Posted May 22, 2022
As we saw in our lesson last week, and as I have preached for about a great deal in my decade of preaching, we are ambassadors (authorized representatives) of Christ. As a representative of Christ, we are to go out and share the good news with all people (Matt. 28:19-20). Now, ministering the gospel of Christ can be quite difficult as it is met with much adversity. You see, there are some who are accepting of the news of salvation but there are several others who don’t want to hear that they are in need of saving.
In our lesson this week, we are going to be taking a look at taking on the task of ministering the good news and the difficulties we may face in doing so. Our lesson this week is being taught from 2 Corinthians 10:1-12, 17-18.
Spiritual Weapons For Combat
Our lesson this week opens with Paul stating, “I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ — who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you, but being absent am bold towards you (v.1).”
Let’s notice that Paul says that he, in ministering the gospel to the Corinthians, pleaded with them (persuaded), in person, by being meek (lowly) and gentle (soft) – humble. Yet, at the same time, he mentions that in his letters he was bold towards them. So, right away, we already see three weapons that should be of the believer when going into this spiritual war to save (or encourage) souls.
The believer ought to mimic the way in which Christ ministered while He was in the world. Christ, we should know by now, was very humble in teaching and preaching to others. As we know, Christ did not come to condemn anyone but to save souls (John 3:17). Christ was very welcoming to all people regardless of their walk of life. If Christ ministered in this fashion, should not we do the same?
Being meek and gentle – humble – is often viewed as being weak; the Corinthians, we will see in a moment, actually says this about Paul. However, at the same time, some of them were confused by Paul because of his letters. They thought Paul was terrifying in his letters because of his boldness of speech. So, essentially, they were confused because they did not know if Paul was the weak guy or the bold guy from the letters.
So, who was Paul? Was he the meek and gentle guy or the bold and harsh guy? We are actually going to dive more into that question later. For now, we will see three weapons of the believers’ arsenal – meekness, gentleness, and boldness. These weapons, we are shown, are for spiritual combat.
The adversary in this war
Paul understood very well that his adversaries were not the Corinthians (v.2). Paul said to the Corinthians, “though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh (v.3).” This is similar to what Paul said to the Ephesians when he wrote, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual hosts of wickedness (Eph. 6:12).”
In order to combat these spiritual entities we cannot use worldly tactics but spiritual tactics that have been taught and shown to us by Christ Himself. Our enemies would love for us, the genuine believers, to use weapons that are carnal because those are the weapons they can easily handle and defeat. However, the adversary is easily annoyed and defeated by one who is not moved from being both humble and bold and using the weapon of a child of God.
The weapon of the believer
The believer not only has the weapons of meekness, gentleness, and boldness, but we have an even greater weapon in our arsenal – we have the Holy Spirit. In this spiritual war, we are to be led by the word of God which is given to us through the Holy Spirit. To the Ephesians, Paul said that we should take and carry with us the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:17). I tell you, the Holy Spirit – God – is undefeated.
I have found that many believers have tried to defeat sin by raising their hands and combating wickedness with heated arguments, anger, and hatred. They fight in the same manner that those of the world try to combat Christ and His gospel. This has led to nothing but conflict and has pushed a lot of people away from the Lord. The weapon of Christ should be one that first encourages one to repent and turn to the Lord.
Paul tells us that the Lord is able to cast down arguments and also those that are prideful and would stand against the Lord (v.5). So, the Holy Spirit, I want you to understand, is what gives the believer the confidence that is required to move with boldness. In this confidence, Paul said that he was always ready to punish disobedience (v.6).
What did he mean by this? Well, Paul was ready to combat those wicked spirits that would try to work against him spreading the good news. Now, I want you to understand that Paul was not saying that he wanted to physically punish disobedience. In fact, you will notice that Paul said he was ready to do such a thing because his obedience to the way of the Lord had been fulfilled. So, Paul would combat disobedience from a place of love rather than a place of anger and hatred or some other tactic that was worldly.
Authority as an Ambassador of Christ
So, Paul in the opening of this lesson, was explaining to the Corinthians that he was not necessarily being harsh towards them as he would to his true adversaries. The Corinthians, it seems, could not understand that Paul was speaking to them from a place of love because they were not viewing what he was saying from a spiritual perspective. We will see Paul ask them, “Do you look at things according to the outward appearance (v.7)?”
If they allowed themselves to be led by the Spirit, then it would have been much easier for them to accept what Paul would say to them both in person and in his letters to them. Rather, they were allowing themselves to be led by carnal thoughts and they simply could not understand or perhaps accept Paul.
God given authority
Paul’s letters would terrify them (v.9). They would say of Paul, “his letters are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech is contemptible (v.10).” This boldness would turn them off from Paul as they thought Paul despised them, but the opposite was actually true – Paul loved them dearly.
The way they felt about Paul kind of reminds me about how we, as children, felt about our parents when they got on us for acting up and we thought they were being cruel and unfair. We did not much like that as children but as we have grown older, we respect them for how they raised us, right? In fact, if you’re like, you are grateful for those days when mom and dad corrected you when you were doing wrongly!
Again, the Corinthians failed to see that Paul was moving out of love. We will see that Paul said to them that he and Timothy were moving by the authority of the Lord. Let us remember that the Lord commissioned (authorized) us to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We do this, again, by moving out of love – by edifying (lifting up) rather than tearing down.
Humbly and boldly doing the work
I believe that Paul was straight forward in both his letters and in person. I believe this to be the case because Paul says himself that they should consider his deeds when he was with them in person (v.11). I feel like the problem the Corinthians dealt with is a problem that many people experience today through text messages, emails, and online comments.
You see, sometimes it is hard for us to understand how someone is truly coming off through the reading of words. I believe that Paul was both bold and humble in his letters and in their presence as well. What I mean by this is that if someone did wrong in his presence, Paul would say something about it. I don’t believe Paul threw punches or raised his voice at anybody, but he would point it out.
I believe that in their presence, Paul would speak boldly – that is with confidence and without hesitation – when it came to ministering the gospel. I believe this to have been the case because elsewhere in scripture, we find that Paul was never ashamed or afraid to speak of Christ to anybody.
Paul stood before people like King Agrippa and boldly testified of the gospel. Paul went to Areopagus and stood before that council and boldly testified of the gospel. So, Paul wanted them to understand that he was the person he presented himself to be in both the letters and in person – there was no reason for them to question this.
Glory in the Lord
Paul closes out this portion of his letter by touching on the thought of those that would glory in themselves. I suppose that the Corinthians may have thought that Paul, especially through his letters, would be one that sought to glorify himself. However, Paul makes it clear that one should never glory in himself but rather, one should glory in the Lord.
Again, there is nothing that we can do to bless ourselves – absolutely nothing. We cannot glory or boast in ourselves because without the Lord we would just be sinful creatures. God, again, has made all things possible to us through His work of reconciliation. So, our boast should certainly be in the Lord and all that He has done, still does, and will do for us.