CONFIDENT IN GOD: The Basis of Real Ministry
Coming Face to Face with Reality
2 Corinthians 12:11-21
Jerry A Collins
v Are we responsible to confront one another’s sin?
v In what spirit are we to manage another’s sin?
v What is the purpose of confronting sin?
We have got to change our understanding of confronting another’s believer’s sin. The point of doing so is not to bring punishment to them as if they have to be paid for the sin they are committing. That is not the biblical concept. None of us is charged with punishing one another. We do not have that responsibility nor do we have that right over one another. Punishment is only something God can do and we are to leave unrepentant ones in his hands for judgment to be meted out from God alone. Instead, we are to confront sin for the purpose of putting one back on the right path again. It is usually a painful process done with patience, prayer, and purpose. The goal is not tearing down someone, finger pointing and destroying another. The goal is to build up and build into another. It is for the ultimate good of the person from God’s vantage point, to see them become better and more mature, more aware of whom they belong to and what God expects desiring our repentance and then fruitful lives. Coming face to face with reality so that there is no further problem between them and God. We will learn that the apostle Paul applied this very painful process to the Corinthians in the hopes that they would see their sin, repent of it, and ensure an enjoyable relationship between them now that they have restored their real with the Father.
The boasting does two things: (1) It makes Paul foolish. Boasting about credentials, here about his Jewishness and super experiences—all, which the world sees as wise, as xians are foolish because they have no spiritual or eternal value attached to them. (2) The C’s forced this because of their current spiritual condition. Paul did not do this when he originally brot them the gospel—but the opposing false apostles have done so for gain support there. So Paul has been forced to act foolishly—commending himself and his ministry.
All of this boasting is really unnecessary because the C’s should have been commending Paul—which they have not been doing. He was their spiritual father after all. The C’s are guilty of being under the influence—here of false teachers. The reason Paul should be commended is he lacks nothing of the most eminent apostles—even tho he is personally nothing. Both he and the super apostles cp to the false ones are who they are because of God’s calling.
He has the credentials of an apostle—signs and wonders and powerful deeds. This could not be denied. He brot new revelation to them from God confirmed by these signs. In other words, they had all of the evidence needed to make a correct judgment but instead have been deceived by these charlatans. By the way, part of the deception during the Tribulation is that false Christ’s and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect (Mt 24:24). We already know these false apostles are tools of Satan. So beware of your own deception in this matter. We are going to learn next week of the need to test our own faith to see if we indeed belong to Christ or have been deceived.
First, the C’s not inferior—they received the same gospel, the same ministry, the same miracles, the same Paul that all of the other churches also had received. The only exception was they did not receive a burden by Paul’s’ ministry among them. Now we are back to the money issue. He did not take any money from them. But the reason he did not was so he would not be like his opponents who were 11:18-19. Forgive me this wrong he says—obviously speaking ironically.
He declares that this 3rd visit will not be a burden financially either vs 14! Acts 18:1 records the first visit. The second was the painful visit of 2 Cor 2:1. The 3rd is the one about to undertake. This is the 4th letter written to the C’s—the 1st lost, the second is 1 Cor; the 3rd letter now lost 2 Cor 2:4; now 2 Cor. Would not be a burden for at least two reasons: (1) his interest is in them not their stuff. This is a key to ministry—serving people with their best interest at heart not mine! (2) Serving people by giving to them not taking from them. As their spiritual father he saw himself as responsible to give to them not requiring them to give to him. He did receive support form other groups of believers but that is not his motivation in serving. Pertinent here since this was the motivation of his opponents.
We learn two things about his motivation to serve the C’s: (1) He is willing to sacrifice himself completely. He is ready to exhaust his energies as an apostle to serve their best interests. And do so gladly! Note the paternal love wanting to be Reconciled with the C’s who have treated him so badly. (2) There is no limit to his love for them tho there is form them for him. Here we learn that love is giving what serves the best interest of another. It is not an emotion or feeling it is an action word and is the basis of ministry. There is no ministry without this motivation—loving one another even if that love is not returned.
He now returns to the money issue and Paul declares he did not burden them himself. But he addresses a more serious charge against him—one that said he deceived the C’s financially—so some kind of financial charge was being made against him he deflects with this statement about craftiness. Apparently his associates were being charged under the same cloud of suspicion vs 17. Titus and one of the bros were implicated but Paul vouched for the men he sent for collections for the Jerusalem believers. See how truth can be twisted for self-serving purposes. Paul vouches for their reputations asking whether they had done anything wrong. The answer—no they had not. Titus did not take advantage of the C’s—he did not line his pockets or have ulterior motives. Things are getting pretty sticky.
Did we not conduct ourselves in the same spirit and walk in the same steps? So if Titus did not defraud them then foolish to believe that Paul cheated them. What else can you say? The truth is obvious. It speaks for itself.
19 Building Up
It sounds to the C’s like Paul is defending himself. But instead Paul is well aware that everything he does is in the site of God and will be judged. Actually, his desire is for the C’s edification! He did what he did to build them up not enrich himself—again the definition of ministry. The question is when you are accused of something should you make defense? Answer: if it is just to defend yourself, then no. Let God do that. That is God’s job not yours. But (1) if it is to build up—strengthen someone else in the faith and knowledge of God and (2) its done as if before God—it is the truth, not something slanted in your favor, then, yes. So it depends on what you discern the effect of the defense will be. All we do & say must be edifying.
Fearful he may find the C’s unrepentant when he returns, they will then not find Paul nice, friendly, and tolerant! If compelled to administer discipline, then that is what he will do but would rather find a different spirit. Of course, this would be necessary because these sins existed among them. These 8 sins are relational ones—they fracture, injure, and poison, our relationships. They are ugly and motivated only by self-interest. There is no ministry where these sins abide. Most likely these were projected in the C’s from the competitive spirit of the false apostles themselves.
First, the humiliation would be result of their not repenting—such as happened already on his 2nd painful visit to them in 2:1, 5 where he was humiliated by actions of a certain man. He would have to use his apostolic authority to discipline them and he wants to avoid that. Second, he would then mourn over the whole thing both because they did not stop past sins nor repented of present ones all these related to sexuality probably from their previous unbelieving lifestyles in the city. So the process of dealing with sinning believers is arduous, demanding, threatening, and painful & necessary.