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Posts Tagged ‘Second Epistle to the Corinthians’


(KJV Scripture)

– And He that sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said unto me, “Write: for these words are true and faithful.” – Revelation 21:5

Everything new we have in life eventually gets old; some things quicker than others.  Even when we take some material object and restore it – it doesn’t last.  Time marches on – and it becomes old again. It’s a repeated process throughout our brief lives on earth (James 4:14).

Trying to become new or better people every January 1st – even as believers – is very unwise.  It’s trying to change, contain, or control our worldly situations and circumstances by meaningless numbers on a piece of paper called a calendar.  A calendar doesn’t know what any day will ever bring forth (Proverbs 27:1) – God does.

It’s also trying to do the same with God and His only Son.  Both who do not change – who will be the same yesterday, today, and forever (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8).  The only way all of us can become the new creatures in Christ which God wants us to be (2 Corinthians 5:17), is from the inside-out; not the other way around.

This can’t be done without Christ in us.  It’s why we all must be “born again” of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-5) to enter into God’s eternal kingdom.  We can only learn Jesus the way God wants us to (Ephesians 4:20-32) – by Him giving us the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

This cannot happen unless Christ comes to dwell in our hearts by faith through the power of the Holy Ghost (Ephesians 3:16-17).  So God can start to renew our inner man daily (2 Corinthians 4:16), and transform our minds (Romans 12:2).  This is through the continual regeneration of our souls by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).

We can’t do it simply by trying harder to be like Jesus – without Jesus dwelling inside us.  We can’t do it by wishing or hoping we change because the calendar tells us to.  Without God’s help (John 15:5) – we can’t make the lasting changes He desires (Galatians 5:22-23).  To make our old creature new, once and for all – without going back.

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– But beloved, do not be ignorant of this one thing: That one day is with the Lord as a thousand years; and a thousand years as one day. – 2 Peter 3:8

– For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. – 2 Corinthians 4:16

Many years ago, I heard a preacher say, “A Christian who makes New Year’s resolutions isn’t anywhere close to comprehending what being one is all about.” With January 1st just around the corner, it’s important for all believers to understand that becoming a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) doesn’t restart every New Year‘s Day.

Tomorrow will be 1,000 years long in His sight (lead verse).  The year 1013 was yesterday (Psalm 90:4). God exists outside the space-time continuum we’ve created to mark how long it takes to make our trip through space; one orbit around the sun – called a year.  Yet so many seem to make major life decisions or changes by the calendar.

Often believing just by flipping a calendar page to a new month, it’s a golden opportunity to create fresh beginnings.  They rarely last long.  It becomes a yearly process of starts and stops – producing little in the way of inner spiritual change.  Backsliding can often be caused by trying to restart spiritually each January 1st (Jeremiah 3:22).

However, spiritual growth can’t be conditional to arbitrary numbers on calendars made by mortal men. God knows how we measure time – but it’s not the same way as He does (lead verse).  Giving in to any consideration that we can become better believers – just by starting on a random date; is giving in to the world; and denying the Word.

Renewal can only start for us when we are born again of the Holy Spirit.  Whatever day that is – God chooses.  It’s not random.  It’s a day when He knows He has convicted us with His sorrow – to the point we will repent of sin unto salvation – and not be sorry for a season (2 Corinthians 7:8-10).  It could be tomorrow for some; June 14th for others.

A resolution is a firm decision to do – or not do something.  God didn’t make us to be firm beings – He made us flesh – and frail (Psalm 39:4).  There is no good thing which dwells in our flesh (Romans 7:18).  So, how can we possibly ever know what’s good for us?  The world’s message continually changes in this regard.  God does not (Malachi 3:6).

How can we make any firm decision to start doing – or stop doing something anymore, and follow through on it – simply by following numbers on a calendar? How can we trust any resolution as being the right one – when we are not to trust in our hearts – or ourselves anymore as Christians (Proverbs 28:26, 2 Corinthians 1:9)?

Unless, of course, we’re still devising our own way through life in the world – trying to direct God’s steps accordingly.  Using His Word in hopes He will make most everything turn out the way we want (Proverbs 16:9).  Still leaning on our own understanding – and only acknowledging Him when His ways are going according to ours (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Or, still proclaiming our own goodness (Proverbs 20:6, 1 John 1:8-10) … often making God an easy target (Mark 10:18) to blame when they don’t (Jeremiah 8:6).  Claiming to be completely clean of all sin as Christians, or incapable of committing any more – makes God a liar, and His truth is not in us (Proverbs 16:2, Proverbs 20:9, 1 John 1:8-10).

Being a Christian takes becoming one first.  It’s not a label – it’s a lifestyle.  It starts when one is first born again of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-5) – and it doesn’t stop until God calls us home.  It takes daily abidance in God – as He abides in us by faith; with Jesus residing in our hearts through the power of the Holy Ghost (John 15:1-7, Ephesians 3:16-17).

We’re no longer resolute – we can’t produce the spiritual fruit God requires by ourselves (John 15:1-7, Galatians 5:22-23).  It doesn’t stop on December 31st – and restart on January 1st.  It’s a day-and-night renewal of our inner man (second lead verse); as the Holy Spirit washes us clean through continual regeneration (Titus 3:5).

God is continually cleansing the clutter within – as the very same blood Christ shed being sprinkled on our hearts as a salve for sin (Hebrews 10:22). Without daily repentance and remission – we’re bound to repeat our old sins.  We can’t see the change happening, but all others should.  They should see it in our eyes first (Luke 11:34).

Our whole being should be lit up in them – reflecting the love God shed abroad in our hearts, when He first gave us the gift of the Holy Ghost (Romans 5:5). It takes time.  As Billy Graham once said, “It’s not an overnight conversion – but a continual process of renewal – becoming more like Christ each day (Ephesians 4:20-32).”

But – it does have to happen; not according to the world’s idea of change – but the Word’s.  Our faith can’t follow a calendar – our worship can’t be set by a watch.  Wanting – or waiting for Him to work according to our worldly concept of time is a recipe for trying to rush God, and eventual discouragement; maybe even departure from Him (Philippians 1:23).

We are to serve God in newness of Spirit – for He has put His Spirit in us (Romans 7:6).  However, one cannot put new wine into old bottles – or the bottles will break.  The wine will spill and perish (Luke 5:37). God will make all things new and beautiful in His time (Revelation 21:5, Ecclesiastes 3:11) – not in ours; and certainly not just on New Year’s Day.

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– Keep your heart with all diligence – for out of it are the issues of life. – Proverbs 4:23

Being diligent is being careful – persistently without pause.  Sadly, we can sometimes take better and more consistent care of our cars than our hearts. These hearts we have are desperately wicked and deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9).  It takes dedicated diligence and discipline throughout every day to guard them.

To keep them from being distracted, discouraged, and disappointed by all of Satan‘s subtle devices.  We cannot be ignorant of them – or he will gain advantage of our hearts, minds, and souls (2 Corinthians 2:11).  Without our shield of faith, his fiery darts will hit and ignite blazes in them – time and again (Ephesians 6:16)

We are to give all diligence to our faith, then adding to it virtue.  To virtue, we add knowledge – to knowledge, temperance.  To temperance we add patience – to patience, godliness.  To godliness, we add charity (2 Peter 1:4-7).  These all keep our hearts from being corrupted by the world again – and from being blinded by its bright lights (2 Peter 1:4,9, 2 Corinthians 4:4).

We have to live in this world.  However, we are to no longer lust and long for the lies it offers – of which the devil is father of (John 8:44, Titus 2:12).  Still, we are going to witness immoral and ungodly behavior wherever we go.  We can’t avoid such things completely – unless we are literally living under a rock.

Jesus Christ said such things cannot defile us by themselves (Matthew 15:11).  But – our hearts are like vessels – containers which are continually filled and emptied with either the world or Word.  We are to be diligent as to which one we keep more of in our hearts.  Before they are filled to the brim – before they break and burst – and something hurtful comes blurting out of our mouths (Matthew 15:18-20).

If we are holding more of the world – we’re withholding space for the Word – and vice versa. Whatever abounds – is bound to come forth in our words and actions – for out of the abundance of our hearts, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).  And, life and death are in the power of our tongues (Proverbs 18:21).

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– All day long have I stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people. – Romans 10:21

The Lord is my shepherd – I shall not want. – Psalm 23:1

All of use are to give thanks always, for all things unto God (Ephesians 5:20).  Not just for all the things we always want to have in this world – at any given point in time.  Any desire to gain goods – and the good of this world; and then receiving such – is not a reason to say we love the Lord – because He has answered our prayers accordingly in this regard. This creates a very conditional Christian.  It leads to disobedience.

Where our contentment and faith is founded on how much we can get from Him – and how many blessings He can bestow on us because we call ourselves believers.  How difficult will this make it for us to give as purposed in our hearts – from such things as we already have.  With cheer – not grudgingly, or out of any necessity for ourselves in return (2 Corinthians 8:11-14, 2 Corinthians 9:7, Hebrews 13:5)

Only by pride comes contention (Proverbs 13:10).  If we’re not content with our wages, or trying to exact more than what God has already appointed us – won’t we become contentious; desiring gain  – and becoming ungodly in the process (Luke 3:13-14, 1 Timothy 6:6)?  This can create a very bumpy walk with God; like we’re on a roller-coaster ride – where we’re never content in our current state (Philippians 4:11).

Our souls soar high when our eyes are satisfied with worldly things (Proverbs 27:20) – then sink when we suffer loss; especially people we don’t want to leave yet.  This world whizzes by daily with all its wants and temptations – and it can make us dizzy with desire.  If we long for such things – and base our love of the Lord on getting them, how can we count it all as loss in order to gain Him (Philippians 3:7-8)?

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ – and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation. – 2 Corinthians 5:18

The ministry we’ve all been called to as Christians – is reconciliation (lead verse).  Reconciliation is eliminating enmity – a state of being actively opposed to something or someone.  All sin is enmity – at all times with God.  We are separated from Him at birth by sin – alienated from heaven (Ephesians 2:12, Colossians 1:21).  Spiritual reconciliation means being brought back into agreement and alignment with the Almighty’s ways.

As believers, we’ve been reconciled back to God by the death of His only Son (Romans 5:10).  The enmity of sin between us and heaven was slain at Calvary by Christ (Ephesians 2:16).  We’ve been brought back into agreement and alignment with God through belief in Jesus.  We now have redemption by the blood of Christ ( Ephesians 1:7).  God has regained possession of us in exchange for a price (1 Corinthians 6:20).

We’ve been saved from the grave by the grace of God – through the death of His Son (Romans 5:10, Hebrews 2:9-15).  This is our Father’s desire for all men – not willing that any should perish, but for all to be reconciled back to Him through repentance and remission of sin (2 Peter 3:9, 2 Corinthians 5:20). God takes no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies – but for all to turn from sin and live (Ezekiel 18:32).

God has committed the word of reconciliation to us, because of what Christ accomplished for us through redemption (Romans 3:24, 2 Corinthians 5:19-20). This should be the message of every ministry. But, the seeds of recurring confusion and evil works are planted if we are ever striving, envying, contending, or comparing our Christianity with each other (James 3:16, Proverbs 13:10, 2 Corinthians 10:14-15). This makes it hard to have any ministry of reconciliation, doesn’t it?

We are no different as Christians, than those who are lost and unbelieving (Romans 6:23) – except we have been reconciled back to God.  This was done by His grace – which put Christ on the Cross in place of our sin – while we were yet still sinners (Romans 5:8).  If we are ever unable to resolve and reconcile temporary differences between us as believers (Matthew 5:23-24), how are we ever going to present a message of eternal reconciliation to those who are still lost?

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– Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?  And what communion hath light with darkness? – 2 Corinthians 6:14

When God speaks to us through Scripture about not being unequally yoked, believers with unbelievers, it doesn’t mean we are to avoid them altogether.  The lost are still perishing – and God does not wish for anyone to do so (2 Peter 3:9); nor should we.  The gospel is still hidden to them – and the preaching of the Cross is still foolishness (2 Corinthians 4:3, 1 Corinthians 1:18).

How will they hear about the hope we have as Christians without a preacher (Romans 10:14)? Remember, the Pharisees did not like it when Jesus sat down to eat and drink with the publicans and sinners (Matthew 9:10-11).  But – how were they going to hear God’s truths if Christ wasn’t teaching such to them?

Not being unequally yoked with unbelievers means we don’t go everywhere and do everything they do. Like two oxen hitched together, who “have” to go in each other’s direction – who don’t have the ability or choice to detach themselves.  We do.  We can choose to go after their worldly ways of the lost, because it might mean lots of mutual fun or favor at times (Joshua 24:15).

Or, we can guide them towards the Cross and the ways of God, who broke our yoke of bondage to death and this world when Christ overcame it (Hebrews 2:9-15, John 16:33).  A world we are to no longer be entangled in the pollution of (2 Peter 2:20). However, isn’t that easy to do if we should hitch our wagons to ways of the world – instead of tying them to the truth of the Word?

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. – 2 Corinthians 11:14

– But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.  In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them who don’t believe – lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God – should shine unto them. – 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

Someone once said we should be always careful if we think we see a bright light at the end of a tunnel – for it could be the headlight on the front of a locomotive coming the other way. Bright lights can be beautiful and beckoning – but also dangerous and deceiving.  They can appear to be receiving and righteous – and we can walk right into a wreck.  They can summon us to fun – a word found nowhere in KJV Scripture.

In the song “Blinded by the Light” written by Bruce Springsteen, there are these lyrics, “Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun – but Mama, that’s where the fun is.” Having as much fun as we can under the sun – is not why we’re Christians. However, we should not marvel, for Satan is transformed into an angel of light (lead verse) – and his ministers into ministers of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:15).

Satan is the deceiver of the whole world – the father of all lies (Revelation 12:9, John 8:44).  These lies can seem very bright and right – like luring lights – but they deceive us because they often look like fun for a while.  It won’t hurt, will it – to enjoy the pleasures of sin for another season (Hebrews 11:25)?  How much more enticing and inviting do the multi-colored and spinning lights of a carnival or county fair look in the evening, than during the day?

Las Vegas can look almost lifeless in the lazy afternoon hours after lunch.  However, when the bright lights on the strip start to shimmer and sparkle just before sundown, people start emerging forth from their hotel rooms – like moths to a flame – only to end up getting burned.  One tempting thing leads to another – and one is in trouble financially or romantically before they know it.  People may think it stays in Vegas, but God has seen it all (Psalm 139:3).

Digging ourselves out of these holes can be much more work than staying grounded and rooted in Christ (Ephesians 3:17). Isn’t reversing a wrong much harder than remaining in a right? We can either choose to suffer the afflictions of God’s people (Hebrews 11:25) – or succumb to an affinity with the world (1 John 2:15).  Do we really expect spiritual growth to occur by doing both (1 Corinthians 10:21, Galatians 5:22-23)?

When we’re born again, God sheds His love abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given to us (Romans 5:5).  It is a baptism of fire – and a flame begins to burn within us (Matthew 3:11).  The middle wall of partition between our hearts and heaven is broken down (Ephesians 2:14).  God has commanded His marvelous light to shine out of the devil’s darkness we once walked in – and for us to walk in this new light as His children (2 Corinthians 4:6, Acts 26:18, 1 Peter 2:9, Ephesians 5:8).

James Thurber wrote there are two kinds of light – the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures.  Jesus reminded us to take heed, lest the light which is in us – be not darkness.  This is evidenced first by our eyes – the light of our soul (Luke 11:33-35).  This is the light of righteousness.  We have to be very careful we’re not walking straight into the wrong lights of Satan – the ones which can obscure obstacles right in front of us (Isaiah 59:9) – tripping us up and causing us to stumble spiritually time and again.

Staring too long at bright lights can cause vision loss. If we keep doing it, we can go totally blind.  Failing to follow the one true light of Christ, and obeying the commandments of God – can make us fall down, frustrate our faith – and make us grope and feel for walls right in front of us like men who have lost their sight (Isaiah 59:10).  Or, we can allow ourselves to be guided by the lights of other men and women of God first – before God; much like Job thought he was for others (Job 29:15). Where does that leave us if they should stray, betray, or fall away?

Christ dwells in such a brilliant light that no man has seen it – nor can even approach it (1 Timothy 6:16).  However, the light of the glorious gospel of God is given to us through the Holy Ghost, to glow steady and strong enough in our hearts – to be a lamp unto our feet, and light our path (Psalm 119:105).  To give us the confidence to be guides of those who are still walking around blindly without the Word – still blinded by the bright lights of this world (Luke 1:79, Romans 2:19).

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