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Excursus Article: Christ’s Finished Work on the Cross

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Announcement To The World: It Is Finished!

The gospel is an announcement to the world of an accomplished fact. What God set out to do for mankind, He accomplished. The apostles declared this from the time of Pentecost (Acts 2) and beyond.

Salvation is available on the basis of a single condition: faith (or “belief”). Belief is not just intellectual assent that something might be true. Belief is a commitment of the will. It is the difference between walking alongside a pool of water (seeing it is there) and jumping into the water (experiencing the water personally). God acted; we are to respond to His action by saying yes and jumping into the new life God has for us. Those who respond with faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, receive a firm assurance of security (1 John 5:13), a secure new identity in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and a true knowledge of God as seen through all that He has done through Christ’s finished work on the cross.

Six terms describe how our relationship with God is made new because of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ—Propitiation, Reconciliation, Redemption, Forgiveness, Justification, and Sanctification. These 6 relationship changes are the direct result of Christ’s finished work on the cross so they are often called “words of the cross.” We will cover them one at a time.

Word Of The Cross #1 Propitiation: “God’s Holy Wrath Is Fully Satisfied.”

../../../Joyful%20Walk%20Blog/Other%20Blogs%20Written/Other%20Blog%20Post%20Graphics/Words%20of%20the%20Cross/Propitiation-Satisfied-GodNoLongerAngryAtYou-MelanieNewton-sq200.jpgIt comes up time and time again. Women who know Christ and have trusted in Him for salvation and new life struggle with the notion that God is still angry with them because of something they’ve done in the past. Maybe that is how you feel.

Do you wonder if you have a flawed understanding of salvation? Is salvation just getting eternal life when you die? From what are Christians saved? When you study the New Testament, you see that we are saved from many things, including ourselves and our own flawed righteousness. But, the main emphasis is that we are saved from the wrath of God.

What does that mean? And, how does understanding that give you confidence that God is no longer angry with you or at you?

What Is The Wrath Of God?

In Colossians, Paul described God’s response to all evil and sin as righteous, holy wrath (Colossians 3:6). We must not project our experience with human anger onto God and assume that “His is the same, only bigger.” God’s wrath is not a mood or a fit of temper. God’s disposition toward sin and evil is as constant and unrelenting as His love and goodness. He hates and rejects evil with a perfect and holy anger. He will never bend or compromise with it. His own nature demands that He judge it through action. To preserve His creation God must destroy whatever would destroy it (Romans 1:18-20). Every wrathful judgment of God in the history of the world has been a holy act of preservation.

God hates sin. It incurs His anger. You can probably recall a time when you incurred the anger of someone you love and needed to make some kind of restitution to “appease” their anger. The act of appeasement leads to that person now being satisfied because restitution has been made, so the relationship can be restored. That is what God did for us. Romans 3:25 says that God presented Christ as a sacrifice of propitiation for our sins. Propitiation is an old word meaning “to appease, satisfy.” Some translations use the words “sacrifice of atonement” or “atoning sacrifice” instead. The concept of God’s satisfaction is the same.

God’s Wrath Is Fully Satisfied

God took action. God’s holy wrath against all sin is fully satisfied by Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross. Because of that, God is able to extend mercy to every believer in Christ without compromise with evil. This is truth for you to know and claim.

Romans 5:9 says this, “Much more then, because we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from God’s wrath.”

There is no longer any sacrifice that anyone can ever do to appease God’s wrath against sin apart from what Christ has already done. Picture an empty altar—never again used. Jesus did the appeasement for you. It’s done, finished!

God Is No Longer Angry At You

Because you have trusted Christ and are now found in Christ, you can dwell on the FACT that God is no longer angry at your sin—ever! You CAN KNOW and live with confidence that God is SATISFIED…NO LONGER ANGRY at your sin because you believe in His Son.

Word Of The Cross #2 Reconciliation: “Our Relationship With God Is Restored.”

../../../Joyful%20Walk%20Blog/Other%20Blogs%20Written/Other%20Blog%20Post%20Graphics/Words%20of%20the%20Cross/Reconciliation-RestoredRelationshipwithGod-MelanieNewton-sq200.pngAt some point in our lives, we all experience a personal relationship that is broken. You can probably think of one such conflict right now. Broken relationships cause pain and often leave us confused about how we can possibly fix them.

Most people want to be reconciled so that the relationship can be restored in some fashion. How sad it is when a broken relationship continues to remain broken and isn’t reconciled. What joy we experience when we see a broken relationship repaired and healthy again!

Reconciliation is certainly a reason for rejoicing, especially in our relationship with God! But, what does it take for reconciliation?

The Broken Relationship Restored

As Romans 3:23 describes, all people have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Before Christ, our problem was a state of alienation (separation) from God because of sin (Isaiah 59:2). There was an impassable barrier between us. A broken relationship. Some kind of reconciliation needed to be done. We couldn’t do it on our part—no matter how many good works we did. There was always that chasm created by sin between us and God.

BUT GOD did something about that! I love those two words in the Bible, “But God.” Whenever it looks absolutely hopeless for us humans, God steps in and does the exact thing we need. God restored the broken relationship by reconciling us to Himself through Jesus’s death.

To reconcile means to re-establish friendship between two parties, to settle or resolve a dispute, and/or to bring acceptance. Wow! Did we need that!

What was God’s motivation to repair the broken relationship? It was love.

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Romans 5:10 says that God loved us so much that even while we were God’s enemies, He did what was needed to reconcile us to Himself through the death of His Son.

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:10-11)

Jesus Christ has fully paid mankind’s debt, removing the barrier between God and men. A bridge has been built through Jesus Christ. As we cross over this bridge by our faith in Jesus, our relationship with God is restored. God stands eagerly welcoming anyone who will believe the good news and come home (repent, Luke 15:7-10). And, even more than that, Jesus presents us holy and blameless in God’s sight. Reconciliation is a present reality for every Christian and is worthy of our rejoicing!

Living In The Present Reality Of Reconciliation With God

Because this reconciliation extends to everyone who chooses to receive it by faith, God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. We are to announce to others that they can have what we have in a restored relationship with the God who loves them.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

The same power of reconciliation is available to you through Christ for your relationships. If you are in the midst of a relationship that is broken and in need of reconciliation, pray that God would work His mighty hand in the relationship and provide you with His wisdom in pursuing reconciliation.

Restored…No Longer Broken

You CAN KNOW and live with confidence that the barrier of sin has been taken away and a bridge has been built between you and God because of Jesus’s finished work on the cross. This was God’s act of reconciliation offered to you because you believe in His Son. Your relationship with God is RESTORED…NO LONGER BROKEN.

Word Of The Cross #3 Redemption: “Purchased Out Of Bondage To Sin.”

Bondage. No one likes being in bondage. Whether it is to a person, a contract, a debt, or something controlling your life, bondage stinks. It stifles. It discourages. It makes you a slave of whatever is holding you “in chains.” Every person who is in bondage longs to be released from those chains.

Did you know that every human being born on this planet is born into bondage? I don’t care how much money or status you have. You were born into bondage. Bondage to what? Colossians 1:13 calls it “the kingdom of darkness.” Romans 6:15-18 describes it as being a “slave to sin.” The slave master “sin” calls the shots. Obedience comes too easily. It’s a trap. But, you are released from that trap the moment you trust in Jesus Christ.

The Bible calls this “redemption.” We sing songs about being redeemed. But, do we really understand what that means?

What Is Redemption?

The concept of redemption refers to recovering ownership by paying a stipulated sum. Or, it can mean to set something or someone free from bondage by paying a ransom, such as for a kidnapped person or releasing a slave to become free. Either way, a price is paid.

Biblical redemption is based on an understanding of the pain of slavery—a common practice in the Roman Empire at the time. Nearly 50% of the people were slaves—1 out of every 2 men, women, and children! The readers of the New Testament were very familiar with the hopelessness of being owned by a slave master, the buying and selling associated with the slave market, and the only two ways out of the miserable cycle, one of which was death. The other way was for you to be bought by someone and then set free. Jesus did that for us.

Jesus Christ Set You Free.

Jesus declared that He came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). It is through Christ’s blood (the purchase price) that we are redeemed. We are redeemed from the slavery of sin and from the empty way of life handed down to us by our forefathers.

Redemption represents an important change in our relationship with God. Before Christ, we were in a state of slavery to sin and to death (spiri­tual & physical). Biblical redemption means that we have been purchased by the blood of Christ out of slavery and released into freedom to serve God in obedience.

The life of slavery to sin leads to someone offering their bodies to impurity and ever-increasing wickedness, free from the control of righteousness with no benefits, only shame. The end result is death.

The life of freedom leads to someone offering their bodies to God and His righteousness leading to holiness, lavished grace and eternal life. Their life is characterized by hearts under obedience to God.

Released…No Longer In Bondage

God chooses to redeem us. It is an extension of His love and His purpose for us.

  • God redeems us to rescue us from the dominion of darkness and bring us into the kingdom of the Son He loves (Colossians 1:13-14) where we have forgiveness of sins.
  • God redeems us from all wickedness to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good (Titus 2:13-14).
  • God redeems men and women from every tribe, language, people, and nation (Revelation 5:9-10) to be a kingdom and priests to serve Him.

When God redeems you, you become the possession of a loving, merciful God and can live in the security of your freedom from bondage to sin. And, here’s the best part. You have a new master now with greater power living inside of you—the Spirit of God Himself—who can give you freedom from any entrapping sin. Claim that freedom now. Choose to obey the Spirit inside you who will lead you and empower you to say “no” to sin.

Bask In The Freedom

You CAN KNOW and live with confidence that you, as a believer, have been purchased by the blood of Christ out of slavery to sin and released into freedom as God’s act of redemption.

Are you experiencing the freedom from slavery to sin in your life right now? If not, do you have confidence that you do not have to listen to the voice of your old slave master sin? You have been RELEASED…NO LONGER IN BONDAGE.

“Redeemed how I love to proclaim it. Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child and forever I am.” (Fannie Crosby, 19th century hymn writer)

Word Of The Cross #4 Forgiveness: “Your Guilt Has Been Taken Away.”

../../../Joyful%20Walk%20Blog/Words%20of%20the%20Cross/Forgiveness-NoLongerBurdenedBySin-sq200.pngLike the woman washing Jesus’s feet with her tears in Luke 7, many of us carry the guilt of our sins with us like a heavy burden, weighing us down. The continual reminder of our sins keeps us from experiencing freedom and from enjoying the relationship with God that we have by faith in Jesus Christ.

We don’t just need a teacher. We need a Savior who comes in and does for us what we can’t do for ourselves: forgiveness.

All of our debt of sin before God is enormous; we are incapable of ever paying it back. You and I need to understand how complete and continual is God’s forgiveness of us. And, we need to know how to deal with any recognized sin in our lives so that we won’t continue to carry that burden of guilt.

What Is Forgiveness?

In the Bible, the term “forgiveness” means “to send off or send away.” Our sin is transferred to a substitute, Jesus, and taken away. People in Old Testament times were accepted by God and received eternal life in the same way as we are today: by faith in the merciful grace of God. For daily living, however, they had to bring their animal sacrifice to the priest. Their sin was transferred to that sacrifice, and they received forgiveness for their sins up to that point.

God promised His people that one day forgiveness would no longer be a temporary solution, but it would be complete and permanent. That happened on the cross through Jesus.

Jesus Christ Set You Free From The Burden.

As Paul declared in Colossians 2,

“When you were dead in your sins…God made you[a] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)

Once you place your faith in Jesus Christ, whatever you have done that was wrong in God’s eyes from the time you were born through the time of your death has been canceled. Taken away. All of it. Past, present and future. Nailed to the cross.

It’s even better than that! Paul writes in 2 Corinthians,

that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.” (2 Corinthiasn 5:19)

Since your sins have been taken away, God is longer counting them against you. You are forgiven based on your faith alone. Sins are applied to Jesus who takes them on your behalf. FORGIVENESS: “Your guilt has been transferred to a substitute and taken away.”

Once you have trusted in Jesus, Ephesians 1:7 says that forgiveness is something we possess as believers. We receive God’s forgiveness for all our sins (past, present, and future) from the moment we place our faith in Jesus Christ. That is very important for you to know. Forgiveness is complete and continual.

Although our God does not hold our sin against us any longer, and His grace is continually forgiving us of sin, that does not give us permission to intentionally sin. Intentional sin does not fit with who you are as a forgiven Christian with a new life to enjoy. But, as long as you live in your earthly body, you will be tempted to sin. Sin will happen—whether intentionally or unintentionally. And, though our God is no longer counting our sins against us, we still must deal with the consequences of any sinful behavior.

As an already forgiven Christian, the biblical process for dealing with recognized sin is to remember first that your identity is child of God, then agree with God that you have sinned against Him, mourn your sin and depend on the Holy Spirit to help you obey God in the future. Then, trust in Him to help you overcome the consequences of any sinful choices you have made in a way that brings glory to Him.

Forgiven…No Longer Burdened

Dwell on the FACT that Jesus will cleanse your conscience from guilt. Will you take Him at His word? If there is any past sin for which you are still feeling guilty, claim God’s complete forgiveness today. Now, choose to believe you are FORGIVEN…NO LONGER BURDENED by your sin. Allow Jesus to cleanse your conscience from any residual guilt. Every time you think about it again, thank God for His amazing gift!

Word Of The Cross #5 Justification: “Declared Righteous In God’s Eyes.”

../../../../../../Desktop/Words%20of%20the%20Cross%20Series/Justification-Righteous-No-Longer-GuiltAs a teen, I wrestled with the notion that I was not good enough to please God. I could never measure up to His standards of perfection. I was always guilty of not doing something right, of falling short of whatever it was He expected of me.

Then, I heard some good news when I committed my life to Christ and chose to follow Him. God declared me “not guilty” of all my sin. Not guilty? All my sin? Really?

Yes, dear believer, God declares you “not guilty” of all sin, once and for all, based on your faith alone in His Son. It is an amazing plan that is totally based on His grace towards you, not anything you have earned by your own efforts.

And, this one decision made by God the Judge on behalf of every Christian is one of the most important aspects of our relationship with God. The word used to describe it is this: Justification. And, the truth wrapped up in this one word has rocked the world for centuries.

What Is Justification?

Justification is a legal term that literally means, “to declare righteous, to declare not guilty.” English New Testaments use “justified” and “made righteous” interchangeably, but both mean just about the same thing. Justification represents an important change in our relationship with God. Our problem before Christ was our need for perfect acceptability before a holy God. We could never reach that on our own.

Justification is God’s act as Judge where He declares a guilty sinner to be totally righteous in His sight on the basis of Christ’s finished work on the cross and that person’s faith in Christ. This is possible because the sacrifice of Jesus Christ fully honored and satisfied the righteous demands of a holy God (“propitiation”).

Justification involves both a negative and positive aspect. Negatively, justification is the removal of guilt from the offender (“forgiveness”). Positively, justification is the addition of righteousness to the one who believes (Romans 5:17). This is called the “Great Exchange.” Paul describes it clearly in 2 Corinthians,

God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Jesus Christ Took Your Sin; God Declares You Righteous.

God not only declares you “not guilty” of all sin through your faith in His Son, He also gives you a new status called “righteousness before God.” That’s the end result of JUSTIFICATION: “The believer in Jesus Christ is declared righteous before God.”

It is not your own righteousness that does it. You receive this righteous status by faith alone and not depending upon any works that you do to earn acceptability in God’s sight, even after you are saved. The amazing thing is that God does this while we are still capable of sinning. When God looks on you, He sees His Son’s righteousness taking the place of your sin—even your sin after you’ve been a believer for a long time.

Picture an accountant’s spreadsheet dedicated to your life. On the left side of the page is the heading “your sins;” on the right side of the page is the heading “Christ’s righteousness.” When you sin (intentionally or unintentionally) for the rest of your life, God replaces that sin on the “your sins” side with Christ’s righteousness and puts your sin on His side—your sin is taken away (forgiveness). It is a continual balancing. Your sin never stays on your side of the page because God declares in 2 Corinthians 5:19 that He is “not counting men’s sins against them.” You are forever declared “not guilty” in His sight. Isn’t that great news?!

But, Wait, There’s More…

According to Romans 5:1-2, we now have peace with God as a benefit of being justified. We are no longer enemies but are reconciled to Him as saved ones. We are no longer alienated from God as enemies in our minds because of our evil behavior. Instead, we are now presented as “holy in His sight,” without blemish and free from accusation.

In Galatians 3:26-27, Paul declares that every believer is a child of God by faith and, therefore, clothed with Christ. When God looks on you and me, He sees Jesus and His righteousness, not all of our faults. It is an amazing plan that is totally based on His grace toward us, not anything we have earned by our own efforts.

Righteous…No Longer Guilty

If you are still wrestling with the notion that you are not good enough to please God, remember that no one can ever be good enough on his or her own merits to please God.

In Philippians 3:2-9, Paul considered his birth status, education, pursuit of knowledge, and zeal to get rid of Christians as evidence that he had plenty of reasons to convince himself that he was a “righteous” Jew and that God should have been pleased with his efforts.

But, after knowing Christ, Paul declared all those things that he once thought were in his favor to be rubbish, a loss rather than a win when it comes to faith. Instead, Paul discovered that knowing Jesus Christ as Lord was far better. He now preferred to be found in Christ with the righteousness that comes through faith, not by his own efforts. All Paul had to do to gain his new righteous standing before God was to trust in Jesus Christ as His Savior and Lord. That is true for you as well.

Dwell on the FACT of your justification—being declared righteous so that you are now perfectly acceptable to a holy God based on your faith in His Son. How do you feel about this? When you are tempted to think that God could not possibly accept you because of your weaknesses and guilty past, declare this to yourself: “I am declared righteous in God’s eyes because of my faith in Jesus Christ.” You are RIGHTEOUS…NO LONGER GUILTY in God’s sight.

Word Of The Cross #6 Sanctification: “Set Apart As God’s Possession For His Exclusive Use.”

I was once an up-tight perfectionist. Yes, I admit it. My whole self-image depended upon being perfect in grades, piano performance and whatever got me awards for achievement.

Yet, my flaws kept getting in the way of getting straight A’s one six weeks so that I missed out on the “straight A’s” award for that school year. I was horrible in athletics so PE was my nemesis. Then, in college, physics knocked me down big time. I just couldn’t see how to get the answers to those problems.

My flaws were ever before me, and I sobbed when I couldn’t achieve perfection, which happened a lot. My self-image was tied to a losing cause.

Then, Jesus entered my life and showed me a new way to look at myself—through what He did for me on the cross. When my eyes stopped looking at me and my flaws and started looking at Him and my value in His sight, that burden of performance and perfectionism just rolled off my shoulders. It was the greatest relief I ever felt!

And, perfectionism has never controlled my life since then (although that tendency to evaluate myself and what I do with critical eyes remains latent in my personality). Through my faith in Christ, God looks upon me as already perfect, as flawless as the most perfect diamond. The Bible calls this Sanctification.

What Is Sanctification?

Like propitiation (word #1), sanctification is a word we don’t use in our daily vocabulary. To be sanctified means to be made holy. To be “holy” means to be “set apart for special use.” Because the two words—sanctified and holy—are so closely connected, they are used interchangeably in our English translations. They mean the same thing, though.

Sanctification represents another important change in our standing with God. Our problem before Christ was our need to be separated from the world and separated to God. This is accomplished through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as all believers are turned from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God (Acts 26:17-18).

God demands that we be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). But, here’s the best news: God makes us holy in His sight by our faith in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:10). His love chooses to do that for us. It absolutely amazes me that God looks upon me and calls me holy in His sight. Doesn’t that amaze you?

But, sanctification is more than just having a different status before God. We have a different purpose as well. Every believer has been set apart as God’s special, beloved possession for His exclusive use. To be set apart for special use is similar to using fine china and silverware for special occasions. It is the opposite of ordinary and common. Dear Christian, you are God’s special, beloved possession—called by Him to be dedicated to His service. You have a valuable purpose. How sweet is that!

You Place Your Faith In Jesus; God Declares You His Saint.

Sanctified ones are called “holy people” and “saints” in the New Testament, depending on the translation. You can see how Paul described the believers in the first couple of verses of most of his letters—i.e., Romans 1:7, 2 Corinthians 1:1, and Ephesians 1:1. Translators use various English words to represent Paul’s intended meaning, usually “saints,” “holy ones” or “holy people.” All of those are translating a derivative of the Greek word hagios, “holy,” meaning separated from sin and dedicated to God.

All believers are called “holy ones” based on their faith in Jesus Christ. You as a saint are identified by position, what God declares to be true about you. Every believer, including you, is one of God’s saints, totally loved and accepted by Him. You are considered a saint of God by His declaration, not because of your behavior. Although some particularly influential Christians have been titled “Saint” through the years as an honor for their service to God, this in no way negates the truth that every believer is a saint in God’s eyes.

Believers are made holy by Christ’s death on the cross in their relational status before God. Remember all those words we have already studied? You have been redeemed, reconciled to God, forgiven, justified and completely accepted by God because of what Jesus has already done for you on the cross. All of that contributes to God declaring you holy as one of His saints by faith in Jesus Christ. That is your status before God. Perfected…no longer flawed in His sight.

But, Wait, There’s More…

Believers are also “being made holy” in their thoughts, words, and actions by the work of the Holy Spirit. This is ongoing from the moment of salvation until the Lord comes or the believer dies, when our “being made holy” is complete (Philippians 1:6). The goal of the Spirit’s work is to transform us into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18) so that we become in thought and behavior what we are in status—holy as God is holy.

Perfected…No Longer Flawed

Dwell on the FACT that God declares you holy because of your faith in Christ. You are set apart by Him, for Him. In His eyes, you are perfected, no longer flawed. This is your status before God because of your faith. Your behavior matches your position when you submit to the Spirit’s work to intentionally separate you from what God calls sin and then commit yourself to being used for His purposes throughout a typical day as you care for your household, be a parent or grandparent to children, work for an employer, interact with people around you, and spend your leisure time.

These Gifts Are Yours, Sister!

Because of the cross, you can dwell on the FACT that God was fully satisfied by Jesus’s finished work on the cross. God is no longer angry at your sin because you believe in His Son. You can dwell on the FACT that the barrier of sin has been taken away and complete reconciliation between you and God is possible because of Jesus’s finished work on the cross. Your relationship with God is restored. You can dwell on the FACT that you, as a believer, have been purchased by the blood of Christ out of slavery and released into freedom as God’s act of redemption. You have a new master with greater power living inside of you, the Spirit of God Himself, who can give you freedom from any entrapping sin.

You can also dwell on the FACT that you are completely forgiven of your sins and that Jesus promises to cleanse your conscience from guilt. You can dwell on the FACT that you have been declared righteous (justified) and are now perfectly acceptable to a holy God based on your faith in His Son. And, you can dwell on the FACT that God declares you holy because of your faith in Christ. You are sanctified—set apart by Him, for Him.

Mankind’s disease was sin. Because of this disease, we were: 1) never able to make ourselves well, 2) in bondage to the disease, 3) alienated from the one who could heal us, 4) carrying the guilt of having the disease, 5) experiencing cumulative effects of the disease, and 6) unable to live a purposeful life. Jesus’s finished work on the cross removed all these effects of the disease so that “by His wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24)—truly healed!

An understanding of Christ’s finished work on the cross is the basis for a firm knowledge of our identity in Him—a founda­tional truth for successful Christian living. It was totally God’s work to make sinners acceptable again in His sight. Our proper response is to trust and rest in His work, and to continually offer Him thanks from grateful hearts along with our willing service.

Now that you have a more complete understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross on your behalf—how does that make you feel? Believe it, sister. Embrace it. Relish in it. Bask in it. Anchor your hope in it.

As Paul writes in Colossians 3:12, you are dearly loved!

Reflect And Respond To God About What He’s Shown You.

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Lesson 6: Open Wide Your Hearts (2 Corinthians 6:11-7:16)

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Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. (2 Corinthians 7:1-2)

You are the beloved child of the living God who, in His love, has made you into a new creature with a definite purpose. You are the aroma of the knowledge of God for others to sense. You are a righteous light-bearer of God’s glory that shines even in your weakness. You are able to view other people through the lens of their relationship to Christ or need for Him rather than through worldly prejudices. That’s who you are, dear Christian, in God’s eyes—the only view that really matters.

Yet, our frail bodies live in a world filled with struggles. People around us see how we respond and may be drawn to Christ by watching us live with integrity and sincere dependence on the Lord Jesus. This is also true in our relationships with other believers, as Paul addresses in this next section of his letter. His appeal to the Corinthians who are like family to him may resonate in something you have experienced as well. “Open wide your hearts, as we have opened ours to you.”

Questions To Consider This Week:

  • How do you recognize when you are being contaminated in body and spirit by a relationship or activity? What should you do about it?
  • What is the difference between godly sorrow and the “I’m sorry” the world practices?

Day One Study—Get The Big Picture.

Read 2 Corinthians 6:3-7:16, which includes verses from the last lesson. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

[To print, follow this link (or for the NIV, this one). Use your own method (colored pencils, lines, shapes) to mark: 1) anything that grabs your attention and 2) words you want to understand. Feel free to develop your own method of marking up a passage. Put a star  next to anything you think relates to dependent living.]

1. What grabbed your attention from these verses?

  • 6:11-7:1
  • 7:2-7
  • 7:8-16

2. What verses or specific words do you want to understand better?

3. What topics are repeated in this passage or continue an earlier discussion in this letter?

4. What verses illustrate or help you understand what dependent living on God looks like?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Two Study

Read 2 Corinthians 6:11-7:1. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

5. Paul appeals to their hearts and to their choices that influence their hearts.

  • What does Paul declare to the Corinthians (v. 11)?
  • Who is withholding affection (v. 12)?
  • What does he ask them to do (v. 13)?
  • What does he tell them not to do (v. 14)?
  • For we are what (v. 16)?
  • What has God already said about this “separateness” (v. 17)?
  • Since we have the promises in 6:16-18, and are the temple of the living God, what should we do (7:1)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

Scriptural Insight: “Belial” (v. 15) is the personification of Evil (cf. Deuteronomy 13:13; 2 Samuel 22:5-6), and he is the antithesis of Christ. “Belial” was a recognized name for “Satan” in Paul’s day. It may have come from combining the Hebrew word for “worthlessness” with the name of the pagan god “Baal. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 75)

What Does It Mean?

This section of text summarizes 1 Corinthians 10:1-22, where Paul had previously warned the Corinthians about idolatry. This extended to relationships as well as behavior. Being unequally yoked refers to the disastrous results of yoking an ox and a donkey together (Deuteronomy 22:10).

6. Read vv. 14-16 in several Bible translations then answer the following questions. From the original language, we learn that Paul is addressing individual believers. But we know that individuals by their choices influence the whole community.

  • What would be the general answer to all five questions that Paul asks?
  • What could it mean to be yoked together with unbelievers?
  • In what situations / relationships do you think this teaching against being “yoked together with unbelievers” especially applies?
  • What is the difference between being “yoked together” and being a “bridge-builder” as an ambassador for Christ?
  • How could being yoked together with unbelievers be detrimental to you as a believer? Look throughout today’s passage for your answer.
  • What should you do to prevent yourself from being unequally yoked?

Scriptural Insight: Paul was not saying that Christians should break off all association with unbelievers (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:9-10; 10:27). He had previously encouraged the saved partner in a mixed marriage to maintain the marriage relationship as long as possible (1 Corinthians 7:12-16). He had also urged his fellow Christians, as ambassadors of Christ, to evangelize the lost (2 Corinthians 5:20). Rather, here Paul was commanding that Christians form no binding interpersonal relationships with non-Christians that resulted in their spiritual defilement. … Such alliances can prevent the Christian from living a consistently obedient Christian life. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 74)

7. Every Christian is the temple of the living God. What makes us the temple of God? See also 2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5 and 6:19-20.

8. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 6:11-7:1?

What Application Will You Make?

9. Broken relationships: Paul talks about the pain of broken relationships in 6:11-13. Is this something you are experiencing within your family or with friends? Paul gets it. Jesus gets it. It hurts. How can you follow the process Paul gives throughout 2 Corinthians 6:11-7:16?

10. Contaminating relationships: Review 2 Corinthians 7:1. To purify yourself from everything that contaminates body and spirit means to separate yourself from ungodly, immoral, and testimony-ruining activities.

  • How do you recognize when you are being contaminated in body and spirit by a relationship or activity?
  • What should you do to keep from being contaminated by that relationship or activity?

Scriptural Insight: What if you are married to an unbeliever? See 1 Peter 3 and 1 Corinthians 7. What if you work for an unbeliever or are in business with an unbeliever? See Colossians 3. What if your adult children are unbelievers? See Luke 15. Be careful about causes that you support. See Acts 13:50 and Galatians 6:10.

11. In what other ways can you apply this lesson to your life?

Think About It: Flee, don’t flirt with corrupting influences of the secular culture. Flirting with it would be considering, “How close can I get to the line of sin without crossing over? Fleeing from it would be “How far away can I get from the line of sin so I am not close enough to cross over.” (Destin Garner, RockPointe Church sermon, June 25, 2017). We often put more effort into being “anti-germ” than we do in being “anti-sin.” Consider the corrupting influences from the secular culture to be as dangerous to your health as the presence of germs in your space.

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Three Study

Read 2 Corinthians 7:2-7. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

12. Review 2 Corinthians 2:12-13 to remember the situation that Paul is addressing. Paul picks up on his wording from 6:11-13.

  • Paul asked them to do what (v. 2)?
  • Paul declares that he has not done what to anyone (v. 2)?
  • What had Paul said before this (v. 3)?
  • What did Paul tell them (v. 4)?
  • When Paul and his friends came into Macedonia, what did they experience (v. 5)?
  • But God does what (v. 6)?
  • The Corinthians had given comfort to Titus who told Paul what (v. 7)?
  • Paul’s response was what (v. 7)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

What Does It Mean?

13. Review 7:2-4. Paul is bearing his heart to the Corinthian Christians. Summarize what Paul is saying.

14. God brings comfort to Paul’s anxious heart concerning the Corinthians (vv. 5-7; 2:1-4). The context is relationship concerns.

  • Why did Paul need comfort?
  • What did God use to comfort him?
  • How did this comforting news affect Paul?

From the Greek: Paul had felt disheartened (Gr. tapeinos, meaning “brought low, humble, lowly in spirit,” not clinically “depressed”) when he could not find Titus as he first arrived in Macedonia. He was so concerned about how the Corinthians had received his severe letter that he couldn’t rest until he heard the news.

15. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 7:2-7?

What Application Will You Make?

16. Recall a time when you felt disheartened or downcast, and God sent others to encourage and lift you up. Have you recognized that comfort being from Him? Have you thanked Him for it?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Four Study

Read 2 Corinthians 7:8-16. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

17. In 2 Corinthians 7:8-16, Paul returns to his train of thought from earlier in the letter. Review 2 Corinthians 2:1-11.

  • How does Paul feel about the letter he had to write to them (7:8)?
  • Why is he now happy (7:9)?
  • Write out 2 Corinthians 7:10.
  • What had godly sorry produced in them (7:11)?
  • What had they proven by their response (7:11)?
  • What were the reasons he wrote the letter (v. 12)?
  • Besides Paul and Timothy, why was Titus happy (v. 13)?
  • What proved to be true (v. 14)?
  • What was Titus’s “take-away” from his visit with the Corinthians (v. 15)?
  • Why is Paul glad (v. 16)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

Think About It: To reconcile a relationship, one must take deliberate actions and address the problem that caused the breach. These actions hurt but are necessary. Hoping that the misunderstandings will go away on their own rarely works.

What Does It Mean?

18. Regarding repentance and sorrow for sin (vv. 8-12):

  • Describe godly sorrow from these verses.
  • What could Paul have meant by “worldly sorrow” (v. 10)? Feel free to read this verse in other Bible translations to help in your understanding.
  • What is the difference in outcome and results?

19. What was Titus’s role in reconciling the relationship between Paul and the Corinthian church members (vv. 13-16)?

Focus on the Meaning: “Fear and trembling” (v. 15) is likely a hendiadys, an idiom in which a verb is intensified by being linked by “and” to a synonym. We have them in English too. If you’re “sick and tired,” this doesn’t mean you’re sick and you’re tired, it just means that you’re very tired. Similarly, “fear and trembling” seems to mean “great reverence” (or humility) as Paul is using it in 1 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 7:15; Philippians 2:12; and Ephesians 6:5. Mark also used this in reference to the woman coming to Jesus in Mark 5:33. The same phrase is found in the Septuagint version of Psalm 2:11 and 55:5. It is the opposite of boasting. (adapted from a posting at Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange)

20. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 7:8-16?

What Application Will You Make?

As long as you live in your earthly body, you will be tempted to sin. Sin will happen—whether intentionally or unintentionally. And, though our God is no longer counting our sins against us (2 Corinthians 5:20), we still must deal with the consequences of any sinful behavior.

21. Addressing recognized sin in your life is part of dependent living. Whenever the Spirit convicts you of thinking or behavior that is definitely not pleasing to the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:9), follow this biblical process to deal with it:

  • Step One: View yourself rightly. Your identity is not “_______” (coveter, greedy, gossiper, whatever it is). You are in Christ, a child of God, who sometimes “_____” (covets, is greedy, gossips).
  • Step Two: Recognize (confess) the truth regarding your sin. To confess biblically means “to agree with God about what you and He both know to be true.” Confession is not a formula, a process, or dependent on a mediator. Regarding sin in my life, it is not saying, “I’m sorry.” It is saying, “I agree with you, God. I blew it!” See your sin as awful!

Using coveting for example: while reading Philippians 4:12, the Spirit convicts you that you have been coveting rather than being content. You agree with God that your coveting is actually not being content with His provision. Coveting doesnt fit someone who knows God. That is confession.

  • Step Three: Confession is incomplete without repentance. Repentance means to change your mind about that sin, to mourn its ugliness, resulting in changing your actions. Paul calls that godly sorrow in 2 Corinthians 7:9-11, and he says godly sorrow produces repentance. It’s saying, “I recognize what I am doing is wrong. This fills me with sorrow because it displeases You, God. Please help me to live differently.” He will certainly do that! That’s how our lives get transformed.

Using coveting for example: You want to not covet any longer, and you want to be content and grateful for what God has already provided. So, you pray, Lord Jesus, please have your Spirit nudge me when I want to covet. Replace my coveting with contentment and gratitude. By faith, Lord, I want you to do that in my life. That is repentance.

  • Step Four: Repentance leads to dependence. Depend on the living Christ inside you for that change to take place. Our Lord Jesus Christ is not interested in our compliance (outward conformity) as much as He desires our obedience from the heart. And, trust in Him to help you overcome the consequences of any sinful choices you have made in a way that brings glory to Him.

Using coveting for example: Memorize Philippians 4:12-13 and any other scriptures that deal with being thankful for Gods provision. Be sensitive to the Spirits nudging when you are tempted to covet. Choose to be thankful instead.

Think About It: Repentance isn’t repentance until you change something. You can confess “until the cows come home” (daily, habitually) and never change anything. Jesus called for people to “repent” not “confess.”

22. In what other ways can you apply this lesson to your life?

23. Review the passage for this lesson in “Day One Study.” Add reasons why God wants us to depend on Him more than on ourselves to the chart below. I’ve given a few prompts.

Verse(s)

Reasons why God wants us to depend on Him more than on ourselves

6:16-18

We are His children

7:1

To purify ourselves to perfect holiness

7:6

He comforts us when we are downcast

7:9

So we rightly respond to sin in our lives

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

As His child, God transforms your life by teaching you to live dependently on Him in weakness and in strength.

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Lesson 7: Generosity from Joy Overflowing (2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15)

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And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. (2 Corinthians 8:1-2)

Paul’s heart was hurting because the Corinthian Christians closed off their affection for him. The relationship was broken, at least temporarily, for several reasons—misunderstandings, slander against him, and his need to send them a stern letter warning them about their sinful behavior. Paul took deliberate steps to address the problems. And, he was rewarded with comforting words sent by the Corinthians to Paul through Titus. Paul writes that this comfort came from God, and hearing how much they longed for him and were concerned for him made his heart overflow with joy. He saw the fruit of the letter that had needed to be written, though painful for both the writer and the receiver.

To reconcile a relationship, one must take deliberate actions and address the problem that caused the breach. These actions hurt but are necessary. Hoping that the misunderstandings will go away on their own rarely works. The same is true of recognized sin in one’s life. You must take deliberate actions that are biblical and lead you to depend on the Lord Jesus Christ even more to overcome whatever that sin is. That also makes your joy overflow as you trust in Him to work in your life.

Now, we come to one of the most amazing passages in the Bible. Paul writes about generosity that springs from overflowing joy, even in the midst of extreme poverty. This is so totally opposite of what the world teaches about money. In Matthew 6:32-33, Jesus told His followers to think differently regarding God’s provision. Don’t let your needs dominate your thoughts. Your heavenly Father knows them. He cares for the creatures in the natural world so they lack nothing. He will care for you. Give yourself to the Lord first. Pursue what matters to God—His honor and His purposes—more than your own. God’s provision to us is not only for our needs but also for us to use to advance His purposes as we are ambassadors for Him. Let’s see what that looks like.

Questions To Consider This Week:

  • What is your concept of generosity?
  • How do you choose someone trustworthy to handle money for a church community or small group?
  • If you are active in ministry to others, do you surround yourself with people worthy of respect who will be trusted by others and, therefore, show you to be trustworthy, also?

Day One Study—Get The Big Picture.

Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

[To print, follow this link (or for the NIV, this one). Use your own method (colored pencils, lines, shapes) to mark: 1) anything that grabs your attention and 2) words you want to understand. Feel free to develop your own method of marking up a passage. Put a star  next to anything you think relates to dependent living.]

Note: The financial gift is for the impoverished Christians in Jerusalem and Judea.

1. What grabbed your attention from these verses?

  • 8:1-9
  • 8:10-24
  • 9:1-15

2. What verses or specific words do you want to understand better?

3. What topics are repeated in this passage or continue an earlier discussion in this letter?

4. What verses illustrate or help you understand what dependent living on God looks like?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Two Study

Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-10. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

5. God’s grace not only saves us but also teaches us to trust Him more and more with our lives and everything we hold dear. Paul is with the Macedonians as he writes this.

  • What does Paul want the Corinthians to know (v. 1)?
  • Write verse 2 below.
  • Who gave the Macedonians the ability to do that?
  • Paul testifies what about the Macedonians (v. 3)?
  • Entirely on their own, what did they do (v. 4)? See also Matthew 6:33.
  • By what process did they do this (v. 5)?
  • What was Titus urged to do in Corinth (v. 6)?
  • In what did the Corinthians already excel (v. 7)?
  • What did Paul then challenge the Corinthians to do (v. 7)?
  • What is being tested in their hearts and how (v. 8)?
  • How did Jesus model the grace of giving for them (v. 9)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

What Does It Mean?

6. Write verse 2 from any three Bible translations.

What is so amazing about what is revealed in verse 2?

Think About It: While undergoing severe trials, afflictions, and extreme poverty, overflowing joy yielded rich generosity. What counts as “rich generosity?” R. G. LeTourneau, who created the first massive earth-moving machines, would often quote this little poem, “It is not what you’d do with a million, if riches should e’er be your lot. But what you are doing at present with the dollar and a quarter you’ve got.” So true!

7. Looking at vv. 1-5, identify the choices the Macedonians made in their process of giving. Note: Paul never mentioned the size of their gift.

8. God had gifted the Corinthians with every spiritual gift they needed (1 Corinthians 1:5-7). And, Corinth was a prosperous community. They lacked nothing from God.

  • Considering the meaning of grace to be “a gift that is not deserved,” what does Paul mean by “this grace of giving (NIV)” / “act of grace (ESV)” in v. 7? What is it not?
  • So, whom are they mimicking in their giving? See also Philippians 2:5-7; 4:19; and Ephesians 1:14, 18.

Scriptural Insight: The incarnation of Jesus Christ is the greatest example of self-sacrificing generosity. He gave up the riches of glory in heaven, when He became a man and died on the cross, so that we might share His riches of glory in heaven (cf. Philippians 2:1-11). Gratitude to Him for His condescending grace should be the supreme motive for Christian giving. … The Macedonians gave when they were very poor, but Christ gave when He was immensely rich. The Corinthians were between these two extremes. These two examples leave no question that giving is a grace which both the rich and the poor should manifest. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 86)

9. Usually, we think of comparison as a bad thing. For what purpose can comparison be good (v. 8)?

10. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 8:1-9?

Scriptural Insight: Tithing is an Old Testament concept. After the death of Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law, the New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians set aside a certain percentage of income, but only says gifts should be “in keeping with income” (1 Corinthians 16:2). The New Testament talks about giving as we are able. Sometimes that means giving more than 10 percent; sometimes that may mean giving less. It all depends on the ability of the Christian and the needs of the body of Christ. Every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom in the matter of participating in giving and/or how much to give (2 Corinthians 8:5). Above all, all offerings should be given with pure motives and an attitude of worship to God and service to the body of Christ. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). (“What does the Bible say about Christian tithing? from Gotquestions.org)

What Application Will You Make?

11. What choices must you make to apply this passage to your life? See also Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 16:2.

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Three Study

Read 2 Corinthians 8:10-24. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

12. Remember that the context is offering to help the believers in Jerusalem and Judea who are suffering persecution and hardship. In his previous letter, Paul proposed how to make this collection. Read 1 Corinthians 16:1-4. Answer the following questions based on 2 Corinthians 8:10-24.

  • Paul reminded them that they were the first to do what (v. 10)? See also 9:2.
  • Now what should they do (v. 11)?
  • What is true if the “willingness is there” (v. 12)?
  • What is Paul’s desire in encouraging them to give (v. 13)?
  • What does Paul state in verse 14?
  • Why does Paul thank God (v. 16)?
  • What does Paul say about Titus (vv. 17, 23)?
  • What does Paul say about the other two men (vv. 18-19, 22)?
  • What is Paul being careful to do concerning the offering (vv. 20-21)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

Scriptural Insight: Some think “the brother” was Trophimus the Ephesian (Acts 21:29). The other brother may have been one of those mentioned in Acts 20:1-5. All three of them (v. 23) were representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ.

What Does It Mean?

Based on v. 10, it’s okay to give advice. God gives us a brain to use in making decisions, giving wise counsel, and helping others to see what is best to do in light of the truth of His Word. Paul does that in these verses.

13. Discuss vv. 10-12 regarding the relationship between willingness and intentional action in giving. See also 1 Corinthians 16:2.

14. Examine the sharing principle in verses 13-15. To help in understanding, read these verses in other translations, including “The Message.”

  • How is Paul’s teaching about equality in provision for Christians in the body of Christ different from the forced equality of socialism?
  • Why is this sharing principle good for the body of Christ? Look at 2 Corinthians 8:1-15 for your answer.

Scriptural Insight: Paul viewed Christians as being brothers and sisters in a large family. As a family, we have a responsibility to care for each other. … Paul did not legislate equality; he appealed for it. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 87)

15. What wisdom does Paul share in in vv. 19-21 regarding the handling of money belonging to others?

16. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 8:10-24?

What Application Will You Make?

17. Giving is a part of a Christian’s faith walk with God. Read 2 Corinthians 8:10-11 in The Message version. What decisions must you make to move from having good intentions to being intentional when it comes to giving?

Historical Insight: The Corinthians did follow through and assemble their gift. It was only a few months after Paul penned 2 Corinthians that he wrote Romans. In that epistle, he said that the Christians of “Macedonia and Achaia” (which includes Corinth) had made a contribution to the poor saints in Jerusalem (Rom. 15:26-27). Paul and his delegation then traveled back to Jerusalem, from Corinth, through Macedonia and Asia Minor (Acts 20:3—21:19). The leaders of the Jerusalem church evidently received the gift gladly (Acts 21:17). (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 97)

18. From vv. 18-23, we see that it is important to surround yourself in ministry with people worthy of respect who will be trusted by others and therefore show you to be trustworthy, also. What has been your experience in this?

19. In what other ways can you apply this lesson to your life?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Four Study

Read 2 Corinthians 9:1-15. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

20. Paul continues his discussion of the grace of giving. Remember, he is with the Macedonians still.

  • What compliment does he give in v. 2?
  • Why is Paul sending “the brothers” (vv. 3-5)?
  • What does he say they need to remember in v. 6 (likely a familiar proverb of the day)?
  • How should each person decide what to give (v. 7)?
  • What does God love (v. 7)?
  • What is God able to do (vv. 8, 10)?
  • Why does God give to us (vv. 10-11)?
  • What are the benefits of giving generously according to v. 12?
  • What are the benefits of giving generously according to v. 13?
  • What are the benefits of giving generously according to v. 14?
  • How does Paul conclude this section (v. 15)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

From the Greek: We read in 2 Corinthians 9:8 that God is “able to bless you abundantly.” That word “bless” (NIV) is from the Greek word charis, meaning grace (see 2 Corinthians 1:11 “gracious favor”). Most translations say that God is able to make all grace overflow or abound to you. It refers to His lovingkindness and favor given to you, which may include material provision but is not guaranteeing financial abundance.

What Does It Mean?

21. God is the source of all physical and spiritual resources.

  • How does God increase our resources (v. 10)? What does “seed to the sower” mean?
  • Why does God increase our resources (vv. 11-14)?

Think About It: God gives to us. We give to others. Needs are met. Thanks is given. The gospel is proven to be true. God gets praised. Unity and love increases in the church community and body of Christ as a whole. Sounds like a win/win.

22. What is God’s indescribable gift (v. 15)? See 2 Corinthians 8:9; 9:13-14; Ephesians 2:8-9; and John 3:16.

Scriptural Insight: God is the first giver; He first selflessly gives Himself to us in the person of His Son, and all true Christian giving is our response of gratitude for this gift that is beyond description. See also 1 John 4:9-11. (NIV Study Bible, note on v. 15, p. 1773)

23. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 9:1-15?

What Application Will You Make?

24. Like those Macedonian Christians, you can ask God to help you determine something you can and will live without for a period of time. Your choice. No one’s looking. Take the money you would have spent on that and look for ways to further God’s kingdom with it. Or, remember a time in your life when God provided what you needed through others giving to meet your needs. It’s all His anyway. Give Him the glory.

25. In what other ways can you apply this lesson to your life?

Dependent Living: Read the essay Its His Anyway at the end of this lesson to learn more about trusting God with His money that He gives to you to use for His purposes.

26. Review the passage for this lesson in “Day One Study.” Add reasons why God wants us to depend on Him more than on ourselves to the chart below. I’ve given a few prompts.

Verse(s)

Reasons why God wants us to depend on Him more than on ourselves

8:1

He initiates the grace of giving

8:5

We need Him to direct our giving according to His will

8:9

He makes us spiritually rich so we can give

8:16

He puts into our hearts concerns for us to have

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

As His child, God transforms your life by teaching you to live dependently on Him in weakness and in strength.

[To get a better perspective on how we should view and use God’s provision to us, read the following essay, “It’s His Anyway.”]

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Excursus Article: It’s His Anyway

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Jesus said to His followers in Matthew 6:32-33, “Don’t let your needs dominate your thoughts.” Your heavenly Father knows your needs. He cares for the creatures in the natural world so they lack nothing. He will care for you. Give yourself to the Lord first. Pursue God’s purposes more than your own purposes. Think differently about God’s provision for you.

Out of my study, I believe God has 4 lessons for us to learn today regarding God’s provision, and they are tough ones. We might all wish we had skipped this class!

Lesson #1: God’s Provision Is His To Give And Take Away. Regard It Humbly.

Everything We Have Comes From God.

Paul reminds us about this in one of his letters to the Corinthians.

“What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?” (1 Corinthians 4:7 NLT).

There isn’t anything we have that we did not receive from God—birthplace, height, attractiveness, intelligence, natural talents. Yet we boastfully live as though we had everything to do with those things.

What We Have Is Not A Measure Of Our Goodness Or Our Faith.

How God chooses to provide for you or for me at any time in our lives is His sovereign choice. Paul was in God’s will and doing what God purposed for Him to do. Yet, he experienced times of hunger and need (2 Corinthians 6:5, 10). Philippians 4:12-13). When God removes what makes us comfortable and strips away our support, we actually begin to depend on Him as God Almighty—as an essential to our lives, not just an appendage. Don’t let anyone deceive you by equating prosperity with your measure of faith.

God Determines Our Provision—The How, When, And Why

Most of the time, God’s provision is going to come through people, not miraculously appear from the sky. People design products and services to sell. People take the risk to start businesses and hire workers, including you. People buy farmers’ crops. And, people provide meals for someone in a time of need. God determines how He provides to His own. We must learn to trust whatever manner He chooses.

Our Provision Belongs To God. Hold Onto It Loosely.

In 1 Kings 17:1-7, Elijah was in hiding after confronting wicked king Ahab with God’s judgment upon his wickedness—a drought for 3 ½ years. God sent Elijah to live beside a stream for about 6 months. Birds (specifically, ravens) brought him food twice a day—not exactly ordered from a menu.  And, it’s during a drought so he watches the stream gradually dry up!

Chuck Swindoll says in his sermon series on Elijah, “The God who gave the water has chosen to take the water. It’s His sovereign right! He gives the child; He can take it away. He gives the business; He can take it away. He gives the house; He can take it away.”

Yikes! I don’t like that, do you? But, it’s true. #1: God’s provision is His to give and take away. Regard it humbly.

Lesson #2: God’s Provision Is Always Enough. Receive It Gratefully.

The definition of “enough” is “as much as is needed or can be tolerated.” I think I can tolerate quite a bit, don’t you? But, maybe God knows better. I’ve learned two things about this.

The Sufficiency Of God’s Enough

At the end of 40 years of nomadic life in the desert, with manna in the morning and quail every night for supper, no house or farm, no new shoes or clothes, Moses tells the people of Israel they “lacked nothing” (Deuteronomy 2:7). Later, he tells them that in their new land with abundant water and bountiful food they “will lack nothing” (Deuteronomy 8:7-9). With little or with lots, they “lack nothing.” When you have the Lord’s provision (whatever it is), you lack nothing that you need at this time in your life. It’s what you HAVE that counts, not what you don’t have. Then, there’s…

The Creativity Of God’s Enough

When you receive God’s provision, you learn that He is trustworthy, creative, and personal. For one Old Testament widow (1 Kings 17:8-16), she had endless pancakes but only enough for today with a promise for tomorrow. No 50-pound sack of flour in her pantry. She had to trust that her jars would be refilled with flour and oil for the next day’s meals. She lacked nothing. For another woman (2 Kings 4:1-7), she had a bottomless pot of oil, enough for today and to sell for her future. She lacked nothing. God doesn’t do the same thing for everyone. Both of those widows learned to follow God’s directions even when it made no sense. Your hope is to be in your God, not in prosperity—current or future.

#2: God’s provision is always enough. Receive it gratefully.

Lesson #3: God’s Provision Is Meant To Be Shared. Give It Generously.

Compassion Is Doing, Not Feeling.

Compassion is doing something to ease someone’s pain, whether it’s for this week or more. And, most times of need last longer than a day! God’s plan for the needy in Israel was that perfectly good food was purposely left in the fields for the poor to have. It was proactive.

Compassion Requires Trusting God, Not Having Plenty.

This is totally opposite of the world’s thinking, isn’t it? There is a fine line between good stewardship of the provisions God’s given today and not trusting God enough to be able to share it.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes some of the most mind-blowing verses in the Bible. He tells about some of his Christian friends,

Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity… they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. (2 Corinthians 8:2, 7)

That is so radical! Extreme poverty giving generously with overflowing joy! That’s trusting God. It’s what you do with what you have. As someone once said,

It is not what you’d do with a million, if riches should e’er be your lot. But what you are doing at present with the dollar and a quarter you’ve got. (R. G. LeTourneau)

Compassion Shares God’s Riches Flowing Through Us

God’s grace can make a dynamic difference in the mindset of His people when it comes to provision. Whether you are the receiver or the giver, how you do both should be different than what the world does.

Paul goes on to say,

“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need.” (2 Corinthians 8:13-14)

Here’s the key: God’s riches to us are supplied through us to meet another’s needs. We are brothers and sisters in a large family with a responsibility to care for each other. That may require some learning to live without something so we have more to give.

Compassion Is Personal

Have you experienced the joy of deliberately and delightfully meeting the specific needs of a person with a name and a face you know? I remember a time when a friend of mine shopped with two baskets—1 for her family, the other for our family. Everything she bought for her family for Thanksgiving, she bought for us, including all the staples to make everything we’d need. When she pulled up in my driveway, I was absolutely floored by her love in action. Compassion is personal.

#3: God’s provision is meant to be shared. Give it generously.

Lesson #4: God’s Provision Brings Him Glory. Praise Him Openly.

Knowing women, we usually want to openly share how God creatively provided for us in a tough time. That is giving Him praise. Acknowledging that what we have, whether much or little, all comes from God is giving Him glory. Every time you tell about it, thank Him. Ask God to give you frequent opportunity to tell that story and give Him praise.

#4: God’s provision brings Him glory. Praise Him openly.

My dear sisters, let’s recognize God’s provision to us as being supplied to us for His purposes. Whenever there doesn’t seem to be enough, remember these four truths to stand strong in the tough times:

  • God loves you
  • God knows what is going on in your life
  • God can do something about it
  • You can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do

Whatever provision you do receive from God: regard it humbly, receive it gratefully, give it generously and, praise Him openly.

Reflect And Respond To What God Has Shown You.

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Lesson 8: Tearing Down Walls (2 Corinthians 10:1-18)

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The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

In our study of 2 Corinthians so far, we have seen how the God who comforts us understands the many kinds of suffering we undergo in daily life. Although Paul and his friends experienced a lot of persecution that made them fear for their lives, suffering doesn’t only come from persecution. Suffering can be caused by physical danger and financial hardships. It can also come from within your circle of friends, including those whom you love the most. Misunderstandings, behavioral conflicts, and slanderous information from others can cause hurt feelings and mistrust. Regardless of the source, suffering drives us to dependence on God. We set our hope on Him more than ourselves. We see His love and grace given to us. We trust Him to work in the situation and give thanks. That’s dependent living.

In the last lesson, we saw how God teaches His children to be generous to one another as He Himself is a generous giver. This requires that we trust Him with every bit of provision we receive, recognize that it all comes from Him and belongs to Him, then ask Him to guide us as we use what He has provided to us. That’s dependent living.

At this point in the letter, Paul begins to hit hard at the charges made against him by his opponents in Corinth. We don’t know who they are except that they are Jews (2 Corinthians 11:22). Their teaching may be like the Judaizers that infiltrated the Galatian churches (Jewish Christians insisting Gentiles must be circumcised and follow the Mosaic Law to be saved). We can infer from the text that these false teachers attack those who have influence over the Corinthians (Paul and his companions) in order to gain prestige and power for themselves.

When we are falsely accused, we have a choice. We can choose to get sidetracked by copying the bad behavior of the accusers, or stay on course by continuing to walk faithfully in dependence on God to avenge us and tear down the walls for us. That’s also dependent living.

Questions To Consider This Week:

  • Do you recognize a current situation in your life where you’re trying to fight a spiritual battle with worldly weapons such as deception, manipulation, and intimidation? How is that working for you?
  • Do you have a tendency to compare yourself to others to see how you measure up? Or, do you look at the world’s standards to define your achievements. How does that affect you?

Day One Study—Get The Big Picture.

Read 2 Corinthians 10:1-18. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

[To print, follow this link (or for the NIV, this one). Use your own method (colored pencils, lines, shapes) to mark: 1) anything that grabs your attention and 2) words you want to understand. Feel free to develop your own method of marking up a passage. Put a star  next to anything you think relates to dependent living.]

1. What grabbed your attention from these verses?

  • 10:1-6
  • 10:7-11
  • 10:12-18

2. What verses or specific words do you want to understand better?

3. What topics are repeated in this passage or continue an earlier discussion in this letter?

4. What verses illustrate or help you understand what dependent living on God looks like?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Two Study

Read 2 Corinthians 10:1-6. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

Scriptural Insight: Whenever he described himself as “I Paul,” he is making his point with strong emphasis and telling them that what he is about to say is indeed coming from him. See where he does this in Galatians 5:2; Ephesians 3:1; Colossians 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:17; and Philemon 19.

What Does The Bible Say?

5. Paul addresses accusations made against him that he is “timid.” He responds with truth.

  • By what does Paul make his appeal to the Corinthians (v. 1)?
  • How has he been described (v. 1)?
  • Some people think what about Paul and his team (v. 2)?
  • Though we live in the world, we do not do what (v. 3)?
  • Our weapons (v. 4) are not _____________ but they have ______________.
  • We are to demolish what (v. 5)?
  • We are to take captive what (v. 5)?
  • What will we be ready to do (v. 6)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

Historical Insight: The word picture Paul used in v. 5 is that of Roman siege warfare focused on tearing down walls of a fortified city in order to take it captive.

What Does It Mean?

Focus on the Meaning: Humility and gentleness were characteristics of Christ. Humility recognizes God as one’s authority and takes a servant attitude toward people. Gentleness refers to strength under control and is expressed through fairness and graciousness to others. Both are available to us under the control of Christ who is in us. Both are evidence of dependent living.

6. Review 2 Corinthians 10:1 in the ESV translation. After reading the “Focus on the Meaning” above, how has Paul’s behavior toward the Corinthians been like this? Note: We will address the rest of v. 1 in the Day Three Study.

Since the fall of Man in the garden (Genesis 3), there has been a spiritual war raging in our world concerning God’s truth versus lies being disseminated through human reasoning and demonic influence. One leads to overflowing joy and dependent living on God. The other leads to self-dependence and rebellion against God. Let’s look at this warfare more closely

7. Truth #1: We have God’s power to fight the war effectively. Note: The context in vv. 3-4 is the Church.

  • What are we fighting against? See also 2 Corinthians 2:11; 4:4; Ephesians 2:1-2; and 1 John 2:16.
  • What weapons should we not use in this kind of warfare? See 2 Corinthians 1:12; 4:2, 5; 5:16; 6:14-16; and 10:4.
  • What weapons are effective? See also 2 Corinthians 1:12; 4:2, 5; 5:16; 6:6-7; 7:2; and 10:1.

Think About It: Weapons such as intimidation, manipulation, trickery, double-talk, rumor, and hypocritical behavior are not from the Spirit of God and are not acceptable weapons for the believer to use in spiritual warfare. Victory comes from approaching life (and battles) God’s way and relying on His power to overcome the enemy.

8. Truth #2: We have God’s power to demolish strongholds. Strongholds are anything upon which one relies for security and survival. Think “castle” or “fortress.” But, these are not good castles. They are anything that takes captive the minds of believers away from God-dependence.

  • What strongholds particularly need to be demolished (v. 5)?

From the Greek: “Arguments” comes from the Greek logismos, meaning “thoughts, calculations, and reasonings.” Paul uses that to represent walls of wrong thinking standing in opposition to right Christian thinking. “Pretension” comes from the Greek hypsoma, meaning “elevated structure such as a barrier or rampart.” This represents a notion contrary to God that’s been raised up or lifted high with the purpose to intimidate. (Kelly Minter, All Things New, p. 141)

  • Give some examples of strongholds that affect believers, even you.
  • To demolish a physical stronghold takes force and power. How would you demolish spiritual strongholds?

Think About It: Satan’s strategy uses speculations (theories) and incorrect information that contradict God’s revealed truth. When approaching Bible Study, beware of speculating just to derive an answer. That would include reading into Scripture what we want it to say to match what our culture is teaching us. God has revealed much for us to know. Some things He has reserved for Himself (Deut. 29:29).

9. To complete tearing down these walls (v. 5), means you must take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (a continuous action). How would you do that for a stronghold in your life?

10. Strongholds are not just thoughts but can be associated with people who have influence over you. What should you also do? See 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 and 1 Corinthians 15:33.

Focus on the Meaning: Based on 2 Corinthians 10:2 and 6, the Corinthians needed to make a clean break from the rebels in their midst. Paul needed the church to stand firm with him in disciplining his unrepentant opponents and removing themselves from that influence.

11. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 10:1-6?

What Application Will You Make After Studying Today’s Pasage?

12. Do you recognize a current situation in your life where you’re trying to fight a spiritual battle with worldly weapons such as deception, manipulation, and intimidation? How is that working for you?

Demolishing strongholds requires that you: 1) Identify the toxic thought patterns you’ve been building in your mind that work against the knowledge of God and your dependency on Him. 2) Give those to God and ask Him to help you knock them down with truth. 3) Destroy the stronghold by consistently applying the truth.

13. Follow the steps above to recognize and demolish strongholds in your reasoning and thoughts that work against the knowledge of God and dependency on Him.

To get help recognizing cultural strongholds that affect you or your children, check out the podcasts on mamabearapologetics.com.

14. In what other ways can you apply this lesson to your life?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Three Study

Read 2 Corinthians 10:7-11. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

The word “boast” occurs twenty-nine times in this letter, and only twenty-six times in all the other letters put together. Paul used this conflict with the Corinthians as a “teachable moment” for them on what validates boasting for a believer. His words are still extremely relevant for us today as we learn to live dependently on the Lord.

What Does The Bible Say?

15. Let’s continue to explore the gracious yet unbending ways in which Paul addressed his opponents. Though Bible translations of v. 7 differ, we can conclude from the context of vv. 1 and 10 that Paul is telling them to look at the facts and not outward appearances.

  • What does Paul say to the one confident in belonging to Christ (v. 7)?
  • About what does he boast freely (v. 8)?
  • What are the troublemakers saying about Paul (vv. 9-10)? See also v. 1.
  • What does Paul say in response (v. 11)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

Scriptural Insight: Like so many who judge things according to the outward display of this world, Paul’s opponents interpreted meekness (humility) as weakness, forbearance as cowardice, and gentleness as indecision (cf. v. 1; 11:21)—or at least they had sought to induce the Corinthians to place this interpretation on Paul’s character. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 101)

What Does It Mean?

16. Paul refers to his authority in v. 8. Referring back to v. 1, Paul said he was letting Christ’s humility and gentleness live through him as he exhorted the Corinthians in a gracious manner.

  • According to v. 8, spiritual authority is to be used for _____________.
  • It is not to be used for ________________.
  • How are the false teachers not adhering to this principle regarding Paul and his team? Hint: what are they saying about their Christian brother Paul?

Focus on the Meaning: This does not mean Paul—or any spiritual leaders for that matter—should be a pushover who never enforces any rules. Here’s where the good tension of extending grace and applying discipline comes into play. We need the discernment of the Holy Spirit to know when to emphasize each. (Kelly Minter, All Things New, p. 148)

17. Though Paul might not be the flashy speaker like the professional orators of his day, from where did the power and influence of his teaching come so people should follow him? See 1 Corinthians 1:17; 2:1-5 and 2 Corinthians 11:6,10.

Think About It: In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul says, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” That’s the kind of statement that gets the apostle Paul slapped with labels like “arrogant” and “egotistical.” Maybe that bothers you, too. Why didn’t Paul just take himself out of the equation and tell people to follow Christ? The answer is that Paul knew we all need a role mode, a picture of Christ that makes the heart, mind and ways of Christ visible and tangible. To step into a role of leadership is essentially to state, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” If people are going to follow us, our primary task is following well … We all follow somebody. If you are a Christ follower, the practice of following well may be one of the greatest tests of your character. Who are you following? (Heather Zempel, Community Is Messy, pages 67-68)

18. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 10:7-11?

What Application Will You Make?

19. All of us have spheres of authority. We are to use our authority for building up those in our sphere of influence. Some of us don’t handle that authority well.

  • Do you struggle with being bossy and bearing down on others within your sphere of influence? What is the evidence and fruit of your behavior? Ask the Lord to teach you graciousness and gentleness.
  • Are you continually being walked over and struggle to assert your God-given authority in an area of your life? What is the evidence and fruit of your behavior? Ask the Lord to help you step up and lead with courage for the sake of building others up.
  • For both you can say, “Lord Jesus, I can’t do this on my own. But, you can do this in me and through me. I will trust you to show me how.”

20. We should be careful how we talk about other Christian teachers / leaders. Review 2 Corinthians 10:7-8. We are to demolish arguments, not people. What if you have a disagreement with other believers, perhaps a former church you attended the leaders of a ministry? Usually it is over leadership style or your preferences.

  • What questions should you ask?
  • What should you avoid doing so as not to “wage a worldly war” against brothers and sisters in Christ? Review the “Think About It” after Question 7.

21. In what other ways can you apply this lesson to your life?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Four Study

Read 2 Corinthians 10:12-18. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

Historical Insight: The Greek philosopher Aristides said that on every street in Corinth one met a so-called wise man, who had his own solutions to the world’s problems. (NIV Study Bible, note on 1 Corinthians 1:19, p. 1736) Does this sound familiar to today’s world?

22. Paul helps the Corinthians to recognize what true wisdom is and what is really worth boasting about.

  • What does Paul not do (v. 12)?
  • What does he say is unwise?
  • To what does Paul confine his boasting (vv. 13-14)?
  • What is Paul’s hope (vv. 15-16)?
  • What does he not want to do (v. 16)?
  • In whom should we boast (v. 17)? See also 1 Corinthians 1:31.
  • For it is not the one who ___________ who is approved, but the one whom ____________ (v. 18).
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

Focus on the Meaning: Paul did “pioneer evangelism.” He did not want to build on, much less take credit for, the foundation work that anyone else had done, but to “preach the gospel” in previously unevangelized areas. He did not, however, object to others building on the foundation that he had laid, or watering what he had planted (1 Corinthians 3:6, 10). He did object to their failing to give credit where credit was due. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 103)

What Does It Mean?

23. Comparison is a huge issue for some people. Write v. 12 in the NLT (New Living Translation) and 2 other Bible translations. Then, answer the questions.

  • What does Paul say is not wise (v. 12)?
  • Why is that not wise?
  • What would that kind of comparison look like? Give examples from your culture.

Think About It: Comparison against a standard isn’t all bad. But, comparison becomes dangerous when that standard is based on worldly values, and we deem ourselves “successful” when we hit that worldly standard. And, with the prevalence of social media, we can be tempted to compare ourselves with other believers—their achievements, social platform, and even their recreational activities. This can lead to self-centered pride or feelings of discouragement and failure. Also, don’t glorify men or women by 1) depending on them more than on Christ, 2) crediting them for your spiritual blessings, or 3) namedropping to increase your own image. Gratitude is okay.               

24. The answer to this “comparison thinking” is in vv. 17-18. Considering what you have learned so far in 2 Corinthians, why should we boast about the Lord and not about ourselves? See also John 5:44.

Focus on the Meaning: The word Paul kept using for “boast” means “to glory in or on something, to rejoice.” Boasting is not bad if you are boasting about the Lord and His work (v. 17) and the assignment He has given you (v. 13).

25. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 10:12-18?

What Application Will You Make?

26. Do you have a tendency to compare yourself to others to see how you measure up? Or, do you look at the world’s standards to define your achievements. How does that affect you?

27. How does living dependently on Christ keep you focused on what He has appointed YOU to be and do?

28. In what other ways can you apply this lesson to your life?

29. Review the passage for this lesson in “Day One Study.” Add reasons why God wants us to depend on Him more than on ourselves to the chart below. I’ve given a few prompts.

Verse(s)

Reasons why God wants us to depend on Him more than on ourselves

10:1

So we can treat others with the humility and gentleness of Christ

10:3-4

We need His power to demolish strongholds holding us captive

10:5

We need His power to take captive our thoughts for Him

10:13

To find our sphere of service He has assigned to us

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

As His child, God transforms your life by teaching you to live dependently on Him in weakness and in strength.

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Lesson 9: Live to Serve Christ through Anything (2 Corinthians 11:1-33)

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If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. (2 Corinthians 11:30-31)

Why is Paul even bothering to write this letter? He loves the Corinthian believers. He spent more than a year and a half of his life there giving birth to the church. He made friends. He poured into them. He loved them. Yet, the relationship has been very rocky.

Even in the mess of this rocky relationship with people he dearly loves, and whom Christ dearly loved, Paul writes to them in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Paul desired to be for them an exemplary role mode, a picture of Christ that makes the heart, mind and ways of Christ visible and tangible. He lives out his life as a servant of God in every way—in good times and in very hard times.

While those influencing his Corinthian family are claiming to be “super-apostles,” they are actually deceivers, masquerading as servants of light but really being used as servants of Satan instead. Paul emerges as the truly Spirit-led apostle. He is the one following Christ.

If people are going to follow us, our primary task is to test whom we are following. We all follow somebody. If you are a Christ follower, the practice of following Him well may be one of the greatest tests of your character. Whom are you following?

Questions To Consider This Week:

  • How do you give your preparations and skills to God and desire that the power of God will shine His light through you—at work, at home, in the neighborhood, in the school, and elsewhere?
  • How do you recognize if someone exercising spiritual authority over you is a true servant of the Lord Jesus and not someone masquerading as a servant of righteousness?
  • When it comes to the troubles and difficulties of life, how can we more consciously focus on what Jesus can do or has done for us rather than focusing on what He has not done?

Day One Study—Get The Big Picture.

Read 2 Corinthians 10:12-11:33, which includes verses from the last lesson. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

[To print, follow this link (or for the NIV, this one). Use your own method (colored pencils, lines, shapes) to mark: 1) anything that grabs your attention and 2) words you want to understand. Feel free to develop your own method of marking up a passage. Put a star  next to anything you think relates to dependent living.]

1. What grabbed your attention from these verses?

  • 11:1-15
  • 11:16-21
  • 11:22-33

2. What verses or specific words do you want to understand better?

3. What topics are repeated in this passage or continue an earlier discussion in this letter?

4. What verses illustrate or help you understand what dependent living on God looks like?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Two Study

Read 2 Corinthians 11:1-15. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

5. Answer the questions below based on what is in the biblical text.

  • What is Paul asking them to do (v. 1)?
  • What is the reason for Paul’s godly jealousy (v. 2)?
  • What is his fear (v. 3)?
  • What 3 distortions of teaching did Paul point out (v. 4)?
  • What is their response to the teaching that might be leading them astray (end of v. 4)?
  • What 3 things does Paul say about himself (vv. 5-6)?
  • What did Paul do while in Corinth that was opposite of expectations (v. 7)?
  • Who took care of his financial needs (vv. 8-9)? See also Acts 18:3-5.
  • What will he continue to do (v. 9)?
  • What does he declare about his feelings for the Corinthians (v. 11)?
  • Why will Paul keep on doing what he is doing (v. 12)?
  • How does Paul describe the slanderers (v. 13)?
  • Who do these pretenders actually represent (vv. 14-15)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

What Does It Mean?

Paul’s jealousy was in line with God’s purposes. The false teachers were not only calling his apostolic authority into question. They were also leading the Corinthians astray from pure devotion to Christ. This was serious.

6. Contrast jealousy “of someone” with jealousy “for someone.”

Focus on the Meaning: There is a place for a spiritual father’s / mother’s passionate concern for the exclusive and pure devotion to Christ of their spiritual children, and also a place for anger at potential violators of that purity (11:29). (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 105)

Think About It: Leaders who can’t be questioned end up doing questionable things. (Jon Acuff)

7. Though not a trained speaker, what Paul said he had knowledge (v. 6)

  • What kind of knowledge does Paul have?
  • Why is this more important than presentation? See 2 Corinthians 4:6-7 and 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.

Think About It: Paul didn’t pretend to be one of those dazzlers the Greeks valued. But, the listeners were stirred by his words and grew in their knowledge of and relationship with God because of his teaching. The world has plenty of dazzlers. What people are longing for is to meet someone with abiding spiritual wisdom and knowledge about what truly matters. It’s okay to have godly dazzlers pointing us to dependence on God as Paul did. That’s what matters.

8. One of the accusations against Paul centered around how he differed from the usual professional speakers who expected the listeners to pay for their “wisdom.” Such money given also gave the audience a measure of control over the speaker (permission) and the speaker control over the audience (influence). Keep in mind that Greek culture considered manual labor such as Paul’s tent making to be “lower class.”

  • Was it wrong for Paul to preach the gospel free of charge?
  • What reason did Paul give for choosing to humbly serve the Corinthians like that?
  • How is what he did an application of Jesus’ words in Mark 10:38-45?

Scriptural Insight: Paul’s principle was to preach and teach without charging those who benefited directly from his ministry. This is a good policy in church planting, but it is not normative for a settled pastoral ministry (1 Corinthians 9:14; 1 Timothy 5:17-18). (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 108)

9. Recognizing false teachers:

  • Paul brought up 3 distortions of teaching in v. 4 that had happened or was happening to the Corinthians. Read Galatians 1:6-9 where he mentioned something similar. How do you recognize whether someone is teaching a different Jesus, Spirit or gospel?
  • Looking at vv. 13-15, Paul said the false teachers were masquerading as servants of righteousness. What is said about them?

Scriptural Insight: They may have been genuine believers. Indeed they appear to have been (2 Cor. 11:23). Nevertheless in their conduct, they were following the example of Satan. They perverted the thinking of, and misdirected the affections of, the Corinthians. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 109)

10. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 11:1-15?

What Application Will You Make?

Paul was a successful church planter, a gifted teacher, and excellent writer. Yet, he gave all those strengths to the Lord and still depended on the Lord as he accomplished those tasks.

11. It’s okay to prepare and refine your skills and talents, especially as you want them to be used for God’s purposes. What would it look like for you to give your preparations to God and desire that the power of God will shine His light through you? A good question to ask yourself regarding your strengths is this, “Am I living in self-sufficiency or God-dependency?”

  • At work
  • At home
  • In the church

12. Even if you do everything right, that doesn’t stop people from trying to slander and discredit you. What have you learned from Paul’s letter that will help you deal with false information about you?

13. In what other ways can you apply this lesson to your life?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Three Study

Read 2 Corinthians 11:16-21. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

From the Greek: A “fool” in Hellenistic-Roman society was one who had lost the correct measure of himself and the world around them.

14. The Corinthians have been putting up with the teaching of fools, contrary to the solid, biblical truth that Paul taught them. The foolish teachers claimed to be God’s leaders but were more interested in their own position and power. Paul had no choice but to refute them for the sake of the church he loved. He creatively uses sarcasm to make the Corinthians recognize what was happening. He answered the fools “according to their folly” Proverbs 26:5)

  • What does Paul ask of them in v. 16?
  • Many are boasting how (v. 18)?
  • What does he say they are gladly doing (v. 19)?
  • He says they put up with anyone who does what 5 things to them (v. 20)?
  • What did Paul not do to the Corinthians (v. 21 first half of verse)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

What Does It Mean?

Remember that the false teachers were masquerading as apostles of Christ and servants of righteousness. Judging by physical appearances, they mostly likely didn’t look like evil people (vv. 13-15). Their teaching and behavior betrayed their motives.

15. Bad teaching and dictatorial behavior (vv. 3-4, 19-20) lead to exploitation—what we might even call cultic behavior, including the kind of treatment listed. Who is vulnerable to that kind of exploitation? Why?

Think About It: According to 1 Corinthians 8:1, knowledge puffs up (makes proud, inflates ego). Depending on one’s own “wisdom” can lead to foolish choices and susceptibility to being ensnared by false teaching. The answer is to know Christ, embrace God’s grace and the truth of His Word, and live confidently in your identity. Then you can say “no” to such foolishness from bad teaching.

16. How was Paul’s approach to ministry with the Corinthians different from that of the false teachers? What Christ-like characteristics did Paul display? Use what you’ve learned so far in 2 Corinthians to get your answer.

17. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 11:16-21?

What Application Will You Make?

From the Greek: Back in 2 Corinthians 4:2, Paul said that he did not use deception or distort the Word of God like those who masqueraded as servants of righteousness were doing. The Greek word from which we get “distort” primarily signifies “to ensnare,” especially by mingling the truth of the Word of God with false doctrines or notions, and so handling it “deceitfully.” (Kelly Minter, All Things New, p. 55)

Distortion of God’s Word plays out in many ways. It is especially done to justify some behavior that the false teachers want to engage in themselves. Or, it can happen when a spiritual leader uses a verse to shame, manipulate, or condemn you for something already forgiven by Christ.

18. You may be wondering how you can tell if someone exercising authority over you is a true servant of the Lord Jesus and not someone masquerading as a servant of righteousness and exploiting you.

  • Based upon what you’ve learned in 2 Corinthians 11:1-21, what questions should you ask to determine if this is happening to you?
  • What should / can you do to get freed from this exploitation?

19. Have you fallen victim to a “distortion of the Word of God” in the past? What was taught, and how did you get freed from that?

Scriptural Insight: A common false teaching says that women are more easily deceived than men because of what happened in Genesis 3. That is NOT a biblical truth. Dr. Sandra Glahn, gender studies professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, explains it this way, “What is significant about the man and woman in [Genesis 3] is that they both rebelled. … Being seduced by evil is a human thing, not a woman thing—as Paul mentions when warning the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 11:3). The Bible does not teach that because Eve was deceived, all women are more easily deceived than men. Nor does the Scripture teach that all women excel at seducing and deceiving (these ideas are contradictions, anyway—one cannot be a master of deception while also being easily duped).” (Sandra Glahn, Biblical Womanhood: What is a Woman? accessed online at Bible.org)

20. In what other ways can you apply this lesson to your life?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Four Study

Read 2 Corinthians 11:21-33. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

Paul’s approach to ministry was to promote Christ, not himself. Because of the false apostles claiming to be servants of Christ yet denying Paul’s authority, Paul felt pressed to talk about his own life choices and experiences, especially hardships. These are evidences of the Lord Jesus’s commendation of his work and vindication of him as an apostle (2 Corinthians 10:18). As you study this passage, recognize that many of these challenges can happen to anyone, not just those being persecuted for their faith.

What Does The Bible Say?

21. Complete the following statements based on what you see in the biblical text. Put a star  next to challenges that any servant of Christ may face in life, including what you might have already experienced.

  • What do you learn about the false apostles (vv. 22-23)?
  • As a servant of Christ, Paul says he has done what (v. 23)?
  • As a servant of Christ, Paul experienced what in v. 24 and how many times?
  • As a servant of Christ, Paul experienced what in v. 25 and how many times?
  • As a servant of Christ, he has been constantly on the move (v. 26) and in danger from/in what?
  • As a servant of Christ, he has also (v. 27) _____________ and gone without _________; he has known ____________ and gone without __________; he has been _____________.
  • As a servant of Christ, what pressure does he face daily (vv. 28-29)?
  • As a servant of Christ, he chooses to boast of what (v. 30)?
  • As a servant of Christ, what does he declare (v. 31)?
  • As a servant of Christ, what happened to him (vv. 32-33)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

Historical Insight: Because Paul’s writing of 2 Corinthians fits into Luke’s chronology of his life at Acts 20:2, everything that Paul described here occurred before Acts 20:2 and, therefore, before the end of his third missionary journey, arrest and transport to Rome. Many of these experiences are not even mentioned in Acts.

What Does It Mean?

22. Read 1 Corinthians 4:1, 9-13. What does God put his apostles through to test them?

23. As a servant of Christ,

  • What has Paul risked while serving Christ to the Corinthians and to others?
  • How does Paul’s example fly in the face of those who teach that health, wealth, protection and happiness are the expectations for faithful Christians?

24. Review 2 Corinthians 11:12, 18, and 21. Paul said that since many were boasting according to the flesh, he would do that, too.

  • What is boasting according to the flesh?
  • Considering Paul’s accomplishments, what kind of boasting would you expect him to include in the verses following 11:22?
  • About what does he boast instead in vv. 23-31?
  • Why do you think Paul chose to boast about his weaknesses instead of his strength?

Think About It: Instead of citing successes that he had experienced in his ministry and any accolades he had received from others, Paul listed what some would consider defeats and speaks of these as victories! They were victories because he depended on God, and God had supernaturally sustained His servant through every hardship he experienced. What he listed was, therefore, the greatest possible proof and vindication that Paul was an apostle.

25. Was Paul a fool to serve Christ so relentlessly? Why or why not?

Dependent Living: According to 11:33, Paul was dependent on God to rescue him. God used people to do His work. Paul could do nothing on his own except get in the basket, be quiet, and trust the rope holders. See Acts 9:24-25. God helps those who trust in Him. He uses people as His helpers. You might be that basket provider or the rope holder for someone.

26. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 11:21-33?

Think About It: The Christian life is impossible to live without 2 Corinthians. This letter calms us into settled assurance that it is in the adversities of life in this fallen world, not by avoiding adversity, that life with God blossoms. Ease of life results in frothiness of life. The most substantial, radiant men and women we meet are those who bear scars, who have endured dark valleys. … we all walk through pain. In different ways, for different reasons, at different seasons of life, hardship washes over us. How could we possibly remain sane and cheerful without God’s insistence throughout this letter that his deepest consolations are mediated to us in, not after, sorrow? … The way to joy is actually Christ Himself, walking with Him day by day. And the enjoyment of this Friend tends to rise as circumstances around us fall. (Dane C. Ortlund, Why Study the Book of 2 Corinthians? posted online August 2, 2016)

What Application Will You Make?

27. When it comes to the troubles and difficulties of life, how can we more consciously focus on what Jesus can do or has done for us rather than focusing on what He hasn’t done?

28. Paul faced daily pressures of responsibility. What pressures come upon you daily? What is your usual response to them? Based on what you have learned from Paul’s example, how can you handle daily pressures as a servant of Christ should?

29. In what other ways can you apply this lesson to your life?

30. Review the passage for this lesson in “Day One Study.” Add reasons why God wants us to depend on Him more than on ourselves to the chart below. I’ve given a few prompts.

Verse(s)

Reasons why God wants us to depend on Him more than on ourselves

11:3

To keep us from being led astray by false teaching

11:4-5

To help us recognize error in teaching

11:6

To know the truth about God

11:7-9

For financial support that enables us to share Christ and disciple others

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Dependent Living: As His child, God transforms your life by teaching you to live dependently on Him in weakness and in strength.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Women's Articles

Lesson 10: Dependent Living Is Powerful (2 Corinthians 12:1-21)

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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Memory Verse #3)

The Corinthians had been putting up with the teaching of fools, contrary to the solid, biblical truth that Paul taught them. The foolish teachers claimed to be God’s leaders but were really masquerading as apostles of Christ and servants of righteousness. They didn’t look evil, but their teaching and behavior exploited the Christians in Corinth—drawing them away from following Christ more than themselves.

On the other hand, Paul chose to promote Christ, not himself. To counter the evil influence on those whom he loved so dearly, Paul is forced to talk about his own life choices and experiences, especially hardships. These are evidences of the Lord Jesus’s commendation of his work and vindication of him as an apostle (2 Corinthians 10:18).

Many of those same challenges can happen to anyone, not just those being persecuted for their faith. And, in the midst of those messy and often painful circumstances, we also have a choice of whom to promote—ourselves or Christ. On whom will we rely at those times? It is in our weaknesses that He is the strongest. He uses many things to come to our rescue and to comfort us. Sometimes all we can do is to get into the basket provided for us, be quiet, and trust the One holding the rope. Whether weak or strong, living dependently on Christ is the best way to live.

Questions To Consider This Week:

  • In the midst of your most painful trial, how have you seen Jesus’s grace be sufficient for you? How have you seen His power made complete in your weakness?
  • When people mistake your love for something contrary to your true intentions, how do you tend to respond?

Day One Study—Get The Big Picture.

Read 2 Corinthians 11:30-12:21, which includes verses from the last lesson. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

[To print, follow this link (or for the NIV, this one). Use your own method (colored pencils, lines, shapes) to mark: 1) anything that grabs your attention and 2) words you want to understand. Feel free to develop your own method of marking up a passage. Put a star  next to anything you think relates to dependent living.]

1. What grabbed your attention from these verses?

  • 12:1-10
  • 12:11-18
  • 12:19-21

2. What verses or specific words do you want to understand better?

3. What topics are repeated in this passage or continue an earlier discussion in this letter?

4. What verses illustrate or help you understand what dependent living on God looks like?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Two Study

Read 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

Focus on the Meaning: The “third heaven” probably represents the presence of God. It could be a technical description of God’s abode, above the cloudy heavens overhead, and beyond the farthest reaches of space that man can perceive. “Paradise” (v. 4) is a good synonym for the third heaven (cf. Luke 23:43; Revelation 2:7). (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 116)

5. Paul shares his vision from Christ and what he learned from that experience.

  • What happened 14 years before this letter was written (v. 2)?
  • While in paradise (heaven), what did he hear (v. 4)?
  • About what does he choose to boast (v. 5)?
  • If he chooses to boast about that experience, he would not be a fool (liar) because it was true. Why does he refrain from boasting about that experience (v. 6)?
  • In order to keep from being conceited, what happened (v. 7)?
  • Three times, Paul did what (v. 8)?
  • Write God’s answer to him (v. 9) in the space below:
  • What is Paul’s response to God (v. 9)?
  • Write Paul’s choice of how to live his life (v. 10) in the space below:
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

Historical Insight: Paul said he was caught up to heaven 14 years before the writing of this letter (56 AD). That would have happened around 42 AD. Paul was back in Tarsus ministering in Syria and Cilicia (Acts 9:30; Galatians 1:21). This was before Paul went to Antioch to pastor the church there and before He went on any missionary journey. No wonder he was so sure of his mission and his life knowing Christ.

What Does It Mean?

Looking at v. 6, we see that Paul preferred to be remembered for what he said and did in following Christ rather than for that one extraordinary experience that certainly contrasts with sneaking out of Damascus in a basket.

6. Why did Paul share this experience with the Corinthians after keeping it private for 14 years? See also v. 11.

Think About It: We love the sensational. We get excited for a miracle or a good vision or dream. … we’re infatuated with the platforms of Christian celebrities … But do we have the same level of passion for daily faithfulness? … it’s the consistent godly patterns of our lives that yield enduring fruit. (Kelly Minter, All Things New, p. 175)

7. Let’s look at the what, why, and who of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” Note: Although a lot of speculations are made, no one knows what this ailment was. Most of us can identify with having a thorn or splinter stuck in our skin at some point in our lives.

  • What does Paul mean by calling it a “thorn in his flesh” (v. 7)?
  • The Lord in His goodness allowed Satan to touch Paul’s body with this “thorn” (as in Job 2:10). For what purpose?
  • How many times did he ask for it to be removed?

8. To understand God’s answer, read 2 Corinthians 12:9 in The Message translation and 2 other Bible translations then answer the questions below.

  • God said His grace is sufficient (most English translations use this word). Paul used a word (Gr. arkeo) that means, “to be possessed of unfailing strength, enough.” Grace is God’s provision for our every need when we need it. How can God’s grace be sufficient when you have a persistent thorn?
  • God’s power is made perfect in weakness. “Made perfect” means “perfected, finished, exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or purpose.” Jesus said the same thing on the cross in John 19:30. See 2 Corinthians 13:4. How is God’s power made perfect in weakness?

9. After Paul heard from Jesus, his tone changed from pleading with the Lord to remove the thorn to what entirely new response (vv. 9-10)?

From the Greek: The word translated “rest” referring to Christ’s power means “to dwell, to take possession of and live in.” The word translated “delight” means “seems good, take pleasure in, ready to do, think well of.”

10. Why is Paul willing to delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties “for Christ’s sake?”

11. Considering the definitions above, how can it be that when you are weak (admit it, boast in it, even be glad about it), you are strong?

Scriptural Insight: Paul’s response relates back to what he shared previously about his own life. Look back at Acts 18:9-11; 2 Corinthians 1:9; 4:7-11; 6:3-10 and 11:21-33.

12. In what ways was Paul made strong in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties?

Think About It: God is attracted to weakness. He can’t resist those who humbly and honestly admit how desperately they need Him. Our weakness, in fact, makes room for His power. (Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire)

13. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 12:1-10?

What Application Will You Make?

14. What could it look like, feel like, and sound like (the words we use) if we applied vv. 9-10 to our lives?

15. In the midst of your most painful trial, how have you seen Christ’s words to be true, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness?”

16. Have you been spending precious energy trying to solve or figure out “a thorn” in your life? If there doesn’t appear to be a clear answer—or at least in the near future—take a moment to entrust it to the God who knows.

17. In what other ways can you apply this lesson to your life?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Consider using any creative means to respond to the Lord’s grace being sufficient for your every weakness—poem, song, painting, craft, prose, or other means.

Day Three Study

Read 2 Corinthians 12:11-18. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

18. See how Paul picks up again on what he shared in 2 Corinthians 11:1-12 …

  • I ought to have been ___________ (v. 11) for I am not ___________ even though I ___________.
  • What things mark an apostle that were done in Corinth (v. 12)?
  • Why does Paul choose not to be a burden to them (v. 14)?
  • Like parents do for their children, Paul says he will very gladly do what (v. 15)?
  • What illogical question does he ask (v. 15)?
  • What 3 questions did he ask them about himself and Titus (vv. 17-18)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

What Does It Mean?

19. Focus on v. 11.

  • How was Paul “nothing” (no one, a nobody)? See also 2 Corinthians 10:10.
  • How does Paul’s “nothing” relate to what you read in 2 Corinthians 11:30 and 12:9?

20. What does he confirm about his behavior toward them (vv. 14, 16-17)?

21. Contrast the false teachers’ behavior (11:19-21) with that of Paul and his associates. See also 2 Corinthians 7:13-16; 8:22-23.

22. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 12:11-18?

Focus on the Meaning: Paul’s focusing on the signs (evidences) of an apostle, rather than on the rights of an apostle, is helpful for all servants of the Lord to observe. We, too, should concentrate on demonstrating the proofs of our ambassadorship in our works, especially our perseverance, rather than expecting those we serve to follow us because we are “claiming” our rights. We need to earn the respect of those we serve, with our works and by our example, rather than demanding it because of our position. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 121)

What Application Will You Make?

23. When people mistake your love for something else (especially contrary to your true intentions), that can be deeply wounding. Is that something you are experiencing right now or have experienced in the past? Look at Paul’s response in today’s passage. What can you learn from him that challenges and inspires you for dealing with this hurtful experience?

24. In what other ways can you apply this lesson to your life?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Four Study

Read 2 Corinthians 12:19-21. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

25. Paul had genuine concerns (fears) about his next visit to the church. Fear is a normal human emotion designed to alert us to danger so that we can take action against it. Answer the following questions based on what is in the biblical text.

  • Who does Paul say is a witness to his words (v. 19; 11:31)?
  • What does he call them in v. 19? See also 7:1.
  • Everything he does is for what purpose (v. 19)?
  • What are his fears about visiting them (v. 20)?
  • What also might happen when he visits them (v. 21)?
  • In what had some of them been indulging (v. 21)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

Think About It: Paul shares many things with the Corinthians. All of them are “in Christ.” Their identity in Christ is equal. But, authority is different. Paul as an apostle has authority over them.

What Does It Mean?

26. What could Paul mean by saying “you may find me not as you want me to be?” See 10:10-11.

27. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 12:19-21?

What Application Will You Make?

What Paul describes in v. 20 sounds like some family gatherings, especially around the holidays. Does it sound familiar to you?

28. Describe a time when you had anxiety over seeing someone you hadn’t seen in a while. What were your worries? How did you prepare yourself? Did it go as you expected or were you surprised?

29. The sinful behaviors Paul mentions in vv. 20-21 are common to humans. Paul mentions these same things in most of his other letters. See Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 4:25-32; 5:3-4, and Colossians 3:5-10 for example. Are you “indulging” in any of these behaviors? If so, purify yourself now (2 Corinthians 7:1). See Lesson 6, Day Four Study application for the biblical process for dealing with sin in your life. Repentance begins with agreeing with God that what you are doing is sin against Him. Mourn your behavior because it causes Him sadness. Commit to letting the Spirit transform you in that area of your life (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). Trust Him to work in and through you beginning today.

30. In what other ways can you apply this lesson to your life?

31.Review the passage for this lesson in “Day One Study.” Add reasons why God wants us to depend on Him more than on ourselves to the chart below. I’ve given a few prompts.

Verse(s)

Reasons why God wants us to depend on Him more than on ourselves

12:6

To refrain from boasting about personal spiritual experiences

12:7-8

Enduring a thorn in the flesh that God chooses not to heal

12:9

Trusting Gods grace to be sufficient

12:9

Being glad about weaknesses so Christs power shines

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Dependent Living: As His child, God transforms your life by teaching you to live dependently on Him in weakness and in strength.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Women's Articles

Lesson 11: Christ Is All We Need for Life (2 Corinthians 13:1-14)

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…since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you. (2 Corinthians 13:3-4)

As we have studied this letter, 2 Corinthians, we have seen how personal and messy it is. It’s messy because it is full of emotions and experiences. It’s like life—messy—because people are messy, relationships are messy, circumstances are messy, and community within the church is messy.

In the midst of our messy lives, God wants us to learn to rely on Him more than on ourselves. Throughout 2 Corinthians, we have seen examples of Paul making plans and submitting them to God to be changed, demonstrating his authority and submitting that to God, asking for healing and submitting to God’s answer, and preaching the gospel in one city while his heart wants to be in another city but waits for God to say “go.” That’s dependent living.

Through your study of 2 Corinthians, you have learned how the Lord Jesus Christ will transform your life as His child by teaching you to live dependently on Him in weakness and in strength. This “dependent living” will lead to you becoming stronger and more effective in life by relying on God rather than on yourself. You learn how to do this as you act according to the Word of God, depend on Jesus Christ for the power to do so, and trust Him with the results.

He’s all you need to find the best way to live!

Questions To Consider This Week:

  • How do you balance being patient to judge someone’s sin when you don’t know all the facts with deciding to lovingly confront them when you do know the facts?
  • How has Jesus specifically shown His power in dealing with sin or temptation in your life?

Day One Study—Get The Big Picture.

Read 2 Corinthians 12:14-13:14, which includes verses from the last lesson. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

[To print, follow this link (or for the NIV, this one). Use your own method (colored pencils, lines, shapes) to mark: 1) anything that grabs your attention and 2) words you want to understand. Feel free to develop your own method of marking up a passage. Put a star  next to anything you think relates to dependent living.]

1. What grabbed your attention from these verses?

  • 13:1-4
  • 13:5-10
  • 13:11-14

2. What verses or specific words do you want to understand better?

3. What topics are repeated in this passage or continue an earlier discussion in this letter?

4. What verses illustrate or help you understand what dependent living on God looks like?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Two Study

Read 2 Corinthians 13:1-4. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

5. Paul continues his discussion of his planned visit to the Corinthians.

  • In v. 1, Paul quotes Deuteronomy 19:15. What does the Bible say?
  • On his visit to Corinth, what will Paul do (v. 2)?
  • What were they demanding (v. 3)?
  • What does he tell them in response (v. 3)?
  • What is true about Christ (v. 4)? Note: Christ illustrated 2 Corinthians 12:9 for us.
  • What is likewise true about Paul and his leader team (v. 4)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

Focus on the Meaning: What did Paul mean by the “two or three witnesses?” He could be referring to himself, Titus and the other brother when they last visited the Corinthians. Or, it could be the people who know the truth about Paul, heard the warning from him before, and will be present when he comes to visit the church.

What Does It Mean?

6. Paul takes his authority and responsibility of servant-leadership in the church very seriously. Summarize what he is saying to the Corinthians.

Scriptural Insight: Rebellion against Paul is rebellion against Christ, who appointed him as His apostle. (NIV Study Bible, note on 13:3, p. 1777)

7. Does God’s power (v. 4) shown through His representatives include the authority to judge sin and correct sinful behavior in Christians? See v. 10. Also, see 2 Corinthians in 2:5-10; 6:14-7:1; 7:8-13; 11:3-4; and 12:20-21 to help you answer this question.

Focus on the Meaning: It appears that Paul and the Corinthians did not understand

“power” in the same way. For them it was on display in an aggressive and a mighty personality. For the apostle, it is seen in weakness [that relies on Christ]. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 124)

8. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 13:1-4?

Scriptural Insight: Christ’s finished work on the cross is His power perfected for us. See the essay after Lesson 5 for the descriptions of some of what He made complete for us.

What Application Will You Make?

9. Is the proof of Jesus’s hand on our lives found only in big money, big deals, flashes of fame, and our biggest dreams coming true? If not, why not? Use what you have learned in this letter to explain your answer.

Think About It: Dear follower of Christ, make sure you’re not judging the proof of God’s hand on your life merely by outward, materialistic blessings. As we’ve seen throughout 2 Corinthians, oftentimes His greatest display of power in our lives is in our places of loneliness, battles with infirmities, and painful losses. Whether you’re feeling weak or strong, hide yourself as weak in Christ. A child is weak when resting in her father’s arms. This is where we’ll find the true strength to love God and serve others. (Kelly Minter, All Things New, p. 200)

10. In what other ways can you apply this lesson to your life?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Three Study

Read 2 Corinthians 13:5-10. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

11. Answer the following questions based on the text.

  • Paul says the Corinthians should examine (or test) themselves to see that they are in the faith. As someone in the faith, what is true about them (v. 5)?
  • What does Paul say about himself (v. 6)?
  • What is his prayer for them (v. 7)?
  • What does he confirm in v. 8?
  • On what is Paul’s focus as he exercises authority over the Corinthians (v. 9)?
  • Why does he write such seemingly harsh words to them (v. 10)?
  • Why did Jesus give him authority (v. 10)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

What Does It Mean?

From the Greek: Paul meant v. 5 to be an affirming question, carrying the idea of “proving in the expectation of approving.” The Greek word peirazo means “to try, make trial of, test: for the purpose of ascertaining quality, or one’s thinking, or how one will behave himself.” The end result is to show that what one expected is true. The Corinthians had been examining him. Now he turned the tables and challenged them to examine themselves—not for salvation but for obedience to the Lord.

12. Paul wanted the Corinthians to take a hard look at themselves with the expectation they would discover that Jesus Christ was truly in their lives and working in their midst. What are some of the evidences that would show this to be true? [Note: They would only fail the test if they had never trusted in Christ.]

13. Relate v. 9 to what you learned in 2 Corinthians 12. What could Paul have meant when he said he’s glad when he’s weak and the Corinthians are “fully restored” / “made complete?”

From the Greek: The end of verse 9 reads very differently among the various translations. You will see “become mature” (NLT), “fully qualified” (NET), “made complete” (NAS), and “fully restored” (NIV, ESV). You’ll see the same differences in verse 11. The Greek words used there carry the idea of strengthening, perfecting, training, being completely ready to take on whatever is needed. The goal is to move forward in your transformation to become more like Jesus Christ and serve Him well.

14. What is the proper use of authority in the church (v. 10)? See also 2 Corinthians 1:24 and 10:8.

What Application Will You Make?

15. Notice Paul’s mention of prayer twice in this section. Every daily lesson in this study begins and ends with prayer. Lack of prayer is often a sign of self-sufficiency rather than dependent living and will lead you to doing what is not pleasing in God’s sight. Spend some time responding to the Lord about what Hes shown you today.

Day Four Study

Read 2 Corinthians 13:11-14. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

16. Paul’s closing words in a letter often include simple reminders of how to live as a Christian in community. As he says goodbye, Paul sums up his letter with five “take-away” actions. What are they?

What Does It Mean?

17. What does Paul mean when he tells them to strive or aim for full restoration (NIV, ESV)? To what or whom must they be restored? See also 2 Corinthians 11:3 and 12:20-21.

Historical Insight: Evidently Paul’s anticipated visit to Corinth turned out to be a pleasant one. Paul wrote Romans during the three months he was in Corinth (Acts 20:2-3, A.D. 56-57). In that epistle, he gave no indication that there were problems in Corinth. Moreover, he proceeded with his plans to evangelize unreached areas, which he would not have done if the Corinthian church still needed his attention (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:14-16). Furthermore, Paul wrote that the Corinthians (believers in Macedonia and Achaia) “were pleased” to complete their collection for the Jerusalem saints (Romans 15:26-27). Finally, the Corinthian church’s preservation of 2 Corinthians argues for this church’s acquiescence to Paul’s admonitions and warnings. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 127)

18. Focus on the phrases: “be of one mind” and “live in peace.” You can find “cross references” (verses that are similar to the one you are reading) in most study Bibles and in the Blue Letter Bible App. Look at cross references to find other verses that describe how to:

  • be of one mind—
  • live in peace—

Historical Insight: The “holy kiss” was an expression of brotherly love, a sign of being in fellowship with one another. It welcomed newly baptized believers into the family of God. It symbolized the forgiveness, reconciliation, unity, and fellowship that existed between the believers.

19. Write Paul’s benediction (v. 14) in the space below.

20. What do you learn about the three persons of our one God from this verse?

Scriptural Insight: This benediction confirms the Trinity and has ever since been a part of Christian worship tradition. It serves to remind us that the mystery of the Holy Trinity is known to be true not through rational or philosophical explanations but through Christian experience, whereby the believer knows firsthand the grace, the love, and the fellowship that freely flow to him from the three Persons of the one Lord God. (NIV Study Bible, note on v. 14, p. 1778)

What Application Will You Make?

21. Review the passage for this lesson in “Day One Study.” Add reasons why God wants us to depend on Him more than on ourselves to the chart below. I’ve given a few prompts.

Verse(s)

Reasons why God wants us to depend on Him more than on ourselves

13:4

To live by Gods power to deal with people

13:5

To gain assurance that you are in Christ by your faith in Him

13:7

For our disciples to do what is right even though we may fail

13:8

To stand for the truth

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Famous Last Words

22. What are your takeaways from this study? What have you learned about being a God-dependent woman? Have you learned to depend on Christ more? In what ways do you understand dependent living better? Are you making the choices daily to live in God-dependency rather than self-sufficiency?

As His child, God transforms your life by teaching you to live dependently on Him in weakness and in strength. See all the reasons why in the chart on the next page.

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The Reasons Why We Should Depend on God (more than on ourselves)

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What Paul teaches us in 2 Corinthians

1:4—We receive comfort from God for ourselves and to comfort others

1:9—He’s more powerful than we are

1:10—We set our hope on Him to deliver us

1:11—He graciously answers our prayers

1:20—He’s faithful to His promises

1:22—He owns us and lives in us

1:17—We get distracted and disappointed when things don’t go as we plan

2:1-10—To reconcile relationships rightly when our feelings are hurt

2:5-10—To execute tough love when a Christian is deliberately sinning

2:11—To keep Satan from getting an advantage over us

2:14—He uses us to spread the knowledge of Him

2:17—He sends us to speak for Him

3:3—He writes a letter of recommendation for Himself in our lives

3:4—He gives us confidence to trust Him

3:5—He gives us competence to represent Him

3:16—He takes away the veil over our hearts when we believe

3:18—He transforms us by His Spirit

4:1—To not lose heart

4:6—He makes His light shine in the darkness through us

4:7—He can demonstrate His power through our frailty (jars of clay)

4:8-9—He keeps us from being crushed when we are burdened

4:10—He reveals Jesus’s life in and through us

4:14; 5:1; 5:5—He will give us a new resurrection/heavenly body as a reward

4:16—He can keep us from losing heart

4:16—He renews us inwardly while we outwardly “waste away”

4:18—He gives us an eternal perspective about our “light, momentary troubles”

5:7—Because we must live by faith not by sight

5:8—We will be with Him when this life ends

5:9—To learn how to live to please Him

5:10—He rewards us for our earthly lives

5:15—To live for Him rather than for ourselves

5:17—He’s made us into a new creation

5:19-20—We are His ambassadors and speak for Him

5:21—He exchanges our sin for Christ’s righteousness

6:4—We are His servants

6:4-9—To respond to troubles in a godly manner

6:10—Our lives influence others

6:16-18—We are His children

7:1—To purify ourselves to perfect holiness

7:6—He comforts us when we are downcast

7:9—To rightly respond to sin in our lives

7:12—To see truth in ourselves, in our hearts

8:1—He initiates the grace of giving

8:5—We need Him to direct our giving according to His will

8:9—He makes us spiritually rich so we can give

8:16—He puts into our hearts concerns for us to have

8:23—We are His representatives who honor Christ so can be trusted with money handling

9:8—God blesses us so we can give to others

9:10—God enlarges the harvest of our generosity and good works

9:12—God gives through us to meet the needs of His people

10:1—To treat others with the humility and gentleness of Christ

10:3-4—We need His power to demolish strongholds holding us captive

10:5—We need His power to take captive our thoughts for Him

10:8; 13:10—To use our authority to build others up and not tear them down

10:13—To find our sphere of service He has assigned to us

10:13—To confine our boasting to the Lord and the sphere of service He has assigned to us

10:17—To seek our approval and commendation from Him rather than others

11:3—To keep us from being led astray by false teaching

11:4-5—To help us recognize error in teaching

11:6—To know the truth about God

11:7-9—For financial support that enables us to share Christ and disciple others

11:13-15—To show us those masquerading as His servants and release us from their grip

11:23-27; 32-33—To rescue us from danger

11:30—To teach us the value of boasting about the things that show our weakness and need for Him

11:31—To keep praising God in all our afflictions

11:28—To help us handle the daily pressures of that which concerns us

12:6—To refrain from boasting about personal spiritual experiences

12:7-8—Enduring a thorn in the flesh that God chooses not to heal

12:9—Trusting God’s grace to be sufficient

12:9—Being glad about weaknesses so Christ’s power shines in us

12:10—Trusting Him for strength

12:14—To love others so much you don’t want to “use” them in any way

12:15, 19—To spend ourselves for others to grow spiritually

12:17—To walk by the Spirit consistently with other believers

12:20-21—Facing sin in those we love

13:4—To live by God’s power to deal with people

13:5—To gain assurance that you are in Christ by your faith in Him

13:7—For our disciples to do what is right even though we may fail

13:8—To stand for the truth

13:9—To be fully restored/matured in pure devotion to Christ

13:7, 9—To be concerned for disciples’ growth more than your own personal reputation

13:11—To rejoice, mature, encourage others, be united, and live in peace with other believers

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Ways to Explain the Gospel

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Evantell.Org

Has anyone ever taken a Bible and shown you how you can know you’re going to heaven? May I?

  • The Bible contains both bad news and good news. The bad news is something about you and me, and the good news is something about God. Let’s discuss the bad news first.

Bad News #1 ‑— We are all sinners. Romans 3:23

Bad News #2—The penalty for sin is death. Romans 6:23

  • Since there was no way you could come to God, the Bible says that God decided to come to you.

Good News #1—Christ died for you. Romans 5:8

Good News #2—You can be saved through faith in Christ. Ephesians 2:8-9

  • Is there anything keeping you from trusting Christ right now? Would you like to pray right now and tell God you are trusting His Son as your Savior?

You can watch a free online training video at http://evantell.org.

Bridge To Life (Navigators)

  • The Bible teaches that God loves all humans and wants them to know him. John 10:10; Romans 5:1
  • But humans have sinned against God and are separated from God and his love. Draw a chasm. This separation leads only to death and judgment. Romans 3:23; Isaiah 59:2
  • But there is a solution. Draw bridge. Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins (the bridge between humanity and God). 1 Peter 3:18; 1 Timothy 2:5; Romans 5:8
  • Only those who personally receive Jesus Christ into their lives, trusting him to forgive their sins, can cross this bridge. Everyone must decide individually whether to receive Christ. John 3:16; John 5:24

Four Spiritual Laws (Cru)

  • God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life. John 3:16; 10:10
  • Humans are sinful and separated from God. Thus, they cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for their lives. Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23
  • Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for humanity’s sin. Through Jesus, you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life. Romans 5:8; John 14:6
  • We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives. John 1:12; Ephesians 2:8-9

You can access this online at www.godlife.com.

Using John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

“Has anyone introduced you to Jesus so you could know Him? May I?”

  • God loves — God is real. He loves you with an unconditional, never-ending love. For God loves you ________ (name) so much He created you to have a relationship with Him. But, we can’t experience this loving personal relationship because of sin in our lives. Sin is disobeying God. It puts a barrier between us and a holy God. No matter how hard you try, you cannot be good enough on your own to overcome this sin barrier. The penalty for sin is death. But God’s love had a plan…
  • God gave — God gave His one and only Son” Jesus – to live as a human without sin and then to take the penalty for our sin on himself when he died on the cross. He was buried as a dead man then raised from the dead to be alive again. He did this so that our sins could be forgiven.
  • We believe God’s love — Whoever believes in Him” – Faith is trust. God asks that we trust in His plan, admit our sin and desire for a relationship with Him. Accept what Jesus did on the cross for us out of love.
  • We receive what God gave — “Shall not perish but have eternal life” – Everyone dies and ends up somewhere. To perish means to die separated from God and His love for you. Eternal life means you can enjoy a forever-family relationship with God and promise of living securely with Him now and after your life on earth ends.
  • When offered a gift you want, you take it and say thank you. It’s forever yours. Is there anything keeping you from trusting in Jesus right now?

Related Topics: Evangelism, Women's Articles

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