Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God, Who raises the dead, Who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us.”
2 Corinthians 1:9-10
What is the basis of all that God wants to do in the life of the believer? What does God require of us - so that He can produce in us real spiritual fruitfulness? It is the sentence of death in ourselves, “the death sentence..” Paul is here speaking of the unimaginable circumstances that had overwhelmed him. In second Corinthians 2, he was speaking of a wide range of trouble, trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 2Corinthians 2:8
Paul was describing a situation in which there was no hope… nothing. Nothing that he nor his companions could do from the human standpoint. He should have died – the ‘sentence of death’ was upon him- he was beyond all hope. Paul, that great apostle to the gentiles – one of the manliest, macho men imaginable.. Paul, who cruelly assented to the macabre mob’s mercilessness murder of Stephen… Paul, who so independently and industriously supported his ministry by making tents.. Paul, who needed a thorn in his flesh to prevent him from becoming prideful. Paul had no hesitation in proclaiming that he despaired even of life. Paul was no lily-livered little, milk-sop of a man, and yet crushing circumstances made him despair even of life.
Why – why go into such detail about this ‘sentence of death’ in ourselves? Well, he gives the reason in the next word. A word that is unmistakably pregnant with meaning. He explains the purpose of the excruciating circumstance he faced in Asia.... so that we should not trust in ourselves but in God. This is the essence; the core; the nucleus.
This is the crux of being established in the faith. Here is the sum and substance – the warp and woof – the reality of sanctification - That we should not trust in ourselves, but in God. Search out the scriptures from beginning to end – and you will find this to be so. Seek out the instruction given to the Church – to discover this basic truth. This foundational truth is that we must not trust in ourselves, but in Him.
Sometimes it takes years for this underpinning gospel truth to be recognised. Often it takes a lifetime, for this to become a reality in the life of a believer. Some will struggle to defray the difficult circumstances – circumstances that rise like mountains in their lives. But like a man trying to empty the Titanic’s flooding bilges with a teaspoon you will fail.. so that you understand – that we should not trust in ourselves but in God.
This sentence of death is the work of God – and the work of God in us, triumphs over this death sentence. Stop trusting in yourself and start really trusting in Him. This is the foghorn that blares forth here. In Paul’s life, the Lord swept away all self-confidence and all faith in himself, so that He Who raises the dead to life might show forth His life in him.. so that He might show His great resurrection life – to be fruitful in us. It must be that I that live my life, but Christ that lives in me. Galatians 2:20
The believer must accept, apply, and recognise the sentence of death on them, so that we should not trust in ourselves but in God. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will. Let us submit as did Paul to this sentence of death in our lives, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God. 2 Corinthians 1:9.
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labours increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercies –
To multiplied trials, He multiplies peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance;
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done –
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources –
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure.
His power no boundary known unto man;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus.
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
Jesus said, My Grace is sufficient for thee.
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