II Cor 13:5-7 Reprobates 1/26/2003

  • You Seek a Proof of Christ Speaking in Me (Jer 6:30, II Cor 13:1-7)




#1. Examine Yourselves (2Cor 13:5, Ro 5:12, Ps 51:5, 58:3, Ro 3:10-18, Ex 20:5-6, Ro 1:28)





  • Be Watchful and Strengthen the Things (Rev 3:1-3)





#2. Except Ye Be Reprobates (II Cor 13:5, Heb 6:7-8, Phil 1:6)





  • Are There Heresies Among Us? (II Tim 3:5-8, Rom 1:16, John 3:3, Rom 10:17)





#3. I Pray That Ye Do No Evil (II Cor 13:7)





  • Search Me, O God (Psalm 139:23-24)





Please open your Bibles to the Second Epistle to the Corinthians 13:1 (2X). It is the last chapter of this second letter to the church at Corinth. The title of this sermon is: "Reprobates" (2X). This is not a popular subject to preach about, but the word "Reprobates" is in the Bible, and therefore we must talk about it. What is a "Reprobate"? A "Reprobate" is someone who is strongly condemned by God as unworthy, unacceptable, or evil. In other words, someone who remains unsaved is a "Reprobate". God says in Jer 6:30, "Reprobate silver shall they call them, because Jehovah hath rejected them". There were some in the Church at Corinth who were "Reprobates", who challenged the authority of the Apostle Paul as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why we read here in II Cor 13:

  • You Seek a Proof of Christ Speaking in Me (Jer 6:30, II Cor 13:1-7)

Let us read now the first 7 verses of II Cor 13,

2 Corinthians 13:1 This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

2 Corinthians 13:2 I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare:

2 Corinthians 13:3 Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.

2 Corinthians 13:4 For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

2 Corinthians 13:6 But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.

2 Corinthians 13:7 Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.

What is God saying here through the Apostle Paul in the first 7 verses of this chapter? The Apostle is overlooking the congregation at Corinth. Paraphrased, the reason why he will not spare is because they challenge him to a proof that Christ speaks through the Paul. It would be better if they would examine their own selves. Christ spoke through Paul, Christ lived in Paul, and Christ suffered in Paul. But Christ is not weak like Paul. Christ made Himself weak, so that He could be crucified, but Christ has shown His power in the conversions at the church in Corinth. Christ has shown His power in the preaching of Paul throughout the regions of Asia and Greece. And then He says in verse 5:

#1. Examine Yourselves(2X) (2Cor 13:5, Rom 5:12, Ps 51:5, 58:3, Rom 3:10-18, 1:28, Ex 20:5-6)

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

Don't keep examining Paul, but examine yourselves. Examin if God has saved you and given you

faith. Don't you know that everyone in the human race comes into the world as a desperate sinner? Don't you know that "the human heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked"? (2X).

How did it happen that mankind got in this sad state of affairs? Well, it occurs in three ways: #1 through inheritance, #2 through our own inclination, and #3 through imitation. Let us read the Scriptures that teach us what goes on inside us. Please turn about 55 pages to your left, to the Epistle to the Romans 5:12 (2X). In Romans chapter 5 we are introduced to our reconciliation to God. Do we know what the meaning is of reconciliation? Reconciliation means to bring peace between two enemies. Before our salvation we were enemies of God. We became enemies of God first of all through our inheritance from Adam. We read in Rom 5:12 about our sin by inheritance:

Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

In other words, Adam sinned by eating from "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil", and the consequence of that original sin, death, was passed unto all mankind. When Adam ate of the fruit of that tree he died spiritually, instantly. But God also gave an outward sign of that spiritual death, and that is the death of the body. The dying of the body is not the main penalty for eating of the fruit of "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil". The process of dying of the body is over within about 70 to 80 years. But the death of the soul is the main penalty, because the death of the soul is a process of dying that is a continual suffering throughout eternity. In Psalm 51:5 God spoke through the pen of king David, where He says: "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me". It does not mean that the act of conceiving is sinful, because God created marriage, and God created procreation in marriage. But this verse tells us that when we were conceived in our mother's womb, we were already infected with the sin of Adam. We inherited that sin.

Secondly, our sins accumulate through our own inclination. We read for example in Psalm 58:3, "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies". Who are those wicked babies? They are all the babies everywhere in the world and throughout time. It applies to every human being in the world. We all come into the world like that, wicked, speaking lies, and in rebellion against God. From Romans 5 please turn 3 pages to your left to Romans 3:10. There God lists the sins we accumulate through our own inclination. God says in Rom 3:10-18,

"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps (a poisonous viper) is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes."

That really sums it up: Man accumulates sins because, "there is no fear of God before their eyes".

Thirdly, mankind accumulates sins by imitation from their parents, or from their peers, or by seeing it in the newspaper, or on television, or on the Internet, and so on. That is why every generation is more wicked than the previous one it came from. The clearest example of this is stated in Ex 20:5-6, or in Deut 5:9-10. In this case it refers to idolatry. Let me read it to you from Ex 20:5,

Exodus 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; (You heard me quote these words many times.)

Is God punishing the children for the sins of the fathers? No! We must harmonize this verse with what God says in Ezekiel 18:20, "The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him". Everyone bears the guilt of his own sins. Therefore, what God says in Ex 20:5 is that the children imitate the sins of their parents, and then add to it a little wickedness of their own making. This is how the iniquity of the fathers is visited upon the children to the third and fourth generation of them that show they hate God, by violating His commandments.

The natural inclination of every human being is to violate God's commandments. On the other hand, in Ex 20:6 (which is the following verse) God says: "And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments". In other words, if someone does not imitate his or her parents, but loves God and keeps His commandments, it is because God has showed mercy on that person. You want to take note here that God's mercy is given to individuals, and not to generations. That is why it is so important that we teach our children the truth of what the Bible says, because they too need God's mercy in salvation. But if God leaves us on our own, what will be the result? Please turn 2 pages to your left, to Rom 1:28 (2X), where God says,

Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

When a generation reaches a level of wickedness that exceeds the level of tolerance with God, then God gives them over to a reprobate mind. When God gives people over, there is no more hope for them. God considers both sin and sinners so abominable and so awful that they have to be removed out of His sight and they have to be quarantined in a place called Hell. Now that we know the three ways we acquire sin, through inheritance, through our own inclination, and through imitation, let us ask ourselves again in the words of II Cor 13:5, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith"? Is the Spirit of Christ in us, or are we still in the unsaved state? What kind of faith do we discover within ourselves? Be watchful that we do not deceive ourselves. Let us look at an example:

  • Be Watchful and Strengthen the Things (Rev 3:1-3)

Please turn with me to the Revelation of John, chapter 3:1 (2X). This is the last prophecy in our Bible. The entire prophecy of Revelation, all 22 chapters of it, was written to the seven churches of Asia Minor, which are symbolically representing all the churches in the NT period of time. But in chapters 2 and 3 God addresses each of the seven churches individually. This was written around 100 AD, but already at that time 5 of the 7 churches were not faithful to Christ. There were only two churches that received Christ's approval. In chapter 3 God addresses the church at Sardis. Certainly, here is an example of a church that had to examine themselves. Let us read Rev 3:1-3.

Revelation 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

Revelation 3:2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

Revelation 3:3 Remember therefore HOW thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

The church at Sardis was an active church. They had a reputation for being alive for Christ. Perhaps they had all kinds of programs going, supposedly for the work of the Kingdom of God. But the Lord Jesus said, "You are dead". It does not mean that every individual in that church was unsaved, because in verse 2 Christ mentioned that there were still a few things which remain acceptable in the sight of God, but they too were ready to die. And in verse 4 Christ mentioned that there were still a few faithful people, doing whatever they could to save the church. What could possibly be the reason for the church's deadness? The only words that give us a clue in this direction are the words in the beginning of verse 3: "Remember therefore HOW thou hast received and heard, and keep, and repent". What were they to keep and repent of? They had to keep and remember HOW they had received and heard the Gospel of salvation, with the emphasis on HOW. It was entirely by grace. There was no other way they could have received salvation and heard the Gospel. If all mankind comes into the world as enemies of God, then there is no way anyone can become saved by their own free will. If God wants to save anyone, then God must do it all by His grace. Apparently within the church, in their preaching and in their Bible studies and in their evangelism, they had drifted away from the Gospel of grace. Of this they had to repent. If they abandon salvation by grace, the entire church would die. This is what we see also today in many churches that have left the doctrines of grace, and have adopted a "do it yourself salvation". Initially they flourish, attracting many to their free will gospel. Since no one gets saved hearing such a man made gospel, the number of faithful workers dwindles, until they have to bring in the women to run the show. From there it is only going down hill, and such a church cannot bear the approval of Christ.

Please turn again to our text in II Cor 13:5. God says there:

#2. Except Ye Be Reprobates (II Cor 13:5, Heb 6:7-8, Phil 1:6). What does this mean?

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

The second half of this verse says: If His Spirit is not in us, then we are reprobates. We can know if the Spirit of Christ is in us. We can know this by our faith to believe the entirety of the Scriptures. We can know this by our desire to hear and read the Word of God, because we delight to hear the voice of the Bridegroom. We can know this by our desire to keep His commandments, and His commandments are not grievous. We can know this by the love we have for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we love to meet with them on Sundays. We can know this by the little insight God has given us when we read and study His Word. We can know this by our desire to pray, because we desire to have fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. We can know this by our desire to tell people the Gospel of salvation, because God has given us that mission in the world. We know this by our understanding of the sharp edge of the Sword of God, Rev 22:18-19, and how we can have discernment by applying this passage. We can know this by our desire to give God all the credit and all the glory in our salvation as well as in our sanctification, and we are careful not to usurp some of the credit to ourselves. All this is condensed in the faith God has given us to believe all that He has said in the Holy Scriptures. This how we can examine ourselves if we are in the faith. Why would we want to test ourselves? In verse 5 God says that we should test ourselves. We want to obey His Word. And there is a great reward for taking this test. If we find that we are in the faith, we will know that the Spirit of Christ dwells in our souls. This is a great comfort.

But then God adds the words, "Except ye be reprobates". If God has mercy on us, He will let us know that we failed the test, and that we are still in need of salvation. But if we are reprobates we will not be able to examine ourselves and take this test. If we are reprobates we will deceive ourselves when we do take this test, and we will think that we are saved when we are not. If we are reprobates we may think that Christ is in us, but we are fooling ourselves. If we are reprobates we may sit in church Sunday after Sunday, having the water of the Word of God poured over us, but never does the seed of the Gospel take hold within us. God gave an example of that in Heb 6. Please turn about 60 pages to your right, to Hebrews 6:7 (2X). Here in Hebrews chapter 6 God describes a person who has been enlightened with the Word of God, and has tasted of the heavenly gift, and even was made a partaker of the Holy Ghost by participating in the distribution of the true Gospel. This person has been thoroughly drenched in the Water of the Gospel, but remains unsaved. How can this person know that he or she is still unsaved? This person falls away to another gospel. Then we read in Heb 6

Hebrews 6:7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:

Hebrews 6:8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected <96>, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

God writes as if this person's heart is represented by the third soil, in the Parable of the Sower that Jesus told in Matthew chapter 13. As you remember, the third soil was overgrown with thorns. That word "rejected" in verse 8 is the same Greek word that has been translated "reprobate" in most other places. This person is called a reprobate, because God has rejected him. That is the reason why he fell away. This is not always recognized in other churches. They speak of those people as a "carnal Christian", or as a "backslider" who has temporarily back slidden into sin. This is a teaching that is not in the Bible. The Bible teaches that the Saints will persevere unto the end. Remember the words of Phil 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ". We must be careful that there are no heresies among us.

  • Are There Heresies Among Us? (II Tim 3:5-8, Rom 1:16, John 3:3, Rom 10:17)

Are we able to examine ourselves to see if we are promoting our own ideas? If we are promoting our own ideas, we are blind to our own sins, and Christ does not approve of us. Can we perhaps discover if we have skidded into apostasy like so many other churches have done? Can we examine ourselves and see if there are heresies among us? What does it take to see that? The answer to this question is: ARE WE TEACHABLE? Are we open to up-building criticism? I do not mean that we must accept as true the gossip that has spread around that we are a cult of some sort. That is just malicious gossip, for which the perpetrators shall be judged. No! I mean, are we open to valid criticism that can be substantiated with the Bible? My answer is that we must always be open to such kind of up-building criticism. If we are closed to that kind of teaching, we will most likely slide into the situation where the Roman church landed 500 years ago, before the Reformation. God gave an example of such religious nonsense in II Tim chapter 3. Please turn about 12 pages to your left, to II Tim 3:5 (2X). In II Timothy chapter 3 God speaks about the "last days". This refers to the very last days of the NT period of time. Another name for those very last days is: The Final Tribulation Period. We do not know when the FTP starts. We do not worry about its timing, but we do want to sound the warning that we are living in a time where some crazy things are taking place. God says in II Tim 3:5,

2 Timothy 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

2 Timothy 3:6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

2 Timothy 3:7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2 Timothy 3:8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

There is that word again: "Reprobates". The title of this Sermon is "Reprobates". God warns us for the reprobates here in II Tim 3, and in a number of other places. These are people who are "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof". It means that these are people, who make an appearance of having been saved by the Gospel of Christ, but they are denying the power of the Gospel and they are denying the power of God to save to the uttermost. What is the power of the Gospel? We read in Rom 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth". The Gospel is not a force that operates apart from God. The words of the Gospel would only have power with God's presence to turn sinners into Saints. If sinners must be saved, according to the election of God, then those sinners must have a spiritual rebirth. The Lord Jesus said in John 3:3, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again (Lit: born from above), he cannot see the kingdom of God". That spiritual rebirth takes place when these elect at a certain point in their life hear the Gospel preached to them. Then they receive a new soul from God the Holy Spirit and they believe the Gospel. That is why God says in Rom 10:17, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God".

They who are "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" are those who deny that God uses His saving power to save those people whom He intended to save. The Bible declares that before the foundation of the world God made the decision who will be saved, and God made the decision who will remain unsaved. By His grace He saved only those whom He planned to save, and He passed by all others. Why must we repeat this doctrine every Sunday? We must repeat this, because this is the only Gospel that gives God all the honor and all the glory. We cannot repeat this often enough, because this is the Gospel that is fading away in our time. Pray that our children will still be able to hear this wonderful Gospel of the Bible when they have grown up.

Please turn in your Bibles about 50 pages to your left, to II Cor 13: 5 (2X). Let us now review what we have gleaned out of II Cor 13:5. We have seen the sad state of affairs of all mankind and the three sources of sins we accumulate on our record from the day we have been conceived. We have seen that we must examine ourselves, to know where we stand, or in which army we are enrolled. Is it the army of Christ, or are we still in the army of Satan? There is no neutral middle ground. Next we have seen that we must examine ourselves as to what kind of Gospel we are spreading into the world. Are we watchful to preserve the Gospel of grace alone? Next we have seen that we must examine ourselves whether God's Holy Spirit dwells within us. This we can do. But if we are reprobates we will not be able to examine ourselves. Next we have seen that we must examine ourselves to see if there are any heresies among us. This creates the requirement that we must always be teachable, and always open to criticism, provided we use the Bible as our guide. All these examinations flow out of II Cor 13:5. Now that we know where we stand, we see that the Apostle Paul continues his message in II Cor 13 by strongly indicating two parties. He uses the pronouns "ye" and "we". We read in V. 6&7,

2 Corinthians 13:6 But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.

2 Corinthians 13:7 Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.

In verse 6 he says: "I trust that you Corinthians shall know that we, Paul and his companions, are

not reprobates". Of course, if they could not trust these missionaries, then whom can they trust? But Paul says more in these words. Paul says that he trusts that the Corinthians will see that he had the authority of an Apostle, and that he had the authority to punish the disobedient.

But verse 7 is not so easily understandable.

#3. I Pray to God That Ye Do No Evil (II Cor 13:7)

Paul knows that there are some in the congregation who do not believe that the Lord Jesus Christ sent him. He prays that they would not generate an occasion for Paul that he must discipline them. He would rather be regarded as an impostor by some of the congregation, than that they by doing wrong should give him occasion to show that he was not a deceiver. In other words, the Apostle says: "Now I pray to God that you do no evil, so that we do not need to discipline you. It is not that we want to appear approved <dokimos>, it is not that we want to show off that we have received this authority from Christ, but that you should do that which is honest, even though we be regarded as reprobates <adokimos> by some of you. But you should do that which is honest, because your reputation as a Christian witness is at stake". The great desire of faithful ministers of the Gospel is that the Gospel we preach may be honored. We can be vilified and gossiped about, and all that is not important, but Christ must increase, and we may decrease. That is why I pray to God that ye do no evil.

May we apply that also to our church? We, the leaders in our congregation also pray that you, the people of the congregation, will always behave in such a manner that you bring glory to God. And when a visitor observes this congregation, we pray that you do not shame our church by unruly behavior, or by making noises during the worship service. Our reputation as a witness for Christ is at stake. In order that we may appropriately examine ourselves as witnesses for Christ, please turn at this time to Psalm 139:23 (2X).

  • (2)Search Me, O God (Psalm 139:23)

This is a psalm of David to the Chief Musician. We read in verses 1 and 2,

Psalm 139:1 <<To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.>> O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.

Ps 139:2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

How fearful, that God knows all our thoughts afar off. And then we read in verse 23,

Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

Can we really say this to God? Will we turn to the Lord to let Him show us what goes on in our hearts: perhaps bitterness toward a person in our life, or perhaps an unforgiving spirit, or perhaps a tendency to gossip about people, or perhaps an inclination to put on a show of godliness, or perhaps a nasty attitude toward our spouse, or perhaps we play with the idea that someone else's spouse would be much nicer to live with than our own spouse, or perhaps we have the preacher for lunch, and so on. If we would be left on our own, would we come up with these points and tell God about it?

Think about it now. Are these the things that we want to confess to the Lord? Well, if these issues really exist in our hearts, then we must confess these to the Lord. This is what it means to examine ourselves. Then we read in Psalm 139:24,

Psalm 139:24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Of course there are many wicked ways in me. I am still living in this body that is inclined to sin. But are you not glad that this psalm does not end there? We read: "and lead me in the way everlasting". What is the way everlasting? It is the narrow way that leads to eternal life with God in Heaven. And most certainly it is a narrow way, with relatively few people on it. It is not a popular way at all. But it is the way that is absolutely Biblical. This is the way that Jesus pointed to when He said: "No man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father". And from that time many of His disciples walked no more with Him. But if you have been directed to that way by the grace of God, then your destiny is secure. "Lord, see if there are any wicked ways in me, forgive me and lead me in the path of righteousness that I need so desperately".

This reminds me of I John 1:8-9. If you can find it quickly you may want to turn to that passage. I John 1:8-9 (2X) "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". Does this mean that we must confess our sins before we are forgiven? No! That is not the meaning of this verse. When the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross for our sins, none of our sins were yet confessed. In fact, they were not even committed yet. But if the Lord Jesus did suffer and die for anyone of us, He could not leave out one sin that we would have forgotten to confess, because that one unpaid sin would bring us down to Hell. The Lord Jesus either paid for all of your sins, or He did not pay for any of them. There is no group of people of whom part of their sins have been paid by the Lord Jesus, because they would still go to Hell for their unpaid sins. The Lord Jesus Christ did not endure the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for those who themselves go to Hell.

But is it not wonderful to know that all our sins have been paid in full? If anyone of you, old people and young children included, if anyone of you has examined yourselves and you have found that you indeed are one of God's elect, then you are on your way to glory. Nothing can stop your joy.


Amen. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.