2 Corinthians 12:14-13:14
When the weak are made strong
A man went to his
doctor for a check up. The doctor did a very thorough examination and then
asked the nurse to send the man’s wife into his office. The doctor said, I have
some very bad news, your husband is very sick. The good news is that there is
hope. If you will take him home, cook him three hot meals each day and take
care of all his needs, he should be recovered in about two months or so. The
Lady left the doctor’s office and went out and got into the car with her
husband. The man asked, “Well, what did the doctor say?” The wife looked at her
husband and said, ¨You’re gonna die!¨
2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Prove yourselves.¨
Only God and I know the true condition of my heart. And only God and you know the true condition of your heart. And if you leave it up to others to be the judge of your condition, you’re gonna die. Some people go to the doctors after they become sick. Some people go to the doctors to keep from getting sick.
And some people go to the doctors to get even healthier than they are. Its also true spiritually. Some people come to God when they are desperate. Some people come to God to keep themselves or others from becoming sick (I think that is one reason why our Sunday school is popular - parents are rightly concerned for the welfare of their children. But the best reason for coming to listen to God’s word and learn from him is so that you can become healthier than you are. “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.
Prove yourselves… Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:5, 11)
This is Paul’s motive as he draws this letter to the Corinthians to a close. To encourage the Christians in Corinth to examine themselves and not be dependent on his strong letters or the fear that Paul was on his way for another painful visit.
Bruce Larson tells of an old priest who was asked by a young man, “Father, when will I cease to be bothered by the sins of the flesh?” The priest replied, “Son, I wouldn’t trust myself until I’d been dead for at least 3 or 4 days.¨ As long as we live we will constantly be surrounded by temptation and sin.
So as Christians we need regular checkups to monitor our condition. Lent is traditionally the time of year when Christians have indeed examined themselves.
This is precisely
what the Bible teaches us to do every time we recall Jesus’ death by
participating in the Lord’s Supper. But how do we examine ourselves. Allow me
to suggest three areas that should be included as a part of our
1. Examine your relationship with God
”May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (13:14)
What does our relationship with God consist of? As we were thinking this morning, it consists of a total surrender of our will to the sovereign will of God; exchanging our agenda for His agenda because Jesus is our King. God the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are committed to you.
Many people who have accepted the gospel have done so because of the benefits that are received as a result of knowing Christ. He gives joy, peace, healing, meaning for life, glue for a marriage, the promise of heaven, etc. So they base their relationship with God on these benefits, but they never cross over into a relationship of total commitment to God for who he is. That is the difference between viewing Jesus as a King and as a Prime Minister. If you don’t like Prime Minister you can vote him out of office after four years. That is precisely what many people did within a week of that first Palm Sunday. Jesus did not conform to their expectation of a king. Consequently, we have an entire generation of nominal Christians who know nothing about power with God because they know little about true commitment and surrender to God. Just how committed is God to you? Well, Jesus died for you to be saved; not only for you to receive the benefits of his death, but he died to have complete rule over you. (Rom. 14:9)
”For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God's power.”(2 Corinthians 13:4)
Examine your relationship with God.
2. Examine your relationship with one another
"Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses." (2 Corinthians 13:1)
Unfortunately, we live in a society where we are taught to demand our rights. Some Christians have also demanded their right to make decisions without worrying about whether others are affected or not. They say, “I can do whatever I want. I have no obligation to other believers.” The truth is no, we don’t have that right, and yes, we do have that obligation. In fact, if our actions confuse young Christians and cause them to stumble, we will be accountable to God. (Matt. 18:6). That is why God has placed us in community.
”Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints send their greetings.” (2 Corinthians 13:12-13)
God is committed to building a loving family, so much so that he does not even want us to approach him if we are in conflict with a fellow believer. (Matt. 5:23-24) So examine your relationship with others. Are you placing your interests and desires before others? Are you making your decisions without consideration for how others will be affected? Is there unresolved conflict? Then deal with it before next Sunday. If possible deal with it tonight. Examine your relationship with God. Examine your relationship with one another.
3. Examine yourself
”Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
“examine” (pi – rad’ – zo) in the Gr. text means to objectively scrutinize, go
about, to test yourself. And what does Paul want us to examine? If we are
really in the faith. The word “faith” (pis’ tis) in the Gr. text means moral
conviction, especially reliance upon Christ for salvation.
In other words are you a true believer. Is Jesus Christ in you? Paul exhorts everyone to ask themselves that question.
As we approach Holy Week, in your news sheet you will find a Spiritual Life Check-up. I invite you to take an hour this week to complete the questions and allow the Lord to minister his love and grace to you deeply so that when we meet around his table on Maundy Thursday you will not need to ask the question “Is it I?” So that on Good Friday, you will be found at the foot of the cross, not hiding for fear of being associated with Jesus; So that on Easter Sunday you can also testify that you also have been raised to new life because Jesus is risen.
And the God of love and peace will be with you. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
I am grateful to Neal Gracey, Abraham Shanklin, Jehu Hernande and Bruce Howell for resources used in this sermon. See their sermon resources at www.sermoncentral.com