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#7 Living in Christ

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                                “LIVING IN CHRIST

                   (A Sermon Series from 2 Corinthians)

Westgate Chapel 03-12-07                     2 Corinthians 2:12-17

Proposition:      Our lives are not lived aimlessly, but in Christ; in whom we move, and are led in triumph, and live confidently because of our sincerity before Him.

i.    Introduction

-     THERE is a great disservice being done to the Christian faith….and in many cases it is done with the best intentions.

-     THE disservice is the deception of the enemy that we have been called into this Christian life primarily in order to…

*     Attend church services.

*     Read or study the Bible.

*     Do good works of some sort.

-     NOW, the reason that this is such a crafty deception is that those three examples I just used are activities recommended in the Bible.

*     Attending church services.

*     Reading or studying the Bible.

*     Doing good works of some sort.

-     HOWEVER, none of them are the primary reason you or I were called into the Christian life.

-     AND if we miss the primary reason we were called into the Christian life….

*     We will attend church services, but eventually grow bored and tired of them.

*     Read the Bible and get little or nothing out of the practice.

*     Do good works and either get weary of them or, worse yet, become proud of our accomplishments.

-     SO, what is this primary reason for being called into the Christian life?

-     I AM sure I have said it hundreds of times from this pulpit.

-     THE primary reason you were called by the Holy Spirit to the Christian faith…was to live in a personal relationship with God….and to do it in such a way that EVERY element of your life is ordered and sustained by that intimate relationship with Him.

-     I AM going to show you this morning, with the help of the Holy Spirit, that there is no other way for you or me….

*     to navigate in a world of constantly changing circumstances and challenges.

*     to live with a sense of victory even when things appear to be going wrong.

*     to live confidently.

-     TURN with me in your Bibles to 2 Corinthians 2:12-17….and let me give you a little of the background to these verses.

-     AS you remember from previous sermons on 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul has appeared to the Corinthian Christians to be unpredictable.

*     First of all, Paul is the one who planted the church in Corinth on his second missionary journey.

*     In Paul’s first letter to Corinth, he had promised them he would come to spend time with him as soon as possible by way of Macedonia.

*     Then, in some correspondence between Paul and Corinth, that has been lost, Paul must have changed his plans and told them that he was going to come first to them, and then go up to Macedonia.

*     Only now, he had not come to them at all, but was writing to them from somewhere in Macedonia, after running for his life from Ephesus.

-     HAVE you ever had life do that kind of thing to you?

ii.   we move…prayerfully in christ

-     SO, we pick up Paul’s explanation regarding what was going on in his life in chapter 2, verse 12,

      “Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord….” (2 Corinthians 2:12)

-     WATCH this!

-     PAUL left Ephesus unexpectedly because of the violent riot against himself and the Christian faith.

(MAP)

-     WITH literally no time to pack or plan for the journey he and some companions head out on the run. They can’t wait on a ship to Corinth, so they head north up the coast of Asia Minor on foot.

-     ALONG the way Paul gets deathly ill….but they keep moving until they get to Troas, the last port on the coast of Asia Minor.

(MAP out)

-     AND when Paul gets to Troas, he finds a door open to him there for ministry.

-     TAKE note of how Paul views himself and this open door! It is in the Lord. That is how Paul sees his life, his journey, his sickness, and his ministry opportunities.

-     WHY? Because Paul lives his whole Christian faith in the Lord. That is the location and substance of his relationship to God.

-     SO, does an open door always mean that you or I have to walk through it?

-     LOOK at verse 13,

      “I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia.” (2 Corinthians 2:13)

-     PAUL had expected to meet up with Titus (a partner in Paul’s missionary journey) in Troas so that he could get a report from Titus on how things were going in Corinth.

-     BUT Titus was not there…leaving Paul with an uneasy feeling (no rest for his spirit).

-     SO, in spite of the open door for the ministry, Paul leaves Troas and takes a ship to Macedonia (MAP).

-     HERE is the lesson for you and me. Paul has an…

*     unscheduled departure from Ephesus.

*     an unplanned route over land.

*     an unexpected illness.

*     an unanticipated open door in Troas that looked God had provided.

*     an uneasy feeling and leaves the open door in Troas without second guessing himself.

-     WHEN you are in the Lord, like Paul, and with prayer as the lifeline of that relationship, you can move freely through all that life and ministry throws at you without fear of being out of the will of God.

-     I AM not suggesting that you or I can be careless in how we navigate life,

-     BUT when you are in relationship with the Lord, and living a life of surrender and prayerfulness….open doors whether at Troas or Philippi are secondary issues.

-     THERE may be a time when God specifies one city or another. He did that for Paul in his second missionary journey.

-     BUT that kind of direction will come out of relationship with God also.

-     AND short of getting specific direction, make your moves prayerfully and relax.

*     The game of your life is being played out on God’s board.

*     The Holy Spirit will guide you if you make a wrong move…and retracing your steps is not the end of the world.

-     PAUL walked away from an open door….because it was important to him to talk to Titus.

     

 

 

iii.  god leads…always in triumph in christ

-     LET’S look at verse 14 for the next life lesson from this passage.

      “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” (2 Corinthians 2:14)

-     JUST in case you or I missed the lesson from verses 12 and 13, Paul tells us, in verse 14…

-     THAT when you are “in Christ” God always leads you.

-     WHEN you are in an active relationship with God…the kind with regular two way communication…you can have the confidence that you are being led even when you are unaware of God’s leading.

-     IN fact, for the most part, sheep are usually unaware that they are being led.

-     NO wonder Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6,

      “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

-     HE can say that because he is confident that God is always leading him….even through the confusion of the past months in Paul’s life.

-     BUT God is not only always leading, but leading in triumph.

-     LIFE “in Christ” is a victory march.

-     THERE is that phrase that Paul is so attached to…in Christ. It is the location of the Christian life. It is the purpose of the Christian life.

-     AND when you and I live day to day aware of our location, our relationship, navigating confidently through the obstacles and challenges, the result is an aroma that surrounds us of the knowledge of God….every place we go.

-     PAUL adds in verses 15 and 16, that to those who do not know Christ….that aroma of living life confidently in Christ can sometimes seem unsettling to them.

      “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)

-     BUT for those who are being saved, the aroma is sweet smelling life to them….the aroma of always and in all things being led in victory by God.

-     YOU are being led by God!

-     WELL, it doesn’t feel like it pastor.

-     DOESN’T matter how you feel. It matters what God’s Word says.

-     AND the best way to tap into that confidence that you are being led is to invest in your relationship with God.

 

iv. our sincerity before God…is our confidence

-     HERE is the last lesson from this passage today…from verse 17,

      “For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.”  (2 Corinthians 2:17)

-     FIRST of all I want you to take note that for the third time in these six verses Paul refers to himself as being “in Christ.”

-     ARE you seeing why I say that the primary reason you were called to the Christian life is to be in relationship with God…in Christ?

-     THEN, I want you to follow a very important thread in this verse.

*     Because of his relationship with God, Paul sees himself as living his life commissioned by God.

-     That phrase “as from God” literally means “commissioned by God.”

-     When the primary element of your Christian faith is relationship with God, the day to day of your life is lived on God’s mission.

-     You are sent out by God, in your school, in your workplace, with your family and friends.

*     Second, I want you to see that Paul was commissioned to speak the Word of God…which makes sense because Romans 10:17 teaches us that faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God.

-     While testimony is good, and apologetics may be needed…it is the Word of God that produces faith.

*     And thirdly, I want you to take note of the fact that Paul realizes that everything he does is done in “the sight of God.”

-     It is how Paul lives all of his life….the trip to Troas, the open door there, and the feeling to move on….all lived in the sight of God.

-     That comes from living in relationship with God.

-     ALL of which leads me to my final point.

-     WHEN you really realize that everything you say and do is done in the sight of God….you have little alternative but to live sincerely.

      “For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.”  (2 Corinthians 2:17)

-     NO pretense to his Christian life.

-     NO grandstanding.          

-     NO illicit motive.

-     NO duplicity.

-     PAUL is the real deal.

-     AND because of his sincerity, Paul can live out his commission from God with boldness and confidence….and so can you!

 

v.  conclusion

-     MAY I summarize this incredible message from the Holy Spirit to our hearts today?

1.   When our lives are lived in relationship with God…in Christ…we can make decisions and move forward freely and with confidence.

*     Read the open doors.

*     Weigh what is in your heart.

*     Walk through challenges and difficulties.

*     Live a life of prayer, committing your ways to the Lord, and MOVE.

2.   When our lives are lived in relationship with God…in Christ…we can be confident that God is always leading us in triumph.

*     It has nothing to do with the circumstances.

*     Your plans may have been all messed up.

*     Those around you may think you are crazy.

*     But the bottom line is that God is always leading you in triumph.

3.   When our lives are lived in relationship with God…in Christ…our sincerity before God is our confidence.

*     The Corinthians were not convinced of Paul’s sincerity.

*     Several people had questioned his motives.

*     But Paul was consciously living his life in the sight of God…and could say boldly and confidently, “I am sincere in my motives.”

*     You can live confidently when you know you are sincere before God.

-     EVERYTHING I have preached this morning hinges on your relationship with God.

-     DO you have one? If not, this would be a great time to repent of your sin and invite Jesus to be the Lord of your life.

-     IF you are a believer and not living out of your relationship with God, this would be a great day to repent and open the door to intimacy with God….taking some steps to foster relationship.

-     IF you are in relationship with God….then live freely, victoriously, and confidently in Christ!

 

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