- Sermon Notes
Who to Live For
2 Corinthians 5:5-15
Paul was concerned when he heard how the church at Corinth had responded to the letter he had just written. It’s true that some received it well; they were mature enough in their faith that they could receive a word of correction and grow even greater in their spiritual maturity.
But he also heard that others took offense at his strong letter and responded by questioning his authority as an apostle of Christ.
Paul writes this letter soon after he gets word of their response. Paul had a very powerful personality. He had great boldness in his speech. He had great confidence and assurance of who he was in Christ. He also had spiritual maturity.
He doesn’t respond as I think a lot of people would do that had lesser character. He doesn’t respond with a hothead. He doesn’t take it personally. He doesn’t come at them ‘flying off the handle’ saying, “You question my authority? I’ll show you some authority with a switch. Just wait till I show up there, then we’ll see who has authority.”
No, what Paul showed them was spiritual. This letter is beautifully and masterfully written. It’s anointed by the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t respond in the flesh, he responds in the Spirit and draws them toward revival. He presents the gospel again with rich clarity, he establishes his authority as an apostle of Christ in the most loving terms. He opens his heart for them.
Earlier in Chapter 3, Paul wrote, “Do we need to, as some, letters of commendation? You are our letter of commendation, written in our hearts, you are a letter of Christ.”
Paul was used of God to bring the gospel to the most immoral city in the Empire of Rome and now God is using him to bring revival to a church that is spiritually immature.
We read last week that Paul wrote the key to transformation, “We all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” Then in Chapter 4, Paul wrote, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels; that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves.”
In other words, we’re just clay pots - and the older we get the more we look like clay pots - we have this treasure, the glory of God, in us, just simple, clay pots. That’s a great picture because it puts it all in perspective. What’s more important, the clay pot, the earthen vessel, or the great treasure of glory it contains?
This is a great encouragement, and, we do not lose heart, because, though our outer man is decaying, our inner man is being renewed day by day. You don’t have to be very old to know that our outer man is decaying.
But this is just temporary; there is a greater glory waiting for us. We walk through this troubled world in these broken down tents, longing for that greater glory. But we don’t just long for that greater glory, God is preparing us for it. In fact, the troubles and difficulties of this life are producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, Paul said. Our inner man is being renewed day by day.
We do not lose heart because we have the promises of God and the Holy Spirit as a down payment of that future glory. But with that perspective it changes the meaning and purpose of how we live now.
I. Walk by Faith
- Walk by faith and not by sight is a very famous verse and often misunderstood. Some take it to mean that faith is blind, but that’s not it at all.
- As you’re living your life in this broken down world, walk by faith and live by faith. You’re believing in what you have not seen, but your faith is not blind.
- You have not seen God, but you have seen the evidence of God all around you.
Romans 1:20, For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood to what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
- You have not seen Christ risen from the dead, but it’s quite reasonable to believe those who have.
John 20:28-29, Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”
- In these verses Paul tells us how to walk by faith.
A. Keep walking toward home
- Earlier in this chapter Paul wrote; we groan within ourselves, longing to be at home with the Lord.
- Jim Reeves wrote an old song, “This world is not my home I’m just a-passing through; my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”
- We also groan longing to be reunited with those we love who have gone before us to heaven.
Illus - Last week I had the most amazing dream. My daughter, Nicole, was with me in my dream. I held her tightly and told her how much I missed her. She had a glorious smile and said that I would see her again.
- When you walk by faith, you’re walking with your heart turned toward home, but with a deep longing.
Illus - In my first missionary trip I spent three weeks in Russia. I had never been away from home for so long. I carried my family’s picture and would look at it often, longing to be home.
- God gives the Holy Spirit as a deposit so we can experience the joy of the Lord on our journey home.
Psalm 37:4, Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 73:25-26, Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
B. Walk with good courage
- This world is not our home, we’re just passing through, but while we’re walking through this world, walk with good courage, with confidence in God, with full assurance of faith.
- One of the things you have to love about Paul is the boldness of his faith and the confidence he had in God. It wasn’t confidence in himself.
2 Corinthians 3:4-5 Our adequacy is from God
- One of the reasons Paul had such confidence and could walk with good courage is because he knew that life here is temporary and that nothing can defeat us; even death.
2 Corinthians 4:8, ... we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
Romans 8:35, 37, Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
Hebrews 13:6, We confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
Illus – The perspective of things being temporary reminds me of when I was serving tables while in Bible College and needed a Saturday off for a wedding…
- That reminds me of another principle I find important, why not find joy along the way?
Proverbs 17:22, A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.
Illus – Our family found such healing in remembering some of the funny things we did together with Nicole. Aviah and I sat on our front porch telling funny stories. Like the time she leaned against a boat…
C. Walk ambitiously
- Verse 10 - We have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.
- We live in a culture where ambition is a high quality and is often highly rewarded. There was a popular term in the 80s for a young, upwardly mobile professional – a yuppie. It described an ambitious young person who found success.
- Paul says that he’s also ambitious, but his ambition is spiritual; to be pleasing to God.
- Paul writes that we should have ambition to please the Lord because we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, to be recompensed for the deeds that were done, whether good or bad.
- There are different thrones of judgment for believers and nonbelievers. A believer will give an account of his life and will have a bearing on his life in heaven. A nonbeliever will give an account of his life and will have a bearing on his existence in hell.
- The believer stands before the judgment seat of Christ, the nonbeliever stands before the great white throne seen in Revelation 20.
- A great scripture that describes the judgment of believers is found in 1 Corinthians 3…
1 Corinthians 3:13-15, Fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet as through fire.
II. Who You Live for Matters
- Verse 15 - living for one’s self is the mantra of our modern times. But Paul says there’s something much better. When you step back and realize what God has done for you through Jesus Christ, it changes everything.
- Paul could have had a very good life as an upper crust Jew living in Jerusalem; why did he “throw it all away”?
Philippians 3:8, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.
A. You are made manifest to God
- One of the great revelations of life is that we are living before God. Paul was not trying to please anyone, he’s happy to persuade men to show them the truth, but he lives before God.
- Living before the eyes of the Lord is a powerful way to live and is life-changing. There is an opportunity to live the life that pleases God, knowing that He gives great reward and that we suffer loss when we live as if He doesn’t see.
Mark 4:22-23, “For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
- But don’t give up on yourself. Many people make great mistakes and then give up.
- God doesn’t give up on you; God doesn't quit on you; keep pressing in, knowing that the eyes of the Lord are also His favor on you.
Matthew 6:18, “…Your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
2 Chronicles 16:9, The eyes of the Lord searched to and fro throughout the whole earth in order to show Himself strong in behalf of those whose hearts are perfect toward Him.
B. Let the love of Christ control
- Paul reveals the motives of his heart here in verse 14. The word ‘control’ is better translated ‘constrain.’ The love of Christ is a constraining influence because as we are moved by God’s love, we do not want to do the things of the world.
Jude 20-21, But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God.
Psalm 119:11, Your word have I treasured in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
- This is so important for us to grasp. The primary purpose and aim of Paul’s life is to be pleasing to God. Why? Firstly, because he’s living before the eyes of God. Secondly, because the love of Christ overwhelms his soul. He is compelled by that love.
- Do you remember the point in your life at which you loved God most? God does.
Jeremiah 2:2, “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved Me and followed Me…”
2 Corinthians 5:5-15 NASB
5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. 6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord- 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight- 8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. 12 We are not again commending ourselves to you but aregiving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.