Study on the Book of 2nd Corinthians

by Pastor Frank J. Cuozzo

Division 3 — “The Ministry & It’s Description”

Lesson 4: "The Ministry and It’s Demands" - II Cor 4:1-6

Pastor Frank Cuozzo

2 Corinthians 4:1-6, “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”


-Introduction:

The demands of the ministry are clear and are to be heeded by every minister of Christ. Five things here:

          -1.  The ministry demands constancy, it demands that we not faint (v.1).

-2.  The ministry demands honesty and integrity in life and ministry (v.2).

-3.  The ministry demands not hiding the gospel (v.3-4).

-4.  The ministry demands servitude, it demands that we preach Christ and serve man, not self (v.5).

-5.  The ministry demands personal conversion, it demands the very presence of God Himself shining in a person's heart (v.6).


#1) The Ministry demands constancy.

Look again with me at 2 Corinthians 4:1, “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not.”


The ministry demands constancy, demands that one never faint. The words "faint not" mean not to give up, not to lose heart, not to become discouraged, spiritless, fainthearted, despondent, or discouraged. The minister, Paul, did not quit or give up for any reason, not even because of persecution or weariness and exhaustion. There are two reasons why he did not quit,

1.  The minister did not quit because of the greatness of his ministry. "We have this ministry." "This ministry" refers to the great task God had given him; the task of proclaiming the new covenant, the message that man can now have a glorious relationship with God through the Spirit of God. This ministry is the ministry of the glorious gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ, that men can now be saved and forgiven of their sins and redeemed to live forever in the glory of God. No greater task could be given a person than to proclaim the cure for death to men. That cure is the new covenant, the glorious news about Jesus Christ. Because of this great task, Paul did not faint; he did not quit, no matter the demands or circumstances.

2.  The minister does not quit because he has received mercy. Paul had personally received the mercy of God.

-God's mercy had forgiven his sins and given him life forever with Christ.


"In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephes. 1:7).


"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of this grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Ephes. 2:4-7).


-God's mercy had given him his great task: to be a minister and to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ.


"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ephes. 3:8; cp. Romans 15:15-16; 1 Cor. 15:9-10).


-Thought 1. The servant of God must never faint, regardless of circumstances. Neither weariness nor opposition are to drive the minister to quit. He must not shrink from the ministry for any reason. His task is too great, and God's mercy has done too much for him and will continue to sustain him.


"And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 10:22).


"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58).


"Only let your conversation [behavior, conduct] be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel" (Phil. 1:27).


"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him" (James 1:12).


"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour; whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world" (1 Peter 5:8-9).


"Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness" (2 Peter 3:17).


#2) The Ministry demands honesty and integrity in life and ministry.

Look again with me at 2 Corinthians 4:2, “But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.”


Note four points here,

          1.  The minister is to renounce dishonesty, he says, "the hidden things of dishonesty." The word "dishonesty" means shame, disgrace, and scandal. The hidden or secret things that shame and disgrace men, and the things that cause scandals are to have no part in the minister's life. The minister is to renounce all secret and hidden...

•  immorality

•  feelings

•  greed

•  thoughts

•  desires

•  covetousness

•  methods

•  ambitions

The minister is to live an open and above-board life, a life of honesty and integrity.


"Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof" (Romans 6:11-12).


"Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame" (1 Cor. 15:34).


"That ye put off concerning the former conversation [behavior] the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts" (Ephes. 4:22).


"Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easliy beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).


"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11). 

2.  The minister is not to "walk in craftiness." The word means trickery, cunning, cleverness, shrewdness, and evil design. It means a man who will do anything and use any means to get what he wants. Note the minister is not to "walk" this way; he is not to walk using and misusing people, circumstances, events, and things for his own end. The minister of God is to walk as Jesus walked.


"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16).


"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called" (Ephes. 4:1).


"He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked" (1 John 2:6).


3.  The minister is not to handle "the word of God deceitfully." The word means to falsify, adulterate, corrupt, deceive, and ensnare. It is "the Word of God"; that is, it has come from God, and not man. The Author of the Word of God is God. God is the Authority of the Word of God. The minister is only the spokesman for God; therefore, he is...

•  not to falsify the Word of God.

•  not to adulterate the Word of God.

•  not to corrupt the Word of God.

•  not to deceive or ensnare people by mishandling the Word of God.

The minister is not to add the ideas, traditions, philosophies, or speculations of men to the Word of God. Neither is he to take away portions of Scripture, denying that they are the Word of God; nor is he to neglect, ignore, or keep silent about some part of God's Word. The minister of God is not to distort the Word of God in any form or fashion.


"Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you" (Deut. 4:2).


"What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it" (Deut. 12:32).


"For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ" (2 Cor. 2:17).


"And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" (Rev. 22:19).


4.  The minister proclaims the truth honestly, openly, and purely. The minister is to be true to the truth of God as revealed in God's Word. He is to be both humble and receptive before God in his study and prayer life. He is not to be wise in his own conceits. And when he goes before people, he is to proclaim and teach the truth as God's Word reveals it.


#3) The Ministry demands openness, never hiding the Gospel.

Look with me at 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”


Paul never mishandled the Word of God; he never deceived people with a false gospel. He was honest and true to the gospel; he openly proclaimed the gospel in all its purity. If the gospel was hid to men, if there were men who did not believe...

•  it was not due to Paul's faint-heartedness. He had proclaimed the gospel with all the energy he had and under the most severe circumstances. He had been as steadfast as a man could be.

•  it was not due to Paul's living an impure life nor to Paul's mishandling of the Word of God. Paul had proclaimed the pure Word of God, the pure gospel, just as the Word of God had revealed it.


Paul says that the gospel was and is hid to men for two terrible reasons,

1.  The gospel is "hid" to men because they are "lost." The word means perishing. Men are on the road to being lost, to perishing. They have turned away from God and are travelling in the opposite direction along the road that leads to perdition. The word "perishing" means to be lost, to be in the process of being destroyed or ruined, corrupted and put to death.


The thing to note is this: when a person is on the road to perdition, he has turned away from God and is pointed in the opposite direction. He is travelling away from God. He has deliberately separated himself from God and severed all ties with God. Therefore he cannot see God, nor the things of God. His face and eyes are not turned toward the gospel, but toward the world that perishes. The gospel is hid to him because he is perishing, because he is travelling the road of the lost, the road of those who are perishing. He is simply facing in the wrong direction, looking away from the gospel.

2.  The gospel is hid to men because the "god of this world" has blinded the minds of those who do not believe. Note several facts here,

-a.  The "god of this world" is Satan.

-b.  Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers lest they should believe the gospel. This is Satan's purpose: to keep people from believing the gospel and from becoming followers and worshippers of the Lord Jesus. How does he blind a person's mind? He does this by appealing to his flesh, by enticing him with the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. If Satan can get a person to focus his life upon himself and the world, the person will become enslaved to his flesh and the things of the world. This is clearly seen in the enslaved habits of...

•  possessing more and more

•  eating more and more

•  lusting more and more

•  seeking more and more

•  drinking more and more

•  smoking more and more

•  cursing more and more

•  indulging more and more


The more evil a person sows, the more enslavement he reaps. Satan is able to blind the person's mind more and more. The point is simply this: Satan blinds the mind of a person by appealing to his flesh (sensual appetites) and hooking him on the pleasures of sin. And the more he becomes hooked, the blinder and harder he becomes to the gospel.


-c.  Jesus Christ is the "image of God." When Jesus Christ came to earth, men were able to see God, to see exactly what God is like:

  A loving, compassionate, caring,

  healing, restoring, saving,

  correcting, disciplining, controlling,

  holy, righteous, and just.

A person could look at Jesus Christ and see exactly what God is like.


"I and my Father are one" (John 10:30).


"If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him" (John 10:37-38).


"And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me" (John 12:45).


"Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?" (John 14:9).


"Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God" (Phil. 2:6).


#4) The Ministry demands servitude, it demands that we preach Christ and serve man and not self.

Look with me at 2 Corinthians 4:5,For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.” Two things here,

          1.  The minister must preach Christ, not self.

-The minister does not preach to build himself up in the eyes of people.

-He does not preach his own ideas, notions, thoughts, opinions, or philosophy.

-He does not preach to impress people with his charisma, ability, fluency, speech, or leadership.


-The minister preaches Jesus Christ and Him alone.

-Christ means the Messiah, the Messianic Savior promised by God from the beginning of history.

-The Messiah is Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth.

-Jesus is Lord, the Lord God Himself.


"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36).


"And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God" (Acts 9:20).


"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9).


"[Christ] who, being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name" (Phil. 2:6-9).


"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5).


-2.  The minister must serve men, not self. Note the word "servant," it means bond-slave. The minister is to be a slave to others, serving and ministering to them. He is to be as devoted to people as a slave is to his master; as ready to help them and to meet their needs as a slave would be required to do by his master. Note why, for Jesus' sake. What does this mean?

Jesus became our servant or slave. He sacrificed Himself and He did it for us. He struggled and struggled to overcome the world and the flesh for our sake, to conquer sin and lust, to gain freedom from the enslaving bondages and habits of life. Jesus Christ suffered daily and then sacrificed Himself in the ultimate sense by dying and bearing our punishment for us. He gave Himself for our sakes, became a slave to us in order to save us. Therefore, all ministers are to become servants to men, to sacrifice themselves in serving men for the sake of Jesus Christ—because Jesus Christ did it for the minister. No higher service can be done than to serve others for the sake of Christ, the sake of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.


"And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward" (Matthew 10:42).


"But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all" (Mark 10:43-44).


"If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet" (John 13:14).


"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).


"As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10).


#5) The Ministry demands personal conversion and demands the very presence of God Himself shining in one’s heart.

Look with me at 2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”


The reason Paul preached Christ is that God had shined in his heart, that is, God had actually entered his heart and converted him. Note several points here,

          -1.  Conversion is said to be such a dramatic experience that it is best illustrated as light breaking through and overcoming darkness. In fact, creation is the only dramatic event strong enough to illustrate conversion. Conversion is so dramatic that it is like creating something new: a new creature, a new man.


"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17).


"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature" (Galatians 6:15).


"And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephes. 4:24).


"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God" (John 3:19-21).


"For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light" (Ephes. 5:8).


"That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world" (Phil. 2:15).


-2.  Conversion is wrought by God. It is God Himself who shines in our hearts and converts us.


"And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 16:17).


"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19).


"But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" (1 Cor. 2:10).


"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever" (1 Peter 1:23).


-3.  Conversion is seeking "the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." It is the knowledge that the glory of God was in Jesus Christ, that Jesus Christ was the image of God.


"Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Cor. 4:4)


"[Christ] Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature" (Col. 1:15).


"For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9).


*Next Lesson: The Ministry: Its Sustaining and Enduring Spirit, II Cor 4:7-18



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