Pastor Dave continues our Weak is Strong series with a sermon from 2 Corinthians 5:11-17. Download the sermon guide at fouroakschurch.com/guide.

Sermon Transcription:

Good morning and Happy New Year! Let me be the first to welcome anybody here who is a guest. Welcome to Four Oaks Church. My name is Dave, I am the Pastor of Preaching here at Four Oaks and my hope for all of us in this coming year and my hope for myself in this coming year is that we would grow even closer to Jesus and that this local church would help us all in some important way to accomplish that end, so, it is good to be together here on the first Sunday of 2016. For our guests, this past September, we launched a new series out of the book of 2 Corinthians and the title of the series is Weak is Strong. 2 Corinthians is a letter that the apostle Paul wrote to the very troubled church in the city of Corinth. This is a book that is really filled with surprises. It takes themes like leadership and suffering and comfort and weakness and it gets you thinking about them in completely different ways. In ways that are entirely unexpected so that you can hardly believe the conclusions that are drawn by Paul. Nowhere is that clearer or better illustrated than when we come to the very next passage that we are going to study beginning this morning in 2 Corinthians 5 beginning in verse 11.

The title of this morning’s message is Diagnosing Gospel Motivation. 2 Corinthians 5 beginning in verse 11 and we will read through verse 17:

“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.b The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Let’s pray together. Lord, as we stand on the threshold of an entirely new year filled with hope and filled with promise. Lord, we ask you to stir our faith for how we might glorify you in this coming year and Lord, we ask you specifically to use this series to use this message that you might work in us to motivate us for your glory and through your gospel. We pray that in Jesus’ name, Amen.

On February 15th 1921, in an operating room in the state of New York, a doctor performed a simple surgical procedure. The doctor’s name was Dr. Evan O’Neill Kane. He had this rather unconventional, some might even suggest it was audacious, belief that the general anesthesia, where they sedate you completely and knock you out so you are not awake at all during the surgery, was hazardous. He believed that local anesthesia, where they numb one part of the body so that they can operate, was far better for the patient and far safer for the patient. But Dr. Kane was unable to find a volunteer anywhere to test this theory. Person after person after person that he asked was just too squeamish at the idea of being awake when you were being cut into. 

Eventually, he found a volunteer and the surgery was scheduled and in the early morning of February 15th, the operation began. It was a simple appendectomy. The anesthesia was applied, the incision was made, he pinned back the various layers of skin and tissue, then Dr. Kane found the organ and made the necessary cuts, removing the organ and it went on without incident or complication. The patient experienced only minor discomfort but nothing abnormal and nothing of concern. The incision was then sutured, vital signs checked, and the operation complete. Perfect. It was perfect. Dr. Kane had proven his theory, in fact, the event was regarded as one of the most medically incredible moments in the history of medicine. By the way, it wasn’t because his theory was correct, and it wasn’t because the field of anesthesia would be forever changed. It was because in this operation, the doctor and the patient were the same individual. Dr. Kane had operated on himself. 

Now that takes do-it-yourself to a whole new level. And, yes, this is the guy that you have to blame next time you are wide-awake listening to the sounds of surgery being performed on your body. This is the guy. But, as we stand on the threshold of an entirely new year, I want to invite you to do the same thing that Dr. Kane did. I want to invite you to operate on yourself. 

If you are wondering how we are going to do that I am going to suggest to you that we can use the surgical tools that are provided for us in this very passage of scripture 2 Corinthians 5:11-17.

Now, just so we don’t get ahead of ourselves, lets remember the context, because it has been a while since we’ve familiarized ourselves with it. Let’s remember that this is a period in the life of Paul where he is under attack. He is under attack by opponents who are disputing both the quality and the legitimacy of his ministry. In fact, earlier in chapter 2 he has already dealt with a leader in the Corinthian church who attempted a kind of coup. He launched a slander campaign and then he attempted to overthrow Paul’s leadership within the church. But now, there are folks from outside the church that are seeking to influence the church. They are opponents, they are infiltrators, and they are false teachers. Some of them refer to themselves as super apostles. They are seeking to depose Paul of his leadership and appoint themselves in Paul’s place. Regardless of whether it was the guy from inside the church or the guys from the outside of the church, the attack all seems really similar, they are all really the same, they are all saying “Paul is a phony. Just look at his appearance. Just listen to the way he talks. Just check out his letters of commendation, he has none.” Their strategy was nothing more than character assassination. So Paul comes to a place in his life where he is being forced to defend not only his ministry but also his motivation. Why does he do the things that he does? 

This is where we see Paul’s brilliance. Because Paul never defends himself where he doesn’t also educate his listeners on what is really going on from God’s perspective. He is kind of like a brilliant defense attorney helping the jury understand what is really important in the evidence they are looking at. It is here that Paul talks about the very nature of what is godly motivation, of what is truly gospel motivation. What does it look like? That is how we arrive at this particular passage because at this passage Paul outlines how to discern true gospel motivation. Again, this is his defense, this is what he is portraying and presenting in front of the Corinthians. He wants them to understand. He wants to educate them on how to discern what is truly gospel motivation. 

I’m going to summarize this for you in three questions. Three diagnostic questions that we can ask that will help us to diagnose gospel motivation. There is an upward question, and inward question, and an outward question. Upward, inward, outward. 

This is the first question. This is the upward one. The question is: who do I seek to please when I speak? There is an accusation that has been laid upon Paul that is false. The accusation is “This guy, this dude, this teacher seeks to please men when he speaks. In fact, he seeks to speak for the praise of people. That is what he cares the most about” So he responds in verse 11 by saying “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others”  

The passage starts with that word “therefore” which simply means “consequently” or “the result of”. In other words, as a result of what I have just said, this is what follows. So we are immediately put forward with the question of what stokes Paul’s fear of the Lord? What is it that influences how he speaks and how he persuades others. Let’s drop into the prior verse in verse 10 and see what he said. 

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”

So Paul is saying to the Corinthians that I want all men to understand my motivation, I want all men to understand what truly influences all that I say. It is not your approval, it is not to appease the false teachers, it is not for the applause of my peers, it is not even that I can advance my cause by manipulating people to agree with me. Paul says it doesn’t have anything to do with that. Paul says it is because I am aware that I have an appointment. I have an appearance that I need to make. It is on my calendar for right after my funeral. Because of that appointment, I fear God. It is because of that appointment that I persuade you. See that word persuade there? It is often assumed to be an evangelistic word that it is what motivates Paul to evangelize, but in the context of 2 Corinthians that is not what it is saying. This is about Paul talking to the Corinthians. This is about Paul persuading the Corinthians. What is behind how Paul is persuading the Corinthians to his point? He is saying if there is any question about what motivates me to speak, let me hit it on the head right now. Let me hit it head on. I speak because I fear God. See, for Paul, the gospel didn’t spring believers from judgment. 

Think about this. In Pauline theology the gospel doesn’t spring believers from judgment, it simply changes the basis upon which they are judged. It moves us from a judgment of sin to a judgment of rewards. That is how Paul describes it in verse 10 “so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” So, Paul is saying here is my defense. If you want to know why and who I am trying to please, if you want to know why I am honest, if you want to know why I am sincere, if you want to know why I am direct and pointed in what I say, if you want to know why I am trying to persuade you in the way that I am, it is because I believe that I am going to stand in front of God. It is the person that I am ultimately accountable to, the person that I am going to be talking to that influences how I am going to talk today. 

I remember travelling years ago to South Africa. I was in seminary at the time and it was the early 90s. It was the end of apartheid and it was a very exciting time in South Africa and also a very volatile time in South Africa. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission had just been formed and they were beginning to hear cases. So I informed my seminary professor, who happened to be in African, that I was going to South Africa and he said “Oh really! Listen, when you get there, I want you to contact a very dear friend of mine.” He took out a piece of paper and he wrote a name on the piece of paper and then he wrote a phone number on the piece of paper and he folded it up and handed it to me and said “You can open that up later. I want you to contact my friend.” 

Later on, as I was at my house, I opened up the piece of paper and on it was written Bishop Desmond Tutu who was, if that name is not familiar to you, he was a global peace leader from South Africa. He was also the head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I went to South Africa with the phone number of Bishop Desmond Tutu and I remember thinking about this before I called him and thinking about what I was going to say. I remember thinking this is nuts! I’m going to talk to Bishop Desmond Tutu! What do I say to Bishop Desmond Tutu? How do I avoid sounding like an idiot to Bishop Desmond Tutu? So I called him and, fortunately, he never picked up, which is how most of my stories end when it comes to really important people.  They never pick up. But, I will never forget the kind of, fear, was it? It illustrated the point for me. 

The more important the person is, the more you think about what you will say. The higher the position the more prepared you want to be. What Paul is saying here to the Corinthians is, I understand. I speak today with that day in view. I’ve got to be honest with you, studying this passage over the last couple of weeks, for me, has been very convicting. Because I realize, honestly, how little I think about that day in comparison to Paul. How distracted I live from that day in comparison to Paul. How about you? What about you? How much does that day influence the way you talk at work? Or what you say when you get angry with someone else? Or how you respond when your boss jerks you around in some way? Or when you are tempted to gossip about somebody else in the office or the neighborhood? Also, something interesting he said to the Galatians in chapter 1 verse 10 he said “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

In other words, I can’t serve Christ and try to please man. Because when I do that, people become too big and God becomes too small. People are big and God is small. There is something wrong with that. Are people too big for you? If you find yourself too preoccupied with how others think about you. Or you have a strong craving for approval that has you constantly talking about yourself. Or you live, for some reason, with this intense fear of being rejected. Or there are times when you are in situations where you should be speaking up because you have convictions, but you are not speaking up. You may be told by other people, you may be told by the culture, you may be told by the world, that the source of that fear is something outside of your own soul. There are many people available that will inform you and seek to influence you that the source of that fear is really the way you were parented or weren’t parented, or a common phobia that exists in the world today, or perhaps a brain disorder. In scripture it has a name and that name is the fear of man. It is when we fear man more than we fear God. It is when our active heart craves the approval of man more than it does the approval of God. When we live more for this earth than that day. It is a very common sin and God loves us too much to allow us to rush into 2016 completely unaware of that as a category, so Paul has to remind us that this is something that can motivate us wrongly. He is reminding the Corinthians that this is what motivates him. He speaks for an audience of one. When he speaks he is speaking to please God. What about you? So that is the first motivation. The upward question, who do I seek to please when I speak?

Second question. The inward question. Do you value the heart more than appearance? Remember the context. The false teachers are on the stage at Corinth and they are parading their eloquence and their intellect and their learning and they have got these letters of commendation from prestigious people that they circulate around to justify their existence. Basically their world is propped up by outward appearance. In fact the Greek word for appearance that appears in the text, the word literally means “face”. In other words, they are seeking to gain a following through their gifts, through their rhetoric, through their boasting, through their face, rather than their hearts. This is where Paul strikes a contrast between face and heart. He says starting in verse 11b

“But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart.”

See, what we are is known to you, Paul says. We are not commending ourselves, he says, we are giving you a way to defend me. We are giving you reason why you should defend me. It’s about the heart, not about the face. The face is the wrong thing to value. He goes on in verse 13 and he basically says I know it sounds like I’m out of my mind, but your conscience knows that this is true. See, Paul lived with them for 18 months. They knew him. They knew his way of life. They knew what motivated him. They had seen him from the inside out and so he is appealing to their conscience. Paul understood something about the Corinthians in the same way that God understands something about all of us. Man looks on the outer man. God looks at the inward heart, but man looks on the outer man. 

You’ve probably heard that phrase before. You know where that phrase comes from? That phrase comes from the Old Testament from the book of 1 Samuel where God has rejected Saul as the king and God sends Samuel to appoint another king. He sends him to Jesse’s house, the father of David, and Jesse has a number of sons. David is not even there, but Jesse calls out his sons and his first son stands up and the first son is Eliab. This guy is a stunning specimen and Samuel sees him because he is tall and handsome and he has charisma and Samuel thinks surely this guy is going to be king. He is going to be king or he is going to be the next American Idol winner. He’s got something going on here that is very attractive. Eliab is kind of walking down the runway and Samuel sees him, but here is the irony. Thirty minutes prior to that, Samuel was grieving the loss of Saul, a king that was described as tall and handsome and full of charisma. Now, Samuel is looking for the next king by the same criteria. God interrupts Samuel’s thinking. He interrupts his thought because Samuel is thinking in the way of the flesh according to verse 16, and God says to him, you are looking on the outer man. Man looks on the outer man, but God looks at the heart. 

Part of learning how to discern is becoming aware that, as people, we have this kneejerk reaction to just look on the outer man. You know who understands this very well? Advertisers. Advertisers get this completely. That is why they pander to the outer man. That is why they convince us that their product will upgrade the outer man. That is why attractive people are most often the most popular people. You rarely find an unattractive celebrity unless they are a comedian or a singer. They are attractive. Why? Because man looks on the outer man. 

Paul knows the Corinthians are vulnerable to thinking in the same way so he knows this local church. Remember, this is a local church that doesn’t have any leaders as far as we know. There are no leaders that are mentioned in 1 Corinthians or 2 Corinthians and yet, these people have become convinced that they are spiritual, that they are the “pneumatikois” the “spiritual ones”. Yet, they tolerate immorality in their midst, they tolerate the abuse of gifts, there is disorder all over the place, because they value face over heart. 

Probably the greatest danger to valuing face over heart is that, well, Paul describes it in verse 16 in the following way “we regard no one according to the flesh”. In other words, the greatest danger of valuing face over heart is that we begin to value according to the flesh. We become flesh addicts. That is what the Corinthians were. They were flesh addicts. A flesh addict is revealed in one of two ways. It is revealed in what we boast in or how we diagnose our problems. Let me talk for a minute about what we boast in. A flesh addict boasts in outward appearance. That is what Paul describes in verse 12 he says “We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance (like the false teachers) and not about what is in the heart.”  A flesh addict boasts in outward appearance. 

This is the guy or the woman that manages to drop the names in conversation or just signal their education or certain rewards they may have received. See, the boasting of a flesh addict may be subtle, at least to them, but the intent is always clear. They want to be the biggest people in the room. Larger than God. It is not just like they are completely bent on moving away from God, in fact, sometimes, a flesh addict can be a very churchy person. Remember the Corinthians perceived themselves to be THE spiritual ones because they had gifts, because they had this prayer life, they talked incessantly at fellowship group of all these things that God was showing them each and every week but the intent of it was not to glorify God. The intent of it was that they might grow large in the eyes of others. See, a flesh addict appears pious and spirituality is a goal. In fact, their identity is in their spirituality. It is interesting that later on in 2 Corinthians we are going to come to a period where Paul talks about this spiritual experience he had when he went to the third heaven, but Paul is going to introduce this spiritual experience this way, “I know a man once”. 

Paul has this incredible experience that he could lay out at any time to silence the false teachers that would give him immediate spiritual credibility in any small group he was sitting with and yet he introduces it this way, “I know a man who once had this experience.” In other words, he is so reluctant to gain recognition that he remains anonymous. You know you are getting this whole weakness motif when you’re worried that people are going to think too much of you than too little of you. 

So, part of being a flesh addict is in the ways that we tend to boast. Then, another part of being a flesh addict, and all of this falls under the umbrella of: do we value heart over appearance or do we value appearance more, the second way that we can see this flesh addict tendency is in how we diagnose the heart. Flesh addicts are always justifying behavior or seeking to define the reason they do what they do in terms outside of the heart. Amoral is a way that it can be described. 

This episode with their spouse where they are just ranting and raving angry, but when they think about it they think I wasn’t that angry, I’m not an angry person. That isn’t really me. I’m just moody. I get a little touchy. I get a little irritated, sometimes frustrated. I can be a little tense. I can be a little edgy. I can get annoyed, sometimes I can be grumpy or picky or testy. No. The gospel says no. You can be angry. But, there is good news! Jesus died for angry people! Listen, you’re not just ‘keeping it real’ with your spouse when you are getting angry like that. You’re a flesh addict. If it feels we are cutting in a little close today, remember, the goal is that we might operate on ourselves. 

When I share these things, I want you to know. It affects me the same way because I am flesh addict exhibit A. I had to confess my anger just 2 days ago to my daughter. One of the things that is so encouraging to me about the gospel is that it reminds me, even as I struggle sometimes with anger, that Jesus died for my anger, even as a believer! The gospel is big enough to accomplish forgiveness for sins that I commit even after I become a Christian. You say, Dave, what are we, the worry police? We worry about every little word? No. That’s not where I’m at. What we have to understand is, if you are anything like me, flesh addicts can use words not only to describe feelings, but to define their problem. There is a big difference for me to say “I can feel like I’m a little frustrated” vs. “The reason I am this way is because I’m frustrated.” What I’m trying to say here is that Christ didn’t get stapled to a tree because we get a little grumpy. Christ died for our sins because we get wrathful and angry and we rage in our hearts and because we sin. Our hearts are active and then we explain it away and justify it as if it is completely understandable. The more skillful we become at knowing the heart, the deeper we value the reason that Jesus died for our sins. It becomes even more meaningful to us which is part of the reason we value heart more than appearance. That is the second point, the second question, the inward one.

Finally, the outward question. The outward question is: are you controlled more by gospel love than self-love? So Paul wasn’t merely motivated by the fear of the Lord, but according to verse 14 there was something else that motivated him. Something else controlled him as well and this is the way he said it in verse 14, “For the love of Christ controls me.” Why did Paul take the gospel to the nations and suffer in doing it? Why did he shed blood as he went? Why did he endure week after week the foolishness of the Corinthians? This man was captivated by something glorious. Something that was a game changer. Something that changed absolutely everything. Something that made him willing to bear insult, to experience betrayal, to experience persecution. It was the love of God. This is the essence of it in verse 14 “we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died” John said it the following way “by this, we know love, that Christ Jesus laid down his life for us.” 

Paul turns the corner a little bit and he starts talking about the love of God for all. By the way, just a quick thought on Paul’s use of “all”. He uses it several times in verse 14 and 15. In 2 Corinthians, and in this passage in particular, “all” refers to “all believers.” Remember, Paul was writing the book of 2 Corinthians or the letter of 2 Corinthians to Christians, to believers. So “all” refers to all of us who are new creations. If “all” meant all people everywhere, then there would be no need for the fear of the Lord that he talked about earlier because, hey, everybody is saved, right? The fear of the Lord would make no sense. Typically when Paul uses the word “all” he is talking about all without distinction, not all without exception.  Let me explain to you what I mean. He is talking about all without distinction which means there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, male nor female, the gospel is available to all. It is all without distinction. Not all without exception meaning that God will save everyone. The point Paul is trying to make is that when gospel love controls the church, it bears a certain kind of fruit in the church. It bears the fruit of love in the church. 

So, how do we know if we are being controlled more by gospel love than self love? Lets look at what Paul says. He says that first I seem to see Christ more clearly. See verse 16 “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer” He sees Christ no longer through the flesh, he sees Christ clearly. Paul says that I once regarded him according to the flesh. In other words, there was a time that Paul believed differently. There was a time when Paul persecuted the church, when Paul sought to destroy Christians, when Paul saw himself as approved by God on the basis of his pedigree, on the basis of his works of the law, but then on the road to Damascus, he met Jesus Christ, and Christ flipped him upside down. See, if you want to understand Paul’s patience with the Corinthians, if you want to understand why he stays despite the betrayal he has experienced and despite the injuries that they inflict, it is because the love of Christ. If you want to comprehend why Paul was so longsuffering with the Corinthians, why he does not retaliate with words, why he does not seek to punish them emotionally, why when he is hurt he does not run off and spread rumors and gossip about the Corinthians, it is because he is under the control of an entirely new motivation that he describes as the love of Christ. He tells them in another letter what love is. He says that love is patient, kind, love suffers wrong, love endures all. 

That is a really important point for you and for me as we stand on the threshold of an entirely new year. There is something about the way that God organizes our life where he just fixes Corinthians in the life of every believer. It might be a kid that you have that just seems exceedingly foolish in this season. It might be a friend that has hurt you dearly. It might be a prodigal spouse or a sibling that you have been praying for for a long time where God reaches down and he whispers to us in the beginning of a brand new year that love is patient. By the way, we don’t need patience for those who treat us well. That is not a problem. Loving patience assumes that there is someone in our life who requires patience. Love is kind. Love is gentle. The reason why those words are being spoken and love is being defined is because God assumes that there are people in our lives to whom and for whom we must apply the truth of that passage. We don’t need kindness and forbearance for those who are returning our investment or for those who are treating us patiently and kindly and lovingly or those that are giving back, in a sense, the love that we give to them. God says no, there is a whole different kind of love that I have displayed towards you that I want you to now turn and pass along. Gospel love does not need equality if you know what I mean. In other words, gospel love does not run around in the relationships of our life carrying a ruler and calculating how much they have given verses how much you have given.  

What happens to the gospel when it fills our heart is that it begins to expand our heart and make our heart bigger for God and bigger for people. It does that because we see Christ clearly. When we see Christ clearly, we see the love that he displayed for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. It wasn’t like we cleaned our act up and became more attractive to God and he responded by saying ok, you’ve taken the right steps, I will receive you now. While we were yet sinners. While we were yet enemies. Then there is the whole Romans 2 thing. It is his kindness that is meant to lead us to repentance. When we are unrepentant God shows his kindness. That is what we see when we look at the love of God in Christ. We see Christ clearly. Then the Spirit of God comes and whispers into our ear to pass it along. Pass it along to someone else. 

It’s not just that though. It isn’t just seeing Christ clearly. We are talking about how do we know if we are being controlled by gospel love. It isn’t just seeing Christ clearly, but it is also dying to self, daily. Look at verse 15 “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live” (look at this) “for themselves” (they live) “for him who for their sake died and was raised.” Because the gospel frees us from the tyranny of self. The gospel removes us from being the center of our own universe and makes room in our heart, because it has been expanded by the love of God, makes room in our heart for the care and the interests of other people. Here is the mind blowing thing about the love of God, and we really have to understand this to really be able to comprehend the passage. It is that love comes through death. Love, Biblical love, God’s love, gospel love, comes through death.

“and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him” 

You know, one of the most difficult and provocative truths of the gospel is wrapping our brain around the reality that affixes death at the core of love. It fixes death at the core of love. That love means death. That’s what Jesus meant in chapter 9 when he said if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, pick up his cross, then inserts this word “daily” and follow me. Pick up his cross daily. Love means death. Love means dying to something. Dying to what we want. Dying to how we prefer things to be. Dying, at times, to how we feel. Dying to our pride. It is death when we make a mistake and our soul screams that we should justify it, but we humble ourselves and we apologize. That is death. It is death when we are overlooked by a friend and our heart lobbies to withdraw from them, but we overlook it out of love. It is death when we serve repeatedly and nobody thanks us, we are constantly overlooked for it, we are waiting to be thanked, and still we serve. That is death. It is death when we are grieving some great loss, and maybe that is where you are this morning. You are grieving some great loss and everything in your heart says stay in bed and just grieve, just feel sorry for yourself, just pity yourself today and yet, you whisper a prayer to God and you exercise the courage to get out of bed for yet another day. That is death, but it is really love! We are picking up our cross daily. It may feel like cutting. It may feel like we are being cut this morning, but you know, that is the point. We were invited into surgery this morning. 

When Dr. Kane did surgery all he had was anesthesia. We have the gospel, but the gospel doesn’t numb us from the pain. In fact, the gospel allows us to feel the pain that we might truly enjoy the solution and that we might truly understand the significance of the solution. Yet, the solution empowers us to love despite the pain. It is how we know that he died for us. It is how we know that we are a new creation, because the old way that we used to deal with things has passed away, behold, new things have come.
 
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