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2 Corinthians 6:1-13 (2)

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Getting Hedged Out of the Kingdom

Get On The Bus

2 Corinthians 6:1-13

2 Corinthians 6:1 ESV
Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
What would it look like to receive the grace of God in vain? How would it appear to be a recipient of God’s grace, but to have none of its authority or power in your life?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer coined the phrases “cheap grace” and “costly grace” in his book, The Cost of Discipleship.
Bonhoeffer says that “Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for. It is the door at which a person must knock.
“Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a person their life, and it is grace because it gives a person the only true life.”- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
But there is another grace- cheap grace. Bonhoeffer says that cheap grace amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs form sin and from whom sin departs. Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves.
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.- Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
It is this cheap grace that I believe Paul is addressing in this chapter. What good is grace if it is empty and ineffective? What good is the favor of God if it makes absolutely no difference in the life of the recipient?
2 Corinthians 6:2 ESV
For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Paul is here quoting from Isaiah 49:7… when God speaks to his humble servant and tells him that the day is coming when the captivity is over, when the dispersion will be gone… and he will help his humble servant to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. In this context, Paul is saying that the day of the new has arrived in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Today God has offered salvation through Christ and this is the favorable time, the day of salvation.

4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities,
Paul says now that his commendation to them is in what he has endured: afflictions, hardships, calamities. These are the general trials that he has endured. Things that he has gone through. You and I have endured these types of sufferings, most people have. But there are more:
5 beatings, imprisonments, riots… these are those things that are brought on by other people. YOu know the bumpersticker, “The more I know about people the more I like my dog?” That is likelywhat Paul would say here. you see, these are things that don’t typically happen… beatings and imprisonment and riots unless some other person has been involved and has initiated them. YOu may have had these in your life as well. But wait there’s more:
labors, sleepless nights, hunger… These things Paul has brought on himself. Labors- working too much too long and too hard. Sleepless nights- not from problems, but from working toomuch and too hard and too long. Finally, hunger- neglecting himself. Paul is identifying those places in his life where he has been wrong about taking care of himself. YOu’ve probably done that too.
Paul is now going to turn the page and talk about some positive things that commend him to the Corinthians. Look at the list in 2 Corinthians 6:6-10
2 Corinthians 6:6–10 ESV
by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
purity, knowledge, patience, kindness.... some pretty noble and honorable things. But then Paul begins to divide it up. I’ve been honored and dishonored.
I’ve been slandered and praised.
I’ve been treated as an impostor and yet true.
I’ve been unknown and known.
dying and yet living.
punished to the point o death.
In the place of sorrow, but able to rejoice.
Poor, but rich.
having nothing, but in Christ having everything.
You see, Paul has known every circumstance. And God’s grace has been effective in his life, and so he wants the Corinthians to know that it can be effective in theirs as well. It’s one of the reasons he could pen the encouraging words in philippians 4:11-13
Philippians 4:11–13 ESV
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
And now, Paul gets to the point of all of these verses. In 2 Cor 6:11-13 look at what he says:
2 Corinthians 6:11–12 ESV
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections.
Paul says, “I’ve opened my life and heart to give you the gospel. To show you how I, a murderer of Christians, could experience the grace of Christ in my life. I’ve held nothing back. I’d even say Paul is saying, because God loves you free.y.... I’ve loved you freely and given all I could to see you experience the same grace that I’ve experienced. But you’re not. You’re not experiencing it because of anyone restricting or closing it up to you. You’re not experiencing it because you’ve restricted it in your own love and affection for anything other than that very grace that Christ is extending to you.
You love your money, perhaps. your power, perhaps. your control, perhaps. And that love for those things is actually turning off the spigot of grace from God in your life.
Commentators believe that there were people in the Corinthian church who simply didn’t want to accept Paul. They didn’t want to hear his word, his gospel, or anything else. And there were folks there who listened to those people, and ultimately wouldn’t give Paul a fair hearing. And the effect of that was not to hurt him- he knew God’s grace in its fullest measure.
No, they were restricting their own experience of God’s grace. Their failure to set aside what held them back limited their ability to understand the fullness of God’s grace in their lives. They had God’s grace, it was empty, unpowerful, ineffective- because they couldn’t let go of what they loved more than Christ.

What You Hold Onto Limit’s God’s Hold On You

Look back at 2 Cor 6.1
2 Corinthians 6:1 ESV
Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
This entire section is predicated on Paul’s diagnosis of the Corinthian church. They had received the grace of God in vain, in an ineffective way- because of their affection for other things.
Paul was an expert on letting go in order to fully experience the grace of God in his life. He had been a murderer of Christians before Jesus… and he let it all go to know the grace of Christ.
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. in 1 Cor 15.2-10
1 Corinthians 15:2–10 ESV
and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
And because God took Paul from a persecutor of Christians to being an actual apostle of Christ, he would do nothing that would keep him from experiencing that grace of Christ fully. He would not set his affections on anything that would stand in the wayof his experiencing Christ fully.
I do not nullify the grace of God, in Galatians 2:20-21
Galatians 2:20–21 ESV
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
Paul understood that he was saved by God’s grace through faith. He understood that nothing in and of himself could save him but the favor of God given to him in Christ. And so, anything he might love to do or try to do would have the effect of nullifying the grace of God. He wouldn’t do it.
2 cor 12.7-10.....
2 Corinthians 12:7–10 ESV
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul was a self made man. He know how to get by, and he had the skill set to do so. Essentially, nothing could stop him. But a thorn. A thorn in the flesh. What was that? We don’t know. But it did exist. And Paul knew if he could rid himself of this thorn, all would be well. So he prayed, and God said No.
You need to trust me more than your own skill set. You need to trust me more than your own abilities.... and so, Paul let it go.

So What?

What do you need to let go of? In your life, what are the limiting factors in your relationship with Christ that maked the fulness of his grace of no effect in your life?
In this story, it was the Corinthians failure to have a right relationship with the very person who had estabished their church. They wouldn’t give themselves fully, they wouldn’t pour out the things that clogged up their vessels from being full. They wouldn’t remove those things thatwere taking up space- spiritual space- in their lives and it cost them the fullness of the grace of Jesus Christ. Yes, Christ had extended his favor to them. But they didn’t make room for what He was giving and it made that grace of no effect in their lives.
For some of us today, our love of material things has hindered our experience of the fullness of God’s grace. We think that the bigger house or the nicer car or the large screen television is going to fulfill us. But in reality- we’ve just fillled our empty vessel with more emptiness. We’ve simply taken up space for the grace of God and filled it with the nothingness of material thihngs.
Or perhaps, we’ve made money our God… we’ve worked up the ladder and we’ve filled our pockets and our retirement accounts. And we’ve been left wanting. The money has simply taken up space that God wanted to reside in, and we are still so empty and dissatisfied.
And to be truthful, some of us have allowed our lack of material things and money- to take up space in our vessel that God wants to fill with his grace. But our obsession with what we don’t have is taking up space in our spiritual lives that was meant for Jesus’ grace to reside in. And it makes his grace of no effect.
Some of us have held onto unforgiveness for so long that it has an address in our hearts. And that piece of real estate was meant for Christ to reside in. And because Christ can’t reside in unforgiveness, we have lost the effectiveness of his grace in our lives.
Maybe you’re angry. Angry at someone or some circumstance, or even God Himself. And that anger flows out of our being and blocks the grace of Christ from living in us. and that grace becomes ineffectual in our lives.
Some of us have a hidden issue with lust- pornography or something else- and it resides in the location of our hearts that was reserved for the Spirit of God. And that hidden issue makes the grace of Jesus Christ of no effect.
Perhaps we have a judgmental attitude towards others. Or a desire to control what only God can control. The list goes on and on. But at the end of the day, it limits God’s grace in our life. And so we have the grace extended in Christ, but it treally has no effect. No obvious appearance of making any difference. But it’s not the appearance that matters.
It’s the heart, our lives, our spirits and souls. That are missing out on everything that God has for us because we’ve hung onto something other than him.
Let’s pray.
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