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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.

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