Oct. 28, 2022

Potentially Mutual Disappointment, Or…?

 

2 Corinthians 12:20,21 NKJV. “For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced.”

Does this sound familiar? All of these were, and in many cases are, still present in just about any group of “believers." These works of the flesh were indicators, that the Corinthian church to whom Paul was writing, had apparently forgotten the view of a living, fruitful faith which says - if it may be summed up as a “confession” - I have been crucified, buried, and resurrected in Jesus Christ. I have been seated with Him at the all powerful right hand of God the Father - far above the rule of the devil, the world, and the flesh. All of that is dead to me and I am dead to it. I have been made a new creation, to walk in newness of life, as the temple of the Holy Spirit, making me one with Jesus, so that I may walk free, in newness of life, now and throughout all eternity. (See Ephesians 2:4-10. Colossians 3:1-17.)

May this ever be our confession - and witness in thought, word, and deed - at all times and all places, corporately in the Body of Christ and as individuals. Lord, help us remember that we belong to You and what that means for our lives.

Either they had forgotten, or had not really laid hold of their truth in Christ Jesus. The Apostle was concerned that he would find them again living after the flesh, the world, and the devil - unrepentant, unchanged. He was warning them that because of this, his arrival would signal something disappointing to them, his coming as a disciplinarian, maybe expressing “tough love.” He thus might not be what they were expecting, and likewise they would not be what he was hoping they should have grown into by that time, in manifesting more of Christ and growth in grace in every way. 

There was the potential of mutual disappointment.

This begs the question, do we as 21st century Christians realize that the nature of the Gospel is that we are a people ransomed from enslavement to the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh? Do we realize that we have been purchased and won by the holy blood of Jesus Christ, to live in His kingdom in the power of the Holy Spirit - in joy, peace, and righteousness? Do we realize and “see" that we are created, redeemed, and sanctified (set apart, made holy) to live, move, and have our being fully in Him, and to walk in newness of life - in thought, word, and deed? Do we increasingly “resemble” Christ, in other words, in character? Do we comprehend and apprehend this as part of His body the church and as individuals in the “private” matters of our lives?

This is the Gospel: He has won us, and made us new! We’re “under new management!” We are not what we once were. Hallelujah!

It means perceiving ourselves as new persons in His kingdom and under His authority, governed internally by the indwelling Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ within us. We are His temple! This is a change of not only morals and character, but of life priorities. True conversion has indicators, evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit. It’s not about being nice religious worldly people!

Once this understanding impacts our heart, it creates a massive sea change from within. It says that the old me under the domain of darkness has died in Jesus Christ. I am now a new person in Him, and He in me! The former ways of self, sin, and Satan no longer have any legitimate authority over me. There’s nothing for it but that I am able to walk in newness of life. I’m free from the old. I’m free to be the new person He has re-created and refit and repurposed me to be. I love God! I love to converse with Him in prayer! I love and hunger for His word! I love to praise Him! I want to share this life with others of what He has done for me!

“Faith” says that there is living and growing evidence of this unseen reality, in everyday life, by a very changed person, who thinks, speaks, and behaves in godliness and love as Christ loves. (Or at least there is steady growth in terms of evidence.)

Jesus is clear: those who love Him keep his commandments, which are not burdensome (1 John 5:2-14). Those who love Him love one another as He has loved us (John 14:34,35). Those who are His disciples abide in His word, and thus they will know the truth, and His truth will set them free (John 8:31,32) - free from enslavement to sin, self, and Satan! This means freedom from this present evil age (Galatians 1:4) to be as He was in this world, here, now (1 John 4:17). The Body of Christ thus is collectively, and in our individual lives, Jesus in this world. 

This is a spectacular reality, going far beyond powerless religious forms and formality! It is life in Him and He in us!  We have direct access to the throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:15,16).

This is what He prayed for before going to the cross. John 17:20-22 says, “I am not asking on behalf of them alone, but also on behalf of those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You. May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. I have given them the glory You gave Me, so that they may be one as We are one.” 

We are at the same time in the Heavenly places where He is, as simultaneously we live on earth. By grace through faith. And that faith is evidenced by the fruit of the Holy Spirit. This is an amazing privilege to which He calls, enlightens, and sanctifies us!

This begs the question, When Jesus returns, will He - like Paul coming to the Corinthians - find us such as He would wish? And when He comes, will He be as we wish?

May our lamps, as the old gospel spiritual admonishes, be kept trimmed and burning!

Soli Deo Gloria! Amen.