2 Corinthians 12:11-13:14
2 Corinthians 12:11-13:14
2 Corinthians 12:11-13:14
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church he wrote 1 Cor 2:14
14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Most of you experienced this first hand before you came to know Jesus as Lord. You tried to understand religion, you opened a Bible and struggled to understand, maybe even you tried to talk to God through prayer, but it just didn’t make any sense to you, you couldn’t figure it out, and probably got discouraged and gave up.
In this verse the Apostle Paul tells us, yeah that’s going to happen all the time. It’s not because you’re dumb, it’s because your human and trying to understand spiritual things in your humanity, but you really can’t…that’s what he meant by nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Then, for many of you, when you finally said, God, I don’t understand more than I do understand, but I know that I am a sinner, and that the wages of sin is death, I understood that part, and I need you to forgive me. Not because I deserve to be forgiven, but because you sent Jesus to this earth, and He lived a perfect, sinless life, and paid the price, paid my penalty for sin, when He died on the cross, and He defeated death when He rose from the grave, and I place my faith and trust in Him for Salvation.
And then, it was like this book came alive, and you got to the part where it says, Heb 4:12
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
and maybe you squeaked out your first amen, which just means yes, so be it. Because you were starting to understand.
What is funny to me, and I don’t think it is a regression, so much as it is just human nature to look at things through the perspective of our own life experience. Do you guys ever do that? Read a passage in the Bible and interpret it, or try to make sense of it just through your own life experience? I do. I say this because I really want to encourage you to pray, every single time before you read the Bible for God to speak to you through it, to help you understand it, and to understand the so what of it. Meaning how does what I’m reading here apply to my life, how should it change my life?
Paul is wrapping up his letter to the Corinthian church here in these final chapters, well he wrapped it up a few thousand years ago, we’re catching up with him I guess.
Remember, Paul planted this church in Corinth and spent about 18 months with them. Then heard things were turning to a hot mess, and he wrote a corrective letter 1 Corinthians. Some then mocked Paul, it wasn’t received well, wasn’t taken seriously, Paul couldn’t believe it, wanted to examine the situation for himself, made a quick visit and it was worse than he thought, he then wrote a harsh letter, he calls it a sorrowful letter which we have since lost to history, and Paul was overjoyed when he heard the report from Titus that many had repented and they received the correction. Now these false teachers had come in with their fancy speech, charisma, and manipulation and they were beginning to deceive some in the church that Paul wasn’t a real apostle, wasn’t up to par with them, and really was of little value.
So the first 7 chapters of this letter Paul expresses his joy and gratitude for the church and their receiving the correction that he sent. Chapters 8&9 Paul addresses the offering that they had agreed to participate in a year prior to help the church that was struggling in Jerusalem. Now he really started this section in chapter 10 where he is addressing his decenters directly.
We are picking up this morning in chapter 12 vs. 11, and I know you think I forgot about the whole looking at the Bible through the lens of our own experience thing I started with, but I didn’t. My point was that was sort of what I started out doing this week, trying to understand where Paul was coming from here. In the passage we will read today, Paul is basically saying. I want to give you a heads-up. I’m coming to town. I’ve written, I’ve warned, I’ve defended myself when I should never have had to and now I’m coming and the ball is in your court. My visit can be really, really good, sweet fellowship, or it can be nasty. I can show you all of these accusations about me being weak couldn’t be farther from the truth. So ready or not here I come, the ball is in your court, good or bad, it is entirely up to you.
It reminded me of my days as a probation officer. Hello Mr. Bank robber, or Mrs. drug dealer....
11 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. 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds. 13 For what is it in which you were inferior to other churches, except that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong!
14 Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved. 16 But be that as it may, I did not burden you. Nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you by cunning! 17 Did I take advantage of you by any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus, and sent our brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not walk in the same spirit? Did we not walk in the same steps?
19 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. 20 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; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; 21 lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced.
1 This will be the third time I am coming to you. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.” 2 I have told you before, and foretell as if I were present the second time, and now being absent I write to those who have sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again I will not spare— 3 since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. 4 For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.
5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. 6 But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. 7 Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified. 8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. 9 For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete. 10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction.
11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you. 14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
In Paul’s closing blessing, he concludes with blessing them with the entire trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In his hear to edify them or build them up he doesn’t want to leave anything out of the fullness of God.