In these closing few verses of the first chapter, Paul is writing to the Corinthians of his reasoning behind not coming to them. In chapter two he continues on, telling them that he’d rather not arrive in a manner that would be heavy instead of joyful.
In a way, he also reminds them that they don’t need him in order to stand firm in faith. He confesses that he and his companions are helpers of their joy, but have no dominion over their faith.
2 Corinthians 1: King James Bible
23 Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth. 24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.
The more I read through these two verses, the more relevant they become. It’s always fun to see the Holy Ghost being clever.
What I mean is, Paul is talking about one thing, and through it, the Holy Ghost points to something completely different. What he has given us to focus on, is the authority we allow others to have over our faith.
What is Faith
Since it’s faith that we’re talking about here, let’s take a moment to make sure we’re all on the same page concerning what faith is. The definition that the Bible gives us about faith are two specific items. Substance and Evidence.
Hebrews 11: King James Bible
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
We don’t need faith in what we can see, right? And if we already have something, we no longer require hope for it.
For some people, it requires faith in order to believe in the Father’s existence. Personally, I don’t believe that faith is required any longer after being Born Again, to know that the Lord is who he says he is, and is more real than we are.
Faith and Knowing
There’s a difference between faith and knowing. I’m staring at my monitor right now, I don’t need any faith to know it’s there.
Believers have a brand new spirit born within them, and know it’s there, who it came from, and most know approximately when it was given. If we know it’s there and was given to us at a particular time under particular circumstances, why would we require any more faith to know that the one who gave it to us exists?
From the point of salvation on, the issues isn’t whether or not we have faith in the Lord’s existence, but rather placing our faith alongside reliance in him. No longer having to have faith that he exists, but having faith that he’s going to do the things he’s said, and is ever present- though our eyes or other senses may try to convince us differently.
Don’t forget, without faith it’s impossible to please God.
Hebrews 11: King James Bible
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Some people believe in the existence of the Lord, yet go no further. Without faith in the Lord to do the things he’s promised, there only remains doubt of the Lord’s character.
God is not a man that he should lie, nor is he the son of man that needs to repent. He takes particular umbrage toward being called a liar. Which is why faith in his Word is so important, and faith in his willingness and ability to stay true to it is as equally important.
Something also to remember, is that we should have faith that the Lord is faithful toward all of his promises, not just our favorites. Faith that he’ll respond to all things in the manner that he says he will. Whether we like it or not.
Now with this understanding, let’s place this context back into what Paul was saying in verses 23 & 24.
One Mediator Between God and Man
We walk by faith down the trail that the Father has blazed before us. Many different verses in the book of Proverbs help us to understand that. Faith in him and his guidance, rather than having faith in what is right in our eyes, and in the eyes of the world.
Through a believers walk of faith, all kinds of opportunities arise to adhere to things that the Lord doesn’t intend for us. Among those things, are wedges that threaten to interfere with our faith.
There is only one entity who has ever existed that is allowed to come between the Father and ourselves, and that is Christ Jesus, the only begotten Son of the Father. That’s it.
Not Mary, nor the angels, not man, beast, demon, or devils- have any place between you and the Lord. Nor do they have any form of dominion over your faith. There is only one mediator, and that’s Jesus.
1 Timothy 2: King James Bible
5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
If anyone has the God given authority to either give or take away faith, it’s him. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible for anyone else to take that place when allowed to do so.
Aside from Jesus, if we’re allowing anyone else to stand in that place between us and the Father, we do it in err.
Guard your Faith
Not only do we need to guard our line of faith between us and the Father from outside influences, but we also need to take care not to add things to it that we shouldn’t.
Sometimes when others have been placed between us and the Lord as far as faith is concerned, it’s because we’ve allowed it to happen. Guarding our faith from ourselves is a bit trickier than from outside influences.
The Lord has given us all teachers to learn from. Growth in spirit comes by the things that we learn and understand through the Word of God, and what he’s given teachers to share. What we learn can increase our faith, and if not increase, strengthen our faith in the Lord.
BUT, that’s through what’s being taught according to the Word of the Lord, and the understanding of the person sharing it. Not the person him or her self. This is something to be careful about.
The moment we become respecters of persons, and allow our faith to be re-routed through a teacher of the Word of the Lord, or an Apostle, or anyone else for that matter, we’re trading Jesus for the other person. As silly as this might appear when reading it, it happens more often than you think.
Have Faith in God
There are false teachers and false apostles out there, we all know that. And they have no problems with others placing them where Jesus should be standing. In fact, often that winds up becoming a requirement.
Those are not the people I’m talking about. The teachers and apostles I’m referring to could be right on with the Lord, and not teaching anything false at all.
But individually, people tend to place those who are in a position of giving the appearance of a higher spiritual authority, a level of reverence that shouldn’t be placed. This isn’t the teacher’s fault, but that of the follower.
Then, when the inevitable happens, and that teacher or apostle does something stupid (they’ll always be human), those who have placed their faith in the person will be wounded. Sometimes people leave not just a church, but the Christian faith all together because some guy did something that he shouldn’t have.
I Used to Believe in God But…
How many people turn away from the Lord due to the actions of his children? Many.
Our example impacts others, no doubt. But we’re not infallible, God knows I’m not!
Sometimes we place a teacher in the position of Christ, without realizing it. Instead of gaining in reverence toward the Father, we revere the apostle, teacher, evangelist, or prophet.
Erroneously, people turn their backs on the Lord because their foundation wasn’t built upon the Rock of Christ, but placed trust on the shaky ground of man. They’re wounded by the actions of someone they once respected, and are shaken to that level, as if God is the one who did the damage.
Or they throw the Lord out with the bathwater, and if the teacher did something hypocritical, then everything they taught was false as well. Including everything they taught from the Word of God, by the direction of the Lord.
The Apostle Paul is sending out a reminder, that he’s got no dominion over the faith of the Corinthians. A message just as important in those days, as it is today.
We can take lessons about the Word and about the Father without being a respecter of persons. We can have faith toward the Lord in Christ Jesus no matter where we learned about certain things.
James 2: King James Bible
2 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
If we’re to be wise, we’d be searching the scriptures as it touches learning anything, to make sure that it’s the truth, placing our faith in the words of the Lord over those given to us by man. When we do this, we avoid being deceived, and also avoid placing our faith in a person rather than the surety of the Lord.
We can not stand firm in faith without standing on the Rock. The Rock who is the Lord Jesus Christ is broad enough, and deep enough, to place all of our weight upon, and stand securely in faith.
1 Corinthians 10: King James Bible
4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.