Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Left Side of Therefore That Helps us Turn Right

Did you know that the adverb “therefore” is used 785 times in the Bible? That would suggest that we ought to find out what “therefore” is there for, wouldn’t you agree?

The simple thing that stood out today is that what comes after the “therefore” is directed at something we do, and we struggle with that side of the “therefore” to the degree that we do not get what comes before. 

The phrase in question is, THEREFORE, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.”[1]

What Paul describes after the therefore, is that he did not lose heart in his ministry.

However, the reason Paul did not lose heart in the ministry he was given was based on what he describes in the preceding chapter.

The essence of the “therefore” comes down to this, that the ministry Paul had received by the mercy of God was of such vast superiority to that of the old covenant that it kept a servant of Christ filled with the constant hope of bringing more people into the freedom of our Lord and Savior, and with that hope a man did not lose heart.

Guess what keeps holding people like us back from this freedom?

Answer: we keep relating to God as if we are under the old covenant!

What I mean is that, while we may understand that salvation itself is all of “grace through faith,”[2] we live the Christian life as if everything suddenly depends on works.

And then, with our mind set on our works and how we are doing, we wonder why we keep losing heart when Paul never did. We look at things Paul tells us to do, things that are only possible under the new covenant, and wonder why we aren’t as excited as him about such things when we keep trying to do them under an old covenant mindset.

How does this relate to living in the wisdom that is from above rather than the wisdom that is from below?[3]

Answer: the new covenant gives us everything we need to walk in freedom so that we can constantly look above, and constantly set our minds on the Spirit, because there is NEVER anything wrong between us and God.

Even if we stumble into a sin, it is not the sin that is between us and God, but our despondency and guilt and shame because we imagine he still sees us through the old covenant. Under that belief, the thing that keeps us from God is the whole collection of wrong beliefs that convince US to keep OURSELVES away from God.

In real life, under the new covenant, there is no distance from God just because we sin. Any believer who gets caught in a sin, the moment they confess that sin to God because they understand they are relating to him under the new covenant, there is immediate forgiveness based on the completed work of Christ, and God works to cleanse us from the unrighteousness we cannot remove ourselves (blessed are the meek).[4]

Since losing heart is such a significant characteristic of our journey, and we have seen the narrow way littered with the lives of people who lost heart and turned away from wonderful and amazing things God was doing, it is clear that we must let ourselves marvel at the glory of the new covenant. II Corinthians 3 explains this so clearly, so please meditate on that passage if you recognize your tendency to lose heart based on self-focused works-based thinking.

II Corinthians 4 leads us into the wonders of a gospel that is described as “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (vs 4), that “has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (vs 6).

When that is the gospel that shines into our hearts, it becomes the reason that we do not lose heart. Simple as that.

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] II Corinthians 4:1
[2] Ephesians 2:8-9
[3] Referring to our present journey through James 3:13-18. Our latest home church videos will catch you up if you are interested.
[4] I John 1:9 gives the promise of forgiveness and cleansing upon confession of our sin, and Matthew 5:5 identifies that it is the meek who obtain the inheritance of God; not the strong, not the good, not the righteous, not the religious, but those who meekly recognize their own inability to fix anything wrong with them and so they joyfully embrace the righteousness of faith given to them in Jesus Christ our Lord.

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