Saturday, January 14, 2017, 11:00 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Very Best Friend.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 13 (NASB).
The Power of God (vv. 1-4)
This is the third time I am coming to you. Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses. I have previously said when present the second time, and though now absent I say in advance to those who have sinned in the past and to all the rest as well, that if I come again I will not spare anyone, since you are seeking for proof of the Christ who speaks in me, and who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you.
In a previous chapter we read that Paul was jealous for the Corinthian believers with a godly jealousy, because he had promised them to one husband, Jesus Christ, yet he feared that they might be led astray from their sincere and pure devotion to Jesus Christ. What was the basis of his concern, then? It appears that, at least some of the Corinthian believers were being tolerant of false christs, false spirits, and false gospels. They put up with these far too easily, he said. Thus, it may be that they knew what was being presented was false, and they just did nothing about it. Or, it could be that they just didn’t bother testing what they heard against the Word of Truth, and/or in prayer, and in the power and knowledge of the Spirit within them, in order to know whether or not what they were allowing and/or receiving was truth or deception cleverly disguised as truth.
All this time you have been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you. Actually, it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ; and all for your upbuilding, beloved. For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances; I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced (2 Co. 12: 19-21).
Paul was concerned that there was unrepentant sin being allowed to continue within the church, and that there was false teaching being tolerated, too, and perhaps that the two of them went hand-in-hand. And, he was also concerned that some of them did not respect his God-given (appointed) authority to do anything about it, which is one of the reasons it was allowed to continue and nothing was being done to stop it. So, his intention was that, upon this next visit, he would come in the power of God and he would exercise divine discipline in correcting the wrong, yet not because he wanted to punish them. He did not. But, because he loved them with a godly love, and he wanted to see them walking in truth and in freedom from the control of sin over their lives.
And, so it is today, at least here in America. Sin is barely even mentioned in the vast majority of church congregations today, at least not in the modern church gatherings where they are marketing the “church” to the world, and thus they are more focused on entertaining the world rather than on bringing the world to genuine faith in Jesus Christ. All kinds of false teaching are permeating today’s modern church, as well as a Jesus is being presented which is not consistent with the Jesus of the Bible, i.e. the Son of God. Feel-good messages which tickle itching ears are replacing Spirit-led messages which convict hearts of sin, and which call for repentance. And, Bible studies are often not more than studies of books written by modern authors, some of which are not only inconsistent with scripture, but are even that which teach what is clearly false, and which promote middle eastern religion.
Test Yourselves (vv. 5-10)
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test. Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved. For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you be made complete. For this reason I am writing these things while absent, so that when present I need not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down.
A false grace gospel is being taught widely, as well, which teaches that a prayer repeated after someone else inviting Jesus to be your Savior is sufficient for salvation, and a guarantee of heaven when you die. As well, they say that God is pleased with you no matter what you do, and that he requires nothing of you – no submission to the cross, no repentance and no obedience to Christ and to his commands. This false grace gospel, thus, is free license to continue in willful sin against God absent of remorse and without guilt. It gives the impression that once you pray the prayer, and you have heaven guaranteed, that God is no longer concerned about your sin, for his grace covers it all. Thus, the freedom they teach is no freedom at all, for it leaves its adherents still dead in their sins without hope.
So, what is the truth? Well, it is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who knew no sin, became sin for us when he died on a cross. Thus, when he died our sins died with him, and were buried with him. And, when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, Satan, hell and death. Yet, not all are saved from sin. We must put our trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives in order for us to have the hope of salvation from sin. So, what does this look like? Well, it means that the Spirit of God opens our blinded eyes and we are turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God that we might receive forgiveness of sins, and a place among those who are sanctified (made holy) by faith in Jesus Christ.
The truth is that Jesus died, not just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die, but he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. And, he died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us who walk not after the flesh, but who conduct our lives according to the Spirit. For, if we walk after the flesh, we will die (in our sin), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity). The truth is, too, that God’s grace is not free license to continue in sin, for his grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for his return (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Ro. 8:1-14; Tit. 2:11-14; cf. Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; Lu. 9:23-25).
So, for us to examine ourselves to see if truly we are in the faith, we need to do so against all the scriptures which speak of our salvation and eternal security in Christ, and not just hand-select the scriptures which say what our itching ears want to hear. For instance, we have to read Romans 10:9-10 in the context of the whole of Romans (esp. chaps. 6 & 8), and in the context of the whole of the New Testament, and we have to not build an entire doctrine of salvation around just those two verses, which is what many are doing. Jesus said that if we want to come after him we must deny self and take up our cross daily and follow him, for if we hold on to our lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness, we are liars (Lu. 9:23-25; 1 Jn. 1:6).
Live in Peace (vv. 11-14)
Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
So, instead of living in unrepentant sin, while claiming heaven as our eternal home, and instead of following a false grace gospel, or a man-made Jesus, or the teachings of mere humans, we need to be like-minded with Christ concerning the truths he taught, and that his NT apostles taught, and we need to repent of our sins and walk in obedience to that truth. Then we can mature in Christ, be comforted by his love, be like-minded with other Spirit-filled believers, and live in peace with God and with others, as much as it depends on us. Then we will truly know the Jesus of the Bible, and we will be able to experience close fellowship with him as daily we talk with him, read his Word, and then as we walk in obedience to him and to his Word. In fact, we will come to know him to be our very best friend.
My Very Best Friend
Ron Hamilton – Patch the Pirate
Jesus is closer than a brother.
Every moment he is near.
I know he never will forsake me.
He has conquered all my fear.
Jesus is closer than a brother.
On his love I can depend.
King of kings, Lord of lords,
Conquering Son, oh, all of these,
He’s my very best friend.