Monday, 9 November 2015
Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s.
2 Corinthians 10:7
It should be noted that this sentence, like other clauses in this section of Paul’s writing, could be taken in one of three ways.
1) As an interrogative – “Do you look at things?”
2) As an imperative – “Look on things…”, or
3) As an indicative – “You look on things…
Scholars disagree on what his intent is, and so translations vary. No matter which structure Paul intended, the idea of the “outward appearance” would be fully understood by his audience. It was an idiom then as it is now. Jesus uses it in John 7:24 –
“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
Paul wants them to know that the outward appearance is not always reflective of the inward man. There were those who claimed to be “of Christ” noted in 1 Corinthians 1:12. They claimed to be His followers and that their allegiance was to Him alone. However, the word of God and the instruction for the people who had not seen Christ came through the teachings of the apostles. Therefore, if they rejected what the apostles said, then how could they be “of Christ?”
Likewise, there were those who may have seen Christ and heard his ministry and yet were not commissioned by Him. They may have been of the same area that He came from, of the same tribe as Him, etc. Thus they could claim a special affiliation with Him. It would be enticing to follow such a person. This happens today when people follow the teachings of a Jewish person because they are Jewish, regardless as to whether they actually teach the Bible correctly or not. “Oh they can speak Hebrew. They must be super religious and all-knowing.” It is an incorrect and dangerous way of pursuing one’s religion.
The list could go on an on – fine orators, seemingly Spirit-given gifts of healings, tongues, or miracles, etc. could lead people to say, “I am of Christ.” The Christian world is besieged by such people today and many of them are charlatans. To counter this, Paul says, “If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s.”
How is one to tell? It all must go back to the commission of the individual by Christ. If they were commissioned by Him, then the others who were also commissioned could testify to their apostleship. Paul received such a testimony on several occasions. Now, with the apostolic era ended, there is one and only one way to determine the truth of the matter – the Bible. It is our sole inspired witness to the Person and work of Jesus Christ. It is also the source which reveals the apostolic teachings on Him.
Our consideration as to whether we are Christ’s or not must come from this word. Have we trusted the God of the Bible who is revealed in the Person of Jesus in the Bible? There is a logical way to know. God has not left our faith up to emotion and He has not left it up to any teaching of man. Instead, He has given us the Bible for us to know that our faith is properly directed.
Life application: Paul, who is the apostle to the Gentiles, has his apostleship substantiated in writing in the Bible’s pages. We don’t need to guess whether his words are inspired or not. Instead, we can know with absolute assurance that they are. When he says that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus who is revealed in the Bible, we should take that at face value. Don’t be led astray by those who would add in works to what Christ has already done. Have faith that His work is sufficient to save.
Heavenly Father, we have to return time and again to the truth that Your word is the only inspired source of who Jesus is and what He did. And therefore, all of our doctrine concerning Him must be found in that same source. If it could come from any other place, then there would be utter chaos and no hope of knowing You correctly. Help me to get my nose into the Bible and to not trust the deceitful teachings of man. You have truly given us a sure word to exercise our faith rightly. Thank You for Your superior word! Amen.