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Spiritual Joy
2 Cor. 1: 12-14

Introduction

Paul experienced hard times like, sickness, persecution, imprisonment, fighting wild beasts, false
accusations from his enemies, maybe even satanic attacks. He was in a situation in which he thought
he is going to die. Despite of the difficulties, Paul still has some cause to rejoice. The good report
from Titus gave him some encouragement to go on. Though he was hurt and offended by the false
teachers which now are in the church of Corinth, he still can rejoice. The word of rejoicing in v. 12 is
“boasting” in Greek. The word “boast” has a negative meaning nowadays but here in our text, it has
positive meaning. Something that is Godly. His cause of rejoicing is the testimony of his conscience,
his confidence to his friends and their brotherly love.

Illustration 1: Rejoicing Always
A saintly woman who had suffered for weary months from a painful illness said to her pastor, “I have
such a lovely robin that sings outside my window. In the early mornings as I lie here, he serenades
me.”
Then a smile brightened her thin features as she added, “I love him because he sings in the rain.”
That is the most beautiful thing about a robin. When a storm has silenced every other songbird, the
robin sings on. That is what the Christian who is with Christ may do. Anyone can sing in the sunshine.
You and I should sing on when the sun has gone down, or when clouds pour out their rain, for Christ
is with us. A Treasury of Bible Illustrations.

I. Testimony of his Conscience (2 Cor. 1:12)
A. Let us define what conscience is:
1. Conscience – A person’s inner awareness of conforming to the will of God or
departing from it, resulting in either a sense of approval or condemnation. The
term does not appear in the Old Testament but the concept does. David, for
example, was smitten in his heart because of his lack of trust in the power of
God (2 Sam. 24:10). But his guilt turned to joy when he sought the Lord’s
forgiveness (Ps. 32).

In the New Testament the term conscience is found most frequently in the
writings of the apostle Paul. Some people argue erroneously that conscience
takes the place of the external law in the Old Testament. However, the
conscience is not the ultimate standard of moral goodness (1 Cor. 4:4). Under
both the old covenant and the new covenant the conscience must be formed by
the will of God. The law given to Israel was inscribed on the hearts of believers
(Heb. 8:10; 10:16); so, the sensitized conscience is able to discern God’s
judgment against sin (Rom. 2:14-15).

The conscience of the believer has been cleansed by the work of Jesus Christ; it
no longer accuses and condemns (Heb. 9:14; 10:22). Believers are to work to
maintain pure consciences. They also must be careful not to encourage others to
act against their consciences. To act contrary to the urging of one’s conscience is
wrong, for actions that go against the conscience cannot arise out of faith (1 Cor.
8; 10:23-33). (Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary)

B. Paul was pure and sincere in his private life and how he lived publicly. His conscience
is clear in his dealings with the Corinthians. He has done what is right, and did it with
the right motive. He was very sincere in his relationship and conduct with them. He
was honest, and his attitude is not pretentious, not self-seeking, one with an open
heart manifesting itself by generosity.
C. Paul boasts in conduct inspired by grace (the grace Paul receives from God in Christ),
empowered by grace (through the Holy Spirit), and which is a manifestation of God’s
grace. Fleshly wisdom knows nothing of grace. Fleshly wisdom depends upon the
reasoning of the flesh and the power of the flesh, along with fleshly motivation.
D. Paul writes the “words simplicity and godly sincerity”. Both terms tell a singleness of
purpose and motivation—a godly focus. This godly single-mindedness is seen in
Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. His letters are written in a simple, straightforward
way. He has no hidden agenda, no hidden meanings. He writes what he means, and
he means what he writes.

Illustration 2: An Awakened Conscience
The man who commits sin and imagines he can go his own way and be happy if only his sin is not
discovered, makes the fatal mistake of leaving his conscience out of the account. No man can tell
when conscience will rise up and shake the accusing finger in his face, and make him condemn
himself. This was illustrated when a young thief who had stolen a package of diamonds worth over
$1,000 walked into the West Twentieth Street Police Station, in New York City, and confessed
himself a thief in order to save a girl who was held for the crime. That mysterious thing we call
conscience would not let him sleep or enjoy his stolen goods in peace, but took him by the throat
and marched him to jail for his misdeeds. It was like the case of the men who were about to stone
the woman to death for adultery, and Jesus said to them: “He that is without sin among you, let him
first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7). And John, recording the incident, says: “They which heard it,
being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one” (8:9).
(Practical Bible Illustrations from Yesterday and Today)

II. The unfailing confidence (2 Cor. 1:13)
A. After asserting his sincerity and clear conscience Paul, sought the continuing
confidence of his Corinthian friends. He also appeals to their conscience. Titus tells
him the majority of the Corinthians understood him. Paul hopes it will last “even to
the end”.
B. Paul also trust his friend at Corinth and he hope that Corinthians trust in him will
stand the test of time even in the midst of his critics and enemies.
Illustration: Broken Trust
One problem I remember was a time when our son Bob broke our trust and lied to his mother and
me. He was still young, dating Linda, his wife-to-be, and was only allowed to see her on certain
nights. Well, one night he wanted to see her without permission and told us he was at his friend’s
house. When we found out the truth, there was a real scene between us. He had violated our trust;
it was like a crack in a fine cup that marred its appearance. In the confrontation, I smashed a fine
English tea cup on the floor and told Bob that to restore our trust would be like gluing that cup back
together again.
He said, “I don’t know if I can do that.”
And I said, “Well, that’s how hard it is to build confidence and trust again.”
The outcome was that Bob spent literally weeks carefully gluing the pieces together until he finished.
He learned a very important lesson.              Schuller, in Homemade, Jan. 1985

III. The Brotherly Love (2 Cor. 1:14)
A. As the Corinthians read and heard Paul’s instruction to them, they continued to
understand more. How good it is for Christians to have confidence in each other; to
be steadfast to each other and love each other.
B. “That we are your rejoicing”. That Paul and his co-workers are the joy, and boasting
of the Corinthians. That they acknowledge him to be an apostle, as their teacher and
guide, and they recognise his authority.
C. “Even as ye also are ours”. In the same manner also, the Corinthians will be the
cause of rejoicing of Paul in the day of the Lord Jesus or at the judgment seat of
Christ). They were saved under his ministry and grew spiritually even in his absence.
D. Paul longed for the Lord’s coming when they would rejoice over each other in glory.
(1 Thess. 2:19-20)

IV. Conclusion
We can rejoice always as Christians even in the midst of sufferings and difficult
situations as we serve the Lord Jesus Christ. We will never be able to please everyone
but as long as our conscience is clear and we live a pure and holy life, we can still silence
our critics and enemies, most of all rejoice at the Lord’s coming.

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