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Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

2 Corinthians 11:5-6; Style vs. Simplicity

10/25_2 Corinthians 11:5-6; Style vs. Simplicity; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20201025_2cor11_5-6.mp3

2 Corinthians 11:1 I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 5 Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

A Different Jesus, Spirit, Gospel

Paul rebuked the Corinthians for bearing with another Jesus being proclaimed, a different spirit being received, a different gospel being accepted. They ought not put up with the foolishness the false teachers are foisting on them. As Carson puts it,

“Of course in one sense they preached the same Jesus: they too doubtless believed he was the promised Messiah, that he performed miracles and preached the kingdom of God, that he died, rose from the grave, and ascended to the Father’s right hand. Yet as soon as Jesus Christ is not the sole basis for our salvation, as soon as our acceptability before God depends on something more than his sacrifice on the cross, we have denied the sufficiency of his person and work. At that point the Jesus being preached is no longer the biblical Jesus, but an unreal product of human imagination, a relatively powerless figure who cannot effectively save his people from their sins unless they supplement his work with something of their own merit.” [D.A.Carson, Triumphalism to Maturity, p.88]

The Corinthians were in danger of embracing another Jesus and a different gospel that cannot save. The Corinthians were being lured away from the historic biblical Jesus. The Jesus the of the false apostles was triumphant wonder working Jesus, not the Jesus who suffered and died for our sins and rose again. The spirit they promoted was a spirit who gives supernatural experiences, not the Spirit who produces love and holiness and humility; the gospel they preached was a gospel that promised power, prosperity, and present blessings, not the gospel that secures forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with the all-holy God through the once for all sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

Personality Attack

The false apostles were undermining Paul’s message by attacking him personally. From their perspective, he lacked the proper credentials. He was not a strong leader. He failed to follow through with his plans. He didn’t come with letters of commendation. He didn’t measure up to their standards of public speaking. He quotes their criticism in chapter 10;

2 Corinthians 10:10 For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.”

He seems formidable when he writes from a safe distance, but in person he’s really just pathetic. He doesn’t have a commanding presence, and his speech is contemptible. These are masters of spin, twisting everything they can to make Paul look bad and fall out of favor with the church he planted. They have denigrated church leadership into a popularity contest, personality preference, and beauty pageant.

Last and Least of the Apostles

So Paul responds with biting irony

2 Corinthians 11:5 Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

Today I want to pull on some threads of words and phrases to see where they appear and how they are woven throughout the tapestry of this letter, to see how Paul develops these themes and points us to Christ.

The word ‘apostle’ means one who is sent out, one commissioned with delegated authority. An apostle in the official sense was one of the twelve, one who was an eyewitness of Jesus’ ministry and resurrection. Paul said back in 1 Corinthians 9

1 Corinthians 9:1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? 2 If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

And in 1 Corinthians 15, he reminds them of the gospel, that Christ died for our sins and was raised, and that he appeared,

1 Corinthians 15:7 …then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. …

Paul considers himself last and least of all the apostles.

Super-Apostles

Here he labels those who come proclaiming a different Jesus as ‘super-apostles’. This is the super-favorite intensifying prefix of the apostle Paul. In chapter 1 he says we were super-beyond our strength burdened. In chapter 3 he talks about the super-surpassing glory of the new covenant. In chapter 4 he says the super-surpassing power belongs to God, not to us. He says our affliction is preparing an eternal weight of glory that is super-beyond what is super-beyond. In chapter 7 he says his is super-overflowing with joy. In chapter 9 he points them to the super-surpassing grace of God. In chapter 10 he says he isn’t hyper-extending himself as if he didn’t reach all the way to them, but he does hope to hyper-extend himself into lands beyond them. In chapter 11 he boasts of his super-beyond beatings, and in chapter 12 because of his super-beyond revelations, he was given a thorn in his flesh to keep him from becoming super-conceited.

Here and in 12:11 Paul caricatures those who proclaim another Jesus as ‘super-apostles.’ In verse 13 he calls them ‘false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.’ and in verse 14 he calls them servants of Satan. He calls the super-apostles because they paint themselves as better than Paul. They are super-apostles, in an ironic sense, because they have gone far beyond what an apostle of Christ is commissioned to do, preaching another Jesus, a different spirit, a different gospel. They have gone beyond the bounds of legitimate apostles, who are slaves of Christ, expected to be faithful to Christ. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4

1 Corinthians 4:9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.

The apostles testified to Christ not only by word, but also by their sufferings. The super-apostles have moved far beyond the bounds of what a faithful apostle was sent to do.

How To Count Like the Apostle

2 Corinthians 11:5 Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles.

Paul says that he is not lacking when counts himself against the super-apostles. This word ‘consider’ is one that Paul has used frequently in this letter. It means to count, consider, conclude, to take inventory and reckon; use logic to think about something from a particular perspective. He said in chapter 10 that he counts on showing boldness to those who count him as walking according to his own fleshly desires. He says that they are looking at appearances. Consider that we belong to Christ as much as anyone. Consider or count on it that what we say by letter, we will put into action when we are present. In chapter 12 he does not want anyone to count or consider him as more than what they have seen evidence of in him. All the way back in chapter 3, he shares the way he counts.

2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim [or count, consider] anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant…

He doesn’t count or consider anything as having its source in him. Here he shares with them how he counts. He counts himself as not lacking anything in comparison with the super-apostles.

Incompetent Speaking

2 Corinthians 11:6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

He is accused that his speech is contemptible, of being unskilled in speaking. The Greek word here is ἰδιώτης. It refers to someone who does not have specialized training in a particular field. This is ironic, because Paul was educated, in contrast to the rest of the genuine apostles, who according to Acts 4:13 were ‘uneducated, common men.’ According to Peter, Paul writes some things that are hard to understand which ignorant people twist. Have you read Paul? In this letter, he is employing his rhetorical skill to cut the feet out from under the false apostles.

Making It Plain

2 Corinthians 11:5 Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

Paul says even if, as his enemies argue, he is an incompetent speaker, he is not unskilled in knowledge. He has made this apparent in all things and in every way. This word making apparent, making plain, revealing or manifesting is a word we have seen several times in this letter. In chapter 7 he wrote as he did to reveal to them their own earnestness for him. In chapter 5, we must all be revealed before the judgment seat of Christ, and what we are is revealed to God and he hopes it is revealed to them as well. In chapter 4 the life of Jesus is revealed in his body. In chapter 3, it is revealed that they are Paul’s recommendation letter from Christ. In chapter 2 the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ is revealed through the genuine apostles.

It should be revealed and apparent to them in all things and in every way that Paul is not incompetent in knowledge.

The Knowledge of Christ

It is through Paul that the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ is revealed, made plain, made apparent always and everywhere. Paul has this ministry by the mercy of God.

2 Corinthians 4:2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

Paul openly and plainly proclaims the truth.

2 Corinthians 4:5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

Paul is not into self-promotion; he lifts up Jesus Christ as Lord. He is a slave; a cracked clay pot, and the treasure of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ the Lord shines out through every fracture.

Skilled Speech and the Foolishness of the Cross

Paul’s ‘unskilled speaking,’ they ought to remember from 1 Corinthians, is not a lack of ability, but a conscious choice. Paul chose to communicate the gospel simply, plainly, without pandering to their taste for eloquent oratory.

1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

His apostolic calling, his commission from Christ demanded that he preach the gospel in the power of the Spirit of God. They may have considered his preaching style foolish, but

1 Corinthians 1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

If you consider my style unskilled, Paul says, it reveals more about you than it does about me.

1 Corinthians 1:23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Paul said:

1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Paul refused manipulative preaching tactics. He renounced disgraceful underhanded ways of working an audience. He willingly chose the path of unskilled speaking so that God would get all the glory. But he is not unskilled in knowledge. He says:

1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

God hid his spiritual wisdom in plain sight and in plain language, so that those who are humbled by God’s Spirit can see it, but those who think much of themselves toss it aside as beneath them.

The gospel is not hard, but it is hard to swallow. You are a sinner. You deserve death. But Jesus took your place and died the death you deserve. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. He died to bring us near to God, to reconcile us so that we can now enjoy a relationship with our risen Lord.

Application / Use

What do we do with this? First, humble yourself to receive it. Don’t make it complex when it is simple. Don’t add anything to it. The gospel is a gift to be received freely, and many are too proud to receive it.

The gospel is a gift, but there’s enough to go around. We can’t keep it to ourselves. Know Christ and make him known. We need to spread the word. When we do, keep it simple. Simply and plainly proclaim the truth about Jesus and the cross, and pray that God’s Spirit would open blind eyes to humbly and freely receive.

***

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

November 1, 2020 Posted by | 2 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 13:5d; Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs

01/18 1 Corinthians 13:5d Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20150118_1cor13_5d.mp3

1 Corinthians 13 [SBLGNT]

4 Ἡ ἀγάπη μακροθυμεῖ, χρηστεύεται ἡ ἀγάπη, οὐ ζηλοῖ ἡ ἀγάπη, οὐ περπερεύεται, οὐ φυσιοῦται, 5 οὐκ ἀσχημονεῖ, οὐ ζητεῖ τὰ ἑαυτῆς, οὐ παροξύνεται, οὐ λογίζεται τὸ κακόν,

1 Corinthians 13 [ESV2011]

12:31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends...

We are looking at what love is, what Christian love should look like, what God’s love is like. We look today at the seventh in a list of eight negatives, what love is not. Love is “not …resentful” (ESV)

“thinketh no evil” (KJV)

“keeps no record of wrongs” (NIV)

“does not remember wrongs done against it”(ERV)

“does not keep account of evil” (Phillips)

“does not take into account a wrong suffered” (NASB)

“does not count up wrongs that have been done” (NCV)

“doesn’t keep score of the sins of others” (Message)

“it does not brood over injury” (NABRE)

These translations are all attempting to convey the flavor of the phrase in the original Greek. The main verb in this phrase is [λογίζομαι]; it is an accounting term; it means to take an inventory, to reckon, count, compute, calculate. It is used this way in Romans 4.

Romans 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.

Payment is computed, calculated, counted according to debt, according to obligation. How many hours you worked times the agreed upon wage per hour minus any withholding or taxes equals the paycheck.

It means to to count, consider, number. It is used this way in Luke 22

Luke 22:37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.”

It means to consider, take into account, weigh, meditate on. It is used this way in Mark 11.

Mark 11:31 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’

Love does not compute, calculate, count, consider, weigh, meditate on the bad, the evil, the harm.

What does it mean for love to keep no record of wrongs? What does this mean for God, who is love? How do we see this in the face of Jesus, the image of the invisible God? How can we begin to imitate God’s love with the people around us?

God Keeps Records of Wrongs

First, if love keeps no record of wrongs, and if God is love, then we can learn something when we look at what God says about himself in his word. Do we ever see God keeping record of wrongs? Daniel’s vision gives us a glimpse of the end of time.

Daniel 7:9 “As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. 10 A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.

The books were opened. The court sat in judgment. God has a record book. Hebrews tells us:

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

All are exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Nothing is hidden from him. Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:

Matthew 12:36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,

People will give account for every careless word on the day of judgment. There is a day of judgment coming, which means God is keeping record of wrongs. Romans tells us:

Romans 2:5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

God’s righteous judgment will be revealed on the day of wrath. We are storing up wrath because of our hard and unrepentant hearts. Every careless word, every thought, every attitude, every deed is recorded and will be accounted for. God keeps books, and the books will be opened. God is just and he will punish all sin. If we know anything about ourselves at all, this is a terrifying prospect.

God has communicated clearly to us his reckoning system. He told Adam in the garden ‘in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen.2:17). Romans tells us “The wages of sin is death” (Rom.6:23).

James communicates to us just how comprehensive God’s perfect standard is.

James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

God doesn’t grade on a curve. God is the lawgiver, and any violation of his law is an offense against him. We find in Romans

Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

There will be no excuses. No legitimate defense. John tells us:

1 John 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

God keeps perfect records. God is perfectly righteous. God is absolutely just. Nothing is hidden from him. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom.3:23)

God Blots Out Transgressions

But thank God this is not the end of the story! How is it that God is love, if God keeps perfect records of wrongs? There are some amazing promises in the Old Testament. God says in Isaiah 43:25

Isaiah 43:25 “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.

Transgressions blotted out! God keeps perfect record, but if God were willing to blot out that record, to erase it, to eradicate it and strike our sin from his records, to not remember our wrongs – that would be a blessing worth singing about! Listen to David’s prayer in Psalm 51:

Psalm 51:1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

Mercy according to love. God is absolutely just, and he is also abundant in mercy. Wash me, cleanse me, blot out my transgressions.

Listen to Psalm 32. Hear it as if you are hearing it for the first time.

Psalm 32:1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

Think of this! Transgressions forgiven! Sins covered! Iniquities not computed, not calculated, not counted against me! This Psalm is quoted in Romans 4:7-8, and the word used is [λογίζομαι]. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity. That is a blessed man indeed! How does that happen? Against whom does the Lord not keep record? Let’s look at Romans 4.

Romans 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Paul tells us that the person against whom the Lord will not count his sins is the person who believes God. “To the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly his faith is counted to him as righteousness.” He goes on to clarify what this belief looks like

Romans 4:20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

God will do what he promised to do. God is glorified in us when we believe that he will do what he said he would do, when we trust him. God blots out our sins in Jesus, who was delivered up to death for our trespasses. 2 Corinthians 5 says

2 Corinthians 5:19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

God was not counting, not calculating, canceling the record of our trespasses, bringing us into a restored relationship with himself. How could he do this? It says he does it in Christ. Verse 21 tells us how.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

God the Father transferred our sin to Jesus. Jesus, the sinless one, bore our sin in his own body on the cross. This is an accounting term, so let’s use an accounting metaphor to help us understand it. Better yet, let’s use a story Jesus told to help illustrate it.

Matthew 18:23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.

The King was settling accounts. This servant owed ten thousand talents. A talent, we are told, is a monetary unit equivalent to about 20 years wages for a laborer. So that would be about 200,000 years wages. This servant had been up to something to get himself into that kind of debt with his master. There would be no possible way for him to pay this debt. His master was settling accounts. There were no bankruptcy options. All his possessions were to be sold. He, his wife, and his children were to be sold as a slaves. And that would still fall far short of paying the debt. How can this debt be settled? The king could wait for the servant to work as a slave for 200,000 years to pay him back the debt. That is not what happens in Jesus’ story.

Matthew 18:26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.

The master forgave him the debt. He released him from his obligation. But that did not change his books. He would end the year with 200,000 year’s worth of wages missing. That had to come from somewhere. He would have to suffer loss. He would have to absorb that amount himself.

This is a picture of our salvation. We owed a debt we could never pay.

Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

The LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin.” “in Christ God was …not counting their trespasses against them.” Instead, he counted their trespasses against Christ. He transferred our debt to Jesus. Jesus became guilty for my sin, and he paid the price in full. If I lean into him, trust him, believe in him, God counts righteousness to me. The perfect obedience of Christ is paid into my account. I now stand with my debt of sin paid in full and a positive balance of Christ’s righteousness in my account.

His Forgiveness and Ours

What does this mean for us? Jesus told this story in response to a question from Peter. Jesus had taught his followers to pray “forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Mt.6:12). Jesus said

Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Now Peter asked him “How often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (Mt.18:21).

Matthew 18:22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

And then he tells the story of the master who wished to settle accounts with his servants. The story ends this way:

Matthew 18:26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.

The servant whose master had completely forgiven the 200,000 year debt now wanted to settle accounts with his fellow servant who owed him 100 days wages in debt. He who had been shown extravagant mercy refused to show mercy to his fellow servant.

Matthew 18:31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

This sounds like God’s forgiveness is conditional. Maybe a better way to say it is that God’s forgiveness is transformational. God’s forgiveness, when received, when truly experienced, will not leave a person unchanged. It will melt a heart of stone. The failure to forgive is simply evidence of a heart that has never truly received God’s forgiveness. If we look back at the servant in the story, we can see indicators of this. When he was pleading with the master, he asked ‘have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ There was a promise to repay. He was not seeking forgiveness, he was seeking an extension on the loan. He wanted more time. He thought he could repay it. When he left the master’s presence, he was still under the weight of the burden of the debt. It seems he still intended to repay it. That would explain his urgency in choking his fellow servant and demanding to be paid. He needed that money to get started paying off his insurmountable debt. To attempt to contribute, even in the smallest way, demonstrates a refusal to receive the gift. It seems he did not understand grace. He remained under law, keeping score, he was still counting. Being truly forgiven, feeling the weight lifted, the debt gone, will stir in us a desire to see that weight lifted for others, to set them free.

David prayed “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Ps.51:4). All sin is ultimately against God. When Saul was ravaging the church, the voice from heaven said: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” When Saul asked ‘who are you Lord?’ “And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” (Acts 9:4-5). Has someone sinned against you? That sin too is really a sin against God. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Rom.12:19). When I am wronged by a fellow servant, the offense is against the Master. The debt is against him. If Jesus paid for that debt in full, I have no right to demand payment also. If Jesus paid for my debt and his, it is outrageous of me to expect to be compensated. The records are not mine to keep.

Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not take into account a wrong suffered. Love doesn’t keep score of the sins of others. Love does not brood over injury. Love has been set free, and love delights to see others set free. Have you been hurt? Have you been injured? Have you been wronged? Have you been offended? Has evil been done against you? Who do you need to release from their obligation? Who do you need to forgive, to set free?

When God forgives, we are told, he ‘will remember their sin no more’ (Jer.31:34). Can you let it go? Truly, let it go? Release it? Never come back to it? Never rehearse it? Never remind yourself of it? Never remind anyone else of it? Never bring it up again? If your heart has been transformed by Christ, you can. When it begins to rear its ugly head, bring it back to the cross and nail it there. Reckon that sin to have been paid in full. Look afresh at how God in Christ has freely forgiven you, and allow the forgiveness you have experienced to spill out on those who have wronged you. Love keeps no record of wrongs.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

January 18, 2015 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment