Last week, when we studied this section, we considered its message to the minister. Paul was indeed an exemplary Christian whose ways ought to be emulated. This week, we will seek to learn the duty of the church though it will not be the example of the believers that we will follow but rather the admonitions Paul lays before the people of Corinth.
We ought to learn that spiritual benefits and privileges is no guarantee of our spiritual wellbeing. It did not guarantee it in the Garden of Eden and it will not do so now.
I. IT IS OUR DUTY TO FULLY AVAIL OURSELVES OF THE MEANS OF GRACE
The people in Corinth had many spiritual privileges. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds, 2 Cor 12:12. When such privileges are enjoyed we must labour to benefit from them.
1. We must seek the salvation of our souls. We have no higher duty at any time but especially when we have opportunity to safeguard its wellbeing. Cornelius - Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God, Acts 10:33.
You have such an opportunity today and have had for many Sabbaths. It is a time for a pressing into the kingdom.
2. We must seek spiritual progress. The anxiety Paul showed for the spiritual health of the Corinthians ought to mirror the concern that they had for their own souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayer, Acts 2:42. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, I Thessalonians 5:23.
3. We must seek the wellbeing of others. As Paul sought the wellbeing of them, so ought they to seek the wellbeing of others. The Lord’s treatment of us ought to be a pattern for our treatment of others. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you, Ephs 4:31-32, 2 Pet 1:7.
II. OUR CHIEF RESPONSE TO GOD’S MERCY OUGHT TO BE LOVE
The more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved, verse 15. The Corinthians failed in this.
1. Christ’s love for us is the root of our love for Him. We love him, because he first loved us, 1 John 4:19. I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications, Psalm 116:1.
2. Our love is seen when we seek the company of Christ. Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? Song of Solomon 8:5.
3. Our love is manifested in consecration to His service. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service, Romans 12:1. Like Jacob’s love for Rachel made light of his labours, our love for Christ should make light of any labours done for Christ.
III. A RIGHT APPRECIATION OF OUR PRIVILEGES AND BENEFITS WILL MEAN AN EARNEST SEEKING TO MAINTAIN THEM
1. Some in Corinth did not diligently taken care of their souls but had lapsed into sin. “For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: and lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed,” 2 Corinthians 12:20-21. Here is what we come to if we neglect grace.
Verse 20 lists the responses of the carnal soul to the Word of God and its ministry. It contrasts with 7:11.
2. The return of Paul to deal with such is suggestive of another return. It is at the return of Christ that such matters as these amongst His people will be taken up by Him, 1 Cor 3:11-15.
There is a tree just yards from our church which is dead - noticeable in winter, but when the other tree put forth leaves it is very noticeable!