Conscious Simplicity and Integrity
2 Corinthians 2:17
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.

The word for 'corrupt,' formed from a word which signifies 'huckster,' or ' tavern keeper,' implies an adulteration like that which such people commonly practised. We, says St. Paul, play no such tricks of trade with what we preach; we do not meet the tastes of our hearers by prophesying deceits. The very fact that we know the tremendous issues of our work would hinder that. God's gospel word, the message of eternal life in Christ Jesus, may be adulterated or corrupted in three ways.

1. By mixing up with it foreign, inharmonious, merely human, teachings.

2. Or by making the gospel revelation into a stiffened, formal creed, over the precise terms of which we may wrangle and dispute.

3. Or by displacing the true motive in preaching it, and giving place to low aims, and purposes of merely selfish ambition, and longing for the praise of men. The appeal of the text has its special force when we remember of what things the Judaizing party accused the apostle. St. Paul's enemies forced this appeal from him. Usually it is enough that the sincere and true man should keep on his faithful way, little heeding the opinions or accusations of others, trusting the care of his reputation to God. But occasions do arise when something like public vindication becomes necessary, and a man is called to assert his conscious integrity. Of this we have two very striking instances recorded in Scripture. Samuel, when set aside by the mistaken longing for a visible king, felt deeply hurt, though more for the insult thus offered to Jehovah, the ever-present but invisible King, than for his own sake. He pleaded thus with the people: "I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day. Behold, here I am: witness against me before the Lord, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? and I will restore it you" (1 Samuel 12:2, 3). And David, misunderstood and slandered, turns to speak to God in the bearing of the people, and says, "Judge me... according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me" (Psalm 7:8). Consider -


1. On the one side, the trust of Divine revelation and message. Illustrate by the direct communications of the Divine will made to the ancient prophets. These they were expected to deliver with all simplicity and completeness, and without making any additions of their own to them.

2. On the other side, the trust of men's souls. The world was given to the apostles as the sphere in which their gospel message was to be delivered. Such a trust demanded seriousness, sincerity, and holy zeal. It should ever call out the best that is in a man.

II. THE PERIL OF ITS INJURY THROUGH THE GUILE OF THE SELF SEEKER. Men will surely take their impressions of it from the character of the men who preach it. If we get a soiled idea of the gospel preacher, as an insincere, self-seeking man, it is only too likely that we shall have a soiled and stained image of the gospel that he preaches in our minds. Men can make golden glowings or deep shadows rest on the gospel that they declare, the message which they have in trust.

III. THE FORCE OF IT AS PRESERVED WHEN THE AGENT IS GUILELESS AND SINCERE. The stream gets no foulness as it flows through him. Illustrate how men of transparent character and beautiful piety put honour on religion. The commendation of Christ's gospel to men is

(1) the pure and stainless Christ himself, and then

(2) the graciousness and charm of his servants who are like him.

The force behind gospel preaching is the life of the men who preach. The simple-minded, sincere, uncorrupted man may positively make additions to the practical power of the gospel upon men. Distinguish, however, between simplicity and moral weakness, and also between guilelessness and ignorance. The simplicity required is "unity" as opposed to "double mindedness;" it is being wholly for God. ? R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: For we are not as so many, peddling the word of God. But as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, we speak in Christ.

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