It is very clear that Paul loved the church in Corinth. More than once, Paul did what he could to teach, encourage, and admonish those brethren. When he did such, Paul was very careful that he did not rely on his own feelings and opinions. Instead, Paul utilized the best resource that was available to him, the Word of God. In so doing, Paul made sure that he handled God’s Word appropriately. He told the Corinthian brethren, “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:14-17). I hope that we noticed that Paul referred to “many, which corrupt the word of God”. Even in the first century, God’s Word was already being perverted. Thankfully, Paul and others were using God’s Word “of sincerity”. In other words, they made sure that they used the Word of God correctly.
Later in the letter, Paul mentioned that “…we use great plainness of speech” (2 Cor. 3:12). I appreciate that so very much. Have you ever sat and listened to a preacher who did not “use great plainness of speech”? Too often a preacher can fall in love with his own intellect and own voice. Instead of preaching the Gospel in Its pureness and simplicity, the preacher can try to make himself sound eloquent and educated. When using the Word of God, Paul was not concerned with whether the listeners were impressed with his vocabulary or oratory skills. Instead, Paul made it clear, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:18-24). Paul was more concerned with using God’s Word correctly than pleasing the whims of men. In so doing, Paul mimicked the Lord. Jesus taught in ways that “…the common people heard him gladly” (Mark 12:37).
Still later in the letter, Paul built on his previous writings. He wrote, “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 4:1-2). Again, Paul is clear to indicate that he and others were not misusing the Word of God. Instead, they simply let the Scriptures do what the Scriptures do. They did not try to “improve” or change God’s Word. That is a great lesson to us today.
Lastly, let us notice another writing of Paul’s. In one of his epistles to Timothy, Paul took the time to encourage the young preacher to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). To divide rightly is to handle aright. Paul wanted to make sure that Timothy used God’s Word appropriately.
I would like to be able to write that over the years, mankind has largely learned how to utilize God’s Word correctly. Unfortunately, that is still not so. There are so many who are either unlearned or deceitful in the ways that they try to apply Scriptures. Each of us should do what we can to make sure that we are not in that number. If I need to study more, then I should study more. If I find that I have been wrong, then I need to repent and change. While it might not be printed on the cover of Bibles, when I open and study the Word of God, I should handle with care.