2nd Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 9
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2006|
|We’re going to look deeper today and find three things in Paul’s life, and you could make a list so long in Corinthians of how, when we experience Jesus, what are some of the things we’re going to experience. We’re going to see this in his life today. When we choose to say yes to Him and allow Him to overcome us, what do we experience? When Our Walk Matches Our Talk – Part 4|
Turn with me to 2 Corinthians 2:12-17. Now, we’ve been in a little mini-series. As we work through this book I’ll do this right along. And what we’re talking about right now, this is part 4 of “When Your Walk Matches Your Talk,” and I want to entitle today’s specific message in verses 12-17 as “Experiencing Christ.” I wonder how many times all of us, we’re all in the same boat, how many times do we have to hear it before we finally get it?
I know when I took algebra in school my teacher was so excited when she saw the look on my face when I finally got it. You know, teachers look for that; the “aha.” I remember my Spanish teacher never had that look on her face because I never got it.
I’ve told you this story many times but I want to tell it in light of this very same thing: when are we going to get it? About the two moose hunters that were going up to Alaska to hunt. They were flying in a pontoon plane. And as they were landing on this lake there was this serene beautiful cabin there with smoke coming out of the chimney and it was going to be two weeks of just heaven.
And so when they got up to the dock the guy flying the plane said, “Listen, I’m coming back to pick you up in two weeks. Each of you has a moose tag. You can take the antlers out, but you can’t take the carcasses of two moose on this plane because it won’t fly. It’s too heavy, too much weight. Do you understand?” “Yes, we understand.” Two weeks later he’s coming back in to pick them up. There’s a front coming in and as he circles the lake looking down at the dock he sees the hunters and they’ve got all their stuff out there and there are the carcasses wrapped up of two moose. And he’s thinking, “Oh, man.”
So he lands the plane and pulls up and says, “Guys, don’t you understand anything? You told me you understood when I left that you can’t take two carcasses out of here. It’s too much weight.” One of them spoke up, there’s always one, and he said, “I was here last year and the pilot told us exactly the same thing. Now come on man, there’s a front coming in, we’ve heard this spiel before.” And so sure enough they talked him into it. They put one carcass on one pontoon, tied it to it, took the other carcass and tied it to the other pontoon, put the rest of the stuff in the plane.
He gets up to one end of the lake; he’s got to have so much speed because he’s got to clear the trees and he’s spitting screws out of those engines. He’s got those things running so hard and so fast, and as he comes down that lake he pulls back on it and it looks like he just might make it. It’s coming up, it’s rising, it’s rising. Well, you know the story, it hit the trees and they crashed. They were lying around, beat up, bruised up, bleeding. One hunter looked at the other hunter who had spoken up and he said, “Where are we?” He said, “I don’t know, but I think we’re about 200 yards from where we crashed last year.”
Isn’t that the way it is with scriptural truth? You think about what I’m telling you. How many times have we got to hear something? Let me ask you a question. How far are you from where you crashed the last time you heard this truth? You see? You hear it, we hear it, we hear it; when are we going to as individual believers get it? You see years ago Henry Blackaby and Claude King put together a series called “Experiencing God.” My wife happened to be in a woman’s study and they found out about it. She read through it, she couldn’t wait to get home and she said, “Wayne, this is what you’ve been preaching for twelve years.”
I looked at it and I said, “Well, look at this, letting Jesus be Jesus in you. How novel.” And this is all about joining Jesus and what He’s already up to: this is what the Christian life is. So we trained about 2,500 people in that particular course. But here’s the thing that got me: the people that were going through the course would come to me and say, “Did you hear what they said in that book? Jesus is our life. Jesus wants to live His life through you.” And I just looked at them and I thought to myself, “I’ve been preaching it for twelve years.” And it showed me something and it proved it again and it’s been proven over and over again: you teach it, you teach it, you teach it. But it’s not just taught: it has to be caught.
The Holy Spirit has to reveal that truth to our heart. And I’ll tell you when it will come. It will come in a moment of desperation. You see, if you’re not desperate you’ll not understand what I’m talking about. There’s too much of “us” to understand it. But when we get to the end of ourselves, that’s when it becomes clear to us we can’t, God never said we could, He can, He always said He would. Experiencing God is what Christianity is all about. It’s not some cold manufactured religion: it’s a relationship. And walking with Him, enjoying the journey, that’s what it’s all about.
When you and I as believers finally see and admit—and this is the hardest thing for our flesh—admit what we can’t do. We live in a society that says you can’t say, “I can’t.” And Jesus said you better say you can’t, because until you come to that place, you’ll never recognize how He says He can. And the moment we come to that place, that’s when we get to experience the life that’s been there all along. We get to experience what He can do through us as opposed to what we cannot do for Him. Only then will our walk match our talk. That’s what we’ve been talking about. That’s when Christianity takes root. That’s when people begin to understand what we really are.
This is what Paul’s referring to in Ephesians 4. For three chapters Paul taught them about who and whose they were. If you ever want to know who you are in Christ and whose you are in Christ, study Ephesians. And he comes down and shows them how to appropriate it by faith. He said, “Be strengthened in the inner man. Let Christ dwell in your hearts by your faith.” And then he says in 4:1, they’ve heard it and heard it and then he says this, “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling [the word “calling” means everything that is involved in your salvation] with which you have been called.” The word “worthy” is axios. Axios simply means “to balance something.”
We can walk around and sing about all these truths. We can tell other people about these truths, but until they get out of our head and down to our heart we haven’t balanced the scales. It’s too heavy on the talking side. It’s not balanced on the walking side. That’s what he’s talking about. Live a life that is worthy of your calling. I can’t make you walk in a manner worthy; you can’t make me walk in a manner worthy. We can encourage each other, but I’ll tell you one thing, by studying 2 Corinthians, we can all be challenged by a Type A personality: Paul. I mean you talk about a driven man, a man who came to the end of himself and how God transformed him and allowed him then to become the apostle of grace in the New Testament.
We can learn about him. We have seen in 2 Corinthians already examples of how he’s experienced Christ in his life. You know, the Corinthian church had really frustrated him. Frustrated him; disappointed him, with their false accusations, their unwillingness to deal with sin in the body, particularly this one individual that was causing so much division and bring all kinds of deceptive things against the apostle Paul, even questioning his apostleship. Paul experienced however, Christ, when he ran to Him for comfort. He experienced the comfort of God in 1:5-8, the cruelty of their flesh inside that church and what that had done to Paul. It ran deep, but Paul ran to Jesus, he ran to Him, and experienced the comfort only Christ could give.
The difficult circumstances of his life—over in Asia; he talks to them about it—drove him to the point of desperation. He thought he was going to be killed, and in verses 8-11 of chapter 1, at that moment of total weakness, expecting to die, he experienced Christ. He experienced the delivering power of Christ, of how Christ drew him to Himself. And he said, “Not only did He deliver us here, He will deliver us and yet one day He truly will deliver us.”
He experienced God; he experienced the power of a pure conscience in verse 12 as Christ in him purified his heart and his motives before all men.
In 1:13-2:6 we saw how he experienced Christ to keep on keeping on. That’s the hardest thing in the world, when people don’t appreciate you; and yet Christ in Paul kept him keeping on. And when people intentionally misrepresented him, took a situation that he said he was coming to see them and he didn’t, but he had good reason, but they never gave him the benefit of the doubt, even in the midst of that he kept on keeping on. He experienced Christ in him. He experienced the assurance of Christ. Christ continued to show him that He’d validate his life. Don’t worry about it: Paul didn’t have to defend himself. Christ in him would be his defense. He experienced the boldness of Christ when he had to say the tough things out of love to the Corinthian church so that they could get it, so that they could then be set free to experience God in their life.
And in verses 6-12 of chapter 2, he experienced the sensitivity of Christ. You see, this whole letter, this whole epistle of 2 Corinthians was written in response to how they had received that infamous third letter that we don’t have, it was lost. Actually 2 Corinthians would be the fourth letter that he had written to them. Two of them are lost. And he was so excited that they had gone on and dealt with this errant brother in the church that he wrote in response. But they experienced Christ in him. The man they had disciplined had not hurt them as much, yet he had hurt them, but he had really hurt Paul. But Paul, with the love of God in him, experiencing Christ in him, was led to write to them and say, “Listen, you’ve gone far enough. Now forgive him and comfort him. Come alongside him; get him back into the kingdom’s work. Let him be useful again.”
Experiencing God: knowing and participating in the fullness of the Christ-life is what Christianity is all about. It’s not about trying to perform for God in some cold, religious decree hanging over your head so He might be impressed. That’s not Christianity. The Christian life is all about being conquered daily so that we can come to that place of saying, “Not I, but Christ in me.” That’s what Christianity is all about.
Well today we’re going to look at little deeper into that in 2 Corinthians 2:12-17. Let me read the text for you, then we’ll come back to it. Verse 12, “Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord, I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia. But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like man, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.”
We’re going to look deeper today and find three things in Paul’s life, and you could make a list so long in Corinthians of how, when we experience Jesus, what are some of the things we’re going to experience. We’re going to see this in his life today. When we choose to say yes to Him and allow Him to overcome us, what do we experience?
When we experience Christ we will see doors open for ministry
First of all, when we experience Christ, we will see doors open for ministry, doors that no man can close. It’s so awesome when we start experiencing God because we don’t have to come up with ministry anymore. I don’t know how many of you grew up a different way. I grew up to where if you don’t come up with it, God can’t get it done. I want you to know that is not biblical, but that’s the way I was taught growing up. In Christ, ministry is received from God, not achieved for God. Verse 12, “Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord.”
Paul, led by God’s Spirit, went to Troas for the purposes of the gospel of Christ. That was his whole life. The gospel of Christ does not mean just for lost people; it also means for saved people. That’s what he said to the church of Rome: “I can’t wait to get to you to preach the gospel to you.” The good news doesn’t stop when you get saved, it continues on. But Paul had been to Troas once before and if you know that story from Acts, when he was trying to get into Bithynia, trying to get into Asia, and God squeezed him down to Troas. It was there that he had the Macedonia vision. And thank God he said yes to it, because he crossed over that sea and when he got to Macedonia that was the first church, Christian church, in Europe, because of his willingness to obey.
And that’s a story within itself in the book of Acts. But this time when he went to Troas he went to minister to the people and when he got there God opened the door for him. Paul didn’t open it; it’s in the passive voice: “a door was opened for him.” God opened it. It’s so interesting to me how many people, how many believers, don’t understand this truth. “I can do it, I can do it, I can do it.” “I can” is the mentality of the so-called Christian ministry in the 21st century. “We built my business from scratch. Let me at it, I can help God out. God is so proud to have me on His team; I just can’t wait to get to work for Him.” That’s the mentality of so many people.
But God’s Word says entirely the opposite. We can’t do it but He can. Experiencing God’s opening doors of ministry is an awesome thing. The door opening for ministry in Troas wasn’t the first time this had happened to the apostle Paul. If you’ll carefully look at his life, this statement has been said over and over and over again. This is the philosophy of his whole ministry. When he returned from his first missionary journey, when he went into southern Galatia and Antioch of Pisidia and Lystra and Derbe and Iconium, he came back and he called the church together to make a report. He doesn’t relate what he did, he relates how God used him and what God did.
Acts 14:27, when they had arrived and gathered the church together they began to report all the things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. And Paul understood that. He says the same thing about his ministry in Ephesus and you know he spent a lot of time with the Ephesian church and remember on the island of Melitus when they came and the elders of the church were so grieved that they wouldn’t see Paul again. I mean, there was a love relationship here, a lot of teaching went into the church at Ephesus. And he says in 1 Corinthians 16:9 concerning that church and ministry, “for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” He didn’t open it.
When Paul was in prison he wanted so much to be used of God. He didn’t strategize how to do this and how to do that. In Colossians 4:3 he says, “Praying at the same time for us as well that God will open to us a door for the Word so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ for which I have also been imprisoned.” Now, this is not some mystical thing. This doesn’t deny ability or human abilities in that sense. God’s not trying to discredit anybody. But what it is is reality. When we surrender to Christ He opens doors of ministry. We get to join Him in what He’s already doing.
In our text of 2 Corinthians 2:12 the verb there, “a door was opened,” “was opened” is in the perfect tense. You say, what does that mean. It means it was opened and since God opened it, it was going to stay open until God chose to close it. In other words, you don’t have to worry. When God opens something up He keeps the door open. It stays open. In other words, ministry that is received from God doesn’t have to be sustained by man. God keeps the door open. Like in Revelation 3:8 when he says, “I know your deeds. Behold I have put before you an open door which no man can shut.” There’s no man that can shut the door. When God opens it, man cannot close it.
Now, why is this so important? Why am I bearing down on this truth right here? I want to tell you something, folks, and I hope you don’t miss this. In verse 13 Paul had to walk away, now listen carefully, from an open door of ministry. You say, “What? You’re kidding me. God opened a door and he walked away?” That’s right. Do you know why? He was concerned for a brother whose name was Titus. He was concerned for him. Verse 13 says, “I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia.” You see, that third letter, that infamous third letter that we don’t have, was most likely sent—and everything points right to it—by Titus. Titus had to take that letter to the Corinthian church. Remember, Paul said, “To spare you sorrow I wrote you a letter instead of coming to you.” And Titus took that letter to them. That’s when Paul went to Troas; the door of ministry was open. That’s where he was going to meet Titus.
Journeys back then were dangerous. There were robbers everywhere. It’s pretty much like today. There are certain parts of the city I’d rather not be at certain times at night. You just sort of learn to be smart. And when you get on those open roads in those days, if they thought you had any money you were a target for the muggers and the robbers of that day. Paul had been taking up an offering for the hurting churches and people over in Judea and Titus had been helping him take that offering. And Paul didn’t know that maybe somebody had found out that he had money on him and mugged him along the way. He didn’t show up at Troas.
So in verse 13, “I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother.” God in Paul gave Paul no rest. It’s interesting how God stirs your heart when a brother is hurting. Everybody doesn’t get the same stirring for the same brother, but God will put on your heart the brother He wants you to be stirred about. Because of his concern for Titus, and as a result, Paul felt it necessary, God in him, to walk away from a door of ministry to take care of perhaps a hurting friend, a friend that might be in trouble. Christ in Paul made Paul sensitive to people around him that he could actually walk away from a door opened unto ministry and go find him.
“I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia.” You say, what am I saying? I don’t want you to miss this. I don’t want you to miss this. When we open doors for ministry ourselves, then my friend, we have to keep them open. The ministry is up to us. What we initiate we now are bound to sustain. No matter what it costs us. And I’ll tell you part of the expense. Part of the expense, and this is the sad thing about fleshly ministry, the sad thing is that our family, our friends, go by the wayside. Why? Because we can’t leave that ministry. We have to stay and keep it propped up at the expense of everyone else around us. That’s what this world calls being “driven.”
Our family can fall apart, our friends can fall apart, but we stick to the course as we hold the doors of ministry open that we opened. I had the privilege of speaking to one of the largest Christian business men’s organizations in the world. They had their leadership teams from all over the United States and they asked me to come in and speak on the grace message. I didn’t know it until my second message that these were people; the whole group had been started by Ian Thomas, the saving life of Christ. I didn’t know that. So what I was doing was not teaching them something new. What I was doing was rehearsing where they came from. And I had men in that ministry walk up to me, tears streaming down their face, they said, “Thank you, you’re sent, God has opened our eyes to realize we spend all of our time in meetings. We spend all of our time around the table strategizing and coming up with a plan and we spend very little time on our face before God, knowing that if God opens the door, God won’t close that door.” No man can close it. God can close it, but no man can close it. And they said they have to come back to where we began.
I’m speaking to you today who have that Type A personality. It’s all up to you. You drive everything. You control everything and you take that mentality into ministry, you have just hit a brick wall, and your relationship will fall apart. People will be devastated. Why? Because you’re having to prop up that which you came up with. But when God opens the door, no man can close it.
I’ve been there; I can’t point a finger at anybody today. I’ve been there. I remember the days when I was in church recreation. All I knew was 16 hours a day in order to build, regardless what was going on in my family; I had to be there. We had to make the building debt free in two years, and I had to do it. You can do it, Wayne, you can do it, you can. And I look back at it and my heart breaks. My wife had to be at home with those two little children. Where’s Wayne? He’s holding up the ministry that he initiated. See, those who walk with God can rest in Him. And they can understand that if God opens that door, no man can close it. As it says in the book of Job, “No man stops the purposes of God.” When God initiates something, God sustains it.
That doesn’t mean we abandon our responsibility. That’s not what I’m talking about and you know that. But what I’m talking about is relationships—that are more important to God than what we call ministry—can begin to be what they ought to be when we start trusting God instead of our own flesh to make something happen. He walked away from it, folks; he walked away from it. God opened the door of ministry and he walked away from it for the benefit of a friend that might be in trouble. You want to achieve ministry today? Is that what people want in the 21st century? Is that what makes everybody happy? It’s the same price tag in the church as it is in the world.
I know a lot of businessmen that are successful, but oh, listen to me: at what expense? And so we see that when we experience God we see doors open for ministry. You say you’re not quite with me, because if he walked away, how could God even use him?
When we experience Christ in us, His life will be a sweet smelling aroma
Well listen to the second part of this. The second thing is when we experience Christ, His life in us will be a sweet smelling aroma.
I got to go out and eat with two guys not long ago. We had the best time, and this lady that was the attendant at the table kept walking by and she kept sniffing. I didn’t know if it was the food we were eating or what it was that was getting her attention. And finally she just stopped and she said, “I’ve got to know who’s wearing,” and she named a cologne. I don’t know if the other two guys were wearing it or not, but I remembered the name of it and went home and it was what I was wearing! My wife bought it for me. I didn’t know what it was. But she picked up that fragrance and every time she walked by our table she’d walk right back and she wanted to know who was wearing that.
It was a fragrance that was a sweet smell, a sweet aroma to a person who is experiencing Christ. Will we allow Christ to conquer us in our attitudes; will we allow Christ to conquer us in our agendas; will we allow Christ to conquer us in our selfish desires? The sweet aroma that now emanates as we meet people in life. Verse 14, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.”
Now he’s telling us something here. The most beautiful picture is drawn here from the Roman culture of Paul’s day when he says, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ.” In Roman times when there was a great victory, the victory processional was absolutely a thrilling spectacle beyond anything you and I have seen in our day. The processional was granted only by the Senate when they realized certain conditions that had to be met. The victory had to be total and it had to be complete. There had to be at least 5,000 people slain in that victory. The territory of Rome had to be extended because of that victory and what it meant to that country.
Going before the triumphal procession they were decorating with flowers everywhere: decorating all the temples, there were flowers everywhere. Matter of fact they took the petals of the flowers and put them on the streets to where you had to wade through them, so that when the horses came down the streets they would step on those petals and a fragrance would emanate from that. Incense from burning spices was shaken all around and on the doorposts and in the temples, adding to the aroma of the flowers, filling the air with a sweet smelling fragrance. It was the sweet smell of a victory that had been won.
The sweet smell announced that great victory, and when people smelled that aroma they knew the general had conquered somebody and they all came out and gathered around the streets to witness the procession. All the spoils of war, the gold, the silver, the precious art, all were openly displayed as to what was taken in that battle. The conquering general was the focus of it all. The conquering general was put into a special kind of chariot, drawn by four horses, he had a robe on that was embroidered with gold and laced with flowers. In his right hand he had an olive branch, in his left hand he had a golden scepter which was a picture of who he was as that general and the power that he had. But chained to his chariot were the generals that he had conquered in that battle who would later be taken to a public place and executed.
Paul says that God always leads us in triumph in Christ Jesus. And what Paul is trying to show us is that we are the conquered, we are those, when we have allowed Christ to conquer us, we are the ones chained to His chariot. Christ, when we have bowed before Him, not only has us captive but He has our gold and He has our silver, everything that we own now is His. He leads us in His victory. Can you imagine? You say, “Wayne, I don’t like the idea of me being a chained captive.” Oh, my friend, I love it, because everywhere He would go, it was triumph. We are led in His victory. He’s our Lord and our Master. We’re not our own, but we have been conquered by His love and by His grace.
And when a believer allows Christ to do that in his life, to conquer him, to capture him, Paul says that God manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. When Christ conquers our attitude, when Christ conquers our agenda, when a believer is willing to allow Christ to break him as a horse is broken by his master, it’s the sweet thing. He gets to experience Christ and that aroma of knowing Him flows out and touches others.
He says in verse 15, “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” Do you realize whether they’re lost or whether they’re saved, they still smell that fragrance? They understand the sweetness of a life that has been so tenderized; a life that has been so conquered by the Christ that lives within him that people say there’s something different about that individual.
How many times, flying on planes you see people with an attitude that has an aroma that’s sour and full of death? Someone told me about a time when he was standing behind a person at the counter. And that person was just chewing out that little old ticket agent who had nothing to do with anything. And he stepped up and said, “How in the world do you put up with people like that?” And that little agent said, “Oh, it didn’t bother me. I just checked his bags to Hong Kong.”
That’s not the way you handle it, but I tell you one thing: if you peg people as being Christian and how they acted in places like that, then you’d understand quickly what this passage is talking about. You see, he’s being led. He’s chained to his chariot. You say he walked away from ministry. I say no, I said it wrong. He was led away from ministry to look for a friend, because when you’re chained to the chariot you don’t tell the commander which way you’re going. You’re chained to him and wherever it is, Christ in you touches people around you.
What does it mean to experience Christ? It means to understand ministry in a whole different way. The doors are opened by Him, not by us. And we don’t have to sustain it; He does. And relationships are important and the way we treat people is important. But we also become a sweet-smelling fragrance, an aroma of the Christ that lives within us. You may see a pagan person somewhere and they have no clue who you are, they have no clue what you represent. They know only this; you’re different and like that sweet smelling perfume.
When we experience Christ we experience the pain and the joy of people’s response to the fragrance that’s in us
Thirdly, when we experience Christ we’re going to experience something we never have before. We’re going to experience the pain and we’re going to experience the joy of people’s response to that fragrance that’s in us. Second Corinthians 2:15-17 says, “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.” And then Paul, overwhelmed by this whole truth, says, “And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.”
When we’re experiencing Christ, His message of grace that has tenderized us and made us a sweet smelling aroma of one that is conquered by His Lordship, chained to His chariot, will reach out to many and many will receive it. But many will reject it. This twofold consequence of walking with God: there’s the joy of one receiving; there’s the pain of one rejecting. To some it will be a message of life; to others it will be a message of death. Paul says “to the one an aroma from death to death;” they’re already in death, they’ll spend eternity in death, they’ll die twice. “But to the other from life to life.” They’ll not only know physical life, but they’ll know spiritual, everlasting life.
To those who are the living, it’s a sweet aroma of life everlasting, but to those who are dying it’s the sour odor of death. And Paul realizes the sobering responsibility of one who shares the gospel and he recognizes how it’s either going to be received or it’s going to be rejected. He said, “Who is adequate for these things?” This has to be God’s work; there’s no man that can set this thing up and make it a program. When we experience God in our lives, we experience the greatest evangelist that ever lived. Did you know that?
You know, I know that all the training and all the different things for evangelism are wonderful, but I want to tell you something you cannot give an individual, and that’s the passion and the burden to want to do anything about it. But when we have Christ living in us, the heart of the greatest evangelist that so loved the world that He came to die for us, that burden gets hold of us and we can’t help but share. All of a sudden evangelism is no longer a cause. All of a sudden evangelism is a consequence; and wherever we go that aroma is flowing out of us. A lady told me last night, “You know, I can’t even walk anymore that I don’t want to stop somebody and asked them if they’re saved. I’ve never been like this before.” That’s what it’s like.
Those who experience Him are not like the ones who peddle the Word of God. There are a lot of people in it for themselves. The word “peddle” has the idea of hawking in verse 17. “For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.” The phrase “peddling the word of God” refers to those false teachers which evidently were just rampant in Corinth. And it was some of these false teachers that were questioning his apostleship that he spends the last four chapters of 2 Corinthians defending. Paul is drawing a line between himself and them and he says, “I want you to see the difference. They might even be saying the right things, they might even be going through the motions, but I want you to know that what we say is in sincerity, it’s in Christ. It’s His word just emanating out of us, we can’t help it. We’ve been conquered by Him. We’re chained to His chariot. It’s His message that we bear wherever we go.”
He lives experiencing Christ in his life. Can I ask you today, are you experiencing Christ in your life? Are you seeing doors of ministry open to you? I’m not talking about necessarily ecclesiastical ministry. I’m talking about just ministry with a neighbor. Do you see doors of ministry? Do you see others respond to the fragrance of Christ in your life? Are you seeing that? Do you feel the pain, but also the joy of people who either reject or people who respond to the gospel we share? A man said years ago, “We live such subnormal lives that when we see something that’s normal from scripture, we think it’s abnormal because it throws our understanding.”
Well, let me just leave you with this: when you come up with the idea, and when you want it done your way, you’re going to have to do it. Relationships are going to be ruined at the expense of a door you opened. And there’s a bad aroma that will flow out of your life: sour, of death. It’s not of the fragrance, the sweet smell, the fragrance of one conquered by Christ. And the pain that you feel will not be the pain that comes from the righteous pain. It’s pain that we inflict upon ourselves because we are number one in what we do.
What’s the middle letter of the word sin? What’s the middle letter of the word pride? There’s your problem right there. And until “I” is conquered by Christ, we can’t experience the Christ that lives in us. It’s still up to us; we have to prop up what we come up with.