David Guzik’s weekly devotional, based on a verse or two from the Bible.

Self Examination

Self Examination

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. (2 Corinthians 13:5-6)

Paul wanted the believers in Corinth to ask themselves a sobering question: “Is Jesus Christ really in me?” It’s a question that believers today should also ask.

Self Examination

We are rightly concerned that every believer has the assurance of salvation and knows how to endure the attacks that come in this area from Satan. At the same time, we also understand that there are some whoassume or presume they are Christians when they are not. It is a challenge to every believer: Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?

We are often very ready to examine and test others, but first – and always first – we must examine and test ourselves. The Corinthians were quick to examine and criticize Paul, but they were slow to examine themselves.

Paul thought there might be some among the Corinthian believers who were disqualified for eternal life and salvation. Their thinking was worldly because they were more of the world than of the Lord. This is a hard truth to confront, but it is better to know now than when it is too late. If we don’t examine ourselves and testourselves now, we may find that we ultimately don’t pass the test and are disqualified.

What should we look for when we examine and test ourselves? We should see if Jesus Christ is in you. We are not to look for perfection in ourselves or in others, but we should see real evidence that Jesus Christ is in us. The main point isn’t to look for sin, but to look for Jesus Christ, and to ask Him if there is anything in my life that grieves the Holy Spirit, then to ask for the grace that it may be accounted as cleansed by the sacrifice of Jesus and put away from the habits of my life.

In verse 6, Paul anticipated a counter-question. “Paul, you ask us to examine ourselves. Well, why don’t you examine yourself? Maybe you aren’t a Christian after all.” Paul dismissed this question out of hand. It was so apparent that we are not disqualified that he simply trusts that they recognize the truth of it.

There are some believers who torture themselves with excessive self-examination. They often doubt the many assurances God gives them regarding their salvation. Those believers exist, but they are far outnumbered by those who give little or no attention to self-examination. There are many more who assume they are right with God and destined for heaven, when they should examine themselves for real evidence of God’s work in their life.

Ask yourself: What evidence is there that Jesus Christ is in you?

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Corinthians 13


Grace Sufficient for You

Grace Sufficient for You

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Paul was troubled by an affliction – a thorn in the flesh – that was not removed by prayer. Yet God had a response for Paul. God told Paul, My grace is sufficient for you. Instead of removing the thorn from Paul’s life, God gave and would keep giving His grace to Paul. The grace God gave Paul was sufficient to meet his every need.

Grace Sufficient for You

To receive this, Paul had to believe that God’s grace is sufficient. We usually don’t believe God’s grace is sufficient until we believe we are insufficient. For many of us, especially in American culture, this is a huge obstacle. We are the people who idolize the “self-made man” and want to rely on ourselves. But we can’t receive God’s strength until we know our weakness. We can’t live in the truth that God’s grace is enough until we know that we, in ourselves, are not enough.

My grace is sufficient for you is a great declaration, and you may emphasize any aspect of this sentence.

“My grace is sufficient for you.” Grace is the favor and love of God in action. It means He loves us and is pleased by us. Can you hear it from God? “My love is enough for you.” Isn’t it true?

My grace is sufficient for you.” Whose grace is it? It is the grace of Jesus. Isn’t His love, His favor, enough? What will Jesus fail at? Remember too that Jesus also suffered thorns; He cares, and He knows.

“My grace is sufficient for you.” It is right now. Not that it will be some day, but right now, at this moment, His grace is sufficient. You thought something had to change before His grace would be enough. You thought, “His grace was sufficient once, His grace might be sufficient again, but not now, not with what I am going through.” Despite that feeling, God’s word stands. “My grace is sufficient for you.”

“My grace is sufficient for you.” It is rather modest of God to describe His grace as sufficient. That word can be used of something that barely meets the need, but God’s supply is far more than sufficient. The grace of the triumphant, resurrected Jesus is enough – and more than enough!

“My grace is sufficient for you.” I’m so glad God didn’t say, “My grace is sufficient for Paul the Apostle.” I might have felt left out. But God made it broad enough. God’s grace is sufficient for you! Are you beyond it? Are you so different? Is your thorn worse than Paul’s or worse than many others who have known the triumph of Jesus? Of course not.

Brother, sister: this sufficient grace is for you. By faith, receive it in Jesus’ name.

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Corinthians 12


Thorn in the Flesh

A Thorn in the Flesh

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. (2 Corinthians 12:7)

Paul was a man who had some impressive spiritual experiences, so much so that it might be easy for him to become proud, exalted above measure. Because of this danger of pride, God allowed a thorn in Paul’s flesh– something to trouble him.

Thorn in the Flesh

It seems that everyone could see the thorn in the flesh Paul suffered from – it was no secret. His heavenly vision (2 Corinthians 12:1-4) was a secret until now, but everyone saw the thorn. Some among the Corinthian Christians probably thought less of Paul because of his thorn in the flesh, but they knew nothing of the amazing spiritual experience that lay behind it.

What is a thorn in the flesh? When we think of a thorn, we think of a somewhat minor irritation. But the root word Paul used for thorn here describes a tent stake, not a thumbtack. This trouble was a messenger of Satan to Paul. In a strange way, the thorn was given – ultimately given by God – but it was also a messenger of Satan.

To buffet me means that this thorn in the flesh – the messenger of Satan – “punched” Paul. He felt that he was beaten black and blue by this messenger of Satan. Paul, punched about by the devil? Who would have thought it?

The following verse tells us that Paul prayed about this thorn, pleading three times that God would take it away. Yet God, in His wisdom, allowed it to remain. When his passionate and repeated plea was not answered, it must have concerned Paul. It added another dimension to this trial.

It had a physical dimension in that it was a thorn in the flesh.
It had a mental dimension in that it was a messenger of Satan.
It had a spiritual dimension in that it was an unanswered prayer.

What exactly was Paul’s thorn in the flesh? We simply don’t have enough information to say precisely. Some see it mainly as spiritual harassment. Others think it was persecution. Many suggest that it was a physical or mental ailment. Some say this was Paul’s struggle with lustful and sinful thoughts.

Each of these suggestions is possible, but God had a definite purpose in not revealing the exact nature of Paul’s thorn. If we knew exactly what Paul’s thorn was, then everybody who was afflicted – but not in exactly the same way – might doubt that Paul’s experience and God’s provision was relevant for them. God wanted everyone with any kind of thorn in the flesh to be able to put themselves in Paul’s place.

God’s answer to Paul’s thorn is revealed starting at 2 Corinthians 12:9 – but that answer is relevant to your thorn. God cares about and provides for your trouble.

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Corinthians 12


Putting Up With Different Gospel

Putting Up with a Different Gospel

For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted; you may well put up with it! (2 Corinthians 11:4)

Paul’s godly jealousy (2 Corinthians 11:2) was offended that some of the Corinthian believers were being seduced by a false understanding of what Christian ministry and being an apostle were all about.

Many of the Corinthian Christians didn’t admire Paul’s apostolic credentials because they thought in a worldly way, not having the mind of Jesus. They didn’t like Paul’s apparent weakness and unimpressive appearance. Their minds were being corrupted from the simplicity of faith that was found in Jesus Christ.

Putting Up With Different Gospel

It was important that the Corinthian Christians understand and trust Paul’s apostolic credentials because Paul knew they were attracted to the false apostles who preached another Jesus.

The troublemakers among the Corinthian Christians who stirred up contention against Paul didn’t only attack Paul; they also attacked the true Jesus by preaching another Jesus. Who was this “other Jesus?” Because of the way the Corinthian Christians despised Paul’s image of weakness and unimpressive appearance, the false Jesus promoted among them was probably one who knew no weakness, persecution, humiliation, suffering, or death. This “super Jesus” was another Jesus, not the real Jesus, and another Jesus isn’t real and cannot save.

The Jesus different from what Paul and other faithful apostles had preached was from a different spirit andpresented a different gospel. This was the dangerous, even spiritually deadly error that Paul had warned the Christians in Galatia against (Galatians 1:8-9). In that Galatians 1 passage, Paul explained that those who preached a different gospel should be accursed by God.

Paul described these “different gospel” preachers as he who comes. This set them in contrast to God’s true apostles. An apostle is “one who is sent.” These troublemakers were the opposite of apostles. One could say of them, he who comes. Of an apostle, one would say “one who is sent” by God. These false apostles had simply come; they were not really sent by God.

The problem wasn’t so much that these false teachers had come among the Christians in Corinth. The more significant problem was that the Corinthian Christians put up with them when they should have rejected them and cast them out. These false teachers were a bad influence that were accepted among the Corinthian believers.

The church has the same problem today. It is not surprising that there are false teachers in the church today; the problem is that the church puts up with them and embraces them. Christians of this generation will have to answer to Jesus for their lack of discernment when it comes to the false teachers and leaders accepted and promoted by the church.

Don’t put up with those who preach in a different spirit than Jesus, presenting a different gospel than the New Testament presents.

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Corinthians 11


The Weapons of Our Warfare

The Weapons of Our Warfare

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

Many among the believers in Corinth relied on fleshly, worldly thinking and methods. As an apostle of God, Paul insisted that he was different, and the weapons of his warfare were not carnal. When Paul fought, his weapons were not material but spiritual, suited for spiritual war.

The Weapons of Our Warfare

The carnal weapons Paul refused were not material weapons such as swords and spears. The carnalweapons he renounced were the manipulative and deceitful ways his opponents used. Paul would not defend his apostolic credentials with carnal weapons others used.

In Ephesians 6, Paul listed the spiritual weapons he used: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. To rely on these weapons took faith in God instead of carnal methods. But truly, these weapons are mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.

Many Christians rely on and admire carnal weapons for the Christian battle.

Instead of the belt of truth, they fight with manipulation.
Instead of the breastplate of righteousness, they fight with the image of success.
Instead of the shoes of the gospel, they fight with smooth words.
Instead of the shield of faith, they fight with the perception of power.
Instead of the helmet of salvation, they fight with lording over authority.
Instead of the sword of the Spirit, they fight with human schemes and programs.

We must remind ourselves that Paul spoke to carnal, worldly thinking among Christians. He wasn’t writing of the world but the Corinthian Christians. They were the ones with the strongholds in their minds and hearts. They made the arguments against God’s mind and methods. They held on to every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We miss it entirely if we think the love of manipulation, the image of success, smooth words, the perception of power, lording over authority, and human schemes and programs are just problems among unbelievers. God deals with this heart and mind in the church.

To battle against this carnal way of thinking and doing, our thoughts must be brought captive and made obedient to Jesus. Jesus relied on spiritual weapons when He fought for our salvation (Philippians 2:6-8). This kind of victory through humble obedience offended the Corinthian Christians because it seemed so “weak.” The carnal, human way is to overpower, dominate, manipulate, and out-maneuver. The spiritual, Jesus-way is to humble yourself, die to yourself, and let God show His resurrection power through you.

Our spiritual weapons are scorned by the world but feared by demonic powers. When believers fight with true spiritual weapons, then no principality or power can stand against them. Fighting with God’s armor, we can’t lose.

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Corinthians 10


Enough for Everything

Enough For Everything

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

The Corinthian Christians had promised to gather a collection for needy believers in Judea, and they had yet to gather the money and give it to Paul so he could take it to those who needed it. Paul gave the Corinthian Christians many reasons to follow through in their generosity.

Enough for Everything

In this verse, Paul reminds all believers that God is the ultimate giver, who is able to make all grace abound toward His people. As believers give, they must be persuaded that God is able to reward their giving. Just as God is able to make the sowing of seed abound to a great harvest, so God is able to bless the generosity of His people.

In rewarding our giving, God does it with all grace. Our giving is rewarded in many ways, including both the material and the spiritual. Materially, God may bless our giving by job promotions with better pay, by unexpected gifts of money, or by making things last so we don’t suffer the cost of replacing them. Spiritually, God may bless our giving by freeing our hearts from the tyranny of greed and materialism, by giving us a sense of blessing and happiness, and by storing up rich reward in heaven. There is no end to the ways we can be blessed when God is able to make all grace abound toward us.

Part of God’s blessing to the giver is for their always having all sufficiency in all things. That word sufficiency may also be translated contentment and is so in 1 Timothy 6:6. God gives a special gift to the giving heart: always having all contentment in all things. That is a lot of all!

It’s easy for many Christians to say they have this contentment; but whether they have it or not is often more truthfully known by their spending and shopping habits. How much of a place does shopping and buying have in your life? How much does material loss affect your happiness? How happy do you get from having some material thing?

With this contentment, believers can be the richest people in the world. A man might have the wealth of the richest man in the world yet lack contentment. But if we have this contentment, it really does make us better off than the wealthiest people who don’t have it.

Also notice that God blesses His people materially and spiritually so that they will have an abundance for every good work. We are blessed so that we can be a blessing to others. God wants us to be channels of blessing, not reservoirs of blessing.

Dear believer, learn to live in the generosity that is fitting for the people of God. It’s an important step in the path of God’s great gift of contentment.

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Corinthians 9


Jesus Became Poor

Jesus Became Poor

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)

This single verse is a powerful explanation of who Jesus is and what He did for His people. This verse presents:

– The riches of Jesus.
– The poverty of Jesus.
– The manner of His poverty.
– The reason for His poverty.
– The result of His poverty.


Jesus Became Poor

First, we learn that Jesus was rich. Before Jesus added humanity to His deity and walked this earth, Jesus was rich beyond measure. Jesus, as the eternal Second Person of the Trinity, as God the Son, living in the riches and splendor of heaven, was surrounded constantly by the glory, power, and majesty of God. These make any amount of wealth on earth seem poor. He was rich in possessions, honor, power, love, and happiness.

Second, Jesus became poor. Look at the whole nativity scene. The newborn King was not laid in a cradle of gold but in a feeding trough for animals, set in a humble stable, wrapped in the swaddling bands of poor children. His whole life was lived humbly. At a very young age, He was banished from His own country. Raised as the son of a humble carpenter, Jesus had no fancy clothes, no home of His own, and often relied on others for food. He never even owned His own grave.

Third, notice the manner of His poverty: He became poor. It does not say that Jesus was made poor by others; He volunteered to become poor Himself. Every moment of His life on this earth, Jesus made the conscious choice to live as a relatively poor man.

Fourth, the reason for His poverty: yet for your sakes He became poor. There was a real reason why Jesus did this, and it was not for His own sake. It was for your sakes – the sake of His people – that He became poor.

Look at the result of His poverty: that you through His poverty might become rich. Because of Jesus’ poverty (in all that related to it), His people can become rich. Believers have a share in Jesus’ eternal, heavenly wealth because He came and had a share in their poverty.

– As Jesus was rich in possessions, so are believers – especially contentment.
– As Jesus was rich in honor, so His people have the honor of being sons and daughters of God.
– As Jesus was rich in power, so Christians can come as sons and daughters to the God of all power.
– As Jesus was rich in love, so believers have the love of God poured out into our hearts.
– As Jesus was rich in happiness, so are His people with the peace that passes all understanding.

Finally, consider that Jesus isn’t poor any longer. If this is what Jesus did for His people when He was poor, how much more do you think He will do for them with His heavenly wealth?

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Corinthians 8


Taking Away, Adding To

Taking Away, Adding To

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)

2 Corinthians 6 ended with God’s promise of a close, meaningful relationship with those among His people who separate from the corrupt thinking and working of this world, Considering those promises, in 2 Corinthians 7:1, God gives His people two things to do.

Taking Away, Adding To

First, there is something to take away, as we cleanse ourselves from all filthiness. There is a main aspect of cleansing that comes to God’s people as they trust in Jesus and His work for them. This work of cleansing is really God’s work in us and not our work. But there is another aspect of cleansing that God looks for us to do with the participation of our own will and effort; not that it is our work apart from God, but it is a work that awaits our will and effort: let us cleanse ourselves. This aspect of cleansing is mostly connected with a closer relationship with God and usefulness for service.

Sometimes it is easier to deal with the filthiness of the flesh than of the spirit. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, those who were stained by the filthiness of the flesh (such as harlots and tax collectors) found it easy to come to Jesus. But those stained by the filthiness of the spirit (such as the scribes and Pharisees) found it very hard to come to Jesus. Pride, legalism, self-focus, self-righteousness, bitterness, and hatred can all be far worse to deal with than the more obvious sins of the flesh.

Then, there is something to add, as disciples are perfecting holiness in the fear of God. It isn’t enough to only cleanse ourselves from all filthiness. The Christian life is not only getting rid of evil, but also continually doing good and growing complete in holiness. Paul wasn’t writing about a state of sinless perfection. Perfecting has the idea of “complete” and “whole.” Instead of a state of sinless perfection, Paul wrote about a complete, “whole,” holiness.

There are a couple more things to notice in the phrase, cleanse ourselves. Note that Paul included himself among the Corinthian Christians in the category of those who need to be cleansed. If Paul includes himself among those who needed to be cleansed, then what about us?

Also, note that we must take care that we cleanse ourselves and not concern ourselves with cleansingothers. Most of the time we are more concerned with the holiness of others than our own holiness! It’s easy to point at the sins, failings, and weaknesses of other people, but first we should give attention to our own. This is a principle from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:3-5).

If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, there are things God wants you to take away, and things He wants you to add. In the power of God’s Spirit, give attention to these today.

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Corinthians 7


Unequally Yoked

Unequally Yoked

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)

One reason the Corinthian Christians were in a bad relationship with the apostle was because they had joined themselves to unbelievers, and this prevented their reconciliation with Paul.

The idea of do not be unequally yoked together is based on Deuteronomy 22:10, which prohibited yoking together two different types of animals. It speaks of joining two things that should not be joined.

Unequally Yoked

For some reason, this verse has been mainly applied as a warning for Christians to not get married to those who are not also disciples of Jesus Christ. However, Paul meant much more than that one point of application. This applies to any environment where a believer allows the world to influence their thinking above the influence of God’s word and His Spirit. When believers are being conformed to this world and are not being transformed by the renewing of their mind (Romans 12:2), they join with unbelievers in an ungodly way.

This speaks especially to the issue of influence. Paul is not suggesting that Christians never associate with unbelievers (this is clear in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13). The principle is that believers are to be in the world, but not of the world, like a ship should be in the water, but water shouldn’t be in the ship. If the world is influencingGod’s people, clearly they are unequally yoked together with unbelievers. This unequal yoke, or ungodly influence, may come through social media, a book, a video, a song, or even through worldly-minded Christian friends. Most Christians are far too undiscerning about the things they allow to influence their thinking and actions.

We all like to believe that we can be around ungodly things as much as we want and that we are strong enough to ward off the influence. But we must take seriously the words of Scripture: Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Corinthians 15:33). It needs to come back to the simple question from Romans 12:2: Are we being conformed to this world, or are we being transformed by the renewing of the mind?

The Corinthian Christians thought like worldly people, not like godly people. They gained this way of looking at life – or at least they stayed in it – because of their ungodly associations. Paul told them to break those yokes of fellowship with the ungodly.

The Corinthian Christians were too loving and affectionate in the sense they thought it was “accepting” and praiseworthy to allow lawlessness with righteousness, to accept darkness along with the light. By using the term communion, Paul indicates that he really meant influence more than presence.

Christian, ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you: to what extent have you allowed the thinking of the world to influence you? Are you unequally yoked? In the name of Jesus, break those unequal yokes, and take the yoke of Jesus on you (Matthew 11:29-30).

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Corinthians 6


The New You

The New You

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

People long for transformation. It’s easy to see on media of all kinds the story of someone become someone or something new. The flabby become fit, the plain become beautiful, the weak become strong. These stories catch our attention, because there is a God-given longing in each of us for transformation.

The New You

Physical appearance is relatively easy to change, but it is much more difficult to genuinely become a new person. No one has the power to make themselves a person made in the image of Jesus Christ. But Jesus can and does change us. Once He does, then we are called to go out and live like “the new you.”

This promise of 2 Corinthians 5:17 is remarkably broad, being for anyone. It doesn’t matter what class, what race, what nationality, what language, or what level of intelligence. In Jesus Christ, anyone can be a new creation. However, it is a promise for anyone who is in Christ. This is not a promise for those who are in themselves, or in the religion of men, or in someone or something else. This is for those in Christ.

Paul here taught the great principle of regeneration. Jesus Christ changes those who come to Him by faith and who are in Christ. The saved are not “just forgiven.” They are changed into a new creation.

In 1954, Billy Graham led a remarkable crusade in London. It lasted for weeks and weeks, and ever since, Billy has met people all over the world who were brought to Jesus Christ during that crusade. One story was worthy of mention.

One of Billy Graham’s associates noticed two men come into the crowded arena, and the men sat near the back. They apparently did not know each other, but in just a few moments of loud conversation, they found two things to agree upon: they did not like Americans, and they especially did not like American evangelists like Billy Graham. They agreed that they had both come to see the show, just to make fun of it.

So, they sat in the back and joked around through the whole service. But as Billy Graham presented the message of the gospel – the good news of who Jesus is and what He has done, especially in His sacrificial death and victorious resurrection – the hearts of both men were touched by the Holy Spirit. Both recognized their need for salvation and decided to go forward at the invitation to express their faith and to commit their lives to Jesus Christ. The first man turned to his new companion and said, “I’m going forward.” The other one said, “I am too. And here’s your wallet back – I’m a pickpocket.”

That’s evidence of new life. Have you been made new in Jesus Christ? If you have, are you living like it?

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Corinthians 5