When confronted with an accusation or some kind of slight, do we faint, or do we faint not?
I know I’ve never fainted before, so that must mean I’m good, right? Tons of people don’t faint. Unfortunately, Paul isn’t talking about being startled to the point of passing out, in the manner we use the word today. This will be one of a handful of important things we’re going to talk about, as we kick off into chapter 4 of Corinthians.
2 Corinthians 4:
1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; 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.
Why We Faint Not
Paul isn’t just talking about the fact that he and his ministerial companions don’t faint. He continues talking about why they don’t faint. And it has nothing to do with physical strength, tyranny of will, boldness, or fearlessness.
The word “faint” is being used as a verb here. Strong’s definition tells us that it means to be (bad or) weak, i.e. (by implication) to fail (in heart):—faint, be weary; to be utterly spiritless, to be wearied out, exhausted.
We’re informed in verse two, the exact reason why they’re not suffering these symptoms listed above.
Manifestation of the truth is why they faint not. A clear conscience can be a strength that isn’t easy to explain or quantify- but it’s there. There’s a strength in having nothing to hide; a lack of baggage weight hanging off of the heart.
Stick with the Truth
All of the Apostles were conveying to others that which they received from the Lord, as mentioned in the beginning of verse 1. Taking that truth and conveying it to others, keeps them removed from all the garbage of having to make things up- in other words lying.
If those who heard and witnessed didn’t believe, it isn’t the apostle’s problem, it’s the unbeliever’s problem. They received their ministry as they have received mercy. Mercu from who? The Lord.
They’re pleasing God rather than man, so if their job and appointment was to say things that people didn’t care to hear, too bad- they’re going to hear it. They didn’t change the message in order to appease the listener, cater to position or social standing, or shrink in the face of persecution.
They were given a ministry and all the contents thereof by he who created all things, who will not lie. He gave them the truth to convey unaltered.
3 Things to Renounce
verb (used with object), re·nounced, re·nounc·ing.
to give up or put aside voluntarily: to renounce worldly pleasures.
to give up by formal declaration: to renounce a claim.
to repudiate; disown: to renounce one’s son.
In order to take the truth and run with it unhindered, Paul mentions some steps they had to take, to clear the hurdles while running the race. Don’t get renouncing anything with avoidance.
If you look at the definition above, there is literal action taking place, not so much a lack of action. In other words, dodging or staying away from something is much different than voluntarily putting something aside, formally declaring against, disowning, or repudiating (which in itself has interesting meaning).
Paul tells us three things that they had to renounce, before moving forward with their ministry truthfully, honestly, and accurately.
Hidden Things of Dishonesty
They renounced the “hidden things of dishonesty.” The hidden things are the reasons and intentions that cause the lie to happen, not just a lie itself. They’re hidden in the heart, and become exposed in time through the unraveling of the lie.
Often, when you catch someone in a lie or being dishonest, you can easily determine the hidden things that the person was guided by in order to formulate the dishonesty. Even people who seemingly make mundane things that gain them nothing, have hidden reasoning for doing so.
Maybe embellishment will create a more memorable story about themselves, or an experience they’ve gone through. Perhaps someone’s reasoning is because they don’t want people to think ill of them, or just the opposite, think highly of them. Hidden things of dishonesty don’t have to harbor ill intent.
That’s what makes this such an impressive thing to renounce. Being dishonest under the greatest of intentions is no less dishonest.”The Emperor’s new Clothes” comes to mind for a good example.
Not Walking in Craftiness
Craftiness is a good thing as it relates to being resourceful or handy, but not as it relates to the Gospel. In fact, as far as the Gospel is concerned, craftiness stands for using false wisdom cunningly.
Making things up that sound good but aren’t true happens all the time, within and without the Church. Probably one of the biggest in this country, would be, “You can be anything you want to be.” Really? Point that out for me in scripture please.
Sure, you can work, toil; live your life pursuing whatever it is you want to be. We’ve got free will, and someone determined enough can eventually wind up being who or what they want to be. But what about what the Lord wills for us to be?
There’s the subtle craftiness at play. The Lord is conveniently removed from that thought, and replaced with YOU. Craftiness will always further remove us from the will of the Lord, and this includes those who purvey craftiness alongside those who adhere to it.
That’s just one easy, popular example. It even sounds good and is fun to say! Craftiness removes the purity from truth, distorting it in order to achieve a particular goal. This way of doing things was also renounced by the Apostles.
Handling the Word of God Deceitfully
Handling the Word of God deceitfully is different than being crafty, as craftiness is geared more toward making things up. Being deceitful with the Word is taking it and giving it false attributes, removing the design, intent, and Godly wisdom from the Word.
I’ll use snake handlers as an example. Yes, the Bible talks about treading upon snakes and scorpions, and it also gives record of Paul being bitten by a poisonous snake and miraculously not being harmed.
19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
3 And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. 4 And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.
5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. 6 Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.
This is the basis of the Snake Handling Christians, to prove that God will keep them safe from the bite of a serpent.
These verses are being used deceitfully. In all that scripture, nowhere does it say to go out and collect snakes (particularly those that can cause injury or death), and fool around with them for awhile.
Paul was gathering wood for the fire, and one happened to bite him. He didn’t scour the woods looking for a snake to grab. Scripture would call this “Tempting the Lord.”
9 And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: 10 For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: 11 And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
12 And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
If you’re in service to the Father according to his will, and you fall off a cliff, you’re in good hands. If you make the decision to jump off of the same cliff, you’re on your own.
This is just one of thousands of examples we can talk about, as it relates to handling the Word of God deceitfully.
The Apostles stayed true to the Word of God, the Spirit of the Lord, and will of God, through renouncing deceitful teachings and misuse of the Word.
These two opening verses give us a ton to think about.
- How honest are we to ourselves?
- How honest are we with others?
- How honest are we as it relates to our relationship to the Father?
- How honest are we with the Word of God?
Paul said “but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God,” is how they operated under an enormous amount of pressure in ministry without fainting.
How they lived, what they said, how they carried themselves in the sight of man was the same way they carried themselves when it was just they and the Lord.
Some people act holy in front of others, and are the devil when alone with only the Lord to bear witness. Other people act like the devil in front of others, but behave saintly when alone with the Lord.
Then there’s the category Paul’s talking about when he says “to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” Thoughts, intent, way of living and being, is the same across the board when being witnessed by only the Father, or the Father along with others.
Between the two options (in front of God or in front of God and others), there’s one constant. We’re constantly in the sight of the Father no matter who else is around.
When we live to please him, we seek to do so when we’re alone, or with others- no matter where we go or who we’re around, he’s there. Living in righteousness and being upright at heart, not giving in to dishonesty, craftiness, or deceit, is far easier when our heart and mind is on the Father, and the things of the Lord.
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- Daily Inspiration from Proverbs 28 P. 447 – Flattering Words
- Daily Inspiration from Proverbs 19 P. 256 – Walking in Integrity
- Daily Inspiration from Proverbs 25 P. 381 – Deceitful
- Snake Handling Christians
- Being Known -2 Corinthians 3 Part 1