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Living for the Lord in the Local Church -2nd Corinthians 12:11-13:2

19/10/2013

Living for the Lord in the Local Church

Text: 2nd Corinthians 12:11-13:2

Paul brings his defence to a close, by comparing and contrasting his own ministry with the spiritual condition of the Corinthian church:-

1. The Marks of True Service!

Paul speaks again of the comparison that the Corinthians are making between him and the hyper-apostles.  I have become a fool in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing.  The Corinthians should know that Paul was not lagging behind these great men, when it came to ministry.  He points them to three aspects of his work for the Lord:

  • There is a Spiritual Result!  Paul was able to point to genuine spiritual work that had been done among the Corinthians.  v12 There would be no better illustration of this than their own conversions.  1st Corinthians 6.  Look at the list of sins which characterised these Corinthians. V9. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because you’ve never been a murderer or a adulterer, that you are not a sinner!  We are not sinners because we sin – we sin because we are sinners!  The Corinthians were sinners, and their sins were keeping them out of heaven, then Paul came and preached the gospel, and there were genuine spiritual results!  But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.  Now that is the mark of Paul’s ministry and that is the true standard by which we assess the ministry of anyone in the Lord’s Church.  Is there a spiritual change among the people?
  • There is an Unselfish Dedication!  Paul has already talked about how he had got into trouble with the Corinthians by refusing to accept a salary from them.  Can you hear the sarcasm in his words in verse 13? Paul says, I’m coming to see you again, for a third time, and when I come, I’ll STILL refuse to take any money from you!  He gives two reasons for this:-
  1. I don’t want your money! Paul’s ministry was not about a salary, or a job or a lifestyle.  So Paul says to the Corinthians, I don’t want your money – I want YOU.
  2. I’m your Spiritual Father! After all, I am your spiritual father in the Lord!  I brought you to Christ, and what father takes money from his children? He compares this with opening a savings account!   

So, Paul reveals his true motives in his free service to the Corinthians. Even if they love him less and less, he will continue to love them and to serve them freely

  • There is Integrity Among Brethren!  Paul points out the integrity of his brethren in the service of the Lord.  

So, Paul gives us an idea of what marks out true service for the Lord and he issues his final defence, Again, do you think that we excuse ourselves to you? We speak before God in Christ. But we do all things, beloved, for your edification. Paul doesn’t really care what anyone thinks of him.  He’s not trying to win their approval; he’s only interested in winning the approval of the Saviour.

 

2. The Marks of a Spiritually Impoverished Church!

What will happen when Paul revisits Corinth?  What will he find? For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; He remembers what he had found there before, and he reminds the Corinthians of that situation!  Look at some of the existing problems in that church…

  • Strife.  contentions,  Now this is a word that relates to warfare and battles.  You ask yourself, how could there be war and battles among Christian believers, whose regenerate nature should make them pre-disposed to love each other?  James 4:1
  • Jealousy. Jealousies  The Greek is Zelos – Envy.  It’s the spirit that begrudges anyone who has something that you don’t have.   It’s about meanness and petty-mindedness, and its right there among the Corinthians.
  • Outbursts of anger. outbursts of wrath  Not righteous indignation, or prolonged anger with wrongdoing, but spontaneous explosions of sudden anger.  It makes us do things and say things which we later regret.  It denotes a serious problem – lack of self discipline.
  • Self-centred ambition. selfish ambitions  When something is done in the Lord’s work that has no other motive but money – good living for a living – that’s what is being spoken about here.
  • Loud mouthed attacks and vicious gossip. backbitings whisperings  Two types of sins as a result of speech.  One who is the loud-mouth, the other is the whisperer.
  • Conceit.  Conceits  People who over promote themselves, and are full of their own self importance.
  • Disorder. Tumults Uproar. Probably anarchy. Relationships within the church are best described as interdependent togetherness.  There should never be anarchy!

Now, I dare say that there is some of that in every church.  But when those things characterise a church, as they did in Corinth, then there is a real spiritual problem.  There has been no spiritual growth!  But there is more.  There were sins in among the Corinthian congregation which had never been repented of. I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced. There was…

  • Uncleanness.  This is a really general term, – anything which would make a person unfit to enter into God’s presence.
  • Sexual immorality.  The term is well known.  πορνεια  Sexual sin.  The church needs to restate the Biblical teaching that any form of sexual contact outside of the lifelong monogamous marriage of one man and one woman is seen as sin in the eyes of God.  That includes pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, pornography, homosexuality, paedophilia, – anything outside of marriage, which is the only circumstances in which sexual activity is blessed and approved by God.
  • Lewdness. The real meaning of the term is sheer meaningless disrespect!  A complete lack of church discipline, no respect for anyone else.

There were people who had practised all of these sins.  Paul says, I hope that when I come to you again, I will not find any of these vices, for if I do, then you won’t find me very friendly, or very happy!  In fact I’ll be mournful, and I’ll be cross, and I’ll be angry.  I’ll not be the person you would like me to be, for I will be coming to sort this mess out!

 

Bob McEvoy

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