2021-02-07 – 2 Corinthians 1:12-22 – Of Two Minds
2021-02-07 – 2 Corinthians 1:12-22 – Of Two Minds
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
Remember when you were younger and we frequently used phrases like “Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.” Or how about “Liar, liar, pants on fire, Your nose is longer than a telephone wire”. I checked but discovered that the origins of the latter phrase can’t be reconciled, however they think it might have something to do with Pinocchio, whose nose grew with each lie told. Wouldn’t it be cool if that really happened? Where some physical or obvious evidence would make known if somebody was telling the truth or bringing a deceptive lie. Alas, we have to instead weigh carefully the comments of others, and pray that the trust we put in them is not in vein. Today we are going to see some of that being deliberated upon in scripture. Although we know God’s Holy Word is trustworthy and true, sometimes the actors within the stories were not. That is a life lesson that I had to figure out, and I pray you too can learn from.
Please turn now to 2 Corinthians 1:12, page 1024 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. Prayer..
Last week we went over the introduction to this second Corinthian letter. Paul is writing them again, actually the fourth letter to them, from the area called Macedonia. Since Paul had been away from them for quite some time, they started to attack his character and they started questioned his apostleship.
There were some also in Corinth that was trying to take over, and they wanted to unseat Paul as their spiritual leader. So in this next section of Paul’s letter, we will see him defending himself to the Corinthian believers. I can’t help but to feel for Paul as he so many times had to defend his name and his purpose to the people he was trying to reach for Christ.
Imagine what it was like for him, having seen Jesus, heard Jesus, been called by Jesus, then God blessed Paul to perform many miracles and even start churches. But that same Paul was persecuted for his faith, beaten, flogged, thrown in prison, robbed, experienced all manner of trial and difficulty for the sake of the Gospel. Then others came along and started promoting the idea that he wasn’t an apostle all along. They wanted Paul to again prove his calling to them. Frankly, I don’t I think I could have put up with all the harassment he undertook.
I think I would have melted in rage at these people and their accusations. But instead we will see Paul’s true apostolic and loving spirit throughout this letter-book. Paul reveals himself in this appeal to those in Corinth, and for us here today. Starting at verse 12, Paul wrote:
12 Indeed, this is our boast: The testimony of our conscience is that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you, with godly sincerity and purity, not by human wisdom but by God’s grace. 13 For we are writing nothing to you other than what you can read and also understand. I hope you will understand completely— 14 just as you have partially understood us—that we are your reason for pride, just as you also are ours in the day of our Lord Jesus.
First let me remind you again about the people Paul is writing here in this letter. The place called Corinth was known for it’s promiscuity and idol worship. The church was made up of both Jews and Gentiles, and in that time those dynamics caused much challenge in the church. They struggled just to get along as they were serving in that wicked environment. In the first letter Paul wrote, he offered the Corinthian believers a lot of instruction and correction. Subsequently in this letter, now they are challenging Paul’s credentials. Last week we talked about some of the trials that Paul endured, but along with that suffering, Paul clearly proclaimed the comfort that God also provided him as he went through it.
In these first verses today, Paul is answering a complaint that he wasn’t sincere in that he had changed his travel plans. You might recall that at the closing of the last letter, Paul told them he would come back to Corinth from where he wrote that letter in Ephesus. But he didn’t do that. Instead he went to Macedonia, from where he now wrote this letter. So the Corinth people were not happy with Paul. In this passage you can see Paul defending his honesty. Paul is saying that his plans were changed because God stepped in and caused him to take a different path. That just happens sometimes. In Proverbs 16:9 it says, “A man’s heart plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps”. So Paul, was following the Holy Spirit’s leading, and I am sure you will agree with me, that is exactly what a man of God should be doing, Amen? Now Paul is appealing to them that although he made plans, God’s will is what is guiding him. Paul is asking them to trust that his intentions are good and true, and that he can be trusted. verse 15 continues:
15 Because of this confidence, I planned to come to you first, so that you could have a second benefit, 16 and to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and then come to you again from Macedonia and be helped by you on my journey to Judea.
Paul is saying here that he would have loved to come to Corinth first, that it would be his joy, and he looked forward to blessing them again with a second visit. Paul also recognized that he too would have benefited from the visit by receiving their support and encouragement, but that is not what God had laid out for him to do. I cannot tell you how many times I start out with a plan, but then the Holy Spirit got ahold of me and changes my steps to align with His will.
Even this sermon started out with a general idea, but then as I research and study, the Holy Spirit gets ahold of it and it comes out with a completely different outcome. Brothers and sisters, God wants us to be open for His leading in our lives. Whether it be for the purposes of carrying out a menial task or something monumental. Leave room for God in your plans and in doing so, like Paul, your life will be rich with experiences that you can hardly fathom, Amen? In these next verses we will get to the heart of the message today. Verse 17 reads:
17 Now when I planned this, was I of two minds? Or what I plan, do I plan in a purely human way so that I say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time?
18 As God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes and no.”
So, Paul is trying to reassure them that he doesn’t have a flippant character. There is an old saying you probably know that says, “he speaks with a forked tongue”. That phrase was coined in 1829 by President Andrew Jackson as he was addressing the Indian Creek Nation. He said, “Friends and brothers. By permission of the Great Spirit above, and the voice of the people, I have been made president of the United States, and now speak to you as your father and friend, and request you to listen. Your warriors have known me long. You know I love my white and red children, and always speak with a straight, and not a forked tongue; and that I have always told you the truth…” And then later, an Indian named Chief Joseph, whose peaceful people suffered under the broken treaties said “white man speaks with forked tongue”. Sadly, especially in politics, many people today do speak with a forked tongue. Their yes is not yes, and their no is not no. Unlike Paul, they are Of Two Minds, and you can hardly trust what they say anymore. But that is not God’s will for you, for me, or for anyone.
Verse 19 continues:
19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you—Silvanus,
Timothy, and I—did not become “Yes and no.” On the contrary, in him it is always “Yes.” 20 For every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in him. Therefore, through him we also say “Amen” to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who strengthens us together with you in Christ, and who has anointed us. 22 He has also put his seal on us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a down payment.
Paul reminds them here about all the things they now possess because of the Holy Spirit working in their lives. The same Holy Spirit that caused Paul to come to Corinth in the first place is still leading Him and them today. Their church itself was a blessing by God through the Holy Spirit. Paul is trying to get them to realize that he is the same man today as he was then, and he will be tomorrow. And also, that God is the same and He most assuredly can be trusted. As written in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”. That is the true nature of our God, it has always been and will forever be “Yes”.
I especially love that last verse where it says, “He has also put his seal on us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a down payment”. That seal infers that we are sealed in Christ. Christians are gifted the confidence of God’s Holy Character; His Holy Spirit is planted in our heart, to keep us until we are called eventually to our heavenly home. Isn’t that wonderful? That is such an amazing blessing to know that nobody can snatch us out of the Father’s hands. As Pastor Chuck Swindoll once wrote, we are “in His grip”, and He will never let us go. Just like when you see that USDA “Seal of Approval” at the grocery store, We have God’s seal of approval on our hearts. And you can trust that seal is good, Amen?
Again, todays message is entitled Of Two Minds. In that, God doesn’t want us to be Of Two Minds either. Have you ever heard the term duplicitous? When someone is duplicitous, it means they are pretending to have certain standards or feelings, but their actions contradict. The word duplicity literally means “double-Mindedness.” Someone who is duplicitous is when they act like two different people, saying one thing but then doing something very different, contradictory even. The synonyms for this are words you might be familiar with: Two-faced, double-dealing, and trickery. And it is associated with deceit, deception and unfaithfulness. Perhaps you might not have to think too hard to be reminded of somebody in your life that reflects that type of character. I too used to be that kind of guy, for which I am not happy to proclaim. But thanks be to God, He has given me a new heart and I am now a new creation. If you struggle with that, please know there is hope in Jesus Christ. Give your struggles to Him and He will set you free.
I love what is written about that in Ezekiel 36:26-27 It says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes and to carefully observe My ordinances”. And Paul also wrote in Romans 12:2, that Christians are to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect”. To that I will add that if God can change me in that regard, then He can change anyone, and that includes you as well.
If somebody doesn’t keep their word then people are naturally offended. Don’t be a liar and don’t hang with liars. Back in 1858, during one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Douglas accused Lincoln of being two-faced. Lincoln replied calmly,
“I leave it to my audience: If I had two faces, would I be wearing this one?” Lincoln was a man of his word. As a matter of fact, the term “Honest Abe” is indicative of Lincoln’s character. That is what most people thought of him.
What do your friends say about your character? Are you a person of your word?
I hope so, because that is the type of persons I want to call my friends, and my family. I pray that you have a good and trustworthy character. That you truly represent Christ to the world. That people can trust you and your intellect, so much so that they might consider your words about your faith walk as well.
Jesus said Himself in Matthew 5:37 said, “Let your yes be a yes and your no be a no”. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the world at large simply operated under that wonderful edict? Unfortunately, until the world is made anew, there will always be actors who collude with the devil and his schemes to advance their evil ploys.
But please know that Jesus Christ is on your side, and He will aluminate their evil ways. One day soon He will destroy their influence on our world, and in that I can hardly wait. Until then we will have to put up with those modern-day Pinocchios. My prayer for you is that your yes will always yes and your no will always be no. That like Paul, you can proclaim confidently that your good character is tried and true. That the Holy Spirit’s work in you is not in vein. Cross my heart and hope to die, and I will endeavor to never ever tell a lie.. yet again 😊
Let us stand together and blanket all this with prayer. /Prayer/
Now let us sing together, one verse of Amazing Grace.
Next week we will continue in this first chapter of Second Corinthians. I pray you find this journey through Paul’s writings is comforting and informative for you as they are for me.
Thank you again for joining us today. May God be with you till we meet again.