2 Corinthians 2:3-17
2 Corinthians 2
2 Corinthians 2
Good morning church! I want to welcome you here this morning. There is so much going on around the world, and we have a short chapter this morning so I was tempted to take some time and update you on some projects going on in Ukraine, operation Exodus that is being conducted through Calvary Chapel, but the more I thought about it, I didn’t want to distract from the war we have going on right here. In our own nation, in our own hearts and minds.
Church, do you pay attention to the words that we sing? As we gather and worship the Lord corporately are the words that you sing prayers to the Lord? One of the songs that we sang say this: Look at it with me...
Lord, this is our prayer this morning, that through your Spirit YOU would speak, Lord that you would speak and that we would hear. Lord that we would hear and by our hearing we would grow, we would obey, and we would take on Your fragrance. In Jesus name, AMEN.
We made it as far as verse two last week where Paul basically says, guys, church, last time I came to you it was a bummer. I came in sorrow, and I made your sorrow because I had to deal with so much stuff, so I determined within myself that was no good. It stinks if every time I come to you who give me joy, I am the killjoy. SO I wrote a letter, hoping you could hear it, hoping you could receive it and respond to it, rather than reacting to me, you could hear the heart of your Pastor and receive from the Lord. That’s how the letter continues in chapter 2 vs. 3. 2 Cor 2:3-4
3 And I wrote this very thing to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all. 4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.
I mentioned it last week, but I don’t think this is often the way that we think of the Apostle Paul. We remember that he was Saul of Tarsus, and zealously hunted down those of the way. Christians. He did whatever he could to stop Christianity! But then he gets saved and is just as radical for the good guys. Lord, send me to my people, the Jews. I’m your guy Lord. I get where their coming from, I’ve been where they’ve been. I’d trade my own salvation if that would work for my countrymen to be saved.
What? You have a different plan, preach to the Gentiles…you got it! Lord, I don’t think they like me, they just tried to stone me to death, I’m not giving up though Lord, I’m going back into that city. Lord, that was shipwreck number three, please don’t let these guys with me start wimping out, we’re just getting started, and I’m starting to see the value in sharing in Your sufferings! Thank you Jesus!
We don’t think of Paul weeping as he saw the church he planted and people that he loved, failing into sin. Living lives of compromise. Putting the things of the world, ahead of the things of the Kingdom. It grieved Paul the Pastor’s heart to correct them.
But in verse 5 he changes gears from him correcting them, to them correcting a brother in the church. If you’ve been with us for 6 months or more, you might remember this guy, Paul doesn’t name him here, or call out his sin, but if you’ve been following through these letters, you might remember from 1 Corinthians, Paul dealing with his situation. 1 Cor 5:1-4
1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
You are puffed up, you’re proud, you should be mourning Paul says, but instead, you’re open and affirming of his horrible sin of sexual immorality, betrayal to his father and you’re proud of yourselves for it. Paul continues on...
5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
OK, I’m with you Paul, it’s wrong, and someone should probably say something, but that is just mean, and if we close the door on him, he might just walk away from Jesus all together, we need to be nice Paul and not try to be the Holy Spirit in his life. This isn’t a sinner out on the streets, its a guy in their church, that says he’s a Christian, and continuing to walk in sin, and Paul says, KICK HIM OUT!
This fellowship that we have is a treasure that cannot be found anywhere else! You have fellowship through the Spirit of God! You have comfort to give others the same comfort that you yourselves have received and that can’t be found at Barnaby’s, that’s not a thing anymore is it? Don’t shout out your favorite Bangor nightclubs, you know what I mean. Paul knew how serious sin was and that it couldn’t be tolerated. You guys that are reading through the Bible in a year are coming up on a story in the book of Joshua that talks about the gravity of sin.
You might remember the story, or the children’s song, about Joshua fighting the battle of Jericho. God gives Joshua and the Israelites the City of Jericho, it’s worth reading later in Joshua 6. But God says Jericho is mine. The gold, the silver, the spoils of war, these things from Jericho are the firstfruits and they belong to me. If you keep reading in chapter 7 you find out that a man named Achan did not heed the Word of the Lord.
They then go up to this pushover town called Ai, what is sure to be a cupcake of a battle and they get their butts kicked. Joshua 7:4-6
4 So about three thousand men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai. 5 And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six men, for they chased them from before the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent; therefore the hearts of the people melted and became like water. 6 Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.
They mourned the loss, they were grieving, downtrodden, their countenance had fallen and then Joshua even gets called out by God…Joshua 7:10-11
10 So the Lord said to Joshua: “Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? 11 Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff.
Further down in the chapter, the investigation leads Joshua to confront a man named Achan who admits to his sin…Joshua 7:21
21 When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it.”
The sin of this one man, sin in the camp caused the death of 36 men, One man’s sin effected the others. Our sins are never secret sins, you may think they are, hidden from the eyes of men, but sin in the camp corrupts the camp. Paul said this is no small thing...
Paul said you need to take the fellowship away and show him the life he is choosing, and do you know what they did? They listened and they did it, ....and it worked! Back to 2 Corinthians chapter 2. 2 Cor 2:5-7
5 But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe. 6 This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, 7 so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.
Talk about swinging to the extremes! The church in Corinth goes from being too permissive to way too harsh. This goes way beyond good cop bad cop. Paul says good enough, he’s repented, what was done is sufficient, the goal has been reached, now restore the boy, before your shame and condemnation of him causes him to be swallowed up with sorrow and give up! THEY get a HEY, chill out! From the Apostle Paul, look at it with me....2 Cor 2:8-11
8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. 9 For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. 10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
Just as deadly and dangerous as sin can be, and Achan’s sin ended up being deadly for both him and others, so can be unforgiveness. That’s what Paul is talking about when he says Satan take advantage of us. That he would exploit our mistake as a church for withholding forgiveness. Jesus had some things to say about that....
14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
and then Matt 7:2
2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
That’s some pretty good motivation…but I’ll tell you something else, if you don’t forgive, what does that eventually turn into? Rhythms with glitterness but it is fiercely ugly and toxic…what is it? Bitterness. Some of you have dealt with Bitterness, some of you still are. Guess what the Bible calls that? Sin. So this is really a double edged sword that Paul is dealing with in this church. He says that there is a tremendous cost to the whole church when you allow sin in the camp. A Holy God calls us to Holy living, righteousness. And if a professing Christian is in blatant sin it will be confronted, Matthew 18 gives us a pretty good instruction manual on how to deal with that.
And when one repents of sin, they are to be extended forgiveness and brought back into fellowship, we are no longer to identify them by their sin, hey, there’s the dude that was sleeping with his step mother, I heard these idiots might let him back in…later in this book Paul says, just before the verse about us being new creations in Christ he says…2 Cor 5:16
16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.
We don’t identify them by their sin, they are forgiven, a new creation a new person, born again in Jesus. Again if you withhold forgiveness when true repentance has occurred it grows into not glitterness, but bitterness and that is a toxic pill for you to swallow. Who does bitterness effect? Probably not the person you’re refusing to forgive. Who does it effect? Do you think it’s just you? Look at this…Heb 12:14-15
14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;
Just the same as sin hurts others around you, bitterness also defiles. Does this mean some of you have some stuff to deal with? I think so, but why don’t you ask the Lord. Ask like David did, search me Lord, know my heart see if there is any wicked way in me....again lest satan 2 Cor 2:11
11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
Paul continues 2 Cor 2:12-13
12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, 13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.
Without the Lord opening a door, there’s no point in breaking a sweat, but this is a case where He did open a door and Paul still left? Why, Paul had no support. Paul knew he wasn’t a one man show. If it was important for the Apostle Paul to have a Titus, someone locking arms with him, praying for him, working alongside him, do you think it is important for a Pastor, or leaders serving in ministry in Old Town Maine? Probably. Listen, if you’ve gotten off easy so far this morning, if nothing I’ve said or read has applied to you, Paul is talking to us all in these next few verses....2 Cor 2:14-17
14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
not just not saved, condemned, perishing ...
Peddling - watering down the wine, but as of sincerity - no wax
We are to be the fragrance of Christ. As a kid, did you ever hug your grandmother or one of the dear older ladies at church and then smell like her for the rest of the afternoon, like you walked past the perfume counter at JC Penny's at Christmas time, when there used to be a mall in Bangor, at Christmas time when they would spray everybody with every scent.
How do we take on the fragrance of Christ? As men and women of this sinful planet is it possible for us to take on other fragrances? Check this out Ecc 10:1
1 Dead flies putrefy the perfumer’s ointment, And cause it to give off a foul odor; So does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor.
What does that mean? Even if you’ve got a big ol gallan size of Old Spice, it only takes a few flies to make the whole thing stink. Even though most of what is in the jug smells like your Grand pop, or did, it doesn’t take much to corrupt the whole thing to have the rot pervert the whole jug. So does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor. You’ve all known men and women who have destroyed their reputation, their ministry, their family, by having some flies in the ointment.
Gang, I don’t think there has ever been a more important time for us to smell like Jesus. For us to be saturated in Jesus, so that when you or I walk in someplace, no that it would be so strong that they can smell ya before, no not you, they can smell Him before you even enter a room and it lasts, it has an impact everywhere you go.
DO you guys realize that this is already the case. When you walk into a place, when you interact with other Christians here, or in a Growth Group, or you have contact with co-workers, friends or family that aren’t save that you either are giving off the fragrance of Christ that leads to life, or the fragrance brings conviction upon those who need Jesus, or, or, you’ve got enough dead flies in your life, that they can’t smell Him at all because you’ve started to rot and you which are you? If you don’t know, you can ask Pastor Jim after the service. You can go before the Lord and ask Him, or you can just be honest with yourself and repent. ANd when you do, that hug from Jesus will freshen your sent, and don’t let it fade this time....