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MARKED BY FREEDOM
[2 Corinthians 11:18-33]
The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to add these closing words to give one more contrast between the legalists & the Spirit-led Christians. The Spirit-led live for the glory of Christ, not the praise of man. Motive is what is dealt with, and the church today needs to examine the motive for our ministries. We know what we are doing, but do we know why we are doing it? Many a good work is ruined before God because of a bad motive.
Paul approaches this subject in an interesting way. The legalists want to initiate people into their way of ritual through the rite of circumcision. Paul says people will do anything in the flesh so that they do not have to die to the flesh by the power of the cross. Paul understood the reasons for avoidance because of the suffering this crucified life led him to endure. But he also knew the peace and mercy of God that came from living in the Spirit.
I. RELIGION IN THE FLESH, 11-14.
II. THE NEW CREATION OF THE CROSS, 15-16.
III. THE MARKS OF CHRIST, 17-18.
Wanting to give added emphases to His conclusion Paul calls the epistleís readers to see the boldness of His letters. See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand
It was probably Paulís custom to dictate his letters and then to take the pen and write his own farewell. Paul did this to validate that the letter was genuine. Here he writes in large letters for emphasis so as to say donít miss this, this is important.
In verse 12 the motivation for legalists [Judaizers] is pointed out. Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
A way to escape persecution is to preach legalism or external standards and work that can be done by the power of the flesh instead of dying to self by the power of the cross of Christ. Paul was persecuted because he preached the way of the cross and the grace of God as the means of salvation. Paul identified himself with this instrument of death to life in the power of the flesh and was persecuted.
WHEN DO GOODS DEEDS WORK AGAINST the GOOD THAT GOD WANTS US TO DO? When we are more concerned about pleasing ourselves than pleasing God. The Judaizers, for example, wanted to avoid persecution. By downplaying the cross of Christ and what He accomplished through His death and resurrection, and by emphasizing Jewish tradition and ceremony, these Judaizers tried to avoid persecution from the Jews, but at the expense of the truth about the cross. Instead of teaching how Christ fulfilled the Mosaic covenant and established a new covenant, they compromised the truth and took away much of the "newness" of Christianity. They were only trying to save their own necks.
We do the same thing today when we refuse to confront legalistic ideas because we would rather preserve our own sense of well-being. Instead of promoting truth, we become more concerned about preserving our way, or we become more concerned about our temporary security or position, than the eternal condition of others.
When do good deeds become showy? They become displays of egotism when they are done to call-attention to ourselves. Jesus warned about self-serving, phony goodness that was done for show. If you read through the gospel
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