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2 Corinthians 5and6 - Separated By Grace

INTRODUCTION: Paul set forth the underlying comfort that exceeds all manner of trials we might face, as we know when we are absent from our earthly body, we will be present forever with the Lord. This is a message of unmatched reconciliation as the Lord has covered our sin that we may thereby be with our Creator. While we are still in the body we should maintain appropriate separation from the world. When we received salvation in Christ our bodies became part of the temple of God!

NOTE: Bible passages are from the American KJV.

A - WE WALK BY FAITH WITH THE HOPE WE HAVE IN CHRIST

2Corinthians 5 "1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed on with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed on, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5 Now he that has worked us for the selfsame thing is God, who also has given to us the earnest of the Spirit. 6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 9 Why we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad. 11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest to God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences."

COMMENTS: Just as the circumcision of the heart is done without hands, the eternal dwelling place for our spirit, after the death of our earthly body, is prepared by the Lord. Paul used the thought of being clothed in new garments so we would not be naked; and there are other comparisons such as tent versus mansion used in Scripture to emphasize the superior everlasting quality of our spiritual body. Paul was groaning in the sense that he had an earnest desire to be in that new body in heaven where mortality is eliminated forever. God has prepared this new life and has given us the unchangeable guarantee by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within our earthly body. This gives us confidence as we keep in our thoughts that while still in this body, we await being absent from the body to be present with the Lord. We continue to live in the physical world by faith, and not by visualizing what is to come, as life in our eternal home cannot be fully comprehended. We should always keep in mind the goal to use whatever gifts of abilities we have received that we might please our Lord. We all must appear at the judgment seat of God, where there will be separation of the righteous in God, from the unrighteous. As long as we remain in the natural body we should labor in ways that are acceptable to the God of our salvation. That is the message to everyone who has truly turned to the Lord for everlasting life. Paul willingly labored for he knew the message he delivered was openly seen by the Lord, and he hoped that message was clearly evident in the consciences of the Corinthians.

Luke 6 "45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. 46 And why call you me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 47 Whoever comes to me, and hears my sayings, and does them, I will show you to whom he is like: 48 He is like a man which built an house, and dig deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently on that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded on a rock. 49 But he that hears, and does not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house on the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great."

Matthew 7 "15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Why by their fruits you shall know them. 21 Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity."

Romans 8 "18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. 24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."

1 Corinthians 15 "41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 However, that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven."


B - CHRIST HAS GIVEN TO US A MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION

2 Corinthians 5 "12 For we commend not ourselves again to you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that you may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. 13 For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. 14 For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not from now on live to themselves, but to him which died for them, and rose again. 16 Why from now on know we no man after the flesh: yes, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now from now on know we him no more. 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be you reconciled to God. 21 For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

COMMENTS: Paul wanted the Corinthians to take great pleasure as their daily conduct was truly from the heart, to be in contrast to those who consciously put on a show to bring attention to themselves. Paul said whether he had great excitement and joy it was to God, or if he was soberly calm and rational it was to emphasize the truth of the Word of God. For the love of Christ keeps us within proper boundaries realizing that if one died for all, then all were dead in sin, and new life was provided when Christ rose from the grave; and we should now live for Him. We can no longer know Christ as he had existed in the flesh, and all those who believe in Christ also are now new creations in Christ. Old things of the temporal world are to be in the past, and all things are made new. God has brought us into a relationship by removing the separation of sin for those who believe in Christ. Paul wanted the Corinthians to know that God has also given a ministry of reconciliation through the sharing of the Word. Paul and his companions were ambassadors for Christ, earnestly urging The readers to be reconciled to God. Verse 21 is certainly a wonderful statement for an ambassador of Christ to use.


C - DO NOT RECEIVE THE GRACE OF GOD IN VAIN

2 Corinthians 6 "1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that you receive not the grace of God in vain. 2 (For he said, I have heard you in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored you: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) 3 Giving no offense in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: 4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings; 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 By honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; 9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things."

COMMENTS: Because Paul identified himself as working together with Christ, he urged the Corinthians not to receive the grace of God in vain. The writer of Hebrews had a similar warning as he used Esau, the older brother of Jacob, who was described as despising his right to an inheritance with no way to repent. Paul had also written to Titus about the importance of living out the grace of God.

Hebrews 12 "12 Why lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. 14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17 For you know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears."

Titus 2 "11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."

Paul used verse 8 of the passage from Isaiah prophetically speaking of the coming Messiah (and I included verse 7).

Isaiah 49 "7 Thus said the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despises, to him whom the nation abhors, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose you. 8 Thus said the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard you, and in a day of salvation have I helped you: and I will preserve you, and give you for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;"

Paul was patiently determined not to give any offense, as he did not want his ministry for the Lord to be blamed to be improper presentation of the truth. The many difficulties Paul and his companions endured were not deterrents to the ministry they were called to deliver. They depended on the Word of truth, the protection of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the despicable ways some men viewed them was just the opposite of their true circumstances as those who lived for the Lord and their final reward in heaven: "always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things."


D - BE SEPARATED AND THE LORD SAID HE WILL RECEIVE YOU

2 Corinthians 6 "11 O you Corinthians, our mouth is open to you, our heart is enlarged. 12 You are not straitened in us, but you are straitened in your own bowels. 13 Now for a recompense in the same, (I speak as to my children,) be you also enlarged. 14 Be you not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what concord has Christ with Belial? or what part has he that believes with an infidel? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Why come out from among them, and be you separate, said the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. 18 And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty."

COMMENTS: Paul was very open in the way he shared from his heart with the Corinthians, but it seems he did not feel they were as open to him. He appealed to them as a loving father giving advice to his cherished children and expected that they would reciprocate that open affection. He used the term "unequally yoked together" to represent very close relationships with unbelievers as though they had the same goals and same desires in whatever they did together. It is important for believers to recognize the need to apply separation of righteousness they have in Christ, from worldly unrighteousness. Otherwise choosing to have regular fellowship that would represent an open mixture of spiritual light with acceptance of actions of darkness might be done without careful thought. Paul reminds the readers to think in terms that Christ would not have harmony or agreement of interests or feelings with A satanic personification of wickedness and ungodliness [Belial]; and also we should think about what part should a believer have with someone who completely rejects the reality of faith in god? Those who have put their trust in God are indwelt by the Spirit of God, and thus each individual believer is part of the temple dwelling place of the living God. There are references about this in the law given through Moses, but Christ made this even more readily identifiable through His finished work. Paul had already made the Corinthians aware of this very important factor in his first letter to them.

Exodus 20 "3 You shall have no other gods before me."
Exodus 23 "13 And in all things that I have said to you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of your mouth."
Leviticus 26 "12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people."

1 Corinthians 3 "16 Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are."

1 Corinthians 6 "19 What? know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? 20 For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."

There were times in the Old Testament that the LORD called Israel to come out from among idolaters and He would receive them, to be a Father to them and they would be the sons and daughters of the LORD Almighty.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord I thank you for the way I found these parts of Paul's letter to the Corinthians as very thought provoking for my own walk in life before my Savior. I realized that some of the weaknesses that were described can too often apply to me. I need to have more determination to offer worship to my God by proper use of the talents and abilities I have been given from Your hand. But there also was tremendous blessing in the reminder that when life in this present body is over, there will be a far superior life in an eternal home where there is no sin and no sorrow, only the joy of a true understanding of humble worship of my LORD and Savior. Amen, and amen!

Published 11 December 2020