Summary: Purpose, Christ's Love, New Life, Ambassadors
4 QUESTIONS FOR THE HOLIDAYS – Can This Really Be a Happy New Year?
2 Corinthians 5:11-21 (p. 805) December 28, 2014
The Corinthians Church was filled with people who had a ton of baggage. And that baggage had a way of messing up spiritual health individually and in the church as a whole.
Remember what kind of people the Corinthians were before they were saved in Christ. Paul reminds them... “Brothers and sister, think of what you were when you were called!” (1 Cor. 1:26) He tells them “You weren’t wise, influential or of royal birth” and a few chapters later.
He reminds them that before Christ came into their lives many of them were sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterous, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunks, slanderers and swindlers. (1 Cor. 6:9-10)
Corinth was a church filled with new Christians who were still thinking and acting a lot like the world they came from and lived in.
If you check out this first letter to the Corinthians...The Apostle Paul addresses a problem with favoritism and cliques in Chapter 2, plus worldly influences in their thinking. In chapter 3 he tells them they’re babies in their Christianity that still are on the bottle when they should be eating solid food by now. In Chapter 4 some of them have become stuck up and arrogant. In Chapter 5 he deals with “a man whose having sex with his father’s wife” and the church just looks the other way...and is proud of their “tolerance.” In Chapter 6 they’re suing each other...and so it goes...on and on, many of these Corinthian believers “are stuck.”
They aren’t being made “new.” They are calling themselves believers, but the past will not let them go...or they won’t let go of it.
I meet so many people in today’s world who are just like the Corinthians. Their past will not let them go...or they won’t let go of it. If you and I are to experience a happy new year then there are some changes that have to occur. We’ll have to climb out of the rut and start down a new path, by being honest to God and others.
I. HAPPINESS BEGINS WITH TRANSPARENCY
Paul says, “Since we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others...what we are is plain to God, and I hope it’s also plain to your conscience.”
God’s word says, “The beginning of wisdom is to fear the Lord.” (Proverbs 9:10, Ps 111:10)
You know what that means? It means that we are accountable first and foremost to God. He knows the truth of our sin, He knows our deepest secrets. “Nothing in all creation is hidden before the eyes of the one to whom we must give an account.”
This is where real wisdom starts...God knows...He sees...You can’t hide from Him.
But we still try don’t we? Like Jonah we run from Him. Like Moses we put on a veil.
In our foolishness we pretend we’re something or someone we are not to people, all the while ignoring the God who knows the truth.
Think of what Paul says in verse 16 of our test... “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.”
The world has a way of judging people. It always involves the way they look. The popularity they possess, and the power they weld. It’s why so many people try to look like or copy celebrities.
“Maybe I can get just a taste of their worth.”
Paul used to judge people with this standard. (a worldly point of view) So, an itinerant preacher, son of a carpenter, from Nazareth...wasn’t worth the dirt on his shoe.
At one point Paul found his mission in life was to criticize and persecute those who didn’t measure up to his standard. A Pharisee’s standard...lots of how we appear...little on how our hearts really are.
“People who take pride in what is seen rather than what is in the heart.” (v. 12)
You see many try to change the outside appearance, with works, with a gift, with religious symbols so people will think they’re righteous. It’s a horrible way to live because you are pretending, masquerading as a Christian. And to protect your mask being removed you criticize and persecute others.
But when you meet Christ, on the Road to Damascus, or somewhere else in your life as a Crucified and Risen Lord...and you surrender your control...something else becomes your mission and purpose.
READ VERSES 14-15
Christ’s love compels us...A love that brought Him to death...on a cross. He died for everyone. Adulterous women in the dirt, the 17 year old pothead, and the “Righteous Pharisee.” Those who now live because of His resurrection...because of their salvation “should no longer live for themselves but for him who died and rose again.”