When the Greater Comes, the Lesser Fades Away
INTERESTING FACTS : Charles Carroll, SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; SELECTED AS DELEGATE TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION; FRAMER OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS; U. S. SENATOR
"On the mercy of my Redeemer I rely for salvation and on His merits, not on the works I have done in obedience to His precepts; Grateful to Almighty God for the blessings which, through Jesus Christ Our Lord, He had conferred on my beloved country in her emancipation and on myself in permitting me, under circumstances of mercy, to live to the age of 89 years, and to survive the fiftieth year of independence, adopted by Congress on the 4th of July 1776, which I originally subscribed on the 2d day of August of the same year and of which I am now the last surviving signer."
Daily Reading : 2 CORINTHIANS 5 - 9
TEXT : 2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 5:15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 5:16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
THEME : SALVATION
2 Corinthians 5
The apostle's strong hope of eternal glory, and earnest longings after that state of blessedness, 2Co_5:1-4. The assurance that he had of it from the Holy Spirit, and his carefulness to be always found pleasing to the Lord, 2Co_5:5-9. All must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, 2Co_5:10. Knowing that this awful event must take place, he labored to convince men of the necessity of being prepared to meet the Lord, being influenced to this work by his love of Christ, 2Co_5:11-13. Jesus Christ having died for all, is a proof that all were dead, 2Co_5:14. Those for whom he died should live to him, 2Co_5:15. We should know no man after the flesh, 2Co_5:16. They who are in Christ are new creatures, 2Co_5:17. The glorious ministry of reconciliation, 2Co_5:18-21. (Adam Clarke)
2 Corinthians 6
We should not receive the grace of God in vain, having such promises of support from him, 2Co_6:1, 2Co_6:2. We should act so as to bring no disgrace on the Gospel, 2Co_6:3. How the apostles behaved themselves, preached, suffered, and rejoiced, 2Co_6:4-10. St. Paul's affectionate concern for the Corinthians, 2Co_6:11-13. He counsels them not to be yoked with unbelievers, and advances several arguments why they should avoid them, 2Co_6:14-16. Exhorts them to avoid evil companions and evil practices, on the promise that God will be their Father and that they shall be his sons and his daughters, 2Co_6:17, 2Co_6:18, (Adam Clarke)
2 Corinthians 7
The apostle's inference from the preceding exhortation, 2Co_7:1. He presses them to receive him with affection, because of his great love towards them, 2Co_7:2-4. He tells them what distress he felt on their account in Macedonia, till he had met with Titus, and heard of their prosperity, 2Co_7:6-7. He rejoices that his first epistle was made the means of their reformation, 2Co_7:8, 2Co_7:9. States how they were affected by his letter, and the process of their reformation, 2Co_7:10, 2Co_7:11. Shows why he had written to them, 2Co_7:12. Rejoices that his boasting of them to Titus is found to be a truth; and takes occasion to mention the great affection of Titus for them, and his own confidence in them, 2Co_7:13-16. (Adam Clarke)
2 Corinthians 8)
The apostle stirs them up to make a collection for the poor Christians at Jerusalem, by the very liberal contributions of the people of Macedonia for the same purpose, who were comparatively a poor people, 2Co_8:1-5. He tells them that he had desired Titus to finish this good work among them which he had begun; hoping that as they abounded in many excellent gifts and graces, they would abound in this also, 2Co_8:6-8. He exhorts them to this by the example of Jesus Christ, who, though rich, subjected himself to voluntary poverty, that they might be enriched, 2Co_8:9. He shows them that this contribution, which had been long ago begun, should have been long since finished, 2Co_8:10. And that they should do every thing with a ready and willing mind, according to the ability which God had given them; that abundance should not prevail on one hand, while pinching poverty ruled on the other; but that there should be an equality, 2Co_8:11-14. He shows from the distribution of the manna in the wilderness, that the design of God was, that every member of his spiritual household should have the necessaries of life, 2Co_8:15. He tells them that he had now sent Titus, and another with him, to Corinth, to complete this great work, 2Co_8:16-22. The character which he gives of Titus and the others employed in this business, 2Co_8:23, 2Co_8:24. (Adam Clarke)
2 Corinthians 9
St. Paul intimates that so ready were the Corinthians to make this charitable contribution, that it was scarcely necessary for him to write, 2Co_9:1, 2Co_9:2. But lest they should not be ready when he came, he had sent the brethren, Titus, etc., beforehand; lest, if any of the Macedonians should come with him, they should find them not prepared, though he had boasted so much of their ready mind, 2Co_9:3-5. He gives them directions how they shall contribute; and the advantage to be gained by it, in the fulfillment of the promises of God, 2Co_9:6-11. He shows them that by this means the poor shall be relieved, God glorified, their Christian temper manifested, and the prayers of many engaged in their behalf, 2Co_9:12-14. And concludes with giving thanks to God for his unspeakable gift, 2Co_9:15. (Adam Clarke)
TRUTH FOR TODAY : "WHEN THE GREATER COMES, THE LESSER FADES AWAY."
Being born again is the work of God. It is not the work of man - any man, no matter how sincere the intention or effort may be. When you have Christ, you also have the Father and the Holy Spirit. Thus, being "born again," is when a person receives Christ as his or her personal Savior. When this act of faith occurs, the Father - having "saved" you through faith in his Son, grants you the gift of eternal life through the spirit of Christ, which, is also the Holy Spirit. In this respect, a man or woman has God abiding in them whenever they are born again. This then, constitutes you becoming a "new creature." With that, old things now passed away, all things become new. God changes you in such a way that you are fit to enter the kingdom of heaven. This is the New Testament and it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The concept that undergirds the phrase - "new creature," is that you now live your life in the realm of the spirit and not in the domain of the flesh. The New Testament draws a distinct line between the two. The flesh always has a propensity (because it is "weak") to break the laws of God. Conversely, your spirit, as it is empowered and influenced by the Holy Spirit, always has the desire to obey God in all respects. This is fundamental Christianity. However, not understanding this basic concept of the New Testament is the reason why there is so much lawlessness in the Church today. When a person continually seeks after those things that belong to his or her flesh (that is, the sinful attractions, impulses, and sensations), he, or she is no longer living in the spirit by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the early Church, this essential doctrine was understood as the apostles of the LORD Jesus Christ made it known. However, after 2000 years in which a measure of corruption has occurred inside the Church, particularly with respect to the teaching of the Holy Bible, this simple fact is not as well known. When you live in the spirit by the power of the Holy Spirit, you naturally pursue a holy life. The nature of the spirit is to please God. The nature of the flesh is to please itself. These two are contrary one to the other. Further, the two (that is, the flesh and the spirit) are always at "war" with each other. This is the reason the Apostle Paul would write to the Galatians - "ye cannot do the things that ye would."
The reason it is difficult for a Christian - for you, to either follow God or follow your own selfish tendencies (that all Christians have) is due to the "tug-of-war" that occurs inside each and every day. For instance, when you decide to pursue holiness and the fear of God, the flesh objects and raises its voice for you to break the law of God and gratify the lusts of the flesh. On the other hand, when you yield, or try to yield to the flesh and its sinful tendencies, the spirit of the LORD raises an objection and tells you to follow Christ. This is the reason why the Apostle Paul stated you cannot do the things that you would. It is related to the total war that goes on inside of you every day.
Nevertheless, you are a new creature in Christ Jesus. Of course, this initiates and perpetuates a continual animosity between the "old nature" (that is, the flesh) and the "new nature" (that is, the presence of God the Father, God the Son, and of God the Holy Spirit) inside you. Still, what you have in Christ is far superior to anything this world can offer. To be born again, is to be born into Christ's kingdom. Remember, the kingdom of Christ - according to the prophecies of the Scriptures, both Old Testament and New, will have no end. Christ's kingdom will also know no pain, sickness, sorrow, hatred, death, etc. and so forth, nor will you ever see any other malady bought upon the world through sin (the breaking of God's laws). In Christ's kingdom, there will be a freedom, liberty, and joy unknown to man from the beginning of time. In addition, Christ's kingdom will never end.
Thus, the "new creature," is in reality a citizen of the kingdom to come. That is, being born again of the Spirit of God, means to be made a citizen of the kingdom that Christ is going to establish on the earth. In the Scriptures - both Old and New Testaments, it is written - "behold I create new heavens and a new earth." This is your hope. This is your country. You are headed toward this place. It is a kingdom (country) unlike any other. The greatness and splendor of Christ's kingdom cannot be explained or understood in words, not even the words of the Bible. The reason is, the human mind cannot comprehend the magnitude of the Glory of God. Or, as Plato once said - "God is too big for our small minds."
Jesus warned you that the world would hate you. The reason is that it hated him first. Jesus stated that he revealed the works of the world (that is, the people of the world, all people - everywhere) were evil. On the other hand, Jesus words and works were good and holy. Now, that you are born again and following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ through the experience of being born again by his Spirit, you will suffer a measure of the afflictions experienced by Jesus. Once again, the reason is the difference between the flesh and the Holy Spirit. In essence, this was the conflict between Jesus Christ and humanity. Jesus had the Holy Spirit without measure. The people of the world were (and still are) of the flesh, and consequently in darkness as it relates to truth and light. This is still the conflict. Humans are of this world. Christ is not of this world. Therefore, you have the basic concept of flesh verses spirit and of the enmity between the two. The Holy Scriptures go on to say that whoever is a friend of this world is the enemy of God. In addition, the Apostle Paul would write that if one lives their life after the flesh they will not see God.
No one can find fault with the LORD Jesus Christ. He is kind, courteous, loving, compassionate, understanding, willing to help, willing to comfort, willing to heal, and willing to save. In these characteristics alone, we see that none can find fault with Jesus. Thus, when someone does oppose Jesus Christ, the reason why is obvious - they hate him "without a cause." This is what Jesus meant in John 15:25 when he said - "But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause." Jesus - God, come in the flesh (Immanuel), is always good. He can be no other. Being good is his nature. Therefore, when you were born again it was "good." It also applies that your life is now "good." That is, as long as you follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and not the dictates of the flesh it is good. Remember, nothing God commands you to do can ever be bad.
Therefore, if any man be in Christ he (or she) is a "new creature." In addition, as you compare what you were to what you are now, you realize by experience that to receive Christ and follow him is not difficult with respect to his goodness. The reason you follow him is according to the logic of when that which is greater comes, that which is lesser fades away. You know, the life you now have in Christ is far better than anything you ever had before. Thus, you should be grateful, thankful and rejoice! The greater has come, and the lesser has faded away. You are born again and have the gift of eternal life. You will never die. However, you will live forever with Christ in his kingdom, a kingdom that will have no end.
-  From an autograph letter written by Charles Carroll to Charles W. Wharton, Esq., September 27, 1825.
-  Lewis A. Leonard, Life of Charles Carroll of Carrollton (New York: Moffit, Yard & Co, 1918), pp. 256-257.
-  Adam Clarke LL.D., F.S.A. Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible. Public Domain, 1715 - 1832.
-  Ibid
-  Ibid
-  Ibid
-  Ibid