2 Corinthians 1:12-14 ESV
“For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and understand and I hope you will fully understand— just as you did partially understand us—that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you.”
The Apostle Paul wrote this. In context, he had just finished talking about all the afflictions that he and Timothy had faced for the sake of the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were so utterly burdened beyond their strength that they had despaired of life itself. They had felt that they had received the sentence of death, their suffering was so severe. But, he said, “that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”
But they took comfort or they took solace in knowing that they had acted in good conscience, and that they had behaved in the world with godly sincerity. They knew that they had done nothing wrong deserving of such treatment. So, even though they had suffered much unjust treatment at the hands of their persecutors, they could rest in the knowledge that they did the right thing. They had acted in good faith and not from wrong motives.
And they set the example for us in how we should behave, in how we should speak and act, and in how we should respond to unjust treatment at the hands of our enemies. And we will indeed have enemies if we are speaking the word of God in truth with the right motives and for good purposes. We will be opposed. We will be persecuted. And we will have people think evil of us when we have done no evil. And we will be falsely accused of wrong.
With godly sincerity
There are people who can be sincere (in earnest), but they can be sincerely wrong. So, it is not enough just to be sincere, but that our sincerity must be godly. It must come from God and be in line with God’s Holy Word. It must agree with his counsels and with his wisdom and not with the counsels and wisdom of mere humans who may not have the mind of God. So, if we are going to be sincere, we must make certain it is sincerely the truth.
For, in actuality, the word “sincere” means to be clear, genuine, honest, truthful, and pure. It means to have pure and unadulterated motives. And if it is godly sincerity, then it is pure and unadulterated, and it is has the mind, the purpose, the motives, and the character of God behind it. And this is because it comes from God, and it is from the heart of God, because it serves God’s purposes and not the ungodly purposes of the flesh of man.
So, if we have godly sincerity, and we are serving God’s purposes, we will be pure of heart and mind. We will not be worldly people engaged in all sorts of evil and frivolity and just wasting away the time the Lord has given us on this earth. We will not be self-focused, but we will be God-focused. Our desire will be to please God and not the flesh. And our concern for others will not be based on them liking us, but on them loving Jesus and obeying him.
Not by earthly wisdom
So many people professing faith in Jesus Christ, including probably the majority of pastors, at least here in America, are relying on the wisdom and the counsel of the flesh over and above or totally in place of the wisdom and counsel of God. Marketing books and books written by people who are writing in the flesh and not in the Spirit have become their bibles, and what are guiding them in how to interpret the Scriptures, too.
So, the majority of today’s churches (or what are falsely being called church) are following more after the wisdom of man than they are following the wisdom of God, and they are allowing other humans to interpret the Scriptures for them rather than them testing what they are hearing against the Scriptures and in prayer to see if what is being taught is actually of God and true to the Scriptures, or if what is being taught is twisted and perverted.
And I can attest to the fact that the most popular gospel today which is permeating the church of today is not the gospel that Jesus taught, and it is not the gospel that the NT apostles taught, but it is a perverted and twisted gospel loosely based in the Scriptures but which is being led by the wisdom of men in their fleshly thinking. For they totally remove from the gospel what God’s grace is really all about and they make it something it isn’t.
They teach God’s grace as though it is just Jesus offering to forgive us our sins and to promise us heaven when we die, and that all we have to do is just to receive his grace, to receive his forgiveness of our sins, and to then have the hope of heaven which they say cannot be taken away from us no matter what. And that’s it. Nothing is required with regard to godly living or to good consciences or to living holy lives pleasing to God.
It is all focused in the flesh, and in what God can do for us, but nothing to do with us doing anything for God, not even the works he had planned in advance that we should walk in them. None of his counsels are to be regarded, none of his commands. They throw them all out and they just make up their own feel-good gospel which appeases their flesh and which does not put the flesh to death, but which allows it to reign supreme.
By the Grace of God
But God’s grace to us is not freedom to keep on living however we want, doing what we want to do, sinning as much as we want, and then claiming God’s grace, his forgiveness, and heaven as our eternal home. That is so blasphemous! It is an insult to the spirit of Grace. It is a slap in the face to Jesus who shed his blood for us on that cross to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so we will now honor God with our lives (with our bodies).
God’s grace to us is freedom from our bondage to sin and it is empowerment of God’s Spirit to walk in holiness and righteousness in purity of devotion to our Lord. For Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. And he died to free us from our slavery to sin so we would now be slaves of God and of his righteousness.
So, if we receive God’s gift of grace, which is a free gift in that we did nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation, it doesn’t mean we are now free to live however we want while we claim heaven as our eternal destiny. It means we are now free from slavery to sin, and we are now free to walk (in conduct, in practice) in holiness and righteousness in the power of God. So, if we choose not to, then we are refusing God’s free gift of salvation.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15]
An Original Work / December 27, 2011
Based off Psalm 119
Praise You with an upright heart as
I learn of Your righteousness.
I seek You with all my heart;
Do not let me stray from Your law.
I have hidd’n Your word in my heart
That I might not sin against You.
Open my eyes that I may see
Wonderful things in Your word.
I am a stranger on earth.
I have chosen the way of truth;
My heart is set on Your word.
I will walk about in freedom,
For I have sought out Your truth.
Teach me knowledge and good judgment,
For I believe in Your law.
Your hands made me, and they formed me;
Give me understanding, Lord.
I put my hope in Your word.
Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light unto my path.
You are my shield and my refuge;
In Your word I put my hope.
My heart trembles at Your word, Lord.
May my lips o’erflow with praise.
May my tongue sing of Your truth, Lord.
Your salvation, Lord, long I.
Your word, Lord, is my delight.