Why do I need to act now?
The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the CORINTHIANS – Chapter 6
1 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
2 For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. – 2 Corinthians 6:1-2
Now is the day of salvation. Don’t receive the grace of God in vain. This applies as much to the believer as to the unbeliever. For us it may not refer to the act of accepting Jesus as our Saviour but we all need salvation every day. Salvation from our oppressive, selfish, idolatrous, flesh that tries to ensnare us again into the bondage of sin. Salvation from the world system that wants to occupy us to the extent that we leave no place for Christ in our day as we strive to fulfill our desire for more. Salvation from the devil and all his ways to make us fall into temptation, look at our fallen state and wail and moan at how dreadful we are and how we do not deserve to be forgiven. Do not receive the grace of God in vain.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, – Ephesians 1:7
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved-
6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, – Ephesians 2:4-6
Now is always the time for salvation. Now is the time Jesus loves us. Now is the time to turn to Him for forgiveness. Now is the time to live in eternity with Christ in heavenly places.
3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry,
4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities,
5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger;
6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love;
7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left;
8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true;
9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed;
10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. – 2 Corinthians 6:3-10
In this long list of things that have happened to Paul and others following Christ Paul shows the contrast between the worldly view and that spiritual view. The weapons of righteousness verses the enemies attempts to destroy the work of God. It is a hard list to read if your eyes are on the world but a joy if your eyes are on Jesus. He endured it all for the joy that was set before Him.
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2
The Lord is faithful to see us through whatever lies before us:
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,
25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. – Jude 1:24-25
11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open.
12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections.
13 In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also. – 2 Corinthians 6:11-13
I admit to not really understanding this portion, so have read around to try to get the meaning. In other translations Paul says “O Corinthians”
O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. – 2 Corinthians 6:11 (NKJV)
Paul is making a heartfelt appeal to the Corinthians, who he loves, not to be restricted by their love of the world. He goes on to expand this theme in the next section. Paul has an open heart of love for them but has spoken the truth in love in the past which the Church reacted to, feeling hurt. The word “restricted” implying that their love was limited. If you are hurt by someone you are less likely to be giving and affectionate towards them. Paul’s love was not “restricted” and his earlier admonitions were intended to correct and liberate, not cause pain and restrict. The Greek word translated as “restricted” means to be in a narrow space, like a metal press, where you are flattened out by pressure and all the kinks and bends are got rid of. The Lord places us in trials not to cause pain but to cause us to become pure:
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,
7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 1:6-7
We never know how others will react to us, especially is we have a word from the Lord for them. We are not responsible for how others react but to speak the truth, motivated by love. The best way to respond to correction, Paul suggests, is to widen their hearts, to be accepting and be open to correction, however painful, as from their loving Father for their own good. In the famous words of the Dentist “Open wide, this might hurt a bit……”
14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? – 2 Corinthians 6:14-15
Paul gives this important teaching after his appeal to widen their hearts. He wants the church to be pure. He wants the church to be sanctified, to be set apart for the Master’s use. Can we mix light and darkness? Can you break the law and be righteous? Can you worship God and an idol? No. We have to choose:
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” – Joshua 24:15
What agreement and synthesis is there between Christ and the god of this world? Absolutely none. What can we share in common with an unbeliever? Well we can share the love of Christ with them but we can never be “one” with them. As we are one with Christ, as we are that light in darkness, as we reveal the righteousness we have been given, some will be drawn to Christ. Not by us being worldly to be more accepted but as we shine as a light in a dark world:
15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. – Philippians 2:15-16
16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” – 2 Corinthians 6:16-18
What an amazing passage. Firstly God has chosen to live in us. The tabernacle Moses was directed to build showed a model of heaven but also can show a model of our lives. The outer court where we interact with the world, where our conscience indicates the need for a sacrifice, something to get right with God, some thing to cleanse us from sin. The place where the perfect lamb was sacrificed. Then the Holy Place, the place of worship, where the lamp stand, the alter of incense and the table of show bread represent our relationship with the Light of of the world, the Bread of Life and the Intercessor – which we experience in our mind or soul. And then the Holy Of Holies, where the Spirit of God dwells – in our heart. God calls out to us to be separate, to be sanctified, to be set aside for Him. The He will be our Father and we His children. What and amazing picture, what amazing promises the Father, the Lord God Almighty gives to us, to live inside us.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers