Summary: How can we as Christians be sure that our motives are right? We can be certain of our motives if we are, because of our love for Him, living life for God by the power of Christ's death and resurrection.
2 CORINTHIANS 5: 11-16 [GAINING PERSPECTIVE]
LIFE CONTROLLED BY LOVE
[Lost] people were wrongly judging the motives of Paul and accusing him of misleading people. Thus Paul wished to clarify his motives so that men would be willing to open themselves up to his message.
How do you judge the motives of a person? Do we do it by natural means such as a man made standard or is there a supernatural way to comprehend the motives of men? How can we as Christians be sure that our motives are right? If our motives are not right, what will bring about a change to correct them? We can be certain of our motives if we are, because of our love for Him, living life for God by the power of Christ's death and resurrection (CIT).
I. THE WITNESS OF CONSCIENCE, 11-13.
II. THE TRANSFORMING LIFE OF CHRIST, 14-16.
The judgment seat of Christ referenced in verse 10 motivates holy men to persuade others to follow Christ in verse 11. “Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to (revealed by) God; and I hope that we are made manifest (revealed) also in your consciences.
“Therefore” attaches this verse to the preceding. It was in contemplating the judgment seat of Christ before which Paul and all believers will be revealed moved Paul to fear the Lord and impelled him on in God's service (Mt. 10:28). Paul had a deep consciousness (eidotes) of the realization that he will be revealed and give an account of His stewardship to the Lord. The fear of this moment motivated Paul to persuade men to be reconciled to God. If God's judgment so motivated Paul it should motivate us to share also. [For “If it is with difficulty that the righteous are saved, what shall become of the godless man and the sinner?" (1 Pet. 4:18).] Recalling his coming judgment filled Paul with a wholesome fear and caused him to treat the ministry which had been entrusted to him with the utmost seriousness.
I read a fable about a dog who LOVED TO CHASE other animals. He bragged about his great running skill and said he could catch anything. Well, it wasn't long until his boastful claims were put to the test by a rabbit. With ease the little rabbit outran his barking pursuer. The other animals, watching with glee, began to laugh. The dog excused himself, however, by saying, "you forget, folks, that I was only running for fun. He was running for his life!"
Motivation makes a difference in almost everything we do. In fact, it determines the way believers serve the Lord. Some people serve Him halfheartedly because they feel obligated. But there are others who serve with urgency and zeal because they recognize the terrible plight of people lost in sin. They are deeply grateful for God's saving grace in their lives, so they go all out for the Lord.
That's the kind of zealous motivation the apostle Paul had. He wrote, “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” Paul meant business. There was much at stake.
To aid in this persuasion Paul and his fellow ministers had been revealed or manifested before the Corinthians by God. God had enabled the Corinthians to witness their authenticity and righteousness. Paul hopes that the Corinthians allowed this revealing by God of their character and integrity to be disclosed also in the Corinthians consciousness. He hopes that [in their moral judgment faculty] they have the ability to understand his truthfulness and genuineness (4:2).
Not only when you rebel against truth and sin does your conscious convict you but when God's man speaks truth it is also revealed in your consciousness. God made man capable to confirm a man and his message. He also made Heaven attractive and hell credible so that people are moved to long for one and shun the other. [He also motivates Christians to be on fire for God so that they will attract sinners to the light.]
Verse 12 insists that the reason Paul seems to be commending himself is so that they will have answers for those who are attacking his reputation. We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving 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.”
Paul realizes that what he has just said will be seized upon by his opponents as arrogant and boastful. But he was providing his supporters reason to speak up boldly. The false charges were harmful to his character as well as to the unity and the growth of the church (Jn. 17: ). The church needed to regard Paul as a servant of Christ so that his message would be received as the message of God (4:1).