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2 Corinthians 6:1-18

Seize the Day

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • November 7, 2015

In chapter 6, Paul says, “I urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” What does it mean to receive the grace of God in vain? You received the grace of God when you asked Jesus into your heart as Lord and Savior; you were made new and adopted as a son or daughter. But if you receive all that grace and then don’t seize the opportunity to be transformed by it, you received the grace of God in vain. If you are adopted as God’s son or daughter, but then don’t live as a son or daughter, you’re not doing anything with the opportunity you’ve been given. Having been brought near to Him, it’s an opportunity; it's up to us what will we do with it.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Seize the Day

2 Corinthians 6:1-18

In the last few verses of chapter 5 we read some of the most encouraging, life-changing words Paul has written. God is making all things new, old things pass away, and all this is from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ.

That’s the key to transformation. Before, we were estranged from God and the result was emptiness of soul. If someone is empty then they start looking for love in all the wrong places, they look for life in all the wrong ways.

But we who were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ, Paul wrote in another place. We have been reconciled to God. That’s the amazing grace of God.

Having been brought near, it’s an opportunity; what will we do with it? He’s adopted us as a son or daughter; what will we do in that new relationship? In chapter 6 verse 1 Paul says, “I urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” What does it mean to receive the grace of God in vain?

You received the grace of God when you asked Jesus into your heart as Lord and Savior. You were made new in the sense that you were given eternal life instead of eternal death, you were adopted as a son or daughter; you were given a relationship to God as your Father. He took all your sins and placed them on His own Son on the cross of Calvary; He even took the righteousness of God and placed that upon you. What wonderful grace.

But if you receive all that grace and then don’t seize the opportunity to be transformed by it, you received the grace of God in vain. If you are adopted as God’s son or daughter, but then don’t live as a son or daughter, you’re not doing anything with the opportunity you’ve been given. If you’ve been given light, the treasure of the glory of God in your earthen vessel, but don’t do something with that light, that’s a tragedy.

Many of you are perhaps too young to remember when the Dallas Cowboys were a good football team. Their coach was the famous Tom Landry, considered a genius in football strategy, who called every play. At one point they drafted Roger Staubach, an accomplished quarterback who was used to calling his own plays. Under Tom Landry he had an opportunity to learn from one of the greatest call players in the history of football, but he resisted. Finally, someone challenged him to trust his coach; and the result – four Super Bowl appearances.

“I urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain,” Paul said, “now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation.” In other words, seize the day, seize the opportunity God has given you. How? That’s the point of chapter 6; let’s read it.

I.      By Giving no Cause for Offense

  • We live in a culture where giving offense is practically an art form. Apparently, it’s a requirement for the modern politician.
  • But while the gospel itself is certainly offensive to many people, Paul says that his heart is to give no cause for offense in anything, in order that the ministry might not be discredited.
  • In Chapter 5 Paul said that God gave us the ministry of reconciliation. We are ambassadors for Christ and God is entreating through us. It’s an opportunity to represent the grace and kindness and love and forgiveness of God.

A.      Commending ourselves as servants

  • If you want to seize the opportunity to work together with Him, then commend yourself by having the heart of a servant, because you’re serving God first.
  • At one point those who collected the voluntary two-drachma Temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?” Peter immediately said, “Yes.” Later, Jesus said to Peter that the sons of the King were exempt…

Matthew 17:27, “However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.”

  • Can we not also say, give no cause for offense – even when offended? Paul is a great example; there were some in Corinth who took offense at Paul’s letter of correction and they respond by questioning his authority as an apostle of Christ.
  • But how does Paul respond? He wins their heart and in the most loving of terms, he opens his heart to them. How do you respond when you’re offended?

Proverbs 19:11, A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression.

  • You never know, your kindness may win him over and a great blessing will come to you in return.

Illus - When I was in homiletics class, the professor deliberately embarrassed me, but it became an opportunity to learn that grace comes back to you.

  • Someone once told me, if you want to be a leader, then you must learn to not easily be offended.

B.     Your weapons are righteousness

  • That’s an interesting phrase, but it comes out of verse 7 where Paul says that he is a servant of God by the weapons of righteousness.
  • He is going to be a servant of God by glory or dishonor, by evil report or good report, regarded as a deceiver, yet true.

2 Corinthians 10:3-4, Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.

  • This is powerful. Grace is a powerful way to lead because it’s divinely powerful.
  • There is a strong aspect of faith in what Paul is saying here; it’s a theme that runs through this entire letter. Paul is relying on God and not on himself.
  • Paul has every confidence that God is able.

2 Corinthians 3:4, And such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves… Our adequacy is from God.

2 Timothy 1:12, I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him until that day.

II.      Open Wide Your Heart

  • Verse 11-13 - Paul is writing to reconcile the church in Corinth to God, but he also wants to reconcile them to himself.
  • Many times, however, obstacles stand in the way of reconciliation and so Paul speaks very plainly and addresses those obstacles in these verses.
  • Paul says that his heart is opened wide to them; they were not restrained by Paul, his letter was meant to build them up.
  • “I’ll tell you what’s restraining you,” Paul says, “it’s your own affections.” In other words, the reason you can’t love freely is because your affections are all wrong. Man, how accurate is that? That could be said of many people today.
  • They were a spiritually immature church living in the center of immorality in the Roman Empire; that was a powerful statement.

Illus – A.W. Tozer wrote that love is a transforming power; “We are becoming what we love. We are to a large degree, the sum of our loves; and we will grow into the image of what we love most; for love is among other things, a creative affinity. It changes and molds and shapes and transforms.

What we love is therefore no small matter; it is of critical and everlasting importance. It is prophetic of our future. It tells us what we shall be, and so predicts our eternal destiny. Loving wrong things is poison to the soul. Love is within our power to choose. We should set our hearts to love God supremely and joy is sure to follow.

  • Paul then addresses another obstacle that causes people to receive the grace of God in vain.

A.      Don’t be unequally yoked

  • A yoke was used to link two animals together so they can work in harmony as they pull the plow.
  • Don’t be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, Paul wrote. Don’t be tied together in relationships or partnerships with an unbeliever.
  • For many people this is an inconvenient truth. They don’t like to be restrained by principles that don’t agree with their agenda. But why did God give us this principle? Answer; because He’s trying to help us become spiritually mature and use our lives for His glory and He’s trying to save us from heart ache and trouble.
  • Some examples are marriage and business partnerships where you are in a covenant or contractual relationship that’s permanent. But we should really see it as applying to any relationship that brings an ungodly influence.

1 Corinthians 15:33, Do not be deceived, “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

  • God is trying to save us from trouble. If two animals are unequally yoked the yoke will begin to chafe against them tortuously.

Deuteronomy 22:10, You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.

Illus – Jehoshaphat was doing well until he formed an alliance by marrying the daughter of Ahab, the wicked king of northern Israel. They went into battle together, Ahab was killed and their armies defeated.

Illus - Solomon’s greatest downfall is not just that he had many wives, but that he married many foreign wives that followed false gods.

1 Kings 11:4, When Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God as the heart of David his father had been.

  • If, however, a person finds themselves in a marriage or partnership with an unbeliever, they should honor their word and keep that covenant or contract.

1 Corinthians 7:15-16, God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

B.      Open wide your heart to God

  • Paul uses a number of illustrations to make his point and then concludes by saying, “We are the temple of the living God.”
  • God has made us new; He has forgiven our sin and even given us the righteousness of God as a gift. We’ve been reconciled to God and even adopted as His own son or daughter.
  • That completely redefines our relationship to God, but it should also redefine our relationship to the things of the past and the things of the world that we came out of… “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.
  • Our bodies are just earthen vessels, pots of clay, but God has placed His Holy Spirit there and filled us with the light of His glory, therefore honor God with your body, Paul is saying.

1 Corinthians 6:17, 19, The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him… Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

C.       He will be a Father to you

  • We’ve been singing a worship song lately called, Good, Good, Father; I love that message. A good father feels you with hope, with love, with wisdom;
  • A good father is a source of blessing because he speaks vision into his children’s lives.

Illus - My daughter, Nicole, had a very special relationship to me and I will cherish that the rest of my life. I wasn’t a perfect father, but she knew I loved her. And when she died she joined her Father in heaven.

  • God is the healer of all ‘father wounds.’ He was the one who met me on my 21st birthday and changed my relationship to Him forever.

Romans 8:14-15, All who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received the spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received the spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!

2 Corinthians 6:1-18     NASB

1 And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain-
 
2 for He says, 
"At the acceptable time I listened to you,
And on the day of salvation I helped you."
 
Behold, now is "the acceptable time," behold, now is "the day of salvation"- 3 giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited, 4 but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, 5 in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, 6 in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, 7 in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, 8 by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; 9 as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, 10 as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.
 
11 Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide. 12 You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections. 13 Now in a like exchange-I speak as to children-open wide to us also. 14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
 
"I will dwell in them and walk among them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
 
17 "Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord. 
"And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will welcome you.
 
18 "And I will be a father to you, 
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,"
Says the Lord Almighty.
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