Who is sufficient for these things?
Through us, God diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.
The reality of the Kingdom of God is no mere intellectual ascension.
It does not come about by memorizing the right things and then repeating them back in a certain order, or on command, in front of a governing body who has the authority to declare you arrived or not arrived.
This is a Kingdom of foolishness to an unredeemed mind. We cannot learn our way into it by our own strength, and certainly not by winning the approval of an earthly council.
Without a new mind, we will never be able to comprehend the Kingdom.
“The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14
And even after we have come to the saving knowledge of this truth, that it is by grace alone and faith alone through the substitutionary atonement of Christ alone, we can begin to think of ourselves “more highly than we ought,” rather than thinking "soberly.” Romans 12:3
Have we ascended to such a high place? Then let us today consider our insufficiency, that we might be “bowed down” and “brought low.” Isaiah 2:17
Yet perhaps we are of a different nature - one that every day sees our inadequacy. We have faith, but no confidence. A place to worship, but no purpose. The knowledge that God is, but we have no sure anchor of the soul that He is with us as we carry about in our daily lives.
Then let us who are of this mindset consider the sufficiency which is ours, from God, who has made us sufficient and declares us sufficient.
“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?” 2 Corinthians 2-14-17
Oh, how marvelous are these words! Even as they are spoken now, we can feel the weight, the majesty and the splendor of them. Yet not just splendor, but also severity, intensity and the immense responsibility we hold to daily represent the truth of these words, “through us.”
Through us, God diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place, the fragrance of Christ.
Just as you handle a sharp blade with care, knowing a single slip of the hand means serious injury, so too must we do with these words, which are, “sharper than any double-edged sword.”
And likewise, do we carelessly give a blade like this to an unsupervised child, immature and untrained, “Use it as you wish?” No, we would caution them to be always present, always prepared, always conscious of the severity, intensity and immensity of holding such a blade.
Have we taken such soberness with the fragrance of Christ? Have we realized the ‘always-on’ nature of our representation of Him to the world?
“Always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
We carry the death of Christ
We manifest the life of Christ
This always carrying and always manifesting is so that, in every place, we might diffuse the fragrance of His knowledge.
This same fragrance which has only two aromas, only two possible reactions:
Death unto death for some
Life unto life for others
Can we not feel the weight of Paul’s words now, “Who is sufficient for this?” Death unto death for some and life unto life for others? This is what we carry?
Truly then, who is sufficient for this? It is far too wonderful! Much too glorious!
Does it not humble us who have carried ourselves higher than we ought? And does it not leave those of us who were low and downtrodden with a sense of wonder at the mystery of such a treasure?
Ah, yes…this treasure.
“We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
We carry, manifest, and diffuse this treasure in our earthen vessels, these perishing mortal bodies, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
Who could possibly be sufficient for things such as these? Surely none of us. And yet, God made a way, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
It is in understanding this almost unfathomable mystery of the Kingdom of God that we may say as Paul, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves…but our sufficiency is from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5
How should we respond to a miraculous truth such as this?
Let us not be, “as so many, peddling the word of God,” but rather, “knowing the terror of the Lord,” let us, “persuade men.” 2 Corinthians 2:17, 5:11
Let us no longer walk in craftiness, nor handle the word of God deceitfully. Instead, let us renounce the hidden things of shame, and make it our aim to be well-pleasing to Him. 2 Corinthians 4:2, 5:9
Let us resolve, whether we are hard-pressed, perplexed, persecuted, or struck down, to continue to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice,” “always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, Romans 12:1, 2 Corinthians 4:11
And let us continually remind each other of the severity, intensity, and immensity contained in this question, “Who is sufficient for these things?”