- Sermon Notes
Living the Purpose Filled Life
2 Corinthians 5:5-15
May 21-22, 2022
Having just returned from our “Footsteps of Paul” journey, I wanted to bring you with me to one of the cities we visited – Corinth, one of the most important cities of Paul’s missionary journeys.
Corinth was a center of world commerce. It was a luxurious and wealthy city, located in southern Greece just on the southern end of the Isthmus, or land bridge, connecting the mainland of Greece with the Peloponnese.
Today there is a canal connecting the two oceans, but in those days, captains would have their ships dragged across the Isthmus rather than go around the treacherous Cape. Corinth had a reputation for extremely high-quality exports. Even in modern times it’s a mark of quality if something is made with “Corinthian leather.”
However, Corinth also had a reputation for everything worldly and sinful. The temple of Aphrodite was there in upper Corinth and worldly sailors who had been months at sea longed to visit the temple of Aphrodite for all the wrong reasons.
Around the Roman Empire the name of the city was used as an accusation. If a daughter was about to leave the house dressed inappropriately, her mother might say, “You go change your clothes, young lady, you look like a Corinthian hussy!”
Paul brought the gospel there to Corinth in the very center of worldly sinfulness and there the gospel prospered. He was there 18 months and planted a church of tremendous influence. That itself should be an encouragement. We are living in days very much like the days of Corinth and the gospel is taking hold of many lives even in our modern sinful world.
This is the second letter Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. His first letter was sent to instruct, encourage, and correct the young church.
Paul was concerned, however, when he heard how the church at Corinth had responded to the letter he had just written. Some in the church 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 others took offense at his strong letter and responded by questioning his authority as an apostle of Christ.
Paul wrote this letter we call 2 Corinthians soon after he received word of their response. Paul had a 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 didn’t respond as I think many would who had lesser character. He didn’t respond with a hot head. He didn’t take it personally. He didn’t come at them ‘flying off the handle’ saying, “You question my authority? I’ll show you authority. 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, as some, letters of commendation? You are our letter of commendation, written on 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.
Earlier in this letter, Paul wrote the key to spiritual 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. The inner man is being renewed day by day, longing for that greater glory. But we don’t just long for that greater glory, God is preparing us for it. It’s the purpose of God in our lives. He is building something beautiful in our soul even now.
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. Having that perspective changes the meaning and purpose of how we live now.
I. Walk by Faith
- Verse 7 – “Walk by faith and not by sight” is a 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 and how to walk in God’s purpose in your life.
A. Keep walking toward home
- Earlier in this chapter Paul wrote; we groan within ourselves, longing to be at home with the Lord.
Illus — 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 groan longing to be in the presence of God and to be reunited with those we love who have gone before us to heaven.
Illus – A few months after our daughter was killed, I had the most amazing dream. My daughter 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 all was well and that we would see each other again.
- When you walk by faith, you’re walking with your heart turned toward home, and 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 must love about Paul is the boldness of his faith and the confidence he had in God. His confidence was not in himself.
2 Corinthians 3:4-5, Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, 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 considered a high quality and is often highly rewarded. There was a popular term in the 80s to describe a young, upwardly mobile professional – “a yuppie” – an ambitious young person who was rising in the corporate ladder.
- Paul wrote that he was ambitious also, but his ambition was spiritual; to be pleasing to God.
- Paul wrote 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.
Illus- When we were in Corinth, we saw the very judgment seat, or the bema seat where Paul stood before the Roman proconsul by the name of Gallio.
- There are different thrones of judgment; one for believers and another for nonbelievers. The believer in Christ will stand before the judgment seat of Christ, the nonbeliever will stand 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 to God
- Verse 15 – living for one’s self is the mantra of our modern times. But Paul says there’s something much better. When you realize what God has done for you through Jesus Christ, it changes everything.
- Paul could have had a good life as an upper crust Jew living in Jerusalem; why did he “throw it all away” to become an apostle of Jesus Christ? Because there’s something better than a good life, it’s the life that’s found in God. It’s the beautiful life of the Spirit.
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. We live before the eyes of God
- Verse 11 – We live before the eyes of God and who we are is plain to others as well.
- 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 before God he lived and moved.
- 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.
2 Timothy 4:5-8, Be sober in all things, endure hardship… fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; and in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
- Some think it is too late for them they’ve wasted too much of their lives. 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. They stand in the way of that which is godly and glorious in your life.
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.
- 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.