2 Corinthians 1:12-24: Seven Applied Gospel Principles
May 2, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
1 Samuel 3-5, Psalm 96, Mark 10:1-16, 2 Corinthians 1:12-24
Paul changed his plans to visit Corinth, and part of the criticism he was receiving from the Corinthian church was related to this apparent double-mindedness—but which, as he explains, was really for their own benefit. In addressing this issue, Paul brings forward some gospel principles that apply. What can we learn?
First of all, that we should apply the gospel! Paul, facing some tension in his relationship with the Corinthians, digs into the meaning of the gospel and then applies that to the situation. Are you facing some conflict at work? At home? In your heart? Well, then ask: what does the gospel have to say about this? What does the humility of Christ teach me about being humble in my servant leadership at home? What does the cross of Christ teach me about forgiving those who have wounded me? Apply the gospel!
Second, always seek to act with “integrity and godly sincerity.” We will be criticized at some point in our lives whatever we do. Let us at least seek to be criticized for doing what we considered to be the right thing! Our judgment will not always be correct. Sometimes what we consider to be the right thing may in fact turn out to be unwise, or at worst plain wrong. But in that case we will humbly accept correction. But at least—even if wrong—we can testify that we intended what is right. Pray, ask God to give you right intentions, and then seek to do what is right.
Third, attempt to communicate with absolute straightforwardness, simplicity, and clarity. “For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand.” Do not hide good deeds behind bad words—and certainly do not hide bad deeds behind embellished rhetoric. Let your words express the meaning of your idea, and let the words furnish the room of your vision with delights for the ear. Aim for clarity, simplicity, and straightforwardness. The Puritans called it “plain preaching.”
Fourth, do not be afraid to sound the trumpet—or as Paul puts it, to “boast”—about the good gospel effects you see around you! We can err on one side of this treacherous tightrope. We can either be too quiet about what God is doing. Or we can be too loud about what we are doing. The solution is to boast in Christ! [I think this is one of the great under-emphasized themes, and I have written a book on it that you can find here.]
Fifth, focus on Christ—“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.” Christ is the endpoint, the Alpha and the Omega, of all God’s intentions and plans. You cannot go wrong if you seek to bring all you do, say, and are to the feet of Christ, and lay your doubts and weary sins at the foot of his cross!
Sixth, be confident in your future destiny because God “put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” How can we know that the Spirit is at work in our hearts? It is a bit like a child flying a kite high in the sky. They cannot see the kite anymore because it has flown so high, but they still know the kite is on the other end of the string by the tug on the string that is in the boy’s hands as he flies that kite. The Spirit, in all true Christians, is given to us to guarantee our eternal destiny!
Seventh, serve others with the aim of their “joy.” Do not just work through others, or even just work for others, but in Christ and his church work with others. And do it for their good, their benefit, their joy!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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