I. Those With Spiritual Blindness
A. Those Who Are Spiritually Blind Vs. 3, 4
1. V. 3 – The false apostles that opposed Paul were spiritually blind.
a. Paul sought to speak with plainness and boldness of speech, but they could not see the glory of the gospel message. (2 Corinthians 2:17; 3:1; 3:12)
b. People sometimes reject the Gospel message, and even accuse us of different things.
c. They may accuse us of being self-righteous, or bigoted, or intolerant.
d. You may be the most loving person they know, but still be accused & misunderstood.
e. That could discourage you and prompt you to not speak about Jesus.
f. That rejection often has nothing to do with us, but comes from sp. blindness.
g. People don’t reject the Gospel because it’s complicated, but because they are blind.
h. Paul reminds us that these people are perishing. They need our prayers and the truth.
2. V. 4 – Those who rejected Paul and the Gospel message were blinded by Satan.
a. Minds – mental perceptions.
b. Ephesians 2:2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
c. lest the light of the gospel…should shine on them-
i. The Gospel is illuminating. It shows us the truth about ourselves and God.
ii. The Gospel sheds light on the affairs of life and the alternatives that Satan brings.
iii. The Gospel shows us that God and His ways are the answers for time & eternity.
d. If people were not blinded by Satan, they would have the opportunity to see and understand the beauty of the gospel message, and have a chance to choose it.
3. Though people are blinded, they are still involved in their blindness. See John 3:17-21
a. Refusal to believe keeps one in spiritual blindness.
4. Who do not believe – Morgan- “The god of this world is able only to blind the minds of the unbelieving. Refusal to believe is the secret and reason of the blindness that happens to men.”
B. Their Lives Vs. 2, 5
1. V. 2 – Those who practiced religion but lived in blindness lived a certain way.
a. Hidden things of shame – secretive ways of appearing legitimate in ministry.
b. Craftiness- “a cunning readiness to adopt any device or trickery.” Carnal in nature.
c. Handling the word deceitfully- diluting something, adding something alien.
i. Paul did not twist or distort the Gospel message for gain or self defense
ii. He knew it was best to proclaim the truth and let the truth do its thing.
d. Did not manifest the truth- Not by hypocrisy, pretending, or emotionalism.
e. Commend themselves- Through deceit, human wisdom, or natural talent.
f. NOTE- People commend themselves directly or indirectly.
They can say, “follow me”, or they can imply that you ought to follow them.
2. V. 5- They preached themselves, indirectly or directly.
II. Those With Spiritual Vision
A. Those With Spiritual Vision Vs. 1, 6
1. V.1- Though Paul was unappreciated, defamed and accused, he didn’t lose heart.
a. NLT- Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up.
b. The Gospel message was a greater truth to Paul than was all the opposition.
c. The opposition that Paul faced was minimal compared to the mercy & work of God.
2. V. 1- We have this ministry– God had commissioned Paul to serve Him.
3. V. 1- We have received mercy– Paul recognized that God had been merciful to hi.
a. Paul had been a great offender against this gospel of freedom.
b. He was one who had gone to great lengths to fight this message.
c. Philippians 3:6 “…as for zeal, persecuting the church…”.
d. Paul realized the mercy he had received from God
1 Timothy 1:12-15 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.
4. Paul recognized two great truths.
a. He didn’t deserve the bad treatment was getting.
b. In a greater way, he didn’t deserve God’s love, mercy, salvation, or commission.
c. NOTE- When you say you don’t deserve mistreatment, it’s more important to realize that you don’t deserve God’s love and mercy, which is greater & eternal.
5. V. 6- Paul knew what it was like to walk in darkness. He understood that about others.
a. Who commanded light…– Light doesn’t have power to make itself shine.
b. shone in our hearts- God graciously shined His spiritual light into Paul’s heart.
c. the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ- To see Jesus is to see God.
i. Hebrews 1:3 NLT The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God
B. Their Lives Vs. 5, 7-12
1. V. 5- Those with spiritual light do not preach themselves. They preach Jesus and serve others
2. V. 7- Paul’s opposition exalted themselves in various ways. Paul called himself a clay pot.
a. When a clay pot is filled with a treasure, the focus and attention is on the treasure.
b. Those who have received the mercy of God don’t want the glory. They glorify Jesus.
c. God chooses to use clay pots, not gold or bronze, so that He gets the glory.
3. Vs. 8, 9 Paul lists his sufferings, which were extreme, but the mercy of God was greater yet.
a. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed;-to press (as grapes)
b. we are perplexed- without resources. but not in despair-to be utterly at loss
c. persecuted- to make to run or flee. but not forsaken- abandon, leave helpless
d. struck down- to cast down, to throw to the ground. but not destroyed-render useless
4. Vs. 10, 11– Paul speaks of a spiritual paradox that is powerfully true.
a. It is grounded in what John the Baptist said: John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease”.
b. The Christian life is one of following Jesus, which will often lead us to self-denial.
c. As the Christian denies self to follow Jesus, more of Jesus is manifested in that person.
d. NOTE- One big objection of many Christians is the unfairness of life.
i. They spend much time opposing it, complaining about it, or feeling defeated by it.
ii. There is suffering in it, but nothing good comes from it.
iii. God wants to bring good out of it, but that Christian never offers it up to God.
iv. They hold on to the wrong, decry the mistreatment, and focus on the unfairness of it.
e. As Paul accepted the unfairness, he decreased, and Jesus increased.
5. V. 12- Paul suffered greatly, but he didn’t lose heart. There were two reasons for that.
a. God’s mercy was much greater than the mistreatment of men. He focused on the greater.
b. The mistreatment served to make Paul decrease, and Jesus increase.
c. The result was that there was more of Jesus present in Paul’s life, and the Corinthians were the beneficiaries of having more of Jesus present through Paul’s self-denial.