CONFIDENT IN GOD: The Basis of Real Ministry
A True Disciples I.D.
2 Corinthians 11:13-33
Jerry A Collins
v Is it ever proper for us to boast?
v Do you accept your weaknesses as a badge?
v What claims can you make about your weaknesses?
We tend to teach that leadership is defined by strength. A leader who is strong is one who limits his weaknesses and maximizes his strengths. We want strong leaders who take charge, make decisions, and never have an outward show of weakness. As I have said before, if you take the world’s thinking, and then think the opposite of that, you will usually be a lot closer to the way God thinks and His thinking is encapsulated in His Word. In this case you would need to conclude that leadership from God’s point of view must be engineered by weakness and not strength. But, what kind of weakness? In the passage we discover that the apostle Paul delineates for us the badge of discipleship. That badge is the display of our weaknesses. A true disciple will emphasize his weakness that encourages him or her to keep trusting upon, leaning upon, and depending upon the Lord—His power, His purpose, His plan, His will, and His desires. This message is delivered in the following manner:
MIGRATING TOWARD WORLDY CREDENTIALS TO COMPETE WITH THE TRUTH IS A SATANIC DECEPTION 13-15
13. These pseudo-apostles were disguising themselves as deceitful workers. They were not ‘sent ones’ from Christ but just showed up. They are not who they appear to be. Promoting error against presenting truth, undermining the Kingdom not establishing it, they appear as apostles but in disguise.
14. The reason they do this is Satan also disguises Himself. Satan can change form to seem as an angel of light as a messenger of God. This has not been said before and is direct revelation from God to Paul. This should be expected of Satan. This is consistent with his character.
15. It makes sense and should not be a surprise that his false apostles would come as angels of light—messengers of God, masquerading as servants of righteousness as Satan does. Their judgment is a sure thing. Having done Satan’s work, they will share his fate.
Significance: This works because people naturally judge according to the world’s standards. Satan knows this and so promotes competition and confusion that play on our perceptions to deceive us. The only way we can battle this tendency is to study the Word of God more and more. It is our only defense against deception—else you will be deceived.
WHEN DECEPTION ABOUT GOD’S AUTHORITY OCCURS IT MUST BE CONFRONTED & EXPOSED 15-20
16. Paul asks the C’s to accept his boasting while he takes on this deception of false apostles by boasting, as they have to make a point. This is not his usual game but he will do what he usually considers foolish to do.
17. He contrasts what he is about to do in boasting as something not as the Lord would have him do. He is going to deliberately put himself in the place of the false apostles to expose them for whom they are.
18. So he will do some boasting about his accomplishments too. If the C’s persist in worldly credentials then he will enumerate some of his own for them.
19. The reason he is taking this tactic is that the C’s apparently tolerate this kind of thing among themselves. The word ‘endures’ means to put up with or bear with. They sweetly (gladly) put up with this kind of world’s point of view wisdom.
20. A further reason he chooses to boast is the C’s tolerate being duped. They tolerate it if (and they do) anyone enslaves you (sets themselves up as master), if anyone devours you (takes advantage of your help), if anyone takes of you (catch you as birds in snare; fish with bait), if anyone exalts himself (puts on airs, lords it over you), if anyone strikes you face (insulting assault).
Significance: Though people may tolerate being deceived, deception must not be tolerated. The method of confrontation may be custom designed for the situation, but the constant is that it is not tolerated but confronted for exposure. God’s Word of truth is at stake.
GOD WORKS THROUGH AND USES WEAKNESS AS EVIDENCE HE IS AT WORK 21-29
21. Paul explains that we have been weak by comparison! He did none of this so that made him weak by comparison. The sarcasm highlights the C’s being duped by these false teachers even to the point of being insulted by them!
22. Paul argues his credentials just the same as false apostles.
Hebrews, so am I. He is one born in Israel. Israelites, so am I. He shares in the social and religious distinction. Abraham, so am I. He was a descendent of Abe’s faith.
Now Paul makes several claims to display his weakness credentials:
23. He claims to be beyond the false apostles in service to Christ. These claims he says make him sound like a madman. Four times he describes so in the negative. In weary labor more than you would believe. In prisons more than you would believe. By blows and bruises, very many. In danger of death many times. No matter what the false claimed Paul says his experiences far more.
24. Paul claims to have received 39 lashes from Jews on 5 occasions. Based in Dt 25:2-3, which gave the maximum as 40 lashes but 39 would ensure you did not go over that.
25. Paul claims beating by rod 3 times a Roman punishment. Once claimed to be stoned as recorded in Acts 14:5, 19 usually as blasphemer. Paul claimed shipwrecked 3 times and these are before Acts 27. Claims all nite and day in the ocean—a vivid recent occurrence he mentions.
26. Paul claims to be in danger from 8 sources. All from the frequent journeys as a servant of Christ: Dangers from rivers—some difficult to ford; from robbers—unprotected traveler; from countrymen—fellow Jews; from gentiles—that is you and me; in cities—where crowds against him; in wilderness—isolated places; at sea—shipwrecks; among false—those lying about God’s Word. This list hits home since the C’s hospitality to Paul’s rivals, worse, Satan’s agents, is source of great grief to Paul.
27. Paul claims hardships and labor,
sleepless nights, deprivation, and nakedness many times. The book of Acts has little of this description. Most likely these things result of his travel schedule and frequent imprisonments.
28. Paul claims besides these hardships was the daily burden for the spiritual care of the groups of believers—the greatest burden of all.
29. Paul claims ID with the weak. He also claims burning with grief for those stumbling revealing the burden of his spiritual concern.
Significance: Our weakness is the testimony of our ministry. Others may see this experience as humiliating and disgraceful but it is the ID of a true disciple. God views these as authentic credentials.
YOUR WEAKNESSES DEMONSTRATE GOD’S STRENGTH
30. Paul says if he is driven to boasting about his weakness, and he is, then he will do so. His list is result of weakness describing the very thing his opponents ridicule.
31. Paul testifies that God knows he is not lying. It is the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, blessed forever. Cp to the false who are servants of the Father of lies, Satan.
32-33 Paul recounts deliverance from seizure in Damascus by lowering in a basket as he began his new life and ministry. So God has been using his weakness form the very beginning and it continues. Nothing has changed. It is in weakness that God’s strength is revealed and also in yours and mine.
SIGNIFICANCE: Do not despise your weaknesses as long as they are not sinful. God wants to display His power through these. Accept it and follow.