INTRODUCTION… from barna.org
6 out of 10 Americans believe Satan is only a symbol and not real
47 % of Christians believe the same thing
1 out of 4 Christians believe it doesn’t matter what religion you are because all of them are the same and they all lead to God
31% of Christians believe Heaven can be earned
Daily horoscope reading is equal among Christians and non-Christians
Only 51% of Christians would make it illegal to distribute pornographic material
35% of Christians believe it is ok to bend the rules to get what you want
The Apostle Paul’s world is much like our own. Our world is a world run by Satan. This is his domain. His self-proclaimed job is to destroy humanity by tempting him with sin and will oppose any effort against him. Paul says they are pressed on every side, persecuted, stoned and struck down, and obstacles put in their path at every turn. Paul was a man familiar with Satan fighting against him… the god of this age. We are in a similar situation today. Satan is still pressing on all sides and persecuting and placing obstacles in our path. I referred to some of them a minute ago. If you are a Christian, you will encounter opposition from the prince of this age because you are living for God and not for him. The Apostle Paul’s world was indeed much like our own.
What then did the Apostle Paul have to say to us? Paul gives us again, another beautiful word picture to read. He talks about treasures in jars of clay.
READ 2 CORINTHIANS 4:1-18
I. PRICELESS TREASURE
A. The priceless treasure is “the knowledge of God about Jesus Christ”
1) the promise of a free pardon from sin
2) a new law and power for this life
3) the knowledge that the Apostles shared with everyone
4) true wealth – enriches the mind and heart
B. Jesus refers to the knowledge of God as a priceless treasure (gospel)
1) true riches
2) treasure hidden in a field
3) pearl of great price
4) buy from Him gold refined in the fire
5) our treasure should be in Heaven
C. What then, makes the Gospel such a priceless treasure?
1) It satisfies the soul
2) It is inexhaustible
3) It is enduring and does not fade
4) It is accessible to everyone anywhere at all times
II. EARTHEN VESSELS- It was the custom in Paul’s day to put important items in clay jars. Kings would store their gold, silver, jewels, and important scrolls in these very plain jars. These plain jars would contain vast treasures. They could be easily, hid, buried, and transported and no one was the wiser. Paul described himself as a clay jar that is under attack, weak, possibly ready to break.
A. We are the jars
B. We are plain ordinary folks and it is Christ crucified inside us that gives us hope and meaning and value to our lives. We look the same as other jars, but what is inside casts value.
III. DIVINE GREATNESS AND DEFENSE
A. Inward renewal- we are renewed by the power of God day by day
B. Keep your treasure close to you and safe
1) resist evil
2) know what you believe
3) trust in the Lord
4) investigate your questions
5) stay in church and be fed
C. Share your treasure- treasure does little good unless it is spent