ImmerseMessiah NLT - Page 165



2:8–3:7
2 C o ri n thia n s
153
him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. So I urge you
now to reaffirm your love for him.
I wrote to you as I did to test you and see if you would fully comply with
my instructions. When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when
I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ’s authority for
your benefit, so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with
his evil schemes.
When I came to the city of Troas to preach the Good News of Christ, the
Lord opened a door of opportunity for me. But I had no peace of mind
because my dear brother Titus hadn’t yet arrived with a report from you.
So I said good-bye and went on to Macedonia to find him.
But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead
us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the
knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a
Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To
those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But
to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is
adequate for such a task as this?
You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal
profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us.
Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Are we like others, who
need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write
such letters on their behalf? Surely not! The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our
hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you.
Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry
among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the
Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human
hearts.
We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through
Christ. It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own.
Our qualification comes from God. He has enabled us to be ministers of
his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit.
The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the
Spirit gives life.
The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with
such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face.





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