2 Corinthians 4:1-2 ESV
“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”
This was the Apostle Paul speaking for himself and for Timothy. And these words were addressed to the church of God (not a church denomination, not of man, but the true body of Christ, which is of God) at Corinth. So, these words are for the church, the body of Christ, which is of God and not of man. For the true church is not of a particular church denomination, and it is not a building, and it is not a business, and it is not incorporated under the state. Yet that is what much of today’s “church” has been turned into.
The true church is the body of Christ comprised of believers in Jesus Christ who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and who have been raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, no longer living as slaves to sin but now as slaves to God and to his righteousness. But we are not perfect people, and some are not living as they ought to live, and so that is why so much of the New Testament is dedicated to exhorting the church, the body of Christ, toward holy living and away from living in sin.
Yet, within the gatherings of the church, at least here in America, or in what is falsely being called “church,” we have a mixture of genuine followers of Christ, believers who are not presently living holy lives, those who make false professions of faith in Jesus Christ, but who never truly died with Christ to sin, and people from the world who make no professions of faith in Jesus Christ at all. And from the content of some of these letters in the New Testament, I would assume not all were walking as true followers of Christ.
So, Paul and Timothy had a ministry of God in sharing the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ with the people, and of encouraging and urging the body of Christ, the church, away from living in sin and toward holy living. So, they were not like many “gospel ministers” today who are flim-flam artists who fake their Christianity, and who put on a show for the audience, and who lie and manipulate and trick people into believing lies and rejecting truth. They were honest, not cunning and crafty deceivers and manipulative schemers.
In fact, they purposefully and willfully put to death such things as that, and they refused to engage in disgraceful and underhanded ways. Awesome! And they rejected the whole notion of manipulating the Word of God in order to deceive and/or to manipulate the people. But, instead, they were honest and forthcoming and they told people the truth, and they made themselves vulnerable and accountable to the people. Oh, that we had more like them in our gatherings of the church today!! We all need to be like that!
For so many pastors of church congregations today have compromised the truth and righteousness in order to draw in large crowds of people from the world into their gatherings. And so they have become more like the world and have adopted many worldly ways in order to attract the people of the world to their gatherings. And so they have altered the whole meaning of “church” and of “worship” and they have altered the message of the gospel to make it more acceptable and appealing to human flesh.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 ESV
“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
Now, because we have so many liars and deceivers serving as pastors of congregations, who are teaching lies in place of the truth, and who are rejecting the truth of the gospel in favor of the lies, we also have many people professing faith in Jesus Christ who are following after the lies and who are rejecting the truth. But that is not the only reason they are rejecting the truth in favor of the lies. It is because their consciences are seared by living sinfully addictive lifestyles, and they don’t want to give those up.
So, many of them are now willfully blinded to the truth by shutting out the truth and via adopting the lies and via living the lie in their daily practices. And we are not speaking here of just those who make no profession of faith in Jesus, but of those who are claiming Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and heaven as their eternal home. Many of them are following the lies, and they are deliberately rejecting the truth through allowing themselves to be deceived, because they do not want to forsake their sins.
So, what we all need to understand here is that we cannot walk in sin and still have the hope of eternal life with God. We can’t just give lip service to the Lord and expect him to let us into his heaven. And we can’t just make up our own faith, our own gospel, and our own salvation to suit our own lifestyles. And we are not to build our own doctrine of salvation out of Scripture verses taught outside their context and twisted to say what the Scriptures overall do not teach regarding faith and salvation from sin.
For Jesus Christ said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For if we hold on to (save) our old lives of living in sin and for self, we will lose them for eternity. But if for the sake of Jesus we die with him to sin and live to his righteousness (lose our lives), then we have the hope of eternal life with God. For Jesus also said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one DOING the will of God the Father in heaven (see Luke 9:23-26; Matthew 7:21-23).
And the New Testament apostles taught that we must die with Christ to sin and live to his righteousness, and that we must no longer walk in sin, making sin our practice, but that righteousness, holiness, and obedience to our Lord must be our practice, or we will not inherit eternal life with God. And Paul taught this much, for he taught the whole counsel of God, not this diluted and altered fake gospel which is permeating the church today. And so they told people the truth in order to save their lives for eternity.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
The Longer I Serve Him
William J. Gaither
Since I started for the Kingdom,
Since my life He controls,
Since I gave my heart to Jesus,
The longer I serve Him,
The sweeter He grows.
Ev’ry need He is supplying,
Plenteous grace He bestows;
Ev’ry day my way gets brighter,
The longer I serve Him,
The sweeter He grows.
The longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows,
The more that I love Him, more love He bestows;
Each day is like heaven, my heart overflows,
The longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows.
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