Second Corinthians, chapter six, as we continue our journey through the Scriptures. At the end of chapter five, and of course, it is important to realize that in the original writing, Paul didn’t put chapter one or chapter two, verse one, two, three, four and so forth. It was just a letter. The chapters and verses were later added in order to help us reference passages. So it’s easier for us to look up a passage because we know the chapter and the verse. But that’s all it was intended for is to help reference some of these thoughts and the passages that are there in the Scriptures. But Paul just wrote out this letter, or actually he had it written out. He dictated this letter to the Corinthians. And thus it is continuous ideas, a connecting. So often in our minds, in our culture, we come to an end of a chapter and we sort of well, I’ll read the next chapter next week or something. We seem to feel that sort of, you know encompasses and that’s sort of it. It’s an encapsulating of the idea. But with the Scriptures, there is a real tie to the end of chapter five, where Paul, says now we are ambassadors for Christ as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ’s stead, be reconciled to God. Calling on them to receive the grace of God, to receive the salvation that God is offering. Paul said, I’m an ambassador to Jesus Christ. I’m representing Him as I’m calling on you to be reconciled with God. Don’t be at war with God any more! Don’t be fighting against God. Be reconciled. Receive the grace of God. And God has made the provision for reconciliation through Jesus Christ. For He has made Him, Jesus Christ, to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him! What grace is manifested here! God’s marvelous grace! It reaches its climax in this! By the grace of God, He allowed His Son to take all of our sin and impart to us His righteousness. It doesn’t get any better than that!
So, as Paul then goes right into chapter six, We then, as workers together with him, I’m an ambassador of Christ! Calling upon people to be reconciled with God. And Jesus took our sins that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
We, then, as workers together with Him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. Here is God’s grace manifested in its greatest form. Don’t pass it up. Don’t let the grace of God be in vain.
You know, it’s an interesting thing to realize that though God paid such a tremendous price to provide salvation for us, sending His only begotten Son, who manifested supreme love in giving His life for us. Greater love has no man than this than a man will lay down his life for his friends. And Jesus laid down His life for us. But you realize that here this marvelous gift of God and grace of God is in vain for many people? Those who have not received Jesus Christ, those who have not received the forgiveness of their sins, Christ died in vain! And so Paul says don’t receive the grace of God in vain. But accept this wonderful gift that God is offering to us, the righteousness of Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of our sins. Accept this glorious grace of God towards us.
The grace of God tied together with salvation, when Paul wrote to Titus (Titus 2:11), he said for the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. This marvelous grace of God that brings you and I salvation—brings you and me salvation. My wife always corrects my English. It’s good to have a wife who is a grammarian, among other things.
2(For he saith, That is what God said through Isaiah, chapter forty nine, verse eight, “Thus saith the LORD, (God is saying, He is saying.) In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages.” So, for He saith, Paul is freely quoting now from Isaiah, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured (helped) thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) So don’t pass God’s offer! But receive salvation and today is the day of salvation.
It’s interesting and sort of unexplainable why so many people, who in their minds, intend one day to get right with God. So often they will say, well, I plan to one day, you know, to straighten up my life. One day I’m going to get right with God. But if your intention is to do it one day, why do they put it off? Why do they take chances? As with Felix when Paul when witnessing with Felix, he was under such conviction of the Holy Spirit, he began to shake. He said, go your way for now Paul, and on a more convenient time, I will call you again. Why would a person put off receiving this marvelous gift from God?
It’s like you have a migraine headache and they’ve got a new medicine that will just knock that thing immediately, you’ll feel great. You say put the pill on the shelf, maybe tomorrow morning I’ll take it. I’m going to suffer tonight, once more, you know. I mean, why? It doesn’t make sense to put off this great salvation, that God is offering to us. And yet that probably is one of the greatest problems with people, it’s procrastination, as far as getting right with God. Yes, I plan to. One day, I’m going to straighten up. I’m going to change one day. Why one day? Why not today? Why not now? As the Bible says, now is the accepted time. God has a plan for each of our lives and God has appointed times for us. Our lives are in His hands. God sets the appointments for us. And God has a time for each man to make his commitment to follow Jesus Christ. Now if you pass that time, you have no guarantee that you will ever have another opportunity. That is why Paul is urging for the now. Now is the accepted time! Don’t put it off! Now, is the day of salvation! Don’t wait! Every person who is in hell is there because they went past God’s appointed time for their salvation. God made a final appeal to them. God spoke to their hearts one final time. They rejected! They went past the opportunity to be saved. How important that we act upon the salvation that God has offered because our eternal destiny is at stake.
Now Paul says, 3Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: Paul sought to reach people with the message of salvation. He sought that he did not bring offense to anyone. If a person was weak in the faith, Paul would not offend them by doing things that would violate their conscience though he felt a liberty to do them himself. Paul, as far as eating meat, felt a tremendous liberty in eating meat. And yet, he said, he wouldn’t eat meat as long as the world stood if it cost offense to the weaker brother. And he warned the Corinthians to take heed lest by any means their liberty would become a stumbling block to those who are weak.
So giving no offense in anything, that the ministry be not blamed. He said if any man sees you who you have that faith and knowledge that you can eat meat in a public restaurant where they’ve offered the meat to idols, the person who has a weak conscience seeing you there, would be emboldened so that he also would eat those things that were offered to idols. Yet, it would trouble his conscience and thus he would be offended. So through your knowledge or superior knowledge or understanding would you cause a weak brother to perish for whom Christ died? If you thus sin against your brother, and you wound their weak conscience, he said, you are actually sinning against Christ. So if meat causes your brother to offend, Paul said, then I’ll not eat flesh while the world stands, to keep from offending my brother!
In the tenth chapter of first Corinthians (1 Corinthians 10:31), Paul said, whether therefore you eat or drink or whatsoever, do all to the glory of God. So that you give no offense neither to the Jews or to the Gentiles or to the church of God, even as I please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of many that they may be saved.
So the ministry, the care in the ministry of seeking to not offend people by your actions or activities or freedoms that you may feel to do certain things, giving no offense in anything that the ministry be not blamed. Now unfortunately, there are a lot of things that are being done that do bring offense to people. We have to be very careful. As a minister, somehow, through the years, people have developed a habit of sort of putting a minister upon a pedestal. Maybe it’s because I stand higher on the platform or something. But that’s only so you see me. But people have a tendency of sort of putting a minister on a pedestal. You can’t help if people put you on a pedesal. But just don’t try to stand there, because you will get knocked down! But so often there develops an attitude in the ministry because people are looking up to you, and people respect you and your commitment to the Lord and all, there sometimes comes an attitude almost of arrogancy where you expect special favors, special little kudos because you’re a minister! That’s far from the true concept of the minister. The word, minister, is a slave or a servant. And rather than being served, Jesus said I didn’t come to be ministered unto. I came to minister! Now if Jesus said that, how much more should we who are His representatives, want and be willing to minister, to serve others within the body of Christ, not to be served but to serve.
4But in all things (Paul said) approving ourselves as the ministers of God, Or commending ourselves as the ministers of God.
in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, Now as Paul begins to list these things that he has experienced as a minister of God. We go back to an earlier passage where Paul talking of the ministry, said, and who is sufficient for these things?
Back in chapter four (2 Cor. 4:8-9) he said, we are troubled on every side. We are perplexed. We are persecuted. We are cast down. We bear in our bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus, for we are always facing death for Jesus’ sake.
Later on, in the twelfth chapter of this same book (2 Cor. 12:10), he will say, therefore I take pleasure in the weaknesses in the reproaches, in the necessities, in the persecutions, in the distresses for Christ’s sake, for when I am weak then I am strong. He said, truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders and mighty deeds.
Paul writing to Timothy (2 Tim. 3:10) said, you have fully known my doctrine, my manner of life, the purpose of saints, the longsuffering, the love, the patience, the persecutions, the afflictions, which came to me in Antioch, at Iconium and Lystra. What persecutions I endured, but out of them all, the Lord delivered me. Yea and all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
So, Paul now, begins to list some of the things that he experienced as a minister for Jesus Christ. I wonder if this same thing happened to ministers today, how many would still be in the ministry. If we had to endure the things that Paul endured. Ministers in God in much patience. In afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; (Those are the “ins”, now the “bys”.) 6By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 7By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, (or being reported as deceivers) and yet true; 9As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. Now notice, it’s in these things. Then it’s by these things. Then it’s as these things. He was in much patience. He was in affliction. He was in the necessities, in the distresses, in the stripes, in the imprisonments, in the tumults, in the labours, in the watchings, in fastings.
But he was able to endure these things by the pureness, and by the knowledge and by the longsuffering and by the kindness and by the power of the Holy Spirit and by the love unfeigned, and by the word of truth and by the power of God, and by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, and by the honor and dishonor and by the evil report and good report.
Then he turns to the as. As some of the accusations that were made against him, as a deceiver. Yet he said I’m speaking the truth. As unknown, and yet well known. As dying, (contrasted), but behold I live. As chastened and yet not killed. As sorrowful, yet I’m always rejoicing. As poor and yet making many rich. As having nothing and yet I possess all things.
Oftentimes when Kay and I drive down toward Newport Beach around the Bay and we see all of those beautiful homes, I turn to her and say isn’t it great to be the richest person in Newport Beach? We don’t have any beautiful home like that, but we don’t need it. Those poor people are indebted up to their ears. And the richness of not having to have those things to find meaning and satisfaction and contentment, for those things only make false promises of happiness. Some of the most miserable people in the world live in some of those most beautiful homes, the biggest yachts. And yet there is turmoil. There is unrest. There is fear. There is anxiety. There are nervous breakdowns. They have to take drugs to cope. It’s great to be free! Not to need those things. Thus, not need drugs to cope or whatever! I’ve got Jesus! That’s enough! And you don’t have to have those things to have the happiness, the contentment, the fulfillment. And so here is Paul, having nothing and yet, I possess everything. It’s all mine. Having nothing and yet possessing all things.
Now Paul just opens his heart to them. 11O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, I’ve spoken plainly to you. That is what is meant by our mouth is open unto you. I’ve shot straight with you. I’ve talked plainly. I haven’t used deceptive words. I haven’t tried to manipulate you. I’ve been very frank and plain with you. As you go back through the epistle, you find that Paul has been straight. He shoots straight with them. Our mouth is open unto you, no deceit, no double talk.
And our heart is enlarged. In other words, we’ve opened up our heart unto you.
12Ye are not straitened in us, That’s an interesting old English word that doesn’t really, it isn’t familiar in our English today. One translation says, we are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. That is we are not straitened, you are not straitened in us.
but ye are straitened in your own bowels. But you are straitened in your own loss that you are displaying. It isn’t on my end. I love you. I’ve opened my heart to you. I’ve opened wide my heart to you. And that the lack of love doesn’t come from my side. You’re the ones who have sort of closed off. You’re the one who has sort of shut up this flow of love from each other. It isn’t on my part that the love isn’t flowing.
13Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged. As a fair exchange, he said, I speak as to my children. Open wide your hearts also. Let your heart be opened to me even as my heart is open to you. For the recompence, for the exchange here is the same.
Then Paul gives a very solemn warning, one that we would do well to take heed to.
A lot of people have felt that somehow theirs is a special case and the Scripture doesn’t really apply to them because theirs is a special case. And many people who have had that feeling and have violated this Scripture, have lived to rue the day that they made that unequalled yoke with an unbeliever.
Paul says to them, 14Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: That’s just basic! I believe that applies in marriage. And here is where a lot of people have made a mistake. They feel that, oh, our love is big enough to cover our differences. And hopefully if I marry him, he is going to accept Jesus! You don’t seem to realize that you are living on two different value systems. And how many marriages have ended in tragedy, in divorce, because a person thought that, I can change him after we’re married. It just doesn’t work that way. Or I can change her. It is a mistake for a Christian to marry a non-Christian. It’s a mistake to do so. It’s in direct conflict with the commandment of God.
The second area is in business partnerships. Great idea, we have a product that is going to make us a million. And people get aligned in partnerships, business partnerships, but again, they discover that there are two different value systems. You want to be honest. You want to keep the books straight. Your conscience is bothered if you’re hiding some of the money from the government. But the other person feels, well, hey whatever you can get by with, is okay as long as you don’t get caught. And if you are clever enough, you won’t get caught. Thus, you find yourself ultimately being torn because the ungodly partner is wanting to compromise, is wanting to do things in order to make a profit and you realize that, if I do that, I’m disobeying the Word of God. I can’t cheat. I can’t deceive another person about our product. I’ve got to be straightforward. And thus a lot of people have gotten into big trouble because they have found that the partner not only was willing to cheat the customer but he was willing to cheat the partner. And they have been taking advantage of you. They have been hiding from you. And the whole issue just blows up.
So it’s just a good rule to follow. Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. Don’t get into that yoke, because they won’t pull their share of the load.
for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? They don’t blend. They are like oil and water. They don’t mix. They remain separated. What fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? The answer is, none!
and what communion (or concord or agreement) hath light with darkness? They again don’t mix. You see, it’s either light or it’s dark. They don’t mix. What fellowship or communion has light with darkness?
15And what concord (or accord) hath Christ with Belial (Satan)? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? They just don’t mix! Now there are those who rise and fall. There are those winds of doctrine that come blowing by that sort of abdicate that Christians can be possessed by evil spirits.
And probably four times in my ministry I’ve observed this wind of doctrine blow by. It’s gone for a while and then it comes blowing by again. Where there are those who have what they call, deliverance ministries, where they pray for the Christians to be delivered from these demonic beings or forces or powers. And they identify different types of demons, demons of lethargy. And if in church as you are sitting there, you are relaxed and you are comfortable, if you just sort of get too relaxed, then you have the demon of lethargy. He’s putting you to sleep so that you can’t hear the Word. You’ve got to be extremely careful about yawning or they will be laying hands on you and casting out that demon of lethargy. Or if you burped, then that’s a sure sign that you have the demon of gluttony. And they are always trying to deliver the believer from demonic powers.
But that flies in the face of what Paul has just declared. What communion has light with darkness? What concord has Christ with Belial? If the Holy Spirit is dwelling in you, it’s an impossibility for some evil spirit to be co-inhabiting with the Holy Spirit in you. There is no communion, concord, light with darkness, Christ with Belial. It just doesn’t happen! You may have a problem with gluttony, but that’s a problem with your flesh, not with some Satanic power.
16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? Your body is the temple of God, Paul says. And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?
for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. What a glorious, glorious thing! God has said that He will dwell in you. You are the temple of the living God. And God dwells in us! He is our God. We are His people. That is beautiful!
Therefore because of this, 17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; You’re are not to have communion, light with darkness. You are not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. So come out from among them. Be separate, saith the Lord. Don’t touch the unclean thing.
and I will receive you, 18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. A separated life, not joined together in an unequal yoke, but living a separated life. Now you may have to work for an unbeliever. That’s not a partnership. It doesn’t apply there. But even working for unbelievers, oftentimes, creates problems because the company will want you to falsify the books or do something that is dishonest and you have a real problem then with your conscience. God said, I will be a Father unto you. You will be My sons and My daughters, but that’s by separation.
Father, we thank You tonight for Your Word. And Lord, we thank You for this wonderful grace that has been given to us, whereby we have received salvation, the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Help us Lord, as Your representatives, that we not give offense to any man, but that we truly represent You, Lord, as we walk in love towards those who may have a weaker conscience. And Lord, we thank You that in all of these many things that we face, You are there to help us and to strenghten us. So Lord, let the Word of God guide our lives. May we live by Your precepts, that we might indeed be children of God, Your sons, Your daughters and You, a Father to us. Thank You, Lord, for the beautiful relationship, made possible through Jesus Christ. In His name. Amen.
Transcribed from “The Word For Today”, Pastor Chuck Smith, Tape #8157