Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why You Should Boast In Christ, Not The Flesh: 2 Corinthians 11:1-33

Text: 2 Corinthians 11:1-33

Theme: Glory in Christ, not the flesh

4. By boasting about Christ (10 - 13)
     C. Fleshly boasting leads you astray from Christ (11:1-15)
     D. Boasting about the flesh is folly (11:16-33)

Fleshly boasting leads you astray from Christ (11:1-15). Why did the Corinthians "beautifully bear" these false teachers, who exalted themselves and discredited Paul (4)? The gospel of Christ is one of salvation by grace, through faith, apart from human strength or merit (1 Cor. 15:3-4; Eph. 2:8-9; Romans 3 - 4). Relying on anything other than, or in addition to Christ's merit results in eternal damnation (Galatians 1:9). It was from the simplicity of this gospel that false teachers, by boasting of human merit and attacking Paul as "weak", were leading the Corinthians astray (2 Cor. 11:1-4). 

Paul was in no way inferior to the other apostles, as his critics claimed. Even if he was unskilled in speech, his message was according to true knowledge of Christ. The content of a person's message is more important than the way they speak it (6). Neither was Paul's practice of not living off his ministry to the Corinthians a sign of inferiority. Rather, in love, he sought only to make himself no burden to the Corinthians, or do anything which might hinder the gospel influence among them (7-11). Besides, he was being helped by churches in Macedonia (12), something he thought "robbery" (8). The false teachers tried to gain an equal standing with the authority of the other apostles, by exalting themselves, and judging Paul according to fleshly standards (12b). Those who would lead one astray from the gospel of grace in Christ are "servants of Satan", "disguised as ministers of righteousness" (13-15). Boasting about the flesh leads you astray from Christ. 

Boasting about the flesh is folly (11:16-33). The word "Fool" and "folly", in this passage, comes from "aphron" and means "stupid"--someone who acts rashly, without reason or reflection (Strong's). Paul's use of sarcasm and satire shows the folly of boasting about one's fleshly achievements. Were the Judaizers Hebrews, descendants of Abraham? So was he! Were they servants of Christ? Paul was more of a servant! While sarcastically bragging like the false teachers, Paul notes in parenthesis, "I speak as if insane" (NAS). Rather than boast about his strength, the very "weakness" the false teachers attacked was something Paul would brag about, since it magnified Christ's strength (28-30). Boasting about the flesh is "folly".

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The Gospel

Have you heard Christ died for our sins, and God raised Him from the dead? Did you know God saves you from hell and gives you eternal life through faith in this finished work alone, not your merits (Jn. 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-3; Eph. 2:8-10; 2 Thess. 1:8-9)? This is so man cannot boast, and God alone gets the glory (Eph. 2:8-9).


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