2 COR 4 v1-6 Who Controls Your Life
2 COR 4:1-6
Who Controls Your Life?
• Paul is in Phillipi on his third missionary journey; it is perhaps sum/fall 57AD. Titus comes from Corinth with word that Paul’s earlier letter to Corinth had accomplished much good. The majority of the people had received the letter in the proper spirit.
There were still some leaders in the Corinth church who were denying that Paul is a genuine apostle. This causes Paul to write this second letter, for at least two reasons:
› to express joy over how his first letter was received.
› to defend his apostleship.
He sends this letter ahead by Titus.
• In 2 Cor we see the character of Paul more clearly than other writings –
› his feelings and desires
› his ambitions and obligations
This is the most personal of Paul’s letters.
Paul’s ministry receives a large part of the text (2:14-7:4).
› 4:1-2 – His attitude toward ministry
› 4:3-6 – His attitude toward the Gospel which he preached
• READ TEXT – 4:1-6
Two very important personalities are identified in the text:
› Vs. 4 – “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers.” [NAS: world]
› Vs. 5 – “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
Let’s look at these two personalities more closely.
FIRST PERSONALITY – “GOD OF THIS AGE” [world]
• Other passages use such names as …
› Devil – 1 PET 5:8 “…the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”
› Serpent – 2 COR 11:3a – “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning …”
› Satan – 2 COR 2:11a – “in order that Satan might not outwit us…”
• “The god of this age”
› Satan is a created being. He was not intended to be a god, and is not a god. He is referred to as a god because he has followers who serve him as if he were a god.
Let’s also consider JOHN 12:31 – “Now is the time for judgment of this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.” [ruler of this world – NAS]
Satan is the god of this age or the ruler of this world. This is not because unbelievers outwardly worship him as a god. Nor is it because unbelievers verbally give allegiance to him as their ruler. It is because Satan is followed as if he were their god or ruler.
› Hopes and goals that are worldly are of Satan.
Habit of possessing more and more; being self-seeking
› Satan is behind opinions and attitudes that are worldly.
Being concerned more about me than others; bearing prejudice.
Attitude of pride; delights in thinking the worst about others.
› Satan is behind the world’s system of philosophy, education, ethics and economics. EDUC – a warfare in our own country to separate any type of spiritual recognition or value from the schools. ETHICS – Sense of ethics is being lost on grand scale [Enron, HP]
› His influence is especially seen in false systems of religion.
Systems taking us away from God’s Word as absolute truth
Establishing man-made systems – follows his desires and wants.
• Things characterized by the term worldly or of the world.
› 1 JOHN 2:16 – “For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world.”
FLESHLY LUST -- LUST OF EYES -- PRIDE OF LIFE
This is how Satan approached Eve in the Garden. It resulted in her being deceived and falling into sin. Then Adam ate and fell into sin as well. Satan has continued this approach throughout time.
Before moving on I would like to elaborate a moment on the pride of life. I am not sure that we talk about it nearly as much as we do lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes.
Pride of life = self-centeredness; focusing on self; wants others to notice self. This is a person whose mind and thoughts are primarily upon himself. How is it seen?
- seeks attention in dress and looks
- seeks attention in power and wealth
- seeks honor and recognition
- seeks position
- seeks to look better than others
- seeks importance
- They feel self-sufficient
Too frequently these are found in the church. Back to the text.
John is writing to Christians. Obviously some of them have lost their love for Christ and His church. They have permitted their desires to return to the old life, the ways of the old man, living in sin.
Different things may happen that cause one to return to the old way of life –
- Some may feel that they need more rest and relaxation. They stop attending worship regularly. They break the habit of fellowship. Bad habit to break.
- Sometimes a person’s work “makes it necessary” to miss the fellowship of worship. They will quickly explain that they missed because of work.
Soon people do not ask about them – they are taking it for granted that they are working. This makes it easier not to go to worship when they really could – if they would.
At this point we are becoming insensitive to the Lord, and to His church.
- Still others begin to miss the pleasures of the world – the pleasures that they left behind when they came into relationship with Christ.
John is emphasizing that when we do these things -- when we start back to our old ways, the love of the Father is no longer in our heart.
We are shutting God out of our life. In football this means: Satan – 1 God – 0
This is not because God wants it this way, it is because we are making it this way.
› 2 COR 2:11 – “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” or devices. What are Satan’s devices to outwit people? We only have to look at what was happening in the early churches, especially in Corinth. These schemes or devices are just as effective today for Satan as they were in the first century church. Look at some of these devices …
→ Having an unforgiving attitude. [Bumper sticker – Never Forgive / Never Forget] Letting this attitude replace that of brotherly love. When we refuse to forgive, we are only hurting ourselves.
Paul said, “Be angry, but do not sin…” EPH 4:26.
Forgiveness involves an attitude.
→ Experiencing division in the church family over party loyalty of men. Division destroys. This is Satan’s intention. This replaces the unity that should be expressed in loyalty to Christ Jesus.
→ Permitting worldliness and ungodliness to characterize the church family. Worldliness pertains to actions that violate God’s law. Ungodliness pertains to that which is without reverence for God. These are allowed to replace a life of purity and consecration to the Lord.
→ Manifesting works of the flesh in our actions. To the Christians in Galatia This prevents us from producing the fruit of the Spirit in our life.
→ Human wisdom is accepted in place of the wisdom of God as revealed in the Bible. “I think” “I feel” “I believe” --- What does God’s Word say?
SECOND PERSONALITY – JESUS CHRIST AS LORD
2 COR 4:5 – “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
• One of the accusations made against Paul was he was not a true apostle. They said that he preached with selfish motives. They claimed that Paul was in the ministry for his own self-interest. They said that Paul was interested in the prestige and prominence that would come to him. [Pride of life]
Rather than being arrogant, proud, and self-assured, Paul ministered in Corinth “in weakness and in fear and with much trembling” – 1 COR 2:3
› Apparently Paul’s appearance was not too impressive – at least to the Corinthians.
› Paul had some physical infirmity. But it should not have mattered.
Instead of boasting of his own abilities and successes, he wrote, “On my own behalf I will not boast about myself except about my weaknesses. . . . I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” - 2 COR 12:5,9.
Paul does not want people to see him, Paul wants them to see His Lord. You do not have to remember me, but do remember my Lord whom I proclaim – THIS IS WHAT IS IMPORTANT!
• Paul did not preach his own agenda. He was a model preacher. Because of this …
› he did not preach to build himself up in the eyes of people.
› he did not preach his own opinions or philosophy.
› he did not preach to impress people with his ability or leadership.
The emphasis of Paul’s preaching is Jesus Christ as Lord. He told them in 1 COR 2:2 – “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
Paul knew and understood that Jesus Christ is the very heart of Christianity. Christ is its core. Without him you do not have Christianity.
• Consider how Christ has been presented in Scripture:
› ACTS 2:36 – “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
This is from Peter’s sermon to the Jews on Pentecost. Peter says “be assured.” This speaks of something which is known beyond a doubt. He says that the Jews crucified Jesus, but God made His Lord and Christ.
When God raised Christ from the dead he was declaring to all mankind that this Jesus was the promised Messiah.
By the resurrection God also confirmed Christ as Lord. The title Lord denotes “master” or “ruler.” Jesus Christ is our ruler, our sovereign King. We must permit Him to direct our life.
› ACTS 9:20 – “At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.”
This is speaking of the baptized Saul of Tarsus – now the minister and messenger of the divine Son of God. Luke goes on to tell us in 9:22 that “Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.”
› GAL 4:4-5 – “ But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, (5) to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”
Christ purchased us from the bondage of sin and control of Satan over our life so that we might be saved. If we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord we would have hope of eternal life.
WHO WILL WE SERVE? Who will we let control our life? It will either be the god of this age, Satan, or it will be Christ Jesus the Lord.
Let us come back to look again at 2 COR 4:4 – “ The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
• The “unbelievers” in verse f our the same as “those who are perishing” in verse 3. These are people whose minds Satan has been able to blind. They are blinded from recognizing and understanding the truths of the Gospel, the Word of God. They do not recognize that they are spiritually dead and need the saving power of the Gospel.
• Characteristics of such people include:
› EPH 2:1 – Being “dead in your transgressions and sins…”
› JOHN 3:19b – “…loved darkness instead of light because there deeds were evil.”
› EPH 2:2 – “…you followed the ways of the world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”
These people have lost their ability to think and reason in spiritual terms. This is the type person Paul was describing in ROM 1:28 – “Since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he have them over to a depraved mind.”
We must make a decision regarding who we will give control of our life..