“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:1-6
As Paul celebrates the power of the Holy Spirit in shaping lives through the gospel, he lays out foundational principles in living out the reality of the message:
1. We are not discouraged/we do not shrink back/nor live with cowardice or fear (because our all-powerful Father is gloriously good). (v.1)
“Now we shall possess a right definition of faith if we call it a firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence (goodness toward us), founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, III-II-7
2. Our approach to the message:
• We renounce disgraceful ways (hidden things that shame). 2 Corinthians 2:17 vs 3:12
• We refuse cunning practices or the readiness to do anything to win a hearing from those in attendance.
• We don’t tamper with the word of God to make the message more acceptable or palatable.
• We set forth the truth plainly.
3. What we realize…(v. 3,4,6) therefore:
“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.” 2 Corinthians 5:16
“This passage reminds the readers that Satan rules only this age, which in any case is judged and fallen and coming to nothing (Galatians 1:4), prayer can check his schemes (Luke 2:32) and the Spirit can neutralize his power. Paul is fully confident that 'The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet (Romans 16:20).'” David E. Garland, The New American Commentary, 2 Corinthians, p. 211
4. A fitting conclusion (v.5)
1. Why should the family crest of every believer have the term, “Never Discouraged” (Latin: numquam deficiebat) inscribed? What is the basis of not being discouraged, or shrinking back from speaking the word of God?
2. How do we renounce disgraceful ways or the cunning practice of speaking only that which is agreeable to those to whom we are speaking?
3. What are two simultaneous truths that we constantly remember?
4. How was Satan mortally wounded by the cross? How is he like a giant python with a stake driven through his heart, yet still thrashing?
5. What is the meaning of this statement: “We behold the glory of Christ and as we do so, we become like him." (Colossians 3:16)
6. If you were writing a biography of the life of Christ (before the resurrection), what would be your assessment of his output ?
7. Why is the following comment by Charles Hodge (1797-1878; Principal of Princeton Seminary, 1851-1878) astute for any age: “To make the end of preaching the inculcation of virtue, to render men honest, sober, benevolent and faithful, is part and parcel of the wisdom of the world that is foolishness with God. It is attempting to raise fruit without trees.” Charles Hodge, Commentary on 2 Corinthians, p. 88
NEW CITY CATECHISM
Q 37: How does the Holy Spirit help us?
A: The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, comforts us, guides us, gives us spiritual gifts and the desire to obey God; and he enables us to pray and to understand God’s Word.
“What then is the purpose of the Spirit’s teaching? Not to lead us away from the school of Christ, but rather to ratify that voice in which we are commanded to listen to him, otherwise, He can detract from Christ’s glory.” John Calvin, Commentary on John 16:14