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2 Corinthians 5:11-21

2 Corinthians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Verse by verse study through 2 Corinthians

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SLIDE 2
2 Corinthians 5:11–13 ESV
11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.
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SLIDE 3
2 Corinthians 5:14–16 ESV
14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.
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SLIDE 4
2 COR 5.17
2 Corinthians 5:17–18 ESV
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
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SLIDE 5
2 Corinthians 5:19–21 ESV
19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
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INTRO:
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I may have mentioned this before… but, I kind of like fishing. I will enjoy any form of fishing… even the kind where you don’t catch fish. I just love being out there on the water… I love the anticipation of it… I love the challenge...
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But my favorite kind of fishing… usually involves a small stream and a fly rod. Generally, you are in a remote location, knee deep, slowly moving your way up stream… working the runs and the pools.
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When you come to one of those slow, deep pools, you start… from a distance… throwing your fly to the bottom of the pool… the part that is closest to you.
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And then, after you have presented your lure in that area a sufficient number of times… you slowly work your way… side to middle, to side… methodically and slowly working your way up to the top of the pool.
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And the whole time you do you… you realize, that you are literally… scratching the surface. If those top water presentations don’t work… you might try something that sinks 2-3 feet. If that doesn’t work… you might try something that goes all the way to the bottom.
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And then… hopefully you have caught a couple fish… and you move along… to the next run… and to the next pool.
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That… by far, is my favorite kind of fishing.
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In a way, I have often considered Bible study in a similar way. The scriptures are like a stream… ever flowing… but some parts are flat and shallow and easy to discern. Some parts are like a deep fast moving run… and some parts like those deep, slow moving pools.
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Today, we have approached one of those rich… deep… and mysterious pools.
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Again, we are fortunate to have a doctrinally rich… and philosophically deep passage to dive into today. These are the kinds of passages that we will come back to time and time again, and discover
So we’ll slow down… and push a little deeper into the text. And it will reveal something else to us.
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We have all heard these Bible verses. They are familiar ones. Maybe we have memorized some of them. But, in spite of their familiarity, I believe this passage has something deeper and richer to show us today… and some time down the road… we’ll come back to it, and maybe we’ll discover something else that God wants us to see here.
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The first thing we need to be reminded of, as we look at this deep, rich and familiar passage… is that… it doesn’t stand alone. This is not a lake or a pond. It is part of the stream… and as part of that stream, it is connected to the flow and to the message that proceeds it and follows it.
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Paul is writing again to the Corinthians. This is the second of two letters that we have, written by Paul to this church. His first letter was rich in correction and instruction… but this letter is rich in encouragement and doctrine.
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His first letter carried a strong tone of rebuke… but this letter carries a tone of defense.
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In Paul’s absence, other speakers and teachers came to Corinth and tried to make a name for themselves. They came with letters of recommendation… with resumes of qualification… and they displayed a great talent to move people with their powerful talents of oration.
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When they arrived in Corinth, they probably found a people who weren’t, initially… easily manipulated. If they tried to coheres them one way or another, they probably heard… time and time again, “But the Apostle Paul told us… “
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People who are well taught, and well discipled… are not easily duped.
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But, there are always those present… who have refused the teaching and the discipleship offered to them. There will always be some… who, though unwilling to lend their spirits to sound teaching… will lend their ears to something that itches them.
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There were some in Corinth… and - If these other teachers… these guys that Paul hyperbolically and sarcastically calls ‘super apostles’… wanted to get a foothold in with the people of Corinth… they needed to discredit Paul. Some were listening… and reports of it had gotten back to Paul.
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Paul isn’t a fancy speaker… Paul doesn’t come with letters of recommendation… maybe we don’t need to listen to Paul.
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This problem… this issue… is what flows through the entire stream of this letter.
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And it’s not so much a matter of Paul verses the other teachers… Paul was not that prideful. For Paul, it was all about the benefit of the Corinthian believers.
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So… in his defense against these other teachers… these super Apostles… Paul has been reminding them of how incredibly blessed they are, in their experience and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
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He keeps telling them… that he won’t give them a letter of commendation… but rather… they, the people of that church… are his letter of commendation.
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They don’t need the fancy teachers who are probably seeking to take advantage of them. They need only to recognize who they are in Jesus… and how rich they are because of it.
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This is the context that today’s… deep and rich doctrinal pool flows into and out of.
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He starts verse 11 by reminding us… that something flows into it… this topic doesn’t stand alone. The word ‘therefore’ looks back to something that was previously established.
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Let’s look again:
SLIDE 5
2 Corinthians 5:11 ESV
11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.
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“THEREFORE… KNOWING THE FEAR OF THE LORD...”
… to know something, means that you perceive it… you realize it… you have observed, learned and made a concluding judgment.
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What have they concluded? - “THE FEAR OF THE LORD”
.. This is a familiar term in the Bible..
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If you want to jot these down… here are a few examples:
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Job 28:28 ESV
28 And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’ ”
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Psalm 111:10 ESV
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
Ps
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Proverbs 15:33 ESV
33 The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.
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Proverbs 14:27 ESV
27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.
pr 1
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Psalm 33:8 ESV
8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
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There are several proverbs that link acts of wisdom and experiences of blessing… to the Fear of the Lord.
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But… even as the Bible has so much to say about this, in a positive light… -The fear of the Lord gets a bad wrap.
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Even as there are many verses that tell us to ‘fear the Lord’… there are 366 times where the Bible calls the reader to ‘not be afraid’.
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So, we have to conclude… that fearing the Lord… and being ‘afraid’… bear different context.
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In light of ‘fearing the Lord’… God is not telling us to be terrified of HIm. God is not telling us obey Him out of terror and of fear of dire consequence. Many religions do motivate their followers this way.
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But, when our God calls us to ‘fear Him’… it is a call to reverence and awe. It is a call to recognize ourselves in the light of who God is. A person who fears the Lord, will not speak out arrogantly and disrespectfully towards HIm. A person who fears the Lord, will not behave carelessly towards HIm, or consider His presence in our lives a small and insignificant thing.
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To Fear The Lord… is the know… that the all powerful, ever present, all knowing and unchanging God, who created us and knows every cell and hair upon our being… has called us to be His child… and is present with us… and has given us direction for our life.
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When we recognize this… it will produce those things that Proverbs speaks of…
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We will gain wisdom and a knowledge of God.
We will experience a prolonged life
We will experience from God, a fountain of life. and will avoid stares
We will sleep satisfied.
We will have strong confidence
We will have refuge
We will hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth.
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So… obviously, if we walk in the fear of the Lord… the outcome will be a good thing.
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In today’s passage.. the readers have come to a point where, if they have received the instruction that Paul has given them up until this point… they will know the fear of the Lord.
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Why? - Because… the previous verse… .. it tells us that our actions in this life… have eternal realities and eternal consequences. .... - This is why those who fear the Lord follow the instruction of vs. 9… they ‘make it their aim… to please Him’. ++
This verse also reminds us… that this knowledge compels us to do something…
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Folks… if you Fear The Lord… you will not be be inactive and complacent. There will be a motivation and a drive in your life to do what God calls you to do .
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Verse 11 tells us what one of those things are… - If we know the fear of the Lord… we will persuade others. - And again, to posses the context of what we are to persuade others to do… we need to look back a couple verses.
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Note… verse 10 says… “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ”. - WE… MUST… ALL… - This is a human reality… for all humans. knowing this… - our call is find ways in life to persuade people to make it their aim to please God…
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We want people to live lives that please God… and we know… to please God… one major thing is required.
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SLIDE 6
Hebrews 11:6 ESV
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
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KNOWING THE FEAR OF THE LORD… will compel us, to persuade people… people who don’t know Jesus… and people who do know Jesus… to have faith… faith towards repentance and salvation for the unbeliever… and faith, to live in a manner that pleases God… for the believer.
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In the second half of vs. 11 he says. “what we are is known to God”.. - This might lead us to ask the question: “God knows what we are… but do we know what we are?”
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If you’ve been following along in this study… you wouldn’t need to ask. Paul has already clarified this in the previous verses… ++
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First off… he told us that we are jars of clay that hold an incredible treasure. We are a very common thing, but we hold an uncommon treasure. Because of this, God is able to do extremely uncommon things through us… so that He gets the glory, and we don’t get big heads.
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Secondly… we are just frail tents… easily worn, easily damaged, insufficient to stand to the hardships of this world too long… but, we are temporarily tents now… with hope, that soon, God will move us into our heavenly home… eternal, not made with hands.
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We know what we are… we are common… we are frail… but we have the Spirit of God in us, and the promise of God before us.
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This … according to vs. 11… is known to God.
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But Paul goes on to say to the Church at Corinth… - I hope, that this is known to you also… specifically… to your conscience… I hope you can easily discern right and wrong… and by doing so, I hope you can easily discern what we are in a right way.
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Paul is laying a foundation here for something he’s about to say.
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He is reenforcing an important principle. We are not called to impress with what is on the outside… we are called to impress, with what is on the inside. Our outside… well, that’s just a common clay pot… a ratty and ripped tent...
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But our inside… that’s where the Spirit of God is…
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Vs. 12 repeats what he said in chapter 3:1… - We are not commending ourselves to you. - We are not going to give you letters of commendation… we are not going to perform for you… we are not going to cater to the demands of the super apostles.
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The super apostles had outward things to boast about… They had letters and titles and skills and fancy clothes… - but Paul is going to encourage the people in Corinth to look at that which has substance.
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Look
Verse 12 implies… that Paul is reminding them… that he has heart, and the super apostles don’t. He has inward integrity… he has a true apostolic calling… he has a record of faithfulness amongst them. The super apostles.... well, they only have an outward presentation.
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Without saying it… Paul implies… that they are hypocrites. They have an outward display that doesn’t reflect an inward reality. - That… is hypocrisy.
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SLIDE 7
2 Corinthians 5:13 ESV
13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.
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The church at Corinth had been told that Paul was not qualified… they may have also said other negative things about him. Once a slanderous or negative narrative starts, it’s pretty difficult to make it stop.
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Look at every politician ever speaking about their opposing party…
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One tiny negativity is just an opening towards a speculation of that person being Hitler.
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The church in Corinth had been told that Paul was ‘beside himself’… a term that simply means… ‘Paul is off his rocker’.
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This wouldn’t be the first time:
SLIDE 8
Acts 26:24 ESV
24 And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.”
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Imagine the comparison that the Corinthians were forced to make. The super apostles came rolling in with letters from other churches and leaders… they have a resume listing all the great conferences they have spoken at and all the books they have written… and they come in wearing their tailored suits accompanied by their impressive entourage...
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And Paul walks in with a couple of young guys after a day of tanning hides… all sweaty and road worn with bandages on his head from the last stoning.
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Paul doesn’t defend himself against the accusations… he just tells them, if he appears to be beside himself… he’s doing that for the Lord… -But don’t forget… he work amongst them was done in a right mind…
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The first half of verse 13 reflects the words of the accusers… and the second half reflects his sincere ministry in their midst.
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SLIDE 9
2 Corinthians 5:14–15 ESV
14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
2 COR 5.14-
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Your version might say, “the love of Christ ‘compels’ us”. That is not the most common interpretation, and when we consider it in light of our own language… it gives the wrong idea.
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To compel, is to motivate. So you might read this and think that we are motivated by the love of Jesus…
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And yes, we are … the love of Jesus does motivate us… but that’s not what this verse is saying.
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This isn’t about motivation… this is about constraint.
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Literally… this verse is saying: “The love of Christ ‘holds us together’. - The idea here.. is that the Love of Christ is a force that applies pressure from all sides.
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The word is also used as a bookkeeping term… it means to ‘take account’ or to ‘audit’.
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What does that mean to us? - Well, I believe, that a true understanding of Christ’s love… will graciously hold us in the place we need to be. It will take account.. .which means… to make things true, or plumb.. or simply… right.
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Are you feeling unrestrained? Are you easily given to temptation? Are you quick to follow that call of lust? Do you immediately bristle with pride the moment you hear something that you don’t like? Does anger come quick? Are lies easy to tell?
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…then, you are not being constrained by the love of Christ… and if you are not being constrained by the love Christ, then you are more concerned with the outward tent… the clay pot… than you are about the great treasure within, and the great promise before you..
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these two verses give us further perspective of what we are as God’s children, a perspective, which reenforces to us, just what the love of Christ means…
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“one has died for all” - this word for simply means… on behalf of… or in the place of.. - one… specifically… Jesus… died in the place of all… therefore all have died.. ++
and then… vs. 15 … Jesus died for all… - so that we who live… that is… we who are alive spiritually because of what Christ has done.. we no longer live for ourselves, but for Christ.
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The person who lives for self… caters to the outward, they cater to the things that Christ… and that we, as believers… have died to… we have died to sin and self.
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We are no longer interested only in the things that benefit our clay pots and our ratty tents. We are interested in living for the treasure within us… and the promise before us.
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If you taking notes… and you want another explanation of what Paul is talking about here… Jot down
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SLIDE 10
2 Corinthians 5:16 ESV
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.
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FROM NOW ON… Christian… when you look upon another Christian, and you make judgments of them, and you draw conclusions about them… don’t do it as one who looks only at their outer shell..
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Don’t think of that person as if they are merely flesh… a physical presentation of someone who dresses a certain way and behaves a certain way…
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Think of them… as what they really are.. - This passage literally calls us to think of our fellow believers condition the same way we think of Jesus. Peter repeats the message…
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SLIDE 11
1 Peter 3:18 ESV
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
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He was once in the flesh.. but now isn’t. We are flesh… but since we have died to the flesh by faith, according to … we are alive in spirit. That is… our true self, is not this flesh… it is our spiritual person. Paul here, encourages us to look upon each other with this reality in mind.
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Here’s what this enables us to do...
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Acts 4:19–20 ESV
19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
It enables us to extend grace.
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What offends us about other people? Is it the spirit of God that dwells within them? Do we believe, that a person’s true spiritual self under the direction of the HS is offensive?
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No.. what offends us… is the flesh. What offends us… are the actions of the flesh. What hurts us, and confuses us, and dismays us… is the flesh.
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If I regard the person who offends me… the person who breaks our relationship… according to their flesh… then I might not have any forgiveness for them.
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But If I know… their clay jar is cracked… and their tent has a couple broken poles and it leaks… - Well, I can extend them grace… and I can be better prepared to take on the ministry that Jesus now gives me in the following verses.
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SLIDE 12
2 Corinthians 5:17–19 ESV
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
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. 17-18
2 Corinthians 5:20–21 ESV
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
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IT IS A MYSTERY… to consider the condition of one who is in the flesh… but they account their flesh as good as dead, and reckon themselves alive as spiritual beings… even though the true manifestation of dead flesh and spiritual fulfillment is years to come…
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It’s a mystery… - it’s different - So Paul calls this different mysterious thing… a new creation.
1 Peter 3:18 ESV
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
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We are now alive in the spirit… the old creation that we were… the clay pot with no treasure… the ratty tent with no promise… - that old creation… has passed away.
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Literally… it has ‘gone out of existence’. If you are reading the NLT today, I like what it says… it simply says that your old self… IS GONE.
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The example of our condition follows that of Jesus. He was flesh, but has died and become spiritual… therefore, we are spiritual and should regard each other as spiritual people..
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The example of our future promise also follows Christ. He was the firstfruits of those risen from the dead… which is a promise to us… that we too will one day inhabit that heavenly home..
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And now… the example of our calling follows that of Christ… He reconciled us to God… and has given us… the ministry of reconciliation.
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In X God is reconciling… the world… the cosmos. This word might speak of the physical earth… and we do know that the Bible promises a new heaven and a new earth… we know that even this physical place will be reconciled...
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But this word for world… cosmos… speaks also of the order of the world… and this includes humanity. We are part of the order of the world.
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God wants to reconcile the order of the world… why? Because the world, is out of order… and the word reconcile, literally means… to bring order…
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It means also, to
God is in the reconciliation business… but vs. 18 tells us… that we are too. -
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To get a better understanding of this… let me lay out this simple principle.
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God brings justice… he meets out his enmity against sin… and the end result is righteousness.
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The end of this chapter… is us… becoming… literally being… the righteousness of God..
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How do we become righteousness? Do we have to meet out justice and enmity upon the sinful world?
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No way! God has already done that.
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God has reconciled… that is, God has made things right… by satisfying His justice and enmity towards sin.
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Why is this important? Because, we have been called to a ministry of reconciliation… but we don’t have to meet out justice or enmity. ++
God wants us to approach the broken things of this world, as those who are satisfied with His work of justice… and instead of attacking the broken with enmity… to serve the broken.. with love and grace.
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There is much to offend us in the world… and often times.. those offensive things are carried to us, and cast upon us, by broken people.
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As ministers of reconciliation… broken people are our business. We represent Christ, as ambassadors to them. Not with hate, or enmity… but with love and grace…
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How can we do this? - Look at vs. 20… because we have been reconciled… we are not regarding ourself according to the flesh… the flesh is where offense takes root… therefore, we don’t walk as those who are offended…
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Instead… we perceive ourselves a spiritual… as alive w/Jesus… and if we are alive with Him… we are also joined with HIm… in mission.
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So… family… if you represent Jesus, you can’t do it with a fake, hypocritical outward display… it can only be done… with inward, spiritual sincerity.
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1 John 4:17 ESV
17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.
There’s a lot of deep doctrinal language here...
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Let me sum it all up… by saying this:
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Be restrained in the grace of God’s love displayed to you through Jesus.
Don’t be unrestrained in the hungers and desires of a flesh that you have accounted as being dead.
Don’t be a hypocrite. Instead… Be the treasure… be the promise.
Treat other believers as you are… as Jesus is… a spiritual person.
and finally.
Treat unbelievers as they are… broken things that need to be fixed in Jesus.
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I think we have skimmed the surface of this pool… maybe we’ve prodded a couple feet down into it.. Maybe we have reeled in a truth or two that we can take home with us.
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I pray God has spoken to you today.
pray.
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