2Corinthians 6 — To a Church in Crisis, With Love

Text: 2Corinthians 6

With love, even God’s own divine love in our hearts, Paul and I speak to you from 2Corinthians 6 today. We want you to join us in being the Amen to God’s promises of reconciliation, of salvation, and of the infilling of the Holy Spirit! Yes! Truth! He has done it in me! You will say the same thing, when you are filled!

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “Open Wide To Us.” The believers at Corinth, and much of today’s church, do not want to hear the truth of the gospel, for they have become accustomed to false teaching. They are not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for they are infants (Hebrews 5:13).

We say these things to you so that you will understand what happens when you obey Jesus’ command to be filled with the Holy Spirit and become the “Amen” to all of His promises. Open wide to us, but even more, open wide to the Lord! You will be able to readily discern truth from falsehood, when you are filled. You will know the voice of the Good Shepherd, and will run from the voices of strangers (John 10:4-5).

Verses 1-2 —

Paul continues from 5:20, in which he begged the believers at Corinth to be reconciled to God. And now, in 6:1, Paul says he and Timothy are working together with the Lord. For what purpose? To urge the believers at Corinth not to receive the grace of God (His unmerited favor toward them) in vain.

“In vain” means emptily. The picture is that of some believers coming before Christ’s judgment seat empty-handed. They received salvation, but they have discarded God’s grace toward them, in favor of sweet words from false teachers. 

They have refused Jesus’ command, spoken through those He sends, to be filled with the Holy Spirit. If they were filled, they would never listen to false teachers who encourage them to sin. Therefore, they have nothing to offer Jesus, when they stand before His judgment seat. Their hands are empty. They have forfeited their salvation.

If you don’t believe that it is possible to lose your salvation, listen to Paul’s words in Verse 2, beloved. The Lord shows you this to awaken you! 

Some of the believers have received the grace of God in vain. And Paul exhorts them, from Isaiah 49:8. Isaiah was also speaking to God’s people, exhorting them to repent and return to the Lord. And now is the day of salvation, for the wayward ones in Corinth, now is the favorable time, the acceptable time for these who were Christ’s to repent and return to the Lord! God will listen to them, He will help them, He will again receive them to Himself, if they repent and return to Him. 

Verses 3-4a —

Continuing from his words in Verse 1, “And working together with Him . . .”  Paul and Timothy have given no cause for offense (stumbling, sin on the part of the Corinthians) in anything, so the ministry will not be discredited. They have spoken the truth to the believers at Corinth. They are working with Christ.

In everything, Timothy and Paul have commended themselves as servants, by their actions and by their hearts toward this wayward church. They serve the Lord, and they serve this church.

What is the proof that makes Timothy and Paul able to commend themselves? Their experiences as Christ’s servants. they have ministered in these conditions —

Verse 4b —

—In much (abundant) endurance (patiently continuing)

—In afflictions (persecutions and tribulations)

—Hardships (distress from being in need, in the natural)

—Distresses (unable to move, being in a narrow room)

Verse 5 —

—Beatings (stripes from whips)

—Imprisonments

—Tumults (riots)

—Labors

and . . . 

—Sleeplessness (constantly watching over the flock)

—Hunger (fasting)

Verse 6 —

—In purity (blamelessness, because they are filled with the Spirit)

—In knowledge (absolute knowledge of and holy intimacy with the Lord)

—In patience (enduring insult and injury without anger or retaliation)

—In kindness (gentleness)

—In the Holy Spirit

—In genuine love (God’s divine love, which compels them in all they do)

Verse 7 — 

—In the word of truth (God’s Word, truthfully spoken)

—In the power of God (working His miracles and speaking with power)

—By the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left (weapons they possess because they are filled with the righteousness of God, weapons that are used against deceivers, including Satan himself, per 2Corinthians 10:5).

Verse 8 —

 

—By glory (honoring God, and His glory visibly emanating from them) and dishonor (the treatment they receive from men)

—By evil report and good report (defamation and lies, and positive reports regarding their reputation)

—Regarded as deceivers (liars) and yet true (filled with God’s truth)

Verse 9 — 

—As unknown (by men) yet well-known (by the Lord!)

—As dying, yet behold, we live* 

—As punished yet not put to death

*Again, a double meaning — many of Christ’s servants physically die from persecution, but also, they have died to self. 

And yet we live! Some survive persecution, as Paul has up to this point, and if they live, they are Christ’s, and have the life of Christ within them, but if their bodies die, they have eternal life! And we who have died to self also “yet live!”

Verse 10 —

As sorrowful (grieving over the state of the church) yet always rejoicing (with joy unspeakable and full of glory, per 1Peter 1:8)

As poor yet making many rich (through the salvation of many, and entire sanctification of many — that is, the infilling of the Holy Spirit!) 

As having nothing (in the natural) yet possessing all things (eternal life, and filled with God!)

Verses 11-13 —

Paul makes a direct appeal to the believers at Corinth. Our mouth is open to you, our heart is enlarged toward you! We have spoken of the freedom Christ has for you! Our hearts are filled with God’s love, and we love you with that love!

You are not restrained (hemmed in, cramped) by us, but you are restrained in your own inward parts (you withhold empathy, affection, and mercy toward us)!

We have opened wide to you, both our hearts and our mouths. Now, in a like exchange — we speak to you as if you are children — open wide to us! O infants in Christ, open wide your hearts! O infants in Christ, if you do it, the King of glory will come in (Psalm 24:7)!

Verse 14 —

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, as you are doing now, O church! Stop joining hands with those who do not believe, to do works that anyone can do (benevolent organizations). Do not marry an unbelieving one (again, I am speaking of marriage between a man and a woman). Why? 

What partnership (participation together) have righteousness and lawlessness (sin)? 

What fellowship (koinonia, referring to holy intimacy) has light with darkness? As believers, you should desire fellowship with God the Father and God the Son! 

And you will, when you are filled with His Spirit! The Apostle John exhorts the church at Ephesus, which he oversaw in his later years —

1John 1:3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

But alas, in today’s church, much fellowship has nothing to do with intimacy with the Father and the Son, but consists of church dinners and outings. And many participate with benevolent organizations whose members do not belong to Christ! Others do inter-faith ministries, joining hands with those who reject Christ and worship false gods!

Surely, go and tell everyone the gospel of Jesus Christ, but know this — many will not want you to be a member any longer You will promptly be asked to leave. And they will no longer want you to be their partner in benevolent activities.
But which is more important to you — praise from men who do not know God, or praise from God? Turn back to the Lord, O wayward church!

Verse 15 —

Or what harmony (agreement) has Christ with Belial (Satan)? When you are filled with the Spirit, you will not be with those who are still under Satan’s thumb, except to tell them how the Lord rescued you from Satan’s wicked grip!

What did Jesus call the Jews who claimed to know God but rejected Him? Sons of their father, the devil (see John 8:44). Who are you joining hands with?

Or what has a believer in common (literally, what sharing can happen) with an unbeliever? What can you share with someone who has rejected the gospel that you cannot stop speaking about (Acts 4:10)! Are you compelled to speak about the gospel, because God’s divine love has filled you? 

Oh, my brothers and sisters, compare yourselves with the believers at Corinth. If you find you are like them, you must cry out for the Lord to fill you with His Spirit!

Verse 16 —

Or what agreement has the temple of God — your body —with idols! What idols? Those who do not believe are idolaters of themselves, and sometimes we see the outworking of their idolatry in the form of gods they have made in their own image.

We cannot join hands with idolaters, because our bodies are the temple of the living God, just as God said — 

Ezekiel 36:26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”

And just as Jesus said —

John 17:26 “and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

And just as Paul has said —

1Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

Verse 17 —

Therefore (because of all of these things) —

2Corinthians 6:17 “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN (not of God); and I will welcome you (receive you to Myself).” 18  “And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty. 

Paul quotes Isaiah 52:11, when the Lord gave His instructions to those who were going to return to Jerusalem, after the 70-year Babylonian exile. 

If you come out from joining yourself with unbelievers, I will welcome you (receive you), says the Lord! I will receive you to Myself! But surely, continue to proclaim the gospel to unbelievers!

Verse 18 —

And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty —

Isaiah 56:5 To them (foreigners who now believe into Christ) I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.

And Paul says —

Romans 8:14 For all who are being led by (driven by) the Spirit of God, these are sons (the offspring, children) of God.

If you are filled with the Spirit, He is the driving force within you, and in everything you do, you are compelled by the divine love of God which has filled your heart! Then you are sons (and daughters) of God! You bear a striking resemblance to Him, for He is in you! You walk as Christ walked, and are as He is in this world!

False teachers will say, Oh, the Lord has no objection to you being a member of that organization. After all, you are all working for a good cause, aren’t you? So go ahead and join hands with unbelievers. But what fellowship do you have with those who are still under Satan’s thumb? And who gets the praise for what is accomplished? Certainly not the Father and the Son, for they do not believe in God!

You are light, they are darkness — the two cannot dwell together. But the question is this — are you light? Are you filled with His Light? Are you filled with His Spirit? 

I tell you again that God receives those who do not become yoked with unbelievers. If you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you will not join hands with them. 

But if you have not been filled with the Spirit, you will reason that God doesn’t mind. But God will not receive you unless you come out from them!

He commands you to be filled with His Spirit so you are not taken in by false teachers, and so that you do not join hands or hearts with unbelievers! He commands it for all believers, beloved, so that you are not led astray any longer! He will do it, when you see your need and ask Him to fill you!

Next time, Paul and I will continue to expose the hearts of the believers at Corinth, and of the church today, exhorting them to cleanse themselves and perfect (fulfill) holiness within their hearts, and it will happen, if they cry out to be filled full of the Holy Spirit! Stay tuned!

Lord Jesus, may many hear this truth, and ask you to change their hearts. Amen. So be it!

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