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2 Corinthians 3

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

TUESDAY, MARCH 27 

SCRIPTURE: 2 CORINTHIANS 3

It might be helpful if I give you a little background to this chapter.  Not long after the Gospel began to be preached, there was a counterfeit gospel that was also spread.  The true Gospel is a message of grace and free salvation because of what Jesus did for us.  The counterfeit gospel was a mixture of grace and keeping the Old Testament Law.  The people that promoted this counterfeit gospel were called Judaizers.  Their message was that people were saved by grace but had to keep the Old Testament Law.

Oddly enough this false gospel was popular enough to find some traction.  There is something about the human nature that enjoys keeping a list of religious rules.  We think it helps us know how we are doing as well as how we are doing compared to others.  But this grace and Law gospel was antithetical to the true Gospel which is a Gospel of grace.  The true Gospel is based upon what Jesus did for us.  It is grounded in His merit not ours.

Much of this chapter is a remarkable refutation of the false gospel of the Judaizers and a powerful declaration of the true Gospel.  In verse 3, Paul makes his first comparison.  The Old Testament Law was written on tablets of stone.  The Spirit of the Living God writes His Word on human hearts.  The problem with humanity (sin) is so implanted in us, no external force is sufficient to ultimately change us.  If we are to change, it has to be from an internal presence – the presence of the Holy Spirit in us is the change agent that alone can bring about true transformation.

In verse 6, Paul makes the statement that the “letter kills”.  This, too, is a reference to the Old Testament Law.  It is important that you think about what this means.  First, it doesn’t mean that the Old Testament Law was bad or wrong or faulty.  It simply means that the Old Testament Law established the way that people were to live and when they failed to live that way, death ensued – either the death of sacrificial animals or their own death because “the wages of sin is death”.  The only way the Law could bring life is if it were kept perfectly.  Jesus is the only who has ever been able to do that.

On the other hand, the Gospel gives life.  Jesus has died in our place.  His death was the death that the Law demanded.  As a result, we can experience new life through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. 

The next comparison that Paul makes is found in verses 7-11.  It has to do with glory.  First of all, the Old Testament system was accompanied by God’s glory.  The Shekinah glory of God led the people as a cloud through the wilderness and protected them as a pillar of fire at night.  When the tabernacle was completed, the glory of God fell upon the Holy of Holies.  When Moses went to the mountain to meet with God, God’s glory covered the tops of that mountain.  After Moses would return from his meetings with God, his face would shine with the glory of God.  Moses reflected the glory of God.  Christ followers, on the other hand, are to radiate the glory of God.

Because the Holy Spirit lives in us (verse 18), He is transforming us.  He is changing us from the inside out.  He is moving us along from one glory to the next.  And every step of that journey means we have the privilege of radiating more and more of God’s glory.

We must be so very careful not to mix anything into the Gospel of grace that we have been given.  This Gospel needs nothing else.  In fact, anything else dilutes the amazing thing God has done for us.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

2 Corinthians 2

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

MONDAY, MARCH 26

SCRIPTURE: 2 CORINTHIANS 2

This chapter begins with some interesting words about pain and gladness and pain and joy and at the end of verse 4 pain and abundant or deep love.  Paul did indeed love those Christ followers at Corinth.  He had played a significant role in the starting of that church and in the early discipleship of those believers.  But sometimes those that we love the most can hurt us the most.  Those that we care about greatly can cause some of our deepest pain.

Paul goes on in verses 6-11 to address a man who had caused some significant problems.  I believe this is the man that we read about in 1 Corinthians who was cohabitating with his stepmom.  Remember Paul told the church to practice church discipline and remove him from the church.

Now we see Paul encouraging the church to bring that man back.  There are a few reasons for this.  One, in verse 7 was for the man’s sake that he wouldn’t be overwhelmed and destroyed by sorrow over his sin.  Two, it was for the sake of the Christian witness.  One thing that should characterize our existence is a willingness to forgive appropriately.  Three, it was for the sake of the church.  Unforgiveness is an open door for Satan to rush through and wreak havoc.  As a church we should always be willing to forgive appropriately.

In verse 14, Paul speaks of a triumphal procession.  There is a lot of stuff behind this that I think is important to talk about.  Verses 14-16 are actually an allusion to what was called the “Roman Triumph”.  This was a huge special tribute Rome gave to their conquering generals.

If a Roman general won a complete victory over the enemy on foreign soil and if he killed at least 5,000 enemy soldiers and gained new territory for Rome, then that commander was entitled to a Roman Triumph.  The Roman Triumph was a huge parade.  The general rode in a golden chariot surrounded by his officers.  The parade should showcase the spoils of the victory as well as captive enemy soldiers.  Roman priests would carry burning incense along the parade route to pay tribute to the general and his conquering army.  The parade would end at the Circus Maximus where the captives would be forced to fight wild beasts as entertainment for the crowd. 

Jesus is our Great Commander in Chief.  He came to foreign soil (this earth) and defeated the enemy, Satan. Instead of killing 5,000, He gave life to 5,000:  3,000+ at Pentecost and another 2,000 shortly after.  Jesus claimed the spoils of the battle which are the lost souls in bondage to the enemy.  The incense burning during the Roman Triumph would have smelled like victory to Roman soldiers but like death to the captives.  Christ followers are that incense.  To those who have accepted the Good News, our lives should be the smell of great victory.  To those who have rejected the Good News, our lives (testimonies) should point to their ultimate death.

That’s just a pretty neat comparison!

Paul ends this chapter with a reminder that he didn’t choose to be an apostle.  Instead, God commissioned him for this work.  And Paul knew that God was always intimately aware of what Paul was speaking or writing.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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