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Are You Being Deceived?

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Deceit is altogether too common in today’s world. As defined, it involves “the action or practice of deceiving someone by concealing or misrepresenting the truth”.1 Deceit is often seen in the Scriptures. In what follows we shall note many occurrences of deceit in the Poetic books of the Bible, particularly in the Davidic Psalms and in the book of Proverbs.

In Psalm 5 the psalmist David points out that the Lord has sent destruction for those who tell lies. God “abhors” blood-thirsty deceitful men” (v. 6). No doubt this includes all people, male or female. David gives further reasons in verse 9:

Not a word from their mouth can be trusted;
their heart is filled with destruction.

Their throat is an open grave;
with their tongue they speak deceit.2

This should certainly be the case with all who are deceitful (cf. 4-6).

The work of deceitful lips is condemned in the Psalms. For example, Psalm 17 begins with the psalmist’s plea to God:

Hear, O LORD, my righteous plea;
listen to my cry.

Give ear to my prayer –
it does not rise from deceitful lips. (v.1)

Having expressed his devotion to God, the psalmist in Psalm 26 says:

I do not sit with deceitful men,
nor do I consort with hypocrites. (v. 4)

He then declares his innocence and faithfulness to the Lord (vv. 5-8).

In Psalm 32 David begins his psalm with the blessedness of the man “whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered” (v. 1). By truly resting in God’s forgiveness, he lives a more blameless life in the service and presence of the Lord. In a subsequent psalm, David points to the deceitful words of those who live wicked, sinful lives. So much is this the case that a bit later David expresses his need for God’s protection and direction in the face of “deceitful and wicked men” (Ps. 43:1).

Deceitfulness among many people is so prominent that the psalmists often speak of it, especially in connection with the tongue (e.g., Psalm 50:19; 52:1-4). Such people deserve and can expect God’s condemnation and punishment (cf. Ps. 55:23; 119:118; 120:1-4).

Later, David speaks of his desire to lead a blameless life, for God will look with great favor upon “the faithful of the land” (Ps. 101:6). He then proceeds to condemn the deceitful person who not only practices deceit, but fails to speak honestly:

No one who practices deceit
will dwell in my house;

no one who speaks falsely
will stand in my presence. (Ps. 101:7)

In a still later psalm, David appeals to the Lord for his help (Ps. 109:1-2):

O God, whom I praise,
do not remain silent,

for wicked and deceitful men
have opened their mouths against me;
they have spoken against me with lying tongues.

Such being the case, David completes his thoughts by assuring the Lord that he will praise Him (cf. vv. 20-21). In yet another psalm, David again appeals to God for his protection and preservation:

Reach down your hand from on high;
deliver me and rescue me

from the mighty waters,
from the hands of foreigners

whose mouths are full of lies,
whose right hands are deceitful. (Ps. 144:7-8, cf. v. 11)

He then assures the Lord that he will praise the Lord in song (vv. 9-10), before pleading with the Lord for deliverance from wicked foreigners (v. 11). Looking at the above Psalms, we see that they often record David’s dependence upon the Lord and his appeal for God’s deliverance.

When one looks carefully through the book of Proverbs, he sees that they also often point to the danger of deceit. For example, Proverbs 6:12-15 speaks of the fate of a deceitful person who plots evil:

Disaster will over take him in an instant,
he will suddenly be destroyed – without remedy. (v. 15)

In a later Proverb, we read that:

A malicious man disguises himself with his lips,
but in his heart, he harbors deceit. (Pr. 26:24)

Other proverbs warn of “the advice of the wicked” being “deceitful” (Pr. 12:5) and the dangers of a “false witness”, for such a person’s testimony is “deceitful” (Pr. 14:25). Moreover,” a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit” (Pr. 15:4b). Yet one can see that ultimately, “A man of perverse heart does not prosper; he whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble” (Pr. 17:20). Accordingly, it can be said that it is far, far better to live a righteous life;

Truthful lips endure forever,
but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.

There is deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil,
but joy for those who promote peace (Pr. 12:19-20).

May we, then, be those who follow the advice of the psalmists and these proverbs, so that we may live a quiet and spiritually profitable life, fully dependent on the Lord.

Take time to be holy; Let Him be your guide,
And run not before him, Whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, Still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, Still trust in His Word.3


1 This definition is posted on the internet: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/deceit. Accessed 5/15/2019.

2 All Scripture references are from the NIV.

3 William D. Longstaff, “Take Time to Be Holy”, v. 3.

Related Topics: Devotionals, Terms & Definitions

Regla de carpintero que cuenta la historia

¿Quieres una idea sobre cómo enseñar historias de la Biblia? Kurt Jarvis comparte su idea usando una regla de carpintero.

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References: 

Kurt Jarvis tiene una manera increíble de contar la historia bíblica con un gobernante de carpintero.

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The God-Dependent Woman: Life Choices From Second Corinthians

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God wants you to learn to rely on Him more than on yourself. Being a God-dependent woman will make you stronger and more effective in life than you could ever be on your own.

The key to being a God-dependent woman is dependent living. Paul teaches you how to do that in Second Corinthians.

Through this 11-lesson study of 2nd Corinthians, you will learn how to make plans for your life and rely on God with how you proceed. You will learn how to educate your mind and rely on God to use that knowledge to glorify Him. You will learn how to make money and rely on God to show you how to use it wisely. You learn how to do this as you act in obedience to the Word of God, depend on Jesus Christ for the power to do so, and trust Him with the results.

Work through The God-Dependent Woman study and start living this way today!

Related Topics: Christian Life, Women, Women's Articles

Using This Study Guide

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This study guide consists of 11 lessons covering Paul’s letter we know as “Second Corinthians.” Since this letter consists of 13 chapters in our New Testaments, we will need to cover more than one chapter in some of the lessons. If you cannot do the entire lesson one week, please read the Bible passage covered by the lesson and try to do the “Day One Study” of the lesson.

The Basic Study

Each lesson includes core questions covering the passage narrative. These core questions will take you through the process of inductive Bible study—observation, interpretation, and application. It is the best approach for doing Bible Study. The process is more easily understood in the context of answering these questions:

  • What does the Bible say? (Observation: what’s in the text)
  • What does it mean? (Interpretation: the author’s intended meaning)
  • How does this apply to me today? (Application: making it personal)

Study Enhancements

Dependent Living: The focus of this study is choices we make to rely more on God than on ourselves in weakness and in strength. That is called dependent living, meaning we live in daily dependence upon God. Some questions have a DL in front of them. These will prompt you to recognize what it means to live dependently on God and how to apply it to your life.

Study Aids: To aid in proper interpretation and application of the study, additional study aids are located where appropriate in the lesson:

  • Historical Insights
  • Scriptural Insights
  • From the Greek (definitions of Greek words)
  • Focus on the Meaning
  • Think About It (thoughtful reflection)

Other useful study tools: Use online tools or apps (blueletterbible.org or “Blue Letter Bible app” is especially helpful) to find cross references (verses with similar content to what you are studying) and meanings of the original Greek words or phrases used (usually called “interlinear”). You can also look at any verse in various Bible translations to help with understanding what it is saying. You will have the opportunity to add your own study at the end of every What does it mean? section.

New Testament Summary

The New Testament opens with the births of Jesus and John (often called “the baptist”). About 30 years later, John challenged the Jews to indicate their repentance (turning from sin and toward God) by submitting to water baptism—a familiar Old Testament practice used for repentance as well as when a Gentile converted to Judaism (to be washed clean of idolatry).

Jesus Christ, God’s incarnate Son, publicly showed the world what God is like and taught His perfect ways for 3 – 3½ years. After preparing 12 disciples to continue Christ’s earthly work, He died voluntarily on a cross for mankind’s sin, rose from the dead, and returned to heaven. The account of His earthly life is recorded in 4 books known as the Gospels (the biblical books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John named after the compiler of each account).

After Jesus’s return to heaven, the followers of Christ were then empowered by the Holy Spirit and spread God’s salvation message among the Jews, a number of whom believed in Christ. The apostle Paul and others traveling with him carried the good news to the Gentiles during 3 missionary journeys (much of this recorded in the book of Acts). Paul wrote 13 New Testament letters to churches & individuals (Romans through Philemon). The section in our Bible from Hebrews to Jude contains 8 additional letters penned by five men, including two apostles (Peter and John) and two of Jesus’s half-brothers (James and Jude). The author of Hebrews is unknown. The apostle John also recorded Revelation, which summarizes God’s final program for the world. The Bible ends as it began—with a new, sinless creation.

Dependent Living

Through this 11-week study of 2nd Corinthians, you will learn how to make plans for your life and rely on God with how you proceed. You will learn how to educate your mind and rely on God to use that knowledge to glorify Him. You will learn how to make money and rely on God to show you how to use it wisely. You learn how to do this as you act in obedience to the Word of God, depend on Jesus Christ for the power to do so, and trust Him with the results. This “dependent living” will make you stronger and more effective in life as you become a God-dependent woman.

As a reminder, you’ll see this main idea at the end of each lesson:

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

Lesson 1: The God On Whom We Can Rely (2 Corinthians 1:1-11)

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But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:9b, Memory Verse #1)

Day One Study

The ABCs Of 2nd Corinthians—Author, Background, And Context

Like any book you read, it always helps to know a bit about the author, the background setting for the story (i.e., past, present, future), and where the book fits into a series (that’s the context). The same is true of Bible books.

Author

Paul identifies himself as the author of this letter written to the church at Corinth. Paul, whose Hebrew name was Saul, was born in Tarsus, a major Roman city on the coast of southeast Asia Minor. Tarsus was the center for the tent making industry. Paul was trained in that craft as his occupation (his primary paying profession). As a Jewish Pharisee from the tribe of Benjamin, Paul was educated at the feet of Gamaliel, a well-respected rabbi of the day. Paul was an ardent persecutor of the early church until his life-changing conversion to Christianity             

After believing in Jesus Christ as his Savior, Paul was called by God to take the gospel to the Gentiles. This was an amazing about-face for a committed Pharisee like Paul who ordinarily would have nothing to do with Gentiles. Paul wrote 13 letters that are included in the New Testament. Tradition has it that Paul was beheaded shortly after he wrote 2nd Timothy in 67 AD. (The above information comes from Acts 8:3; 9:1-31; 22:3-5; 26:9-11; and Galatians 1:11-24.)

Background

Around 44 B.C., Julius Caesar rebuilt Corinth from a pile of rubble into a great Roman capital city. So, it was relatively young by the time of Paul without aristocracy, traditions, or well-established citizens. As a Roman colony and the capital of the province of Achaia, the people who called Corinth home were mostly retired Roman soldiers, merchants (many of whom were Jews) and other immigrants from the East. Corinth’s strategic location brought commerce and all that goes with it: wealth, a steady stream of travelers and merchants, and vice (including prostitution as part of the worship of their local gods and goddesses). Corinthians had a reputation for wealth and sensuality.

As we read Acts and Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, we can piece together a lot of the background information for this letter. On his second missionary journey, Paul spent a year and a half in Corinth (A.D. 51-52). Then, Paul went to Ephesus on his third missionary journey and made that city his base of operations for almost three years (A.D. 53-56). There he heard disturbing news about immorality in the Corinthian church. So, he wrote a letter urging the believers not to tolerate such conduct in their midst. Paul referred to this previous letter in 1 Corinthians 5:9. It has not been preserved.

After this, Paul heard from “Chloe’s people” that factions had developed in the church. He also received a letter from the church in Corinth requesting his guidance on certain matters. Those who carried this letter also reported other disturbing conditions in the church. These factors led Paul to compose another letter, the one we call “1 Corinthians,” in which he dealt with the questions and problems, promised to visit them soon, and said he was sending Timothy to Corinth. Paul sent this letter from Ephesus by trusted messengers in the late winter or early spring of A.D. 55.

There was internal strife in the Corinthian church. But, the larger problem seems to have been that some in the community were leading the church into a view of things that was contrary to that which Paul taught them. This resulted in a questioning of Paul’s authority and his gospel.

While the letter we know as “1 Corinthians” did not dispel the problems in the church at Corinth completely, it resolved some of them. Yet, opposition to the Apostle Paul persisted. Paul’s critics continued to speak out against him in the church, claiming equal authority with Paul and questioning whether Paul was really an apostle. The Christians in Corinth didn’t argue with what he had written; they simply denied his right to tell them what to do.

News of continuing problems in Corinth reached Paul in Ephesus so he made a brief visit to Corinth. What he called “a painful visit,” his efforts to resolve the conflicts proved unsuccessful. He then returned to Ephesus and sent a “severe letter” from Ephesus carried by Titus and another unnamed believer. This letter has not been preserved.

While waiting to receive the report back from Titus’ visit, persecution made Paul leave Ephesus earlier than he had anticipated. He found an open door for the gospel to the north in Troas. Eager to meet Titus, who was taking the land route from Corinth back to Ephesus, Paul moved west into Macedonia. There Titus met him and gave him an encouraging report. Most of the church had responded to Paul’s directives, and the church had disciplined the troublemakers. Unfortunately, some in the congregation still refused to acknowledge Paul’s authority over them.

Paul wrote what we know as “2 Corinthians” from Macedonia (Philippi, Thessalonica, or Berea) probably in the fall or winter of A.D. 56. (The above information adapted from Dr. Constables Notes on 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians, 2018 Editions)

Context

Though found in our New Testaments after the book of Romans, Paul wrote 1 Corinthians (from Ephesus) and 2 Corinthians (from Macedonia) before he wrote Romans during his stay in Corinth.

Historical Insight: Trying to piece together this section of Paul’s life and ministry is like assembling a picture puzzle without the box-top. The big pieces are easy, but the small ones drive you crazy! (Steve Hixon, The New Covenant Lifestyle, p. 3)

Here is a possible timeline just to give you some perspective on the interaction between Paul and the Corinthians over several years:

  • Paul’s founding visit — Spring 51
  • Paul’s first letter (1 Cor. 5:9)
  • The Corinthians’ letter to Paul (1 Cor. 1:11; 7:1; 16:17)
  • First Corinthians written — Spring 55
  • The “painful visit” (2 Cor. 2:1) — Summer/Fall 55
  • Paul’s “severe letter” (2 Cor. 2:4)
  • Titus brings news (2 Cor. 2:13; 7:5-7)
  • Second Corinthians written (2 Cor. 2:4) — Fall 56
  • Paul’s next visit (Acts 20:3) — Winter 56/57

1. What grabbed your attention as you read the ABC’s of the book of 2 Corinthians?

The God-Dependent Woman And Dependent Living

This letter, 2 Corinthians, is considered one of Paul’s most personal letters. It’s not a “sermon” like Romans or Ephesians that can be easily outlined. It’s a messy letter, just like most personal letters. It is full of personal feelings and experiences interspersed between some terrific teaching. It’s like life—messy—because people are messy, relationships are messy, circumstances are messy, and community within the church is messy.

The majority of New Testament writings exist because the early church was messy … Emerging from the mess is the fingerprint of God writing the hope of the gospel and the story of redemption. (Heather Zempel, Community Is Messy, pages 24, 26-27)

In the midst of our messy lives, God wants us to learn to rely on Him more than on ourselves. If you have been reared in western culture, this is contrary to what you’ve been taught most of your life. To compensate for poor teaching in the past, women are taught from girlhood to “stand on your own two feet” and “you don’t need anyone to be successful.” So, what does this relying on God look like?

Are we as Christians supposed to stay like babies not doing anything for ourselves? Does it mean we are supposed to just lie back and let anything happen to us? Does it mean we aren’t supposed to use our skills, talents, advantages, and opportunities to be the best we can be? No! That’s not what it means.

We are supposed to grow and mature in our thinking and behavior. God wants us to give to Him all the skills, talents, advantages, and opportunities and use them for His glory. That involves following His leading and guidance. It means submitting our strengths and our weaknesses to Him for His purposes in our lives.

Here is the key to this: Human parents raise their children to be less dependent on them and more independent. But, God raises His children to be less independent and more dependent on Him. Whatever He brings into our lives that makes us more dependent upon Him is good for us. The key to being a God-dependent woman is dependent living.

Throughout 2 Corinthians, we will see examples of dependent living. Paul makes plans and submits them to God to be changed. We will see him demonstrating his authority as a leader and submitting that to God. He asks for healing and submits to God’s answer. And, Paul talks about preaching the gospel in one city while his heart wants to be in another city, waiting for God to say “go.” That’s dependent living.

Dependent living is not weakness. It is being stronger and having more influence, success, and satisfaction than we could ever have through our own efforts—as brilliant and self-sufficient as we think we are or as weak and messed up as we think we are and everywhere in-between.

Through this 11-week study of 2 Corinthians, we will learn how to make plans for our lives and rely on the Lord with how to proceed. We will learn how to educate our minds and rely on the Lord to use that knowledge to glorify Him. We will learn how to make money and rely on the Lord to show us how to use it wisely. We learn how to do this as we act in obedience to the Word of God, depend on Jesus Christ for the power to do so, and trust Him with the results. This “dependent living” will make us stronger and more effective in life than we could ever be on our own.

As a reminder, you’ll see this main idea at the end of each lesson: As His child, God transforms your life by teaching you to live dependently on Him in weakness and in strength.

The following verses describe or relate to dependent living. To help you learn about living dependently on the Lord, we recommend you memorize the verses listed below. I’ve included the NIV version of each, but you can use any translation. Write them on cards and place them where you will see and review them.

But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:9b)

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

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. 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)

2. What questions do you have about “dependent living” that you hope to have answered through this study?

Day Two Study

This day will take a little longer than most because we ask you to read through the entire letter of 2 Corinthians. Reading through the whole letter is the best way to see the entire message and get the “big picture” before we divide it into smaller pieces to enjoy it more slowly.

Read the letter called “2 Corinthians” as it was intended … a letter from one dear friend to another. Read it at one sitting. It will take about 40 minutes. Consider the following questions as you read. Ready? Go!

3. What do you remember the most from your reading of this entire letter? What topics, situations, or teachings does Paul include in his letter that particularly interest you?

Ask God to show you answers to your questions and what He wants you to learn through this study of 2 Corinthians.

Day Three Study—Get The Big Picture

Let’s start digging into this wonderful letter from God to us. For every lesson, we will begin with reading the whole passage to get the big picture before we study the verses more closely.

To learn how to really observe what is in the text, it helps to print out the verses. I will give you a link to follow to print the specific passage we are studying in that lesson. You can choose a translation by pulling down the menu. Sometimes the link will include sections from a previous lesson so you can see the continuity in Paul’s letter.

Read 2 Corinthians 1:1-11. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word. (This is a dependent living choice.)

[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.]

4. What grabbed your attention from this passage?

  • 1:1-3
  • 1:3-7
  • 1:8-11

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

6. What verses illustrate or help you understand what dependent living on God looks like? [Example: We receive comfort from God for ourselves and to comfort others. (v. 4)]

What Does The Bible Say? (This Is The “Observation” Step In The Process Of Bible Study.)

7. Focus on vv. 1-2. This is called the “salutation.” In ancient letters, the salutation included both the letter writer and the recipient’s name.

  • The letter is from Paul. What are his credentials?
  • Who is with Paul?
  • Who are the recipients?
  • How does Paul begin his greeting?

Historical Insight: Paul intended that the Corinthian Christians would read this epistle in the church, but he also wanted all the Christians in the province of Achaia to read it. We know that at this time there was another church a few miles away in Cenchrea (Romans 16:1), and perhaps one in nearby Athens (Acts 17:34). (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 10)

What Does It Mean? (This Is The “Interpretation” Step In The Process Of Bible Study.)

8. Read 1 Corinthians 1:26. What does Paul say about the Corinthians that might help you to identify with them?

9. Read the following verses to compare Paul’s salutations in other letters. Galatians 1:1-3 (Paul’s first letter); 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 (written before 2 Corinthians); Romans 1:1, 7-8 (written after 2 Corinthians) and Ephesians 1:1-2 (one of Paul’s last letters). What is consistently the same?

Focus on the Meaning: “Grace” was a common Greek salutation that meant “greetings” or “rejoice.” The Jews said “shalom” to each other, meaning “peace and prosperity.” Paul used both words when he greeted the recipients of his epistles. For the Christian, these terms took on a deeper meaning. God has chosen to set His love upon the believer in Christ (grace) resulting in something that the world cannot give (peace).

What Application Will You Make? (This Is The “Application” Step In The Process Of Bible Study.)

10. Being confident in the authenticity of what you read in the Bible is important to your faith. How would the consistency you found in the previous question help to prove the authenticity of those letters? By the way, skeptics concede that Paul wrote 2 Corinthians. No argument about it.

Day Four Study

Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-11. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

11. Let God feed your hope through the truths revealed in this passage.

  • Praise be to ________________, the Father of _______________ and the God of ________________ (v. 3).
  • When God comforts us, what can we do (v. 4)?
  • What abounds in / overflows into our lives (v. 5)?
  • What does sharing someone else’s sufferings and comfort from God produce in us (v. 6)?
  • Where did Paul and his friends suffer hardships (v. 8)?
  • How did they feel during that time (vv. 8-9)?
  • What purpose did they see in their sufferings (v. 9)?
  • What did God do that feeds their hope (v. 10)?
  • Who will benefit from the prayers of the Corinthians (v. 11)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

What Does It Mean?

12. Paul describes God as “the Father of compassion” (v. 3) and “the God of all comfort,” the one to whom we should go first in our troubles. Compassion means to not just feel sympathy for someone’s pain but to do something to alleviate it. Paul equates this with receiving “comfort” from God.

  • Define the verb “comfort.”
  • How does our God of compassion comfort us? Consider all the ways that He uses to do so.

Scriptural Insight: God is not detached, cold and distant. He knows, understands, empathizes with and responds to the pain in our lives with compassion. This is beautifully illustrated in the life of Jesus (see Mark 6:34).

13. What did Paul mean when he said we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ (v. 5)? Think of the human experiences that we share with Jesus.

14. Paul wrote this letter after experiencing severe trials in Ephesus (vv. 8-9). Read Acts 19:23-41 and 1 Corinthians 15:32. What did he experience?

Although the context of Paul’s “sufferings” may be persecution, the principle applies to any troubles experienced by humans. Jesus experienced them all except those brought on by personal sinfulness since He was sinless. But, He understands our need for comfort even then.

15. Paul admitted weakness. Being a mature Christian doesn’t exempt you from fear, struggle, doubt, stress and suffering. Paul viewed those experiences as opportunities for learning to rely on God more than oneself (v. 9).

  • What does it mean to rely on or trust someone?
  • What choices must you make to rely on God more than on yourself?

16. When you have trouble in your life, someone might tell you this, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” Based upon what you read in vv. 8-9, why is that a false teaching?

Think About It: God allows painful things to happen to His children. He puts us in situations where it’s beyond our ability. We are still capable of sinning. We can’t fully trust ourselves. He gives us more than we can handle on our own so we are forced to trust in Him.

17. Read 1 Corinthians 10:13. What does God promise regarding any temptation to sin that you face at any time? How is this also teaching you to rely on God more than yourself?

From the Greek: “Gracious favor” NIV / “blessing” ESV (v. 11) comes from the Greek word charisma meaning “a favor with which one receives without any merit of his own.” This undeserved gift of divine grace towards us stems from God’s love for us. God chooses to give it because of His love so that men and women can become acceptable to Him. Grace is summed up in the name, person, and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. We receive this favor or acceptance from God as a free gift through faith. God’s grace is all-sufficient, and our weakness is precisely the opportunity for His power to be displayed.

Did you see something else in this passage that you wanted to study more? This is where you would use an online tool or app (blueletterbible.org or “Blue Letter Bible app” is especially helpful) to find cross references (verses with similar content to what you are studying) and meanings of the original Greek words or phrases used (usually called “interlinear”). You can also look at any verse in various Bible translations to help with understanding what it is saying. These tools help you get a clearer picture of the meaning of a passage after you have studied if for yourself. You will have the opportunity to add your own study at the end of every What does it mean? section.

18. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 1:3-11?

What Application Will You Make?

19. If you consider that God’s purpose in allowing troubles in your life is to lead you to rely on Him more than yourself (v. 9):

  • How do you recognize when you are relying on yourself?
  • How resistant are you to giving up control? Do you want to learn to give up control?
  • What would be the benefits of relying on God more than yourself?

Think About It: 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 give thanks.

20. Read vv. 4, 6-7 again. God has purpose even for our pain.

  • What does v. 4 say in “The Message” translation?
  • Have you considered how your struggles can lead to helping someone else? Explain this in your own words using an example from a real-life relationship.

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

22. 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

v. 4

We receive comfort from God for ourselves and to comfort others.

v. 9

Hes more powerful than we are.

v. 10

v. 11

Think About It: Every daily lesson in this study begins and ends with prayer. Prayer is conversation with Someone who loves you dearly. It is not about magic words or formulas. God speaks to you through His word. You may respond to Him about anything and ask Him to make His word true in your life. Lack of prayer is often a sign of self-sufficiency rather than dependent living.

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.

Related Topics: Character of God, Women's Articles

Lesson 2: Promises and Faithfulness (2 Corinthians 1:12-2:13)

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Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

The God who comforts you understands the many kinds of suffering you undergo in daily life. Although Paul wrote about the persecution he and his friends experienced that made them fear for their lives, suffering doesn’t only come from persecution, from physical danger, or from outside your circle of friends. It can also come from within the circle of 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.

Questions To Consider This Week:

  • Have you been in a position where you were misrepresented by others and, therefore, misunderstood by someone in close relationship to you? Whom would you trust to help with reconciliation?
  • As you make plans that involve others, do you submit them to the Lord for Him to change if needed even though it might cause disappointments and misunderstandings for those involved?

Day One Study—Get The Big Picture

Read 2 Corinthians 1:12-2:13. 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?

  • 1:12-14
  • 1:15-22
  • 1:23-2:13

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 1:12-14. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

5. As you look for the facts, remember that the context of Paul’s words are misunderstandings between the Corinthians and himself because of what other people are saying against him.

  • Paul’s conscience testifies they behaved with what (v. 12)?
  • But they did not rely on what (v. 12)?
  • What does Paul intentionally not do (v. 13)?
  • Paul hopes that they will do what (v. 14)?
  • With what result (v. 14)?

From the Greek: “Boast” is based on a Greek word meaning “the act of glorying, rejoicing.” As a key word in 2 Corinthians, Paul uses it 30 times in various forms. Pay attention to all the references to those who are boasting and about what they are boasting.

What Does It Mean?

6. From 2 Corinthians 1:12-14, summarize what you think Paul is trying to communicate to the Corinthian believers.

7. Read 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. When Paul first met the Corinthians, what examples of worldly wisdom (literally, “fleshly, humanistic”) did he not use? Why?

8. What does Paul say in 2 Corinthians 1:12 to remind them about that?

From the Greek: Wisdom (Gr. sophia, meaning “knowledge, intelligence, learning”) was one of the Corinthians’ buzz words. The Greeks valued wisdom. Paul used this word or variations of it 15 times in 1 Corinthians plus 2 Corinthians 1:12.

9. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 1:12-14?

What Application Will You Make?

Being misrepresented by someone and, therefore, misunderstood is very painful. Paul basically tells the Corinthians, “Look at my behavior. I am single-minded and sincere. It’s the truth. Please trust me. Then, we can be proud of each other’s faith.”

10. Have you been in a similar relationship where you were misrepresented and misunderstood? What have you learned from today’s study that you could apply to your situation?

11. 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 1:15-22. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

12. Answer the following questions based on what is written in the biblical text.

  • Since Paul was confident the Corinthians would understand the truth, what was his plan for visiting them (vv. 15-16)?
  • What seems to be the accusation against Paul (v. 17)?
  • Referring back to v. 12, what does Paul declare in v. 18 (“yes” and “no” refers to fickleness)?
  • Whom does he call upon as his witness and example to follow (vv. 19-20)?
  • Through whom is Paul’s “amen / may it be fulfilled” spoken (v. 20)?
  • For what purpose (v. 20)?
  • What does God do to fulfill His promise and receive glory (vv. 21-22)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

Scriptural Insight: Verse 15 can cause some confusion depending on your Bible translation. “Second experience of grace (ESV)” / “benefit twice (NIV)” comes from the Greek word charis, meaning gift, grace, blessing, or benefit. Paul used this word in the context of his visits, not any kind of salvation or spiritual experience. He hoped that his visiting them twice would be a double blessing for them.

What Does It Mean?

Read Acts 19:21-22. Paul was in Ephesus when he made his initial travel plans. To understand where he was and where he was planning to go, find Ephesus, Macedonia, Corinth, and Judea on the map below.

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13. Paul made plans but left them in the Lord’s hands. On what was He relying to lead him to visit Corinth? See also Acts 18:21 and James 4:13-15 for insight.

Focus on the Meaning: In making his plans, Paul claimed not to have followed his “flesh” (his sinful human nature) rather than the Holy Spirit … Paul has argued in vv. 18-20 that as God is faithful, so, too, is Paul’s “word.” God’s faithfulness is to be seen (1) in the Son of God preached in Corinth as God’s unambiguous and now-eternal “Yes,” and (2) in the fact of all the promises of God having been kept in the Son of God, as proclaimed by the apostles including Paul, the minister of the God who speaks unambiguously (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:13) and who keeps his promises. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, pages 22, 24)

14. God was completely trustworthy in fulfilling His promises to them in Christ, uniting Paul with the Corinthians. This is true of all believers.

  • What did God do to set His seal of ownership on us (v. 22)?
  • What does it mean to put down a deposit or guarantee?
  • Can humans back out of a bargain?
  • Can God back out of a bargain? See v. 20.
  • So, what does God pledge or guarantee for us? See also Ephesians 1:13-14.

Scriptural Insight: Promise and hope – the Holy Spirit is called a “deposit” or “down payment” on our salvation, giving assurance of the completion of his work. At the moment of salvation, the Spirit places you in Christ. This is the basis for your: 1) acceptance before God, 2) assurance of salvation, and 3) identity. And, Jesus Christ lives in you through His Spirit. Through Christ’s presence in you, you receive: 1) life (regeneration), 2) power for living, and 3) the basis of a relationship with the living God. What a truly awesome deal!

15. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 1:15-22?

Dependent Living: Paul made plans but held them loosely. Gods grace was leading him (v. 12). The Spirit drove his concern for the Corinthians so Paul wanted to check on them. Paul said in vv. 19-20 that he depended on Christ as he made plans. Making plans then having to change them may result in disappointments and misunderstandings for those involved. Paul had to trust in Christ to overcome that as well.

What Application Will You Make?

16. Where you can apply what you learned today to your own life?

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

Day Four Study

Read 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:13. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

17. Paul continues to explain himself so they can understand him.

  • Why had Paul not returned to Corinth first as he planned (v. 23 & 2:1)?
  • Paul reminds them that his role is to do what (v. 24)?
  • Why had Paul written a letter (2:3)?
  • As he wrote, how did he feel (2:4)?
  • What was true about the one who had been confronted with a deliberate sin (v. 5)?
  • What was true about the punishment inflicted on the offender (v. 6)?
  • Now what should they do (vv. 7-8)?
  • What might happen if they don’t forgive?
  • For what other reason had Paul written the severe letter (v. 9)?
  • Paul will do what (v. 10)?
  • What did he hope to avoid (v. 11)?
  • What happened when Paul left Ephesus and went to Troas (vv. 12-13)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

What Does It Mean?

18. Instead of another visit (2:1), Paul wrote a painful letter. What was his concern now (vv. 2-3)?

19. Notice the number of times joy / glad / rejoice are used in 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:13. What is it about broken relationships that affects our joy?

Focus on the Meaning: Paul refers to “joy” repeatedly in this letter, referring to it as “overflowing” and “boundless.” Only the Lord Jesus Christ can fill our hearts with overflowing joy even in the midst of hardships.

20. Correcting someone’s error in behavior or thinking is hard but necessary in the church of Christ. We don’t know what had happened, but we can look at an incident requiring previous correction. Read 1 Corinthians 5:1-7.

  • What was the problem that time?
  • Why is it necessary to address ungodly behavior in a church community?
  • What is the goal of caring enough about your church community that you would ask someone to leave who is deliberately sinning in such a public, proud way?

21. Based on 2 Corinthians 2:6-10, what are some “tough love” steps you can take to restore an offending community member and then comfort them?

22. Read v. 11 in several Bible translations to help in your understanding.

Paul warned of a danger always threatening believers, especially unity within the local church community. Satan’s schemes could outwit church leaders.

  • What is a scheme?
  • What does it mean to outwit?
  • What might it look like for Satan to “outwit” church leaders when it comes to enabling bad influences to remain in the church community?

Focus on the Meaning: Comfort means encouragement plus alleviation of grief. The one offended must go to the offender who has been confronted and give forgiveness and comfort to her. This confirmation of love helps to bring everyone back into loving fellowship. Satan delights in seeing our church body, small groups and families broken up by our failure to forgive and confirm love.

23. Paul sent the painful letter with Titus. Read Galatians 2:1-3, Titus 1:1, 4-5, and 2 Corinthians 7:5-7. What do you learn about Titus?

Historical Insight: Paul left Troas, not because he wasn’t having success but because he was so concerned about his Corinthian “children.” His focus was on relationship. The likely route for Titus to take back to Ephesus / Troas would have been up from Corinth to Macedonia then a short sea journey to Troas. He had places to stay along the way with the churches already planted. Paul hoped to meet Titus in Macedonia. Do you now understand why Paul started off this letter with praising God for comfort? Titus brought him comfort in the way of good news about the Corinthians.

Dependent Living: God makes you to stand firm (v. 24). You choose to let Him do so.

24. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:13?

What Application Will You Make?

25. Paul trusted Titus to represent him and help with reconciliation. Whom would you trust to send to a family member to help with reconciliation, as Paul trusted Titus? Why?

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

27. 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

1:17

We get distracted and disappointed when things dont go as we planned

1:22

He owns us and lives in us.

2:5-10

2:11

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 3: Connect and Impart for God’s Glory (2 Corinthians 2:14-4:6)

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You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:2-3)

Paul made plans to visit the Corinthians but held onto them loosely as he left them in the Lord’s hands. The Spirit drove Paul’s concern for the Corinthians so he changed plans to check on them. Because of God’s grace leading him, he chose to delay the visit. This caused disappointments and misunderstandings for those involved. But, Paul had to trust in Christ to overcome that as well.

Broken relationships due to misunderstandings and gossip from those who don’t know the facts can cause great pain. Paul asks the Corinthians to assume good will, listen to wisdom, and do what is right in God’s sight. Then, trust the Lord to heal the relationship as each party loves the other sincerely.

Questions To Consider This Week:

  • If the fragrance or aroma we spread to others is the knowledge of Christ, how do we do that?
  • How would you determine if someone is peddling the word of God for profit or not?
  • If you are a living letter of Christ, who is reading you? Are they reading a letter that brings glory to Christ or to something else?

Day One Study—Get The Big Picture

Read 2 Corinthians 2:12-4:6, including verses from the previous 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?

  • 2:14-17
  • 3:1-6
  • 3:7-4:6

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 2:14-17. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

Historical Insight: Paul was an observer of his world and often included references to the culture as illustrations for his listeners. The imagery is that of a Roman triumph (victory parade) in which the victorious general would lead his soldiers and the captives they had taken in festive procession, while the people watched and applauded and the air was filled with the sweet smell released by burning of spices in the street. (NIV Study Bible, note on v. 14, p. 1765)

What Does The Bible Say?

5. Corinth was a Roman colony. Roman parades were special to them. Consider the “Historical Insight” information above as you answer the following questions.

  • Who is the victorious general (v. 14)?
  • Who are the ones following? [Note: “as captives” is not in the original Greek so is not in most translations.]
  • What does God do through us (v. 14)?
  • What are we to God (v. 15)?
  • To whom are we the aroma of death (vv. 15-16)?
  • To whom are we the fragrance that brings life (v. 16)?
  • As one who spreads the aroma of the knowledge of God, what does Paul not do (v. 17)?
  • Instead, what does Paul do?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

Think About It: The sobering fact is that the fragrance of Christ is glorious to those who desire Him as Savior, but to those who reject Him, the scent is loathsome. (Kelly Minter, All Things New, page. 44)

What Does It Mean?

6. Paul says that the fragrance we spread is the knowledge of Christ, the aroma of Christ.

  • Describe an aroma that is especially enticing or inviting to you.
  • How can we be such an aroma to others? See Colossians 4:5-6 and other verses you know that illustrate this.

Scriptural Insight: Paul asks the rhetorical question, “Who is equal to such a task (v. 16)?” He knows that no one is. Our responsibility to represent Christ well and be that enticing aroma is weighty. But, God doesn’t ask us to do that He doesn’t enable us to do. God makes us competent to share Him with others. See 2 Corinthians 3:5.

7. Read Acts 18:1-7, 1 Corinthians 9:11-15; and 2 Corinthians 11:7-9. Traveling teachers in that culture usually expected to be paid for their services.

  • What was Paul’s practice with the Corinthians instead of “peddling the word of God for profit?”
  • From 2 Corinthians 2:14-17, what is the motive and drive of Paul and his team if not for money (profit)?

Scriptural Insight: How is Paul able confidently to attribute such negative motives to these men, while expecting his own claim “of sincerity” to be accepted? It appears that he is appealing to the known fact that these men have received some material benefit from the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 11:20), whereas Paul deliberately refused payment from them (2 Corinthians 11:7-12; 12:13-16). (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 35)

8. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 2:14-17?

What Application Will You Make?

God uses our words and actions to bring out what people are already thinking about Him. Their responses to us are often an indicator of where they are spiritually—and that can be good or bad, positive or negative. If they are seeking to know more about Christ, they may be drawn to His fragrance in us. If someone is mad at God, we may experience that anger directed at us.

9. How do you respond when someone attacks your faith? How does it help to consider they may be reacting more to God than to you?

10. How would you recognize someone peddling the word of God for profit? What questions would you ask to determine if someone is peddling the word of God for profit or sincerely serving the Lord Jesus in ministry?

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

Dependent Living: Our God leads us and uses us to draw others to Christ and His victory parade. We let Him lead us and use us according to His will.

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

Day Three Study

Read 2 Corinthians 3:1-6. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

Historical Insight: In Acts 18:27 and Romans 16:1, we see examples of letters of recommendation. The appearance of vagrant impostors, who claimed to be teachers of apostolic truth, led to the need for letters of recommendation. Paul needed no such confirmation; but others, including the Corinthian intruders, did need authentication and, being themselves, false, often resorted to unscrupulous methods for obtaining or forging letters of recommendation. (NIV Study Bible, note on 3:1, p. 1765)

12. Have you needed a letter of recommendation for something? Paul’s credentials have been questioned. Paul answers the charge that he needs a letter of recommendation (v. 1).

  • The Corinthians are what for Paul (v. 2)?
  • They show what (v. 3)?
  • Paul gets this confidence how (v. 4)?
  • Paul says, “Our competence is not (v. 5) _______________, but our competence comes _________________.”
  • God has made Paul and his companions competent as what (v. 6)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

Scriptural Insight: Notice that v. 3 includes references to God [the Father], Christ and the Spirit. This is a “Trinity” verse supporting the doctrine of one God in three persons.

What Does It Mean?

13. Read vv. 2-3 in several Bible translations. Summarize what Paul is saying.

14. Read 1 Corinthians 9:1-2 and Acts 9:15-16; 18:9-10 for background to what Paul says here. What are Paul’s credentials?

15. How do his credentials give him both confidence (trust, reliance) and competence / sufficiency in the work that Jesus gave him to do (2 Corinthians 1:1; 2:17; 3:5-6)?

From the Greek: The Greek word hikonas (“to have enough”) is translated in vv. 5-6 as competent (NIV), adequate (NAS), qualified (NLT), and sufficient (ESV). God is the one who makes anyone “have enough” for the work He has called her to do.

16. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 3:1-6?

What Application Will You Make?

17. In the gospels, we see that Jesus would connect with people and impart truth to them. You are His letter for others to read. And, He’s used His servants to reach you and model for you how to follow Him.

  • Who has modeled for you how to follow Christ? Who has written on your life?
  • What do you hope people read in your letter? Is there anything in your letter that says you rely more on yourself than on Christ?
  • Who are your letters, those in whom you are consciously investing right now?

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 model, 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 to lead ourselves well … The first step toward leading yourself well is following well … And if you are a Christ follower, the practice of following well is fundamental to your identity and may be one of the greatest tests of your character. (Heather Zempel, Community Is Messy, pages 67-68)

18. God is the one who makes you competent / sufficient / adequate for the work that Jesus gives you to do. Is there something right now that’s in front of you—a need, a challenge, an opportunity—but you feel spiritually incompetent to do it? How do these verses today speak to your situation?

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 3:7-4:6. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

20. Paul contrasts the Old Covenant with the New Covenant, revealing how life with the Spirit of God is so much better.

  • Count the number of times “glory,” “glorious,” “radiance,” “light” and “shine” are used. ______
  • Count the number of times “veil” or “covering” is used. ______
  • What is the condition of the Jews who have not trusted in Christ (3:14-15)?
  • Where the Spirit of the Lord Jesus is, there is freedom from what (3:14,16)?
  • As we contemplate or behold the Lord’s glory, what is the Spirit doing to us (3:18)?
  • Knowing God gave Paul his ministry through His mercy, how does he respond (4:1)?
  • What has Paul renounced and chosen not to do (4:2)?
  • On the contrary, what does he do (4:2)?
  • The god of this age (Satan) does what (4:4)?
  • Paul doesn’t preach himself but preaches what (4:5)?
  • For God did what (4:6)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

Focus on the Meaning: Freedom is being out in the open; it is the boldness of having nothing to hide. The woman who is free has no reputation to defend, no image to hide behind, nothing to preserve about herself. She can be herself. (Ray Stedman, adapted from Authentic Christianity)

What Does It Mean?

21. Contrast the Old Covenant (the Law) with the New Covenant of the Spirit (3:7-11).

Focus on the Meaning: You may be a Christian, appreciating God’s grace for salvation and heaven, but thinking that you need to be “under the law” in your Christian life. Why would you sense that? Perhaps you feel your relationship with God is based upon your performance, that His love for you is conditional, that you’re never “good enough” for Him to really accept you. That’s Old Covenant thinking. Read this passage again and realize that God wants to set you free from that inner turmoil. The New Covenant is His gift to you. (Steve Hixon)

22. Paul says in v. 18 that we are being transformed by the Spirit. The original Greek word means “to change from one form to another.” For us, we are being transformed into the image of Christ … not in our faces but in our characters.

  • What were we like before trusting in Christ? Read 2 Corinthians 4:4 and Ephesians 2:1-3.
  • How are we transformed into the image of Christ by the Spirit? Read Romans 12:2 and Colossians 3:12-17. Recognize that how the Spirit works is part mystery. We can know with confidence that He works in us. We are to respond to His Word and leading as He does.

Scriptural Insight: The “image” of God, that we see in the Word, accurately reflects God, though we do not yet see God Himself. What we see in the “mirror” of God’s Word is the Lord [Jesus], not ourselves. We experience gradual transformation … not in our faces but in our characters (cf. 2 Peter 3:18). (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 43)

The concept of glory can be hard to understand. But, Paul uses it repeatedly in this passage so let’s at least try.

From the Greek: “Glory” comes from the Greek word, doxa, meaning “good opinion resulting in praise and honor; splendor, brightness, majesty.”

23. Why will being transformed into the Lord’s image bring “ever-increasing glory” to us rather than fading glory?

Scriptural Insight: We are made holy in God’s sight at the moment of salvation. Holy ones are called saints (2 Corinthians 1:1). During our life on earth, we are also “being made holy” in our thoughts, words, and actions by the work of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). 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.

24. Although Moses wore a physical “veil” to cover the fading glory from his face, Paul uses “veil” in a figurative sense to represent the stubborn refusal of the Jews to believe the gospel message. He says that Satan (“the god of this age”) veils the gospel by blinding the minds of unbelievers (as in 2 Corinthians 3:14-16 for the Jews).

  • The underlying Greek word means “to blunt the mental discernment, to darken the mind.” Why does Satan do that?
  • How do you think he does that? In other words, what would it look like to blind someone’s mind?
  • Who removes the veil / blindness? How? Give verses from this passage. See also Acts 26:17-18 and Colossians 1:12-13.

Scriptural Insight: In the Bible, there always seems to be a period of darkness before there comes a light. According to the Hebrew calendar—the one Jesus used—a day starts at sunset and not at midnight or sunrise. So even the Hebrew day begins with night. Isn’t that interesting? During dark times, dawn will always come. All around us it is easy to see the darkness present in this world. Wickedness, greed, selfishness, cold-blooded violence… the darkness can quickly overwhelm a soul. But there is hope! Isaiah 9:2 predicted that those living in darkness would see a great light. Jesus was that light. And when you look at His life in the Gospel books you can see that He broke the darkness that was present in His land. He healed sick people, taught the curious how to live a life of purpose, and forgave the sins of those who were longing to be free from their guilt. He still does the same today. Our world is not completely dark. There is light that always dawns. (John Newton, Advent for Restless Hearts, p. 12)

25. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 3:7-4:6?

What Application Will You Make?

26. As living letters of Christ, we reflect the glory of Christ. What has the Spirit changed in you since you trusted in Christ so that you reflect His glory more than your own?

27. When given the opportunity, are you prepared to share the gospel message to someone who has been living in blindness? Write out the basic gospel message in the space below. [In the “Resources” section at the end of this study guide, you can see several ways to word it.] Get to know it well and ask the Lord Jesus to give you an opportunity to share this good news with someone who needs to hear it.

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

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.

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 4: Let God’s Light Shine (2 Corinthians 4:7-5:10)

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But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7, Memory Verse #2)

In chapters 2 and 3, you learned that you are the aroma of God spreading everywhere the knowledge of Him. Women know all about aroma. Think of the delightful smell of good food cooking or fine perfume, and of course, the many benefits of essential oils. A pleasing aroma influences and invites the receiver to enjoy more of the same. So it is with you as the aroma of Christ.

You are also a living letter presenting Christ to those who are “reading” you. Have you thought about how much reading stimulates the mind and draws one into exploring more? That’s what the Spirit of God is writing in your life, a letter that others will want to read and experience what you have in Christ.

And, you are an illustration of the freedom that comes in Christ. Freedom from the blindness enslaving the mind of an unbelieving person. As you are transformed by the Holy Spirit into the image of Christ, you are freed from sinful behaviors so that your life will glorify God more and more. To glorify God means to enhance His reputation. That’s what we are to do with our lives.

But, whether you will be a delightful aroma, an inviting letter, or a clear image of Christ depends on how much you are relying on God to lead you and change you.

Yet, your aroma of God and letter of Christ are emanating from frail human bodies. The best news is that God overcomes your weaknesses with His power as you trust in Him.

Questions To Consider This Week:

  • How do you keep your eyes fixed on what is unseen and eternal rather than seen and temporary (4:18)?
  • Why does God put His treasure in “jars of clay?” And, what is revealed in our frail human bodies during every trial that threatens us?
  • What will it take for you to trust in God to help you view whatever hardships and pain you experience as “light and momentary troubles?”

Day One Study—Get The Big Picture

Read 2 Corinthians 3:18-5:10, including verses from the previous 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?

  • 4:7-12
  • 4:13-18
  • 5:1-10

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 4:7-12. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

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

  • Why does God put His treasure in “jars of clay” (4:7)?
  • In vv. 8-9, Paul says about his team that they are what? But not what?
  • What is revealed in our frail human bodies during every trial that threatens us (vv. 10-11)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

Historical Insight: It was customary to conceal treasure in clay jars, which had little value or beauty and did not attract attention to themselves and their precious contents. (NIV Study Bible, note on v. 7, p. 1767)

What Does It Mean?

Historical Insight: The pottery lamps which could be bought for a coin or two in the Corinthian market-place provided a sufficient analogy; it did not matter how cheap or fragile they were so long as they showed the light. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 49)

6. Let’s try to understand what Paul means by “the treasure” in 4:7.

  • From 3:18-4:6, what could be “the treasure” in 4:7?
  • What do other Bible translations of 4:7 say that help in understanding this verse?

7. How does 2 Corinthians 4:7 relate to 4:8-9?

Think About It: There will be times when you feel like you’re going crazy, struggling, and wondering how you’ll ever live through your hardships or heartaches. Take it from a veteran: do not let yourself sink into despair. Set the bar high in your battle against despondency by holding onto biblical hope. Find an anchor in Scripture, such as a favorite psalm or snippet of a proverb. Pick a timeless stanza from a hymn or chorus. Use that Scripture or song as your stake in the ground, your resolute act of defiance against discouragement. And, above all, trust in God. (Joni Eareckson Tada, Just Between Us, Fall 2018, p. 8)

8. To understand vv. 10-11 better, see Galatians 2:20 and 2 Corinthians 5:7. This is the life of faith and dependent living.

  • Who gives His life to us?
  • Whose life is being lived through us?
  • From where do we get the ability to live this way?

Focus on the Meaning: Jesus Christ gave His life for you, so He could give His life to you, so He could live His life through you. (Major Ian Thomas, The Saving Life of Christ)

9. So, why does God put His treasure in jars of clay?

10. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 4:7-12?

What Application Will You Make?

11. Read the “Think About It” below. Is this how you think of yourself? Why or why not?

Think About It: A vessel’s worth comes from what it holds, not from what it is. Paul contrasted the relative insignificance and unattractiveness of the light-bearers with the surpassing worth and beauty of the light (i.e., God’s glory). … It is precisely the Christian’s utter frailty which lays him open to the experience of the all-sufficiency of God’s grace, so that he is able even to rejoice because of his weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9)—something that astonishes and baffles the world, which thinks only in terms of human ability. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, pages 49-50)

12. 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 4:13-18. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

13. Answer the following questions based on what is written in the biblical text.

  • Why do Paul and his team continue to speak in spite of the dangers (vv. 13-14)?
  • How do the Corinthians benefit from Paul continuing to preach Christ (v. 15)?
  • Why do they not lose heart (see also 4:1) even during their struggles (v. 16)?
  • What does Paul call the painful times he’s experienced (v. 17)?
  • What are those troubles achieving for him?
  • What does he do to keep going (v. 18)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

Think About It: The more faithful that Paul and his companions remained to God’s will, the more they suffered and the more the Corinthians prospered spiritually from their teaching and examples of faithfulness.

What Does This Mean?

14. Paul quotes Psalm 116 in v.13. Read Psalm 116:5-10. What has the psalmist learned about life that relates to Paul’s experience?

Historical Insight: The resurrection of Christ is the greatest event in human history. No one was resurrected with an immortal body before that time or has been since. The great hope for us is that we will be resurrected when Jesus comes. We will be presented to God with all believers and live in God’s presence for the rest of eternity.

15. Paul mentions “not losing heart” twice in this chapter (vv. 1, 16). Sometimes looking at the opposite helps us to understand.

  • What does it mean to “lose heart?”
  • So, what does it mean to “not lose heart?” And, why is this important?

16. “Overflow” (or, flow over) is another key term in 2 Corinthians. Paul uses it 7 times. It refers to things that overflow, excel or abound.

  • Read 1:5. What overflows?
  • Read 3:9. What overflows or abounds?
  • Read 4:15. What overflows? Why?

17. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 4:13-18?

What Application Will You Make?

“Light and momentary troubles.” That’s what Paul called his hardships and pain because he was looking beyond today and seeing the joy of being in heaven forever afterwards. After reading just part of what he experienced (we’ll see lots more in chapters 6 and 11), it seems insane for him to say this. Commonly, our frail human nature would rather complain and even compare our troubles with each other to see if we have it better or worse. Have you noticed this?

Scriptural Insight: Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:17, For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs them all. There is purpose and reward in enduring troubles. 1) Endurance is good for us. It teaches us “staying power” for a long-term burden. 2) Endurance makes us stronger. Just like load-bearing exercise makes our bones stronger, troubles that challenge your faith do that, too. 3) Endurance is necessary to grow into maturity. Think about the process of human development. Teething, learning to walk and ride a bike, and adolescence are painful but necessary parts of developing into adulthood. God’s goal for us is to be mature and complete. Endurance is His tool to help us reach that goal, to grow up.

4) Endurance teaches us to depend on God more than on ourselves. Going through troubles is God’s will for us. He allows things in our lives to challenge us, but His motive is not to trip us up. He wants to develop that endurance in us. It is not so we don’t need Him any longer but that we would rely on Him more. He wants to make us stand firm in Him and to get us through “whatever.”

18. What will it take for you to trust in God to help you view whatever hardships and pain you experience as “light and momentary troubles?” Ask Him for that right now.

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 5:1-10. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

Historical Insight: In ancient times, a “tent” was a familiar symbol of what was transitory. Our physical bodies are only temporary structures, but God is preparing new bodies for us, that are far superior to anything that human hands can produce and maintain. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 54)

20. How do you keep your eyes fixed on what is unseen and eternal rather than seen and temporary (4:18)? Paul continued to give reasons why we should not lose heart.

  • What happens if our earthly tent (human body) is destroyed (v. 1)?
  • Why do we groan in the meantime (vv. 2-3)?
  • What else does Paul say about life in the meantime (v. 4)?
  • What has God done (v. 5)?
  • What does Paul know with confidence (vv. 6-7)?
  • What would he prefer (v. 8)?
  • While we live, we make it our goal to do what (v. 9)?
  • For we must all appear where (v. 10?
  • What do we receive there?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

What Does It Mean?

21. We are living in the now and the “not yet.” Describe the future promise we have and the ever-present tension in a Christian’s life (vv. 1-8).

  • Future promises we have …
  • Present tension …

22. Focus on 2 Corinthians 5:4. Paul wrote about this in his previous letter to the Corinthians. Read 1 Corinthians 15:53-54. What did he say?

Scriptural Insight: All Christians who die will receive an immortal body (v. 1). This is by itself a substantial gift of glory. Second, all Christians, including those who die soon after becoming believers, presently possess the Holy Spirit—who is God’s pledge of our future complete glorification (vv. 4-5). Third, death begins a new phase of existence for all believers, that will be far superior to what we experience now (vv. 7-8). (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 54)

23. Let’s look at how we are to live now in these earthly bodies (vv. 6-9). What do these statements mean?

  • Living by faith, not by sight (v. 7)
  • Living to please the Lord (v. 9 and Romans 14:7-8)

Think About It: Living by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and all He has promised for our present and our future is NOT the same thing as taking a leap in the dark. See Hebrews 11:1, 6. We can know Him through all that is revealed for us to know.

24. When our earthly bodies die, we appear before the judgment seat of Christ (v. 10). Read about this in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15. Paul is addressing believers about rewards, not salvation.

  • As already saved people, guaranteed to receive heavenly dwellings when we die, are we responsible for our actions while in our “earthly tents?”
  • Why does God care about this? Use what you’ve already seen in 2 Corinthians.

25. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 5:1-10?

What Application Will You Make?

26. What confidence can you have at your death? Do you have this confidence? Trusting Christ for what happens to you after you die is another aspect of dependent living.

Scriptural Insight: Gain confidence about what happens when you die by looking at these truths.

What does NOT happen at death: annihilation (Luke 16:19-31); soul sleep (Philippians 1:23); become a floating spirit (2 Cor. 5:3); reincarnation (Hebrews 9:27); and purgatory (Colossians 1:22).

What DOES happen at death: Fall asleep on earth; wake up in heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:14); Leave earthly tent; get heavenly dwelling fashioned for us (2 Cor. 5:1); and Be immediately at home with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8).

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

Dependent Living: Living by faith is offering yourself to God (Romans 6:13), choosing to approach life His way (seen in the New Testament writings), and trusting Him with the results.

28. 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

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 Jesuss life in and through us.

4:16)

He can keep us from losing heart.

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

Did you notice that every daily lesson in this study begins and ends with prayer? God speaks to you through His word. You may respond to Him about anything and ask Him to make His word true in your life. 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 He’s shown you in this whole lesson.

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 5: Your Life Has Purpose (2 Corinthians 5:11-6:10)

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For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

God has put His “light” treasure in your imperfect, easily broken and bruised body so that He can show His all-surpassing power in you and through you. He chooses to use every weakness of yours to demonstrate His strength.

No one denies that life is hard. But, it is full of purpose for you and for those whom you touch with your life. As the Spirit daily renews you from within (4:16), you can choose to view your struggles as Paul did—light and momentary—because you know for certain you have a pain-free, hardship-free, joy-filled forever future in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Seeing the face of Christ will make it all worth it!

Questions To Consider This Week:

  • What does Christ’s love compel you to do in your life?
  • How’s your self-image? Do you see yourself the way God sees you? Or, do you tend to allow the baggage of your past to tell you who you are?
  • What does it mean to be an ambassador for Christ?

Day One Study—Get The Big Picture.

Read 2 Corinthians 5:6-6:10, 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?

  • 5:11-15
  • 5:16-21
  • 6:1-10

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 5:11-15. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

5. Look carefully at these verses which lead up to the more familiar verses in this chapter.

  • Because Paul reveres (fears) the Lord, what does he do (v. 11)?
  • What opportunity is Paul giving to the Corinthians (v. 12)?
  • What drives Paul and his team to try to persuade others to believe the gospel (v. 14)?
  • How should believers who received the gospel and now “live” respond to Christ’s love (v. 15)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

What Does It Mean?

6. Transparency is an important virtue in our world as it was back in Paul’s day. Compare 5:11 with what Paul has already said in 2 Corinthians 1:12-13 and 4:2. Summarize what he wants them to believe about him.

7. Focus on vv. 12-13:

  • Considering what you have learned about Paul’s opponents, what could Paul mean by “taking pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart” (v. 12)?
  • What do other Bible translations of vv. 12-13 say that add to your understanding?

8. Focus on vv. 14-15. What is Paul saying here? How should that look?

Focus on the Meaning: The engine that should drive our spiritual life is the overwhelming gratitude we should feel at the gracious love of God for us. We are the beloved. If you are not firmly grounded in that TRUTH, what motives are fueling your spiritual life? Check to make sure you are not being motivated by fear of God, performance to earn His favor, or general indifference.

9. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 5:11-15?

What Application Will You Make?

10. Paul affirmed that Christ’s love compels him to continue preaching the gospel to persuade others to trust the Lord. What does Christ’s love compel you to do (v. 14) in your life?

11. How does taking pride in what’s seen rather than what’s in the heart (v.12) impact our ability to live for Him instead of for ourselves (v.15)?”

12. 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 5:16-21. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

13. Complete the following thoughts based on what is written in the biblical text.

  • From now on, how do we not regard anyone (v. 16)?
  • What is true about anyone who is in Christ (v. 17)?
  • All this is from God who (v. 18) __________ and gave us __________.
  • That God was (v. 19) __________ not counting __________. And He has committed to us __________.
  • We are (v. 20) __________ as though God were __________. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: __________.
  • Write out v. 21 (often called “The Great Exchange”).

From the Greek: In v. 17, Paul used the Greek term ktisis (translated creature, “creation”). The rabbis used this term referring to someone who converted from idolatry to Judaism. The Corinthians would have been familiar with this term.

What Does It Mean?

14. Read v. 16 in several Bible translations. Paul’s phrase “worldly point of view” (v. 16) literally means “according to the flesh.” It refers to the human perspective.

  • How would someone regard Christ from a worldly point of view?
  • How could we regard other people from a worldly point of view?

Scriptural Insight: Before his conversion, Paul had looked at people on a strictly physical basis, in terms of their ethnicity rather than their spiritual status—which was the merely human perspective. Now, whether a person was a believer or a non-believer was more important to him than whether he or she was a Jew or a Gentile. Paul had also formerly concluded that Jesus could not be the divine Messiah, in view of His lowly origin, rejection, and humiliating death. “Now” he “recognize[d]” (knew) Him for who He really was, and what He really had done. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 63)

15. What does Paul mean by “new creation” in v. 17? Draw from what you have learned so far in 2 Corinthians and any other verses that explain this.

Scriptural Insight: At the moment of salvation, every believer is made into something that never existed before. In God’s eyes, you are now fused with Christ (Rom. 6:5), one of God’s saints (2 Cor. 1:1), adopted as His child (Rom. 8:16; Gal. 3:26), permanently indwelt by His Spirit (John 14:16-17), and made a member of the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). Viewing every person as to whether they are in Christ already or needing to be introduced to Him changes our perspective about people (v. 16). And, God is committed to the process of changing you (Philippians 1:6; 2:12-13).

16. Focus on vv. 18-20.

  • What has God chosen to do in spite of our frailties (vv. 18-20)?
  • What is the role of an ambassador? Feel free to look up the definition first.
  • What is your message as an ambassador to the world?

Think About It: Recall how Paul talked about having the treasure of the gospel in jars of clay (4:7). The treasure includes the message of reconciliation. 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 and the reason He is no longer counting your sins against you (v. 20). By believing in His Son, your relationship with God is restored…no longer broken. How does that make you feel? Believe it, sister. Embrace it. Relish in it. Bask in it. Share it.

17. If God is no longer counting our sins against us (v. 20) so that we can be reconciled to Him, where has our sin gone (v. 21)?

Scriptural Insight: This is the “Great Exchange.” When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned (Romans 5:12). We sin because we are sinners. At the cross, God made Him who knew no sin (Jesus) to be sin for us so that we could receive His righteousness as our own in place of our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) forever.

18. What is the one sin that God does count against those who are not Christians? See John 3:16-18; 16:8-9.

Scriptural Insight: One of the Holy Spirit’s jobs on earth is to convict people of their sin of unbelief regarding Jesus as the Son of God (John 16:8-9). Those who refuse to respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading are not saved. In Mark 3:29, Jesus talks about blasphemy (slander) against the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is this: “The malicious resistance against the Holy Spirit’s converting power after one is shown that Jesus is the Christ.” It is like a line in the sand. Those who cross the line by believing in Jesus are saved; those who refuse to cross and believe will be held accountable for their sin of unbelief.

What Application Will You Make?

19. Do you see yourself the way God sees you? Or, do you tend to allow the baggage of your past to tell you who you are? Can you accept what verse 17 says, that you are a new creation in Christ? How could that change your outlook, your lifestyle, and your relationships?

Think About It: Start using your new identity. See yourself as a righteous, holy daughter of God. Renew your mind according to it. Trust Him to adapt your behavior to align with it (Ephesians 4:1).

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

Read Christs Finished Work on the Cross at the end of this lesson. Its about your life in Christ as a new creation.

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

Day Four Study

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

What Does The Bible Say?

21. Paul gives examples from his own life of what it means to live as an ambassador and a servant of God, including more “light and momentary troubles.” He wrote this letter from Macedonia after he left Ephesus. All these events took place before the end of his third missionary journey in Acts 20. See examples of his experiences in Acts 14, 16 and 19. As servants of God, believers commend themselves (and avoid being stumbling blocks) by their responses to daily life and its challenges.

  • As a servant of God during this time of God’s favor, what is Paul’s aim in ministry (v. 3)?
  • What challenges did he face (vv. 4-5)?
  • What were his responses to those challenges (vv. 6-7)?
  • In v. 8, what was good? What was not-so-good?
  • In v. 9, what was good? What was not-so-good?
  • In v. 10, what was good? What was not-so-good?
  • Go back and consider the challenges that can happen to anyone, not just those being persecuted for their faith. What would those be?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

From the Greek: The Greek word used in 6:4 is hypomone. This is a strong word that means “bearing under.” It’s holding up a load with staying power, tenacity and stick-to-it-iveness. It’s the quality that enables a person to stand on his or her feet when facing a storm head on. Another translation for this word is “perseverance.”

What Does It Mean?

22. To understand 6:1-3, remember that the context is being an ambassador for Christ.

  • As those working together with God, what does Paul urge the Corinthians not to do (v. 1)?
  • How could you receive God’s grace in vain in this context? Verse 3 gives a clue.
  • How are the Corinthians allowing themselves to be used as stumbling blocks to others who might be drawn to believe in Christ?

23. Once again, Paul talks about “endurance.” In the last lesson, you learned that endurance has purpose and reward.

  • Read Romans 5:3-5. What does endurance or perseverance produce in us (purpose)?
  • What is the evidence for this in 2 Corinthians 6:6-10 (reward)?

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

What Application Will You Make?

As Christians, when we encounter stress, pressure, pain and suffering, we are more susceptible to wiggle, run, compromise or sin to avoid the suffering. Paul wrote to encourage suffering believers to patiently endure, to persevere through the challenges.

25. Do you recognize in Paul’s experiences any of your own life challenges?

  • Choose one and consider your response to that challenge in your life and how you were or were not a good ambassador for Christ during that time.
  • What have you learned since that time about trusting Christ that enables you to be an ambassador for Him even during tough times?

Dependent Living: The only way to live this kind of life is by a conscious dependence on Gods Spirit.

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

27. 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

5:15

So we can live for Him rather than for ourselves

5:17

Hes made us into a new creation

5:19-20

We are His ambassadors and speak for Him

5:21

He exchanges our sin for Christs righteousness

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.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Women's Articles

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