The context of 2 Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.2 Corinthians 5:10
You know, Paul went to an awful lot of meticulous clarification for us to go destroy what he said by using one of his own statements against it. Now, if we claim “The Bible says it, so I believe it!” how do we explain the discrepancies between the particular verse we are being “honest” about and the verses all around it that we aren’t being honest with? Other verses? we say.
But you and I have read, no, we have MEMORIZED this verse and have used it as an ACCUSATION. All we hear is “… whether good or BAD, BAD, BAD!” Or else I think I’m doing pretty “good” and you’re doing pretty “bad”. That’s just as stinky, isn’t it? What if Paul never meant it that way?
Wasn’t this the same Paul that one year earlier told the Corinthians
I am conscious of NOTHING against myself … 1 Corinthians 4:4
Are you following me here? What could make a man this confident? In the same verse he clarified,
…yet I am not by THIS acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.
Maybe all the Judgment-Seat sermons we have heard have left us shaking in our boots, but Paul inserted it as the REASON for his acquittal! Did you hear that? Paul was confident in knowing that the Lord - not man - was his examiner!! Why? Follow his thoughts. He was aware of NOTHING against himself - no sin, no evil, no darkness - nothing. But his clear conscience was NOT the reason for his acquittal. It was because the examiner had cleared him by His OWN doing. Remember Paul’s predetermined view: “CHRIST, and him crucified”? Don’t we know this?
CONFIDENCE is what the judgment seat of Christ in 2 Corinthians is all about. Why are we apprehensive when Paul’s words exuded confidence? The Greek word for “good courage” also means “confidence”. That’s how Goodspeed accurately translated it (see the last Shoveletter). We use it the same way in English; for what else do we mean when we say, “Take courage!”?
Aside from that, Paul’s whole presentation was about the KNOWING of a reality that cannot be seen in the temporary world.
Listen to 2 Corinthians 5:1-9 again with different words:
Remove the body and what remains is the reality of God, which is eternal in the realm unseen to us now. We groan over the discrepancy we sense within ourselves as we long for our appearance to match our reality in Him. Our desire is not to have our temporary “seen” appearance removed, but to have the eternally “seen” appearance overtake it! This is what God has prepared us for, and He has given us His Spirit as a pledge of exactly this. We are confident, for we know that the body we are now in is only temporary, not the eternal one seen by God - which means that our real life is not lived in view of what we see, but as those walking by another sight - so I repeat, that we are confident, even though we definitely prefer for our temporary appearance to be replaced by our eternal one in God. Our true ambition is therefore made known, because it is the same whether in this “seen” body or out of it: we desire only to please Him.shovel quote
Right now I’m going to skip verse 10 and jump to verse 11 (and will address it next time):
Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord 1 Corinthians 5:11
Sounds a little scary, huh? But what if I suggested that Paul was still describing his CONFIDENCE? Paul, no doubt, was reflecting on:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom Psalm 111:10
Try something here: “Being scared of God is the beginning of wisdom”. Doesn’t work, does it? The result of being SCARED of God is anything but the beginning of wisdom, it breeds ignorance and superstition.
You know what throws us off so much regarding that word “fear”? It is the concept embedded in the “Christian” religion that insists God was made in our image, instead of the other way around. Oh, I know the doctrines profess otherwise, but where the rubber meets the road the doctrines seem to take a detour. What I’m saying is that through our knowledge of “the fear of man” we assume that “the fear of God” must mean exactly the same thing, only toward God.
The fear of man is based on the judgment of man, which produces UNCERTAINTY in those who are joined to it. This is the meaning of the worldwide concept of “FEAR” which is understood by everything touched by man. The uncertainty is valid because it is never known how one stands in view of it. This fear is the respect of man’s judgment based upon shifting opinions of the measure of worth … and it attaches itself to all within its grasp and follows them everywhere.
The fear of God is based on the judgment of God, which produces CONFIDENCE in those who are joined to Him. This “fear” is only understood within the sphere of the life of God and it affects all who are touched by God. The confidence is valid because His judgment is based upon God’s own performance in Christ. The gospel declares that we stand before Him as the very righteousness of God for He has MADE Christ to be our righteousness. This fear is the respect of God’s unwavering judgment in Christ … and it attaches itself to all within its grasp and follows them everywhere.
* We listen to those who insist that God’s judgment is based in UNCERTAINTY, as if He sees us as having “split-personalities”. But God KNOWS who we were … and who we are NOW. He is not confused by appearances.
* We have been taught that we are on shaky ground with God. But the fact is that He has made us to “STAND” before Him.
* We are intimidated by those who preach “The fear of the Lord”, and from of “the fear of man” engendered in us we don’t recognize that they are not describing God at all, but someone more like the Wizard of Oz!
* We forget that those who do not have the Spirit ONLY know what it is to fear a god who is made in THEIR image, but have no idea what it means to “fear” the God who made man in HIS image.
* Somehow, we have been bamboozled into offering up fear-motivated deeds to God - and defending the hypocrisy of such deeds - because we are desperate to have something “good” on our account.
* We forget there is no good but God and that He judges by nothing other than Christ.
Therefore KNOWING the fear of the Lord, we PERSUADE men, but are MADE MANIFEST to God. 1 Corinthians 5:11
Do you remember the translation Goodspeed gave “are made manifest to God”? “My true character is perfectly plain to God”. Whatever is “made manifest” is revealed for what it really is. To know the fear of the Lord is to be known by God according to HIS judgment in Christ: NO CONDEMNATION. GOD knows this; with PEOPLE it is a different story. We speak to people of the reality of God in Christ and they don’t necessarily buy it. “… and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences (5:11).” Paul’s anticipation (hope) in these Corinthian believers was that they would see him as God saw him. Next time I’ll zero in on verse 10.