Peddlers of God's Word

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For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. 2 Cor. 2:17, ESV.

WIth these words, Paul is condemning those who used God's word as a means to a sinful and self-serving end. As the KJV puts it, these are men "which corrupt the word of God." But they corrupt it, not necessarily by teaching outlandish and false doctrine, but by using it for self-serving reasons. These are men who have figured out how to use a good thing for a bad reason. After all, they are not peddling idolatry or false philosophy, but they are peddling God's word.

Here is a warning for all of us, although perhaps especially for those of us who preach and teach the Bible. The Bible, which through the Spirit of God is the means of awakening us to truth, can become an instrument of self-deception for those who use it for self-serving ends. The Bible can become an instrument of self-deception precisely because it is the Bible: we convince ourselves that as long as we are trading in truth we are okay, no matter how we use it. But as the apostle makes clear, this is not the case. To be a peddler of God's word is to dishonor it and to expose ourselves to God's discipline and judgment.

The way we avoid this is by being like Paul: he was a man of sincerity (i.e. not a peddler) precisely because "in the sight of God we speak in Christ." You can only peddle God's word when you forget that you will one day give an account to its Author. It is why Paul would tell Timothy, "I charge thee ... before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick [living] and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word" (2 Tim. 4:1-2). You preach the word correctly and you live the word correctly when you do so before God and Christ and in light of his appearing and his kingdom.

So let us ask ourselves the question: How do I use the Bible? Am I an insincere peddler of Scripture or a sincere practitioner of Scripture? Let us not be like the "so many" who peddle God's word, but be like the apostle who spoke and lived the truth in the sight of God.

By: Jeremiah Bass