2 Corinthians 13:1-4 ESV
This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them— since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.
It is my observation that, in much of today’s modern church here in America, Christians are not called into account for their sinful practices any more. For, the church leaders don’t want to offend anyone. They don’t want to upset anyone. No one wants to be the “bad guy.” So, they coddle the people in their sins, instead of confronting them with them, and instead of calling them to repentance.
In fact, it appears the tables have turned the other direction, and it is those who are calling for repentance, and who are addressing sin issues in the church, who are the ones being called into account, instead. They are the ones on the chopping block, instead of those who are living immoral lives. And, they are being accused of being bigoted, hateful, intolerant, prejudicial, and judgmental, and of not loving others with the love of Christ.
Yet, are there those who have abused their authority in the church in how they have exercised church discipline? Absolutely! And, on both ends of the scale, too. There are those who have exercised much severe authority far beyond what God ever intended in judging those who are still practicing sin, but also in judging those wrongfully who are following after Jesus’ example in how to truly love others as Christ loved us.
For, many people in the church today have this false idea of who Jesus was and is. They paint him out to be weak, and as though he just smiles on those who are vegging out on their sinful addictions, and as though he just “loves on them” and he just “blesses them,” even though they are living in sinful rebellion against him, as though he no longer cares about their sin.
But, Paul makes it clear here that Jesus is not weak on sin, but he commands repentance and obedience of his followers (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:19-24; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
2 Corinthians 13:5-10 ESV
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for. For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.
So, there is a call here for all those who profess the name of Jesus to examine ourselves to see whether or not we are in the faith. For, obviously there are people within the gatherings of the church, and perhaps even those in leadership positions, who are not living godly and holy lives, but who are still living in sin and in need of divine correction and discipline. And, many of them may not truly be in the faith at all, but just think they are.
So, if we are to examine ourselves to see whether or not we truly are in the faith, what do we use as our measurement? The Word of God? Absolutely! But, we must be careful here that we handle it correctly. For, many people build many doctrines around a few verses taken out of context to say whatever it is they want to believe in order to appease their own consciences when they choose to not repent but to keep on in their sinful addictions.
So, we need to read Matthew to Revelation, book by book, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse, praying for the Holy Spirit to speak his truths to our hearts. And, instead of just ignoring the verses that don’t fit with our theology or lifestyle choices, we need to find out what they mean by studying them in context, and by comparing them with other similar scripture passages, and to do so prayerfully, asking for understanding.
For, if we do this, we will soon realize that the New Testament is not light on sin, nor is it short on obedience. It demands repentance and obedience to Christ for our salvation from sin and eternal life with God, in fact. For, it teaches that we must walk (in lifestyle, in practice) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God, and we must not walk (live) in agreement with our flesh, if we want to have eternal life with God (Rom. 8:1-17, etc.).
For, God’s grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s soon return (Tit. 2:11-14).
2 Corinthians 13:11-14 ESV
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, 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, the encouragement here in no way negates what has just been said. Paul didn’t write as strongly as he did on the issue of sinful practices within the church, and call the people to examine themselves, to make certain they were in the faith, and then immediately turn around and tell them to just agree with one another, open ended.
The restoration they are to aim for is in their relationships with God, with Jesus Christ. And, the only way they can be restored to God is through God-given faith in Jesus Christ which submits to the Lordship of Christ, surrenders to his will, leaves lifestyles of sin behind them, and now walks (in practice) according to the will of God for their lives.
So, the agreement they are to have with one another, that we are to have with one another is first of all in agreement (in accord) with the will of God for our lives. It is to be united first and foremost in mind with our Lord Jesus with regard to holiness, righteousness, honesty, integrity, sin, and salvation. And, then we can agree with one another who are also united with Christ in mind. For, then we will all be in agreement with God.
And, with regard to peace, it is not peace like the world gives that God gives to us. The world is looking for absence of conflict and for us all to “get along” and to agree with one another, even if we don’t all believe in the One true God, and even if we have lifestyles which are opposed to God. But, that would involve compromising our faith and convictions, and we can’t do that.
Thus, the peace we are to have is peace with God, which is us being united with Christ through faith in him, and thus it is being restored to relationship with God. And, it is not absence of conflict, either. For, if we are truly united with Christ, and we are doing the will of God, we are going to have people opposing us left and right, but inwardly we can still be at peace.
All Through the Night
An Original Work / December 7, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures
Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.
When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.
Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.
Saturday, September 21, 2019