire from a particular group of adversaries who were potentially influencing the believers in Christ to doubt Paul’s apostolic calling and authority. For one, they were accusing Paul of being two-faced (hypocritical) and/or inconsistent in his character. They said that he was “timid” when he was with them in person, but he was “bold” when he was away from them, i.e. when he was writing to them via letters.

These accusers of Paul said that his letters were weighty and forceful, but that in person he was unimpressive, and that his speaking amounted to nothing. So, Paul defended himself and Timothy (and/or the other apostles) against these false accusations, saying that what they were in their letters when they were absent, they would be in their actions when they were present. Paul’s defense of himself was also a defense of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for if his opponents could convince the Corinthian believers that he was not who he said he was, they could also begin to discredit his message of declaration of the gospel of Christ.

From my own experience I have found that opponents of the true gospel of Jesus Christ, if they cannot discredit the message of the gospel being taught, will revert to trying to discredit the messengers, even making up stuff out of their own imaginations, and even using worldly (humanistic) wisdom, thinking, and reasoning to try to prove their case. In fact, they will even ignore the scriptures, and will, in fact, respond to the scriptures shared with whatever humanistic teaching they have come to believe, despite the hard evidence presented by the scriptures themselves. And they are able to lead naïve people astray who don’t know the scriptures, and who are easily persuaded by humans, and by humanistic reasoning that sounds good on the surface, even though it is not supported by scripture.

These opponents of Paul (and his fellow apostles) accused him of living by the standards of this world. I am not certain what specific standards to which Paul was referring here, but the point is that the charge was that he conducted his life and ministry by worldly standards. In our day and age such worldly standards might include lying, cheating, deception, manipulation, using marketing schemes and techniques to attract audiences, the use of entertainment - also for the purpose of drawing in large crowds of people - the targeting of particular people groups while excluding others, willfully living sinful lifestyles while excusing it away under the provision of God’s grace, and watering down the message of the gospel in order to make it more appealing and acceptable to the masses, etc.

Waging War

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete…

Paul’s response to these accusations was that, even though they lived in the world, they did not wage war as the world did. Again, I am not certain as to what he was specifically referring by the phrase, “wage war as the world does,” but in our day and age, much of that warring also falls under the category of living by the standards of this world, as discussed above. In other words, we, as believers in Christ, are in a spiritual battle against evil forces, yet our “weapons” of warfare are not of this world. For instance, we can’t win people to Jesus Christ via entertainment, lies, manipulations, deceptions, scheming, and/or diluting the gospel of Jesus Christ to make it more appealing to the world. We may win them over to us, and/or to our “businesses” called “churches,” but we don’t win people to Christ using worldly methods, even though we may not convince many church leaders of that today.

I am most certain that Paul did not spend hours upon hours reading books on how to plant or how to grow churches (big businesses), and on how to attract large crowds of people using worldly means and/or methods which appeal to the flesh of humans, nor did he go through church planting training which, in some cases, teaches the leaders to target only certain people and to avoid others, in particular to avoid the needy and/or those believers with “strong convictions,” or how to use needy people to get their work up and going (to feed it), and then how to discard them later on so that they don’t “drag you down.” I am also positive Paul did not read books on how to market the church like a business and how to give his “customers” what they would enjoy so they would keep coming back.

No, Paul and the other apostles were adherents of the word of God, they did not rely upon the wisdom of humans, but solely upon the Spirit’s power, and they were proponents of speaking the truth plainly, and in love. They called sin what it was – sin. They were not afraid to mention hell or eternal damnation. They did not shy away from the words “obedience,” or “submission,” and they explained fully what it meant to be in Christ, to believe in Christ and how to have eternal salvation (See Eph. 2:8-9; 4:17-24; Ro. 6; Gal. 2:20; Tit. 2:11-14 and 1 Jn. 1-5, for example).

Salvation meant more than just getting their sins forgiven and having the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. Their salvation was life-altering, radical, earth-moving, transforming (like metamorphosis), and freeing. They were not only set free from eternal damnation and given the hope of heaven, but they were set free from slavery to (the control of) sin and to Satan, and set free to walk in obedience and surrender to Christ, to walk in his ways and in his righteousness, and to now be underneath the power and control of the Holy Spirit, who was at work within them in transforming them away from sin and to God. This grace taught them to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions, instead of excusing sin away and calling it something else just because we are now under grace.

Comparing Ourselves

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise… But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

When we judge ourselves or others by human standards, we are not wise. When we judge ourselves or others by our own experiences, standards, our own attitudes and/or by our own reactions and actions, we are not wise. What I find prevalent in today’s church is that humanistic thinking and reasoning has superseded the truth of God’s word so much so that people tend to believe humans over God; humanistic teaching over the word of God.

I also find that many people are taught to and do judge others by their culture, society and by themselves, i.e. by their own attitudes and behaviors. For instance, if we say to someone, “Oh, when I did that, it was because I wanted to be seen of men,” we should not naturally assume this to be the case: “So, you must be doing that because you want to be seen of men.” We are not all the same! We don’t all think alike. We are not all motivated by the same things. We have different strengths and weaknesses from each other. I am not like you and you are not like me. My motivations may be different from yours. My thinking and reasoning is also most likely not the same as yours. And, my heart attitude may also be something uniquely distinct from your heart attitude. This is not to say that one is right and the other is wrong but that we are all different, so we should not judge others by human standards or by comparing others to ourselves, thinking others are just like us.

Instead, our judgments (assessments; evaluations) of ourselves and/or of others should be based in the word of truth (scripture), in Christ and in his teachings, and in the gospel of Jesus Christ, as taught by Christ and by the apostles. As well, we should also follow the recommended procedures as taught in scripture with regard to those judgments and how they are to be carried out so that we judge rightly, and so we do so always in love.

Give God the Glory / An Original Work

Based off Psalm 19 / March 10, 2014

All of creation now proclaims:
“Give God the glory; honor His name!”
Each day the stars in heav’n above
Show forth His wisdom; tell of His love.
They do not speak. They have no voice.
Yet, they declare we have a choice:
“Worship the God of heav’n above;
Believe in Jesus; trust in His love.”

God’s word is perfect, just and good,
Refreshing souls who trust in the Lord;
Makes wise the simple; radiant -
Lighting our lives with God’s righteousness.
Joy to the heart His words now speak;
Pure and enduring, now we seek.
They are more precious than our gold;
Sweeter than honey; never grow old.

Keeping the word brings great reward.
By the word Jesus speaks and He warns,
Convicting hearts of all their sin;
Forgiving all who call upon Him.
Praying You keep me, Lord, from sins.
May they not rule my life again.
Then will I walk in all Your ways,
Following Jesus all of my days.