CONFIDENT IN GOD: The Basis of Real Ministry
Broken for a purpose
2 Corinthians 4:1-11
Jerry A Collins
v  Can you suffer for what you believe to be true?
v  How much do you focus on yourself?
v  Is suffering something you aspire to?
None of us enjoys being accused of something we have not done. It seems like we cannot get out form underneath the accusation easily, even if we are innocent. Unfortunately, if the accusation goes public, then further damage in our relationships for instance. Even if we manage to clear things up, the residual effects can remain for a long time. Then you can only forge ahead in the confidence that God knows the truth. From time to time things may come up and you have to address the issues all over again. But it hurts and it takes a toll. I think often of the people falsely accused but have to go through the complete process until they are exonerated. Until then their reputations are smeared, lives forever changed, and relationships that may never be healed. The apostle had a similar situation and it contributed to difficulties with his friends.
In at least three ways this guy has been falsely accused. These accusations had taken a toll on his relationship with the Corinthians, whom he loved. But they also had a sobering effect engendered by the Spirit of God within him.
First, he was charged with diluting the Old Testament, which was the Word of God in his time vs 2. Perhaps this accusation came as the result of his claiming that the veil had been removed in Christ 3:14-16. There was some bent on destroying Paul because he did not pony up to the Jewish expressions of religious devotion. He makes his case in two ways. (1) He has renounced shameful acts that are hatched in secret. He is not using cunning or trickery or pretense trying to make something that is not true seem true. There is no hidden agenda to dilute the OT and deprive those with a vested interest in it. But (2) The Gospel he proclaims validates His ministry. It is out there in the open as a declaration of truth. He can appeal then to every mans conscience. Most important, he knows everything he says and does are in the sight of God, which is far more important than in the sight of men. This particular charge is similar to someone accusing you of not using a King James Bible. It is not the Word of God if not a King James. They believe God inspired an English version of the Bible and they will accuse you of diluting God’s Word.
Second, he was accused of teaching a gospel that was not easily understood vs 3. The veiling of the gospel made it sound like people could not understand it. Why would you want to do that? He has an answer for this accusation. It is veiled to those who are perishing. If it is not understood, it’s because those who do not believe, do not understand it. It’s veiled to them. One thing we learned form 3:14 is that God hardened their minds so that they won’t believe. One way God evidently does this is by allowing Satan and the things of this world to blind them. He says two things about this in vs 4.
(1) Satan is trying to keep people from understanding the Gospel—so he changes it, distorts it, he contradicts it and according to the parable of the sower, he snatches it away from us. He blinds their minds so they are unable to see and reason about the gospel of Christ. People have a natural antagonism toward Christ. It borders on the irrational. They certainly aren’t antagonistic of Muhammad or Buddha or Dahlia Lama or Ghandi or Joseph Smith or the Pope. It is truly irrational and it can be traced back to Satan’s vindictiveness. He hates Christ and the Father and any who follow. But
(2) We follow Christ who is the image of God. We were created in the image of God. Jesus is the image of God. Is this the one you are following today? The glory of Christ shines in the gospel and that is why Satan hates the gospel so. This is why he manipulates to distort it. He knows it will lead someone directly to Jesus Christ. If he can get you to shut your mouth about it, if he can shame you with how people might respond to it from you, then he can continue to blind people and absorb them with other things—not eternal ones. It is interesting how complicated the world’s systems are—controlled by Satan, the god of this world—with the end purpose to blind people so they will not see the light of the Gospel. Think of the complexities of the whole theory of evolution. All those complexities are nothing in and of themselves. It is the product of evolution that Satan is interested in—that people will not believe in Jesus.
Third, he was accused of preaching himself vs 5. He stated the accusation but then turned the whole thing around. We are not accountable to ourselves. We are accountable to Jesus Christ for the moral direction of our lives. He is the Lord of your life your not. He is Lord whether you recognize that or not. Satan knows that but he won’t let you figure that out if he can help it. Listen, we are not to draw attention to ourselves. After Peter denied Christ and was restored by Christ, he spent the rest of his ministry telling people about Jesus Christ. He deflected any attention away from himself for the rest of his ministry. Since Jesus is the Lord and Master, here is our perspective—and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus sake. A servant of God on high is greater than any earthly glory or position. It is the temptation of every preacher to preach himself and every teacher to teach himself. It is the temptation of all of us—to elevate self—to take credit. But we are servants. It is Jesus who is to be elevated. Does the hammer take credit for building the building? Of course not. It is only a tool used in the Master’s hand. So if you are accused and innocent, don’t worry about it. Take a step down toward servanthood. Any accusations here only increase your need to depend upon God.
1 Our suffering shows us we have nothing to boast about vs 7. The Gospel is our real treasure not the containers of it. Clay pots do not have much to boast about. The treasure gains nothing from the pots. If anything the pots gain glory from the glory of the treasure. If. Today, you place those valentine flowers for your wife or friend in a simple clay pot, and then all of the focus will be on those flowers. If you place them in a beautiful decorative pot then the pot competes with the flowers for glory! So do not pretend that you are a beautiful container. Satan will want you to do that—in competition with the true treasure in you, the gospel of Christ. Why? So that the greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves. The point is that it is God who is great and He gets the glory not us. We are only the fragile pottery jars from which the light shines brightly. This reminds us of Gideons army in Judges 7:15-25. When the pots were broken, then the light shown brightly from them. When we are broken through adversity, false accusations, and sufferings of many kinds, God’s power is revealed and then He is glorified and acknowledged. It is not by exalting the clay pots but by breaking them that God’s character and work is on display. One of the reasons for evil and suffering is that in it we learn more about God’s nature, his grace and mercy and that increasing knowledge gives us the capacity to worship Him with more knowledge and understanding than if there were no suffering or evil in the world.