How A Minister of Christ Lives is a sermon taken from 2 Corinthians 10. This is the part 1 of sermon series entitled “Characteristics of the Ministers of Christ” . May this sermon bless you!
How A Minister Of Christ Lives
Paul in all his letters show boldness in the way he speaks. Some of his letters show strong emotions against the carnality of the people whom he had the opportunity to minister. And one of those letters that expresses strong emotion is the book of 1 and 2 Corinthians.
In this chapter, Paul shows a strong emotion as he tries to defend his authority as the servant of Christ. Though this letter was originally intended to rebuke the false teachers from their malicious accusations and questioning about his authority, we can still learn many things from here especially on the way a Christian, a follower of Christ should live.
Lives by the Standards Given by Christ (v.1-6)
There may be some people who criticized Paul and the apostles and maliciously gossip about them and charged them to be worldly. In the following verses, we will see how Paul proved this charges to be maliciously manufactured. Knowing exactly where they stand, Paul clearly defines what kind of war each Christian is waging with.
Though we walk in the flesh… (v.3) as if we are walking physically in this life. Having all temptations of the flesh and having all the weaknesses that it can have, being a human creature that walks on earth, our war is not of this world but of spiritual things. Paul did not claim to be exempted from human weaknesses, and never exempted himself from temptations.
However, Paul exactly knows where he and the rest of the apostles stand in the faith. The weapons they use are not carnal, but made powerful by God to tear down strongholds.
The Greek word used for to tear down is kathairesis which also connotes extinction (v.4). Strongholds may also mean argument. So the first idea of those that can be extinguished, are the arguments or charges made by their enemies against them.
The second thing that can be tear down by the weapon that Paul is telling here are the arrogant obstacles. KJV used the word imaginations which refer to the reasoning used by the enemies of the gospel (v.5).
The most common thing that people do when they sin is to try reason out to justify their sin. Here however, Paul made it clear that even that reasoning can be over powered by the weapon that God gave us.
The third thing that can be tear down by this weapon is any high thing that exalt itself against the knowledge of God (v.5). This is when the person sinning prefers to look after his human dignity rather than looking at what God is saying.
This happens when personal desire precedes our desire to please God. For men loves to entertain unfounded opinions rather than the profoundness of the gospel of Christ. But all these will be tear down by this powerful weapon.
Then the minister of Christ will bring it to captivity every thought to the obedience to Christ (v.5). Brethrens, as people who were called by Christ we exist to obey the gospel of Christ, and encourage every soul to obey him and not to join any wickedness nor any form of carnality.
Once these enemies have been brought to captivity, we should therefore be ready to punish (Gk. Ekdikeo which means to vindicate or retaliate) such disobedience.
But please note that such punishment or discipline cannot be enforced unless the sinning person does not subject himself to obedience. It simply means that inside the body of Christ, if a person sin and does not want to obey God, he will not let himself be subject to such discipline and therefore an evidence of his unrepentant heart.
Therefore I appeal to each one of you, live by the standards that Christ gave. Not by our own opinions and standards, not by other standards, and not by the worldly standards but by the standards printed inside the Holy Scripture.
Lives by the Authority Given by Christ (v.7-11)
Once we were called, God gives the authority for each one of us to edify and exemplify God’s working in our lives. As Paul here continuously vindicate himself concerning the questioning of their authority as the apostles, obviously their enemies are trying to discredit them while at the same time these false teachers claim to be of Christ’s.
Apologetically, Paul is trying to expose the huge difference between him and the rest of the apostles against the false teachers. Paul does not judge by means of the appearance. As Paul explain, if these false teachers claimed to be of Christ’s, then all the more that the apostles are Christ’s.
The basis of the apostle’s claim is not on their looks, not in the way they dress, or put eminence on themselves (unlike the false teachers were doing), thus, Paul made an emphatic statement “as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s”.
Paul is with much desire to boast about the authority given to them by Christ. And it seems that Paul admittedly say that he writes with much authority. But some of the false teachers are somehow saying that they are only good when they are absent but not so much when they are present. Therefore, Paul gave another emphatic statement that as they were bold in their letter, the same boldness will be exemplified when they will be present (v.11).
Paul was not ashamed for his boldness in writing and in preaching the gospel of Christ for they bear with them (along with the other apostles) the authority given to them for the edification (Gk. Oikodomei which means to build up) of the body of Christ though some may think oppossitely.
In this context, even if this letter seems to be powerful (Gk. Ischuros which may also mean forcible), we can see that this was not really intended to destroy the Christians at Corinth but to edify them. To show them that what the “super apostles” say were not true and is only deceiving them to get their approval.
But the authority that Paul and the apostles bear is not the authority coming from men but from God. This authority has already been exemplified by their way of living which confirms their faith based on the teachings of Christ. These were not personal opinions of men, but is a genuine authority coming from God.
Therefore, as all (at least most if not all) of you will become Christian leaders in the future, live by the authority given by Christ. Do not turn to the left or to the right. Walk straight and upright with the presence of God in our lives.
Lives by the Task Given by Christ (v.12-18)
Some of you may be wondering until now, what is the task given to us by Christ? In other words, what is our purpose? I believe that you all know the Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.
I still remember four years ago, when we were still planning out what could be the things that we can discuss in the Men’s Group and I suggested that we discuss Purpose Driven Life. And I can see all the reactions from the faces of the members.
“We are done with that pastor, and it’s already boring.”
My brother once said; “I am totally exhausted with this Purpose Driven Life thing! I hear it during the sermon, that’s the topic during Sunday school, that’s the devotional during the Prayer Meeting and what not. Everything is Purpose Driven Life.”
So I asked him; “if you are really tired of it, then what are the 5 purposes of God for you?” He was silent and was deeply thinking, what are those 5 purposes.
This is exactly the picture of our Christian living today. We become tired of everything concerning the Church, about the lessons, preaching stuffs, praying, discipleship, and even mission. We are tired of all these things yet we fail to understand the deeper truths that were embedded in the gospel of Christ.
The Purpose Driven Life is all about the purposes of God in us:
• What on Earth Am I Here For?
• Purpose #1: You Were Planned for God’s Pleasure (Worship)
• Purpose #2: You Were Formed for God’s Family (Fellowship)
• Purpose #3: You Were Created to Become Like Christ (Discipleship)
• Purpose #4: You Were Shaped for Serving God (Ministry)
• Purpose #5: You Were Made for a Mission (Mission)
Going back to our passage, Paul understands his purpose. Verses 14 and 16 tells us about what Paul and the rest of the apostles have been doing. They have been preaching the gospel though they haven’t yet reached the regions beyond Corinth.
Backing up a little bit, verse 12, and the real apostles were not comparing themselves from those who boast for their own selves. The false teachers here is a group of people versus the real apostles.
And the picture being drawn here is that the false teachers are trying to boast for themselves by comparing and uplifting themselves with one another. Yet Paul made it clear that this is not the right way of boasting.
The measurement of their comparison is not based on the measurement made by human standards, but the standards given by God which reaches Corinth. This is somewhat saying that the ministry of Paul and the apostles have reached as far as Corinth and this is the measurement that they have been boasting about.
It is about having the hope that the faith of the Christians in Corinth will be increased (v.5). That even by personal limitations, such faith will continue to grow. A minister of Christ therefore lives only by the measurement that God gave while carrying out his tasks.
The task is to spread the gospel to allow people to grow.
As one called by Christ, as one to do God’s purpose for us, we are to live by the standards set by Christ, live by the authority given to us by Christ, and do the tasks given to us by Christ despite of our limitations.
These are the things possessed by successful Christians. They were the Christians who have exemplified their faith accompanied by works.