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The Scriptorium

Living for Jesus

And dying to self. 2 Corinthians 5.12-15

2 Corinthians 5 (4)

Pray Psalm 27.11-13.
Teach me Your way, O LORD,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.

Sing Psalm 27.11-13.
(St. Denio: Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise)
LORD, teach us; LORD, lead us because of our foes!
Hear, LORD, when we plead for release from their woes.
Had we not believed all Your goodness to see,
our heart sorely grieved and in turmoil would be.

Read 2 Corinthians 5.1-15; meditate on verses 12-15.


1. Why did Paul want the Corinthians to be able to boast in him?

2. How are we who believe supposed to live?

Paul wanted the Corinthians to speak up against those false apostles who, apparently, were still harassing the churches. These men boasted in outward appearances: “Look how many people are coming to our meetings!” But they did not have a heart for the Lord, only for their own interests (v. 12). The Corinthians knew Paul’s heart was both for God and for them (v. 13); gladly would he spend and be spent on their behalf (2 Cor. 12.15).

The false apostles were living for themselves, whereas they should have been dying to themselves and living for Jesus (vv. 14, 15). But what does it mean to live for Jesus?

Paul unfolded the answer to that question through these two epistles. Living for Jesus means seeking unity in Him, not division. Those who are living for Jesus are not content to remain babes in the Lord. They have the mind of Christ and therefore want to grow, identify and fulfill their calling, discover and use their gifts, increase in love, do everything for God’s glory, contribute praise and worship to the community, help keep one another focused on the Lord’s return, comfort and encourage one another, become a fragrance of Jesus to their world, and concentrate on unseen things so that they can be effective vessels for the grace of God.

This is what Paul taught, and it’s how he lived when he was among the Corinthians. If we have died with Jesus to our old sinful selves (v. 14), then let us live for Jesus in the resurrection life of His Spirit (v. 15). We want Jesus to increase in and through us and our old selves to decrease day by day (Jn. 3.30). What a glorious and thrilling prospect! That we might be daily transformed, from glory to glory, into the image of Jesus Christ so that whatever we do will be for the glory of God (2 Cor. 3.12-18; 1 Cor. 10.31).

No amount of false teaching can persuade one who is living for Jesus to live any other way.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“And God spoke all these words, saying:
‘I AM the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
You shall have no other gods before Me’” (Ex. 20.1-3). He then went on to spell out what living in His kingdom looks like for every believer, in all time—past, present, future—and how we show Him our love and thankfulness for what He has done for us (Ex. 20.1-17).

And now, He has given us Jesus, the One Who died for all, because all are dead in their trespasses and sins (Rom. 3.23; 6.23).

Because He has done this for us, we must no longer live for ourselves, but for Him Who died and rose again for us (2 Cor. 5.15). To cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1.9).

Very clear, this should be, and understandable because “when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (2 Cor. 3.16), enabling us to see the truth of the Gospel. Therefore, our complete aim then is “to be pleasing to Him” (2 Cor. 5.9). “For the love of Christ compels us” (2 Cor. 5.14), aims us, and directs us to “be daily transformed, from glory to glory, into the image of Jesus Christ so that whatever we do will be for the glory of God.”

Living for Jesus a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;

Yielding allegiance, gladhearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.

Living for Jesus through earth’s little while,
My dearest treasure, the light of His smile;
Seeking the lost ones He died to redeem,
Bringing the weary to find rest in Him.

O Jesus, Lord and Savior,
I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy atonement,
Didst give Thyself for me;
I own no other Master,
My heart shall be Thy throne;

My life I give, henceforth to live,
O Christ, for Thee alone.

(Thomas O. Chisholm, 1917)

For reflection
1. Is there any area of your life where you are not consciously and consistently living for Jesus?

2. How can you know when, in any area of your life, you are living for yourself rather than for Jesus?

3. What can you do today to encourage your fellow believers to live for Jesus?

We should not make ourselves, but Christ, the end of our living and actions. A Christian’s life should be devoted to Christ. Alas, how many show the worthlessness of their professed faith and love, by living to themselves and to the world! Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5.12-15

Pray Psalm 27.1-10.
Pray for more grace, so that you live in the light of Jesus and keep your eyes on Him throughout the day.

Sing Psalm 27.1-10.
(St. Denio: Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise)
LORD, You are our Light and our Savior most dear!
You guard us with might; therefore, whom shall we fear?
Though evil surround us, our enemies fall;
no harm shall confound us when on You we call.

One thing we request but to dwell with You, LORD.
Your beauty to test and to think on Your Word.
In trouble You hide us secure in Your grace;
no foe may o’erride us: We sing of Your praise.

Hear, LORD, when we cry and be gracious, we pray!
LORD, do not deny us Your favor this day!
Our help, our salvation, though others may fall,
preserve our good station when on You we call.

T. M. and Susie Moore

Growing in prayer
Growing in Christ begins in and is sustained by prayer. But how can we improve our prayer life so that we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord? Our free online course, “Perspectives on Prayer”, can lead you to a deeper and more satisfying prayer life with the Lord. Watch this brief introductory video, then enroll for the course and download the materials. Get a friend or two to go through it with you and strengthen one another for the work of prayer.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.

Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalteravailable by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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