From Confrontation to Growth

Key Verse: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that ChristJesus is in you-unless, of course, you fail the test?”
—II Corinthians 13:5, New International Version

Selected Scripture:
II Corinthians
13:1-14, NIV

THE FIRST LETTER WRITTEN to the Corinthians chided them for their failure to understand God’s plan, and for permitting fleshly weaknesses to interfere with proper Christian development. This second letter was conciliatory, but the apostle was not forgetting how they had slipped so easily after his departure. Hence he wrote, “I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent. On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others.”—II Cor. 13:2, NIV

It is noted that the Apostle mentions having seen them a second time, and in both II Corinthians 12:14 and 13:1 that he was to see them a third time. There are only two visits to Corinth recorded in the Book of Acts, and therefore, it is believed by many commentators that Paul was able to slip away from Ephesus for a brief, unrecorded visit to Corinth for disciplinary action. He would see them again a third time, and he would not tolerate loose behavior by those who had sinned. He had already said to them, “I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.”—II Cor. 12:21, NIV

At the same time, the apostle realized that he was limited in what he could do personally for them. Therefore, in concluding this second epistle to them, he was also placing them in God’s hands. It was up to them to examine themselves, as he says in our Key Verse. They were to test themselves by comparing their conduct with that of Jesus Christ, their model and Savior. If they should not see progress being made in being conformed to the image of Christ, they should be very concerned, because they would be failing the test being placed upon them. What would they need to do to be successful? Paul says: “Aim for perfection.” (II Cor. 13:11, NIV) All of us must aim for perfection. How hard we try is what counts in God’s sight. None of us can ever hope to be perfect in this present life, but we must try. “Listen to my appeal.” We must follow Christ even as the Apostle Paul followed him. Paul told the Corinthians: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”—I Cor. 11:1

“Be of one mind.” (II Cor. 13:11, NIV) Again, the one mind all should have would be the mind of Christ. Paul wrote to the Philippian brethren, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:5) It is a mind of humility, of dedication to God, and such should be our minds. “Live in peace.” Where there is strife there is unhappiness and trouble. If a concerted effort is made to follow peace with every man we will be fulfilling God’s law of love.

In his final salutation Paul said, “The God of love and peace shall be with you.” So it shall it be with all who make a sincere effort to be built up in the most holy faith, which was Paul’s desire for his Corinthian brethren.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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