December 6, 2007
II Corinthians 10-13
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Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:
But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's.
For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:
That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.
For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.
Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present.
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.
For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ:
Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly,
To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand.
But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.
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Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.
But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.
Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?
I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.
And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.
As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.
Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.
But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little.
That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.
Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.
For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.
For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.
I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.
Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.
Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.
In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:
And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.
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It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.
I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.
For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.
Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.
For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.
Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.
And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.
Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you?
I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?
Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.
For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:
And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.
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This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.
I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare:
Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.
For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.
Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.
For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.
For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection.
Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.
Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
Greet one another with an holy kiss.
All the saints salute you.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.
(The second epistle to the Corinthians was written from Philippi, a city of Macedonia, by Titus and Lucas.)
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Thought for the day:
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There are several different verses that I would like us to look at today. The first is found in II Corinthians 10:12, which reads,
"For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."
There is a simple truth found in this verse: it isn't smart to compare yourself with other people. This is true in two ways. First of all, some believers think that they are doing fine in their Christian life because they compare themselves with their fellow believers. Unfortunately for them, the standard of excellence has never been what another believer may do, but what the Word of God says. An individual may be the "best" Christian in the church, but how he compares to the standard of holiness that has been established by Jesus Christ Himself is all that matters. Secondly, some Christians are bitter or envious because other believers have been blessed by God with (in their opinion) greater skills and talents, or perhaps have received a more "public" spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit. This is equally foolish. The Holy Spirit gives out gifts in accordance with the perfect and omniscient will of God, and the Lord gives men the exact abilities that He knows that they need. We need to thank God for what He has given us, and stop looking at what others may or may not have.
The second passage is found in II Corinthians 11:13-15. There Paul warns the church about false teachers. This is important because often believers ignorantly believe that false teachers will appear evil, or will be obviously Satanic in their instruction. This is not the case. Paul writes that false teachers can appear to be like apostles of Christ. He then says that this should not be surprising, for Satan can make himself look like an angel of light. If Satan, the father of all that is evil, can appear to be good, then those who teach contrary to the Word of God can appear to be kind, loving, intelligent instructors. Once again, the accuracy of an individual's teaching can not be based upon his education, the smoothness of his delivery, the stylishness of his appearance, or even the number of followers that he has. All teaching must be evaluated through a comparison between it and the authoritative Scriptures. If the instruction is contrary to the Word, then it must be discarded.
The third passage is II Corinthians 12:7-10. There Paul gives words of comfort that have helped to sustain many believers down through the centuries. Paul shares his own testimony of how he was buffeted by a "thorn in the flesh". Many people believe that this thorn involved eye trouble (Gal. 4:15), but this is something that can not be proved. Regardless of what the issue was, Paul states that he asked the Lord to remove it. Instead, God said to him,
"My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."
No matter what problems we may be facing, the grace of God is enough to bring us through them. In fact, I believe that this verse teaches us that all we really ever need is the grace and presence of God. There are people and things in this world that I think that I need. While they may be beneficial, God says that I really don't need them, because I have Him. This should give us great encouragement to face conditions of illness, bereavement, and loneliness. Paul even goes so far as to say that he can now rejoice when difficulties come, for his weakness only enhances the power of God. In other words, the less I can do for myself, the more I must rely upon the Lord, and everything He does is better than anything that I can do. The apostle concludes by writing,
"for when I am weak, then am I strong."
It was true for Paul, and it is true for us as well.
Following God's Word, Studying God's Word, and trusting in the God of the Word are the lessons for today. Let's do our best to put them into practice.
Pastor Mark J Montgomery