Courage for the New Year

Stefan Nitzschke January 2, 2022
Outline

4 steps toward living courageously in 2022

I. Rejoice that God Plans to Give Us a Body Designed for Eternal Life (vv. 1-5)

A. Knowing that our present body is not fully satisfying

2 Corinthians 5:2 - For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven.

B. Knowing that God gave us His Spirit as a pledge of the glory to come

2 Corinthians 5:5 - Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.

II. Enjoy Your Relationship with God Through Faith (vv. 6-8)

Hebrews 4:15-16 - For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 11:1-2 - Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.

III. Focus on Pleasing God with Your Life (v. 9)

2 Corinthians 5:9 - Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.

A. With all our might and energy

B. Not allowing circumstances to change the goal

IV. Remember Eternal Rewards Go to the Faithful (v. 10)

2 Corinthians 5:10 - For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 - For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

A. Pursuing what is good

B. Avoiding what is worthless

We have an opportunity this morning to study a unique passage before launching into our 2022 series

Please open up in your Bibles to 2 Corinthians 5 as we discuss how to attain Courage for the New Year

*Screwtape Letters (Screwtape to Wormwood)

“This, indeed, is probably one of the Enemy's motives for creating a dangerous world — a world in which moral issues really come to the point. He sees as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky.” – C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters

Text

1For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. 4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. 6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight— 8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Sd

With the time we have remaining, let’s go over 4 steps toward living courageously in 2022

Even in this world riddled with trials and tribulations, we are able to…

I. Rejoice that God plans to give us a body designed for eternal life (1-5)

By way of introduction, the context of 2 Corinthians is a rather complicated one…

Paul is forced into the awkward position of needing to justify his apostleship to a group that he has poured himself out to—the Corinthian believers

As he’s away, dissenters infiltrate the congregation, seeking to win them over with conventionally held manifestations of power and persuasion

In other words, these wicked men try to steal the Corinthian’s affection and allegiance away from Paul

They do this by bolstering themselves up and publicly demeaning Paul

What’s his rebuttal? How does he seek to slay his competition and win back his beloved Corinthians?

Does he adopt their strategy of boasting in their own strengths and pointing out the weaknesses of the other?

The coup de grace of Paul’s main argument is outlined in chapter 12, amidst a recorded conversation between he and the Lord

Paul asks for a great burden in his life to be removed, and the Lord replies:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9b-10

What’s the inevitable outcome of placing confidence in our own strength, beauty, intellect, capacity, etc.?

Each has its limits, as well as a clear expiration date

Placing confidence in any of these may produce certain and immediate results, but those results are always temporary

Did you ever have someone make fun of you in elementary school?

What was the greatest comeback in the history of all playgrounds?

“I know you are, but what am I?” (*examples: you’re dumb, you’re bad at kickball, etc.)

Paul hears these wicked men hurling insults at him, and he promptly replies with: “I know I am—but what are you?”

I know I’m weak… what do you think you are?

I know I’m a broken sinner… what do you think you are?

I know I’m insufficient… what do you think you are?

Paul has a different source of confidence/boldness/courage

Only his doesn’t stem from temporal things—his courage is derived from the unshakable person of Christ

Chapter 5—our passage for today—sits in the middle of this grand argument

Paul uses a real-world example as he points out that we can rejoice in what is to come…

A) Knowing that our present body is not fully satisfying

*sleep injury (personal story)

*chronic pain (congregants)

*terminal illness (loved ones)

We don’t need to look very far for examples of the temporary nature of our bodies—each of us has personal experience with this fact

Let me read the first 4 verses of our passage again—listen for where Paul is calling us to place our courage as he lays out this practical example:

For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. – 2 Corinthians 5:1-4

Is he compelling us to derive our courage from our own strength, beauty, intellect, or capacity?

Instead, he points out the obvious to a congregation that was placing value on the wrong things

He describes our current residence (i.e., body) as a “tent,” while we await a building made in the heavens…

*Africa—tent vs house

There is a longing in every human for this building

It’s seen in the brokenness our bodies experience

It’s seen in the frustrating lack of satisfaction built into our bodies (never fit enough, never enough pleasure, never strong enough—and when we think we’ve arrived, it fades as fast as it appeared)

And if you are not yet convinced of the futility of this body, you need only… WAIT

Though the fall of mankind (as told in Genesis 3) instilled this mortality into our bodies, God was gracious to not leave His own without a foretaste of what is to come

We can rejoice in the pending eternal body…

B) Knowing that God gave us his Spirit as a pledge of the glory to come

We’re given this promise in v 5…

Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. – 2 Corinthians 5:5

Much could be said about the work of the Spirit in the life of the believer

But Paul is using The Spirit’s indwelling of the believer in Christ—not to build a theological treatise in this instance—but to provide hope and courage!

Blood-washed brother and sister: what is this incredible gift we are given the instant we are saved (i.e., confess Jesus as Lord and believe He is who He says He is)?

Himself – eternal, imperishable, Almighty God—dwelling in US

Does that mean we BECOME God(s)?

Absolutely not—there is only One God, and as Gandalf once said: He does not share power 😊

While His function in our life is multifaceted, Paul is pointing out the greatest cause for courage in this broken world—Himself in us

*exorbitantly wealthy father (down payment of 7 mil)

How would this change your spending, knowing not only what you HAVE but what is COMING?

I’ll leave that response between you and Jesus, but let me get to the point:

How much greater is it that The Lord, in pointing to the imperishable body that we will one day receive, has chosen to give us His Spirit as a pledge?

How does that change your view towards aging? Sickness? Pending death?

Brothers and sisters—what do we have to fear, knowing the power of the pledge we have been given???

We can have courage, as we look to the imperishable body that the Lord has promised us

And while you wait, you can…

II. Enjoy Your Relationship with God Through Faith (6-8)

Verses 6-8 is where we get our theme of courage for this morning—the virtue that is necessary for the validity of all other virtues…

Paul mentions COURAGE as a natural outflow of the right focus in verses 6 and 8

The question is—what is the right focus that creates this coveted courage?

The answer is found sandwiched in the middle—verse 7: “for we walk by faith, not by sight…”

First, what does it mean to walk by SIGHT?

As dangerous as it may be, let’s bring up the example that the demon Screwtape brings up in the quote we opened with

Pilate desired to be merciful—Scripture even shows that his own wife pleaded with him to do so

Assuming Pilate walked by SIGHT (and not by FAITH), what can we presume Pilate SAW?

*angry, threatening mob

*consequences with Caesar

*political disadvantages

*etc.

His decisions were based out of his own perceived understanding of the situation

Mercy held out exactly as long as his fleshly “courage” (so-called) would allow…

So it is with us—when we walk by sight, we are chaste, honest, or merciful until danger or desire reveals our cowardice

What then does it mean to walk by FAITH?

Let’s look to the One who ran the race of FAITH perfectly:

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:15-16

Courage is built by living in the Spirit, who points to the imperishable body that is coming

Additionally, courage is built by looking to Jesus—the most courageous Being in existence

1) Courageous enough to step down from his heavenly throne

2) Courageous enough to wade through this world of brokenness and temptation—yet totally without sin

3) Courageous enough to face an unimaginably torturous death, while the wrath of God was poured out on Him

What does it mean to walk courageously by FAITH?

1) Follow in the HUMILITY that Jesus displayed in coming down from heaven

*ex: sacrificially serve (opportunity this CFN!)

2) Run to Jesus for the RESILIENCE He showed in the face of temptation

If courage truly is the testing point of every other virtue, and walking by faith is how this is attained, then overcoming sin and temptation necessarily involves running to Jesus

*ex: just like Paul, admitting insufficiency and crying out to Him when tempted

3) Emulate Jesus in His SACRIFICIAL giving to others—regardless of what it costs you

*ex: teaching our boys what physical courage looks like (when necessary, run to danger to save others)

For more examples men and women who courageously walked by faith, look no further than Hebrews 11, which starts off with the definition of faith:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. – Hebrews 11:1-2

Approval from God: good thing or bad thing?

While it may seem like the life of courageously walking by faith is an incredible burden, it’s totally the opposite!

That’s why your outline says: Enjoy Your Relationship with God Through Faith

Pilate is rightly highlighted as a test case of what it looks like to cowardly walk by sight

Do you think whatever “gain” he had from sending innocent Jesus to His death was worth the price?

Do you think this cowardice led to a fulfilled life?

Certainly not…

That’s also why the text then compels us to…

III. Focus on Pleasing God with your life (9)

Pilate was looking to please himself and those who would do him harm

If we are wanting to courageously walk by faith, what should our aim be?

Verse 9 gives it to us plainly…

Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him – 2 Corinthians 5:9

Look in your Bibles—do you see an asterisk at the end of that verse, indicating an exception clause?

In other words, do you have a footnote that reads: “in the original Greek, the passage goes on to list 3 or 4 exceptions to this command”

Exceptions like: make it your aim to please Him, unless it would displease your spouse…

Or: ensure it is your total ambition to please Jesus, unless you come up with a better idea

If it says that, I would ask you to put aside your copy of the NIV and pick up a real Bible (totally kidding!!!)

But seriously—this is an action-packed verse with a lot of courage implications that demands a closer look

In saying we ought to have this as our AMBITION, this implication is that it is to be done…

A) With all our might and energy

Everyone likes a hero… He or she is easy to cheer for

I’m particularly drawn to military heroes, and one of the best places to go is the archive of Medal of Honor recipients

Story after story recounts the courage and self-sacrifice of men (and one woman 😊) who conducted acts deserving of such an esteemed honor

I certainly haven’t read every story, but do you know what I have NOT observed in all of my reading?

The guy who earned the medal through selfish laziness and passivity…

To put it mildly, the Medal of Honor is always attained through MIGHT and ENERGY

So it is with the charge given in v 9

If it is truly our AMBITION to be pleasing to Jesus, are we going to attain this through laziness and passivity?

It needs to always be on the forefront of our minds

*start w/ Bible reading plan

This courage-packed verse compels us to work hard to please Jesus…

B) Not allowing circumstances to change the goal

Do you know what is implied by “whether at home or absent”—the curious statement in the middle of verse 9?

He means this applies whether he is DEAD or ALIVE!

This definitely shatters our exception clause theory…

You don’t even get a pass once you’re in the casket!

In fact, you can ask me that question when the day comes: “Stefan, is this really what’s most pleasing to Christ right now?”

But in all seriousness, that question needs to direct ALL of our decisions: regardless of our circumstances!

“would THIS be most pleasing to Jesus?”

Does the answer to that question matter?

Yes—and not only for today

But we are to…

IV. Remember eternal rewards go to the faithful (10)

There are certain passages that hit you square between the eye—without exception, this verse does it for me every time:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. – 2 Corinthians 5:10

Earlier, I mentioned that Paul was writing this letter in the midst of complicated circumstances

Being 2 Corinthians, he had written to this church a number of times before—one of those occasions is recorded in 1 Corinthians

In it, he warns his beloved church…

For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. – 1 Corinthians 3:11-15

*call to Christ

*appeal to believers (not all things equal)

A) Pursuing what is good

*ex of “good”

B) Avoiding what is worthless

*good vs worthless

Conclusion

*recap main points

Authors

Stefan Nitzschke

Roles

Pastor of College Ministries - Faith Church

Bio

B.S. - Management Information Systems, Iowa State University
M.Div. - Faith Bible Seminary

Stefan has been serving on the pastoral team at Faith Church since 2016. He and his wife have a passion for discipleship and evangelism. They are the blessed parents of four carefree boys and one sweet girl. Stefan is certified as a biblical counselor through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) and is a board member of Faith’s Community Development Corporation.