Is There Determination In Your Guilt?

Title: Is There Determination In Your Guilt?

Bible Book: 1 Corinthians 2 : 1-5

Author: David E. Owen

Subject: Guilt



I’ve been preaching some messages on the subject of “Determination.” And specifically, we’re talking about Determination with regard to various aspects of our spiritual experience.

So far, we have looked at the idea of “Determination In Our Giving.” In Acts chapter 11, we are told that after the disciples at Antioch heard through the prophet Agabus that a great famine was going to take place…

(Acts 11:29-30) Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: {30} Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

We looked at the idea of having a Determination In Our Growing,” or more specifically, a determination in building or growing a work for God here at Piney Grove. The Bible says in 2 Chronicles 2:1…

(2 Chronicles 2:1) And Solomon determined to build an house for the name of the LORD, and an house for his kingdom.

And then we drew upon the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 2 and verses 1 thru 5, and asked the question, “Is There A Determination In Our Goal?” Paul’s words in verse 2 of this passage certainly magnifies this truth. He said to these Corinthian Christians…

(1 Corinthians 2:2) … I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

Paul’s goal was Jesus. And just as he expressed this determination in his ministerial life, he expressed a similar desire in his personal life. He said…

(Philippians 3:10) That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death;

Paul’s determination seems to have been that there was less of him and more of Christ. And as John the Baptist said…

(John 3:30) He must increase, but I must decrease.

Or as Theodore Monod wrote…

Grant me now my soul’s desire, ‘None of self — and all of Thee.’

I read something a few weeks ago about determinations and resolutions. It said…

Are you sick of making the same resolutions year after year that you never keep? Why not promise to do something you can ACTUALLY accomplish? Here are some resolutions that you can use as a starting point:

Gain weight. At least 30 pounds.

Stop exercising. It’s a waste of time.

Read less. It makes you think.

Watch more TV. I’ve been missing some good stuff.

Procrastinate more. Starting tomorrow.

Spend more time at work … surfing the web.

Stop bringing lunch from home—eat out more.

Don’t have eight children at once.

Get in a whole NEW rut!

Personal goal: Don’t bring back disco.

Speak in a monotone voice and only use monosyllabic words.

Get more toys.

Get further in debt.

Don’t believe politicians.

Break at least one traffic law.

Don’t drive a motorized vehicle across thin ice.

Don’t swim with piranhas or sharks.

Focus on the faults of others.

Now as absurd as these things may sound, you’ll have to agree that these are some do-able goals, and things that we can actually accomplish.

But as I have studied this passage of scripture, I’m convinced that Paul believed his goal of having the Lord Jesus Christ as the preeminent factor in his life was also a goal that could be accomplished. That’s how he lived his life. That’s how he operated in his ministry. For him, it was all about Jesus!

As we study these verses, consider how…

I. Paul Mentioned The Focus Of His Ministry In This Passage

(1 Corinthians 2:1–2)

A. Notice The Focus Of His Declaration

(1 Corinthians 2:1) And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

declaring – Greek 2605. kataggello, kat-ang-gel'-lo; from G2596 and the base of G32; to proclaim, promulgate:--declare, preach, shew, speak of, teach.

1. He Highlights The Negatives In His Declaration

came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom

In his “Word Studies from the Greek New Testament,” Kenneth Wuest rendered the first verse of this chapter like this…

“And I having come to you, brethren, came, not having my message dominated by transcendent rhetorical display or by philosophical subtlety when I was announcing authoritatively to you the testimony of God.”

Marvin Vincent said that the phrase “with excellency,” means…

Literally, “according to elevation or superiority.”

As Albert Barnes notes, Paul…

[Came not with excellency of speech] Came not with graceful and attractive eloquence. The apostle here evidently alludes to that nice and studied choice of language; to those gracefully formed sentences, and to that skill of arrangement in discourse and argument which was so much an object of regard with the Greek rhetoricians (speakers). It is probable that Paul was never much distinguished for these (compare 2 Corinthians 10:10), and it is certain he never made them an object of intense study and solicitude (concern).

[Or of wisdom] Of the wisdom of this world; of that kind of wisdom which was sought and cultivated in Greece.

Cf. (2 Corinthians 10:10) For his (Paul’s) letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.

Paul’s ministry was not about the superiority of his eloquence or his education. He was not trying to impress them with his manner and his mouth, but he wanted to impact them with his message.

2. He Highlights The Nuances Of His Declaration

Paul told the Corinthians that he had been “declaring unto (them) the testimony of God.”

There are some interesting nuances and distinctions wrapped up in this phrase “the testimony of God.” As John MacArthur said…

Paul did not come to Corinth as a philosopher but as a witness. He came proclaiming … the testimony of God. Testimony (maturion) means just that — a testimony or witness. A person can only testify to what he himself has seen or heard or experienced. A witness in a courtroom is to report only what he knows objectively factually and personally. He is not to speculate, guess, or deduce. Paul was a witness only to God’s revelation, not to his own human understanding or reason or inclinations.

Barnes said the “testimony of God” here…

May either mean the witness which the gospel bears to the true character and plans of God; or the witnessing which God had borne to the gospel by miracles. The gospel contains the testimony of God in regard to his own character and plans; especially in regard to the great plan of redemption through Jesus Christ.

But, as Barnes goes on to say…

Several manuscripts instead of “testimony (maturion) of God,” here read “the mystery (musterion) of God.”

As The Amplified Bible says, Paul was…

“proclaiming … the testimony and evidence or mystery and secret of God.”

So Paul could be referring either to the message or the mystery. If it is “the mystery of God” that Paul is declaring, then it would certainly correspond to what he said to Timothy…

(1 Timothy 3:16) And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

B. Notice The Focus Of His Determination

(1 Corinthians 2:2) For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

1. He Refers To The Setting Of His Message

among you

Barnes said…

[Not to know] The word “know” here ‎eidenai ‎is used probably in the sense of “attend to, be engaged in, or regard.” I resolved not to give my time and attention while among you to the laws and traditions of the Jews; to your orators, philosophers, and poets; to the beauty of your architecture or statuary; to contemplation of your customs and laws, but to ATTEND to this only – making known the cross of Christ. … Paul says that he designed that this should be the only thing on which his mind should be fixed; the only object of his attention; the only object there upon which he sought that knowledge should be diffused. Doddridge renders it “appear to know.”

[Anything among you] Anything while I was with you. Or, anything that may exist; among you, and that may be objects of interest to you. I resolved to know nothing of it, whatever it might be.

‎A. T. Robertson said…

Paul means that he did not think it fit or his business to know anything for his message beyond this “mystery of God.”

2. He Refers To The Substance Of His Message

Paul said, I resolved to know nothing among you except “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

John MacArthur said…

When Paul had preached to the Corinthians, as when he bad preached anywhere, he was determined to know nothing among his hearers except Jesus Christ, and He crucified. He was not interested in discussing men’s ideas or insights, his own or those of anyone else. He would proclaim nothing but Jesus Christ, the crucified, risen, and redeeming Jesus Christ. He did not preach Jesus simply as the perfect teacher or the perfect example or the perfect Man — though He was all of these. The foundation of all of his preaching was Jesus as the divine Savior. Obviously the apostle was not saying that he preached or taught nothing but evangelistic messages, or that he expounded only those parts of Scripture that deal directly with Christ’s atonement. He taught the full counsel of God, as his writings make clear (Acts 20:27). He ministered in Corinth for a year and a half, “teaching the word of God among [them]” (Acts 18:11). But it was, and still is, the cross of Jesus Christ that is the stumbling block or the foolishness to unbelievers (1 Corinthians 1:23), and until a person accepts God’s revelation in the cross, no other revelation matters.

A. T. Robertson paraphrased Paul’s words saying…

‎I had no intent to go beyond him and in particular, and him crucified. … This phase in particular (“the preaching of the cross” – 1 Corinthians 1:18) was selected by Paul from the start as the center of his gospel message. He decided to stick to it even after Athens where he was practically laughed out of court.

Cf. (1 Corinthians 1:17-18) For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. {18} For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.


His business among the saints here was to focus on Christ. And that is my business here among the saints at Piney Grove! It’s not important if I don’t know anything about hunting or fishing or golf or cars or investments or fashion. It’s not my business to dabble in sports or carnal music or fashion or fads. Your politics or your physical condition is not my primary concern. My primary focus is to preach Jesus and preach His Word! St. Thomas Aquinas said, “Beware the man of one book.” But I would rather be like John Wesley who recognized that the centrality of the scripture was so important that he called himself “a man of one book.” I would rather focus on preaching Jesus than dabbling in anything else.

II. Paul Mentioned The Frailties Of His Ministry In This Passage

(1 Corinthians 2:3)

A. He Confesses To An Element Of Feebleness In His Life

(1 Corinthians 2:3) And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.

1. There Was An Association With The Saints

I was with you

The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says of the word “with” (NT:4314 – pros)…

The general sense of prós is “before.”

The Strong’s Concordance dictionary gives this definition…

with – Greek NT:4314 ‎(pros); a strengthened form of NT:4253; a preposition of direction; forward to, i.e. toward (with the genitive case the side of, i.e. pertaining to; with the dative case by the side of, i.e. near to; usually with the accusative case the place, time, occasion, or respect, which is the destination of the relation, i.e. whither or for which it is predicated).

As Barnes reminds us…

[And I was with you] Paul continued there at least a year and six months. Acts 18:11.

Cf. (Acts 18:11) And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

‎Marvin Vincent said…

The implication is that his condition (of weakness and fear) grew out of the circumstances in which he found himself in Corinth.

He was not empowered by the people.

2. There Was An Absence Of Strength

in weakness

weakness – Greek 769. astheneia, as-then'-i-ah; from G772; feebleness (of body or mind); by implication malady; frailty:--disease, infirmity, sickness, weakness.

The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says of the word “weakness” (NT:769 – astheneia)…

The first reference is to physical weakness, but in the NT weakness extends to the whole person … Paul’s “unimpressive” appearance in 1 Corinthians 2:3. It may then be a mark of the Christian (in contrast to God’s strength).

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says this was…

Weakness – personal and bodily (2 Corinthians 10:10; 12:7,9; Galatians 4:13).

Cf. (2 Corinthians 10:10) For his (Paul’s) letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.

(2 Corinthians 12:7-9) And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. {8} For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. {9} And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

(Galatians 4:13) Ye know how through infirmity (same Greek word that is translated “weakness”) of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.

But as Warren Wiersbe said…

Paul had learned that when he was weak, then God made him strong.

B. He Confesses To An Element Of Fear In His Life

(1 Corinthians 2:3) And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.

John MacArthur states that…

He (Paul) used the phrase “fear and trembling” in several other passages, each of which have to do with deep concern over an important, urgent issue (2 Corinthians 7:15; Ephesians 6:5; Philippians 2:12).

But I think too that there was an issue of timidity and perhaps even a “knocking of the knees” as Paul ministered in such a place as Corinth, realizing the awesome task before him.

1. Consider The Meaning Of This Fear

fear – Greek 5401. phobos, fob'-os; from a prim. phebomai (to be put in fear); alarm or fright:--be afraid, + exceedingly, fear, terror.

The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says of the word “fear” (NT:5401 – phobos)…

Basic to the group (of words associated with this term) is the primary verb phébomai, (meaning) “to flee.” As an emotion develops from the action, being startled and running away suggest “fear.” … (The word) has the nuances of “flight,” “fright,” “apprehension,” “anxiety,” and “awe.”

It indicates that Paul felt like running away, but he didn’t.

Matthew Henry wrote…

None know the fear and trembling of faithful ministers, who are zealous over souls with a godly jealousy; and a deep sense of their own weakness is the occasion of this fear and trembling. They know how insufficient they are, and are therefore fearful for themselves.

A. T. Robertson said of such fear that…

‎It is a common feeling of the most effective preachers.

2. Consider The Manifestation Of This Fear

trembling – Greek 5156. tromos, trom’-os; from G5141; a “trembling”, i.e. quaking with fear:--+ tremble (-ing).

The Thayer’s Greek Lexicon offers this definition…

trembling – Greek NT:5156. tromos (tremoo) a trembling, quaking with fear; the phrase with “fear and trembling”, is used to describe the anxiety of one who distrusts his ability completely to meet all requirements, but religiously does his utmost to fulfil his duty.

The Barnes’ Notes commentary says…

Paul was sensible that he had many enemies to encounter (Acts 18:6). … He knew too, how much the Greeks valued a manly and elegant species of oratory; and he, therefore, delivered his message with deep and anxious solicitude as to the success. It was at this time, and in view of these circumstances, that the Lord spoke to him by night in a vision (at Corinth), and said, “be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace; for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee; for I have much people in this city,” Acts 18:9-10.

III. Paul Mentioned The Forcefulness Of His Ministry In This Passage

(1 Corinthians 2:4–5)

A. Notice The Origin Of This Forcefulness

(1 Corinthians 2:4) And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

Barnes said…

The word “speech” here – if it is to be distinguished from “preaching” – refers, perhaps, to his more private reasonings; his preaching to his public discourses.

1. There Was An Omission Of Human Enticement And Persuasion

not with enticing words of man's wisdom

enticing – Greek 3981. peithos, pi-thos'; from G3982 (to convince by argument of human reasoning); persuasive:--enticing.

Barnes explains…

[Not with enticing words] Not with the persuasive reasonings ‎peithois ‎‎logois ‎of the wisdom of men. Not with that kind of oratory that was adapted to captivate and charm; and which the Greeks so much esteemed.

MacArthur wrote…

Paul was especially determined, therefore, that his message and … preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom. Human words of wisdom, no matter how impressive and persuasive, would have robbed the gospel of its power. He saw no place for calculated theatrics and techniques to manipulate response. Many have responded to an emotional appeal, without a true knowledge and conviction of God. Paul did not do that kind of preaching. He surely would have gotten a wider and more receptive hearing, but his hearers would have been left in their sins and without a Savior. Some have said that the great preacher Jonathan Edwards read his sermons so that he would not be guilty of using human persuasive techniques to gain a response. He wanted only the message to bring the results.

I heard of a preacher who indicated that he had to be in eye contact with the people during the invitation so that he could convince them to respond. Paul realized that the power of persuasion was not his to manipulate. But rather…

2. There Was An Operation Of Heavenly Enablement And Power

but in demonstration of the Spirit (pneuma – Holy Spirit) and of power

demonstration – Greek 585. apodeixis, ap-od'-ike-sis; from G584 (exhibit); manifestation:--demonstration.

power – Greek 1411. dunamis, doo'-nam-is; from G1410; force (lit. or fig.); spec. miraculous power (usually by impl. a miracle itself):--ability, abundance, meaning, might (-ily, -y, -y deed), (worker of) miracle (-s), power, strength, violence, mighty (wonderful) work.

Wiersbe said…

His preaching was a “demonstration,” not a “performance.” The word translated demonstration means “legal proof presented in court.” The Holy Spirit used Paul’s preaching to change lives, and that was all the proof Paul needed that his message was from God. Wicked sinners were transformed by the power of God!

Barnes said…

[But in demonstration] In the showing ‎apodeixei‎; or in the testimony or evidence which the Spirit produced. The meaning is, that the Spirit furnished the evidence of the divine origin of the religion which he preached, and that it did not depend for its proof on his own reasonings or eloquence.

B. Notice The Objective Of This Forcefulness

(1 Corinthians 2:5) That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

The word “stand” means to exist. As Albert Barnes explained, it is the…

Greek, “should not be;” that is, should not rest upon this;

‎As A. T. Robertson says, Paul is speaking of…

The only secure place for faith to find a rest.

1. Paul Shows The Barrier In Our Foundation Of Faith

your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men

MacArthur said…

If the Corinthians had come to have faith in the wisdom of men, even in Paul’s wisdom, they might have changed intellectually but they would not have changed spiritually. They would still have been spiritually dead, and Paul would not have been able to write to them as saints and brothers (1:2, 10).

As Matthew Henry said, it was Paul’s desire that the Corinthians…

Might not be drawn by human motives, nor overcome by mere human arguments, lest it should be said that either rhetoric or logic had made them Christians.

2. Paul Shows The Basis Of Our Foundation Of Faith in the power of God

power (same as in verse 4) – Greek 1411. dunamis, doo'-nam-is; from G1410; force (lit. or fig.); spec. miraculous power (usually by impl. a miracle itself):--ability, abundance, meaning, might (-ily, -y, -y deed), (worker of) miracle (-s), power, strength, violence, mighty (wonderful) work.

Wiersbe said…

The Gospel is still God’s power to change men’s lives (Romans 1:16 – “the power of God unto salvation”). Effectiveness in evangelism does not depend on our arguments or persuasive gimmicks, but on the power of the Spirit of God at work in our lives and through the Word that we share.

The Barnes’ Notes commentary said…

[In the power of God] In the evidence of divine power accompanying the preaching of the gospel. The power of God would attend the exhibition of truth everywhere; and would be a demonstration that would be irresistible that the religion was NOT originated by man, but was from heaven. That power was seen in changing the heart; in overcoming the strong propensities of our nature to sin; in subduing the soul; and making the sinner a new creature in Christ Jesus.

Your faith and my faith rests upon the power of God, not the power of human gab or greatness.


As I have studied this passage of scripture, I have thought about a song that was first published back in 1887. The words were written by a woman named Eliza Edmunds Hewitt and the music was written by a man named John R. Sweney.

Eliza was born on June 28, 1851, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She graduated as valedictorian of her class at the Girls’ Normal School in Philadelphia and spent her remaining years in that city. She became a prolific writer of Sunday school literature and children’s poems. Eventually, her poems came to the attention of gospel musicians such as John Sweney, who began setting them to music. Miss Hewitt was a close, personal friend of Fanny Crosby, and these two godly women met often for fellowship and discussion of their hymns.

Eliza taught public school for a time but was soon confined to her bed for a considerable period with a spinal condition. It is thought that this problem was aggravated by, or was the result of being struck across the back with a heavy slate by a boy who was being disciplined. Eliza was an invalid for an extended period of her life. But out of this experience, she developed an intimate relationship with God and the Scriptures and a desire to share her feelings with others through her writing.

(Gleaned from the book “101 More Hymn Stories” by Kenneth W. Osbeck)

One of her songs closely parallels Paul’s declaration of determination. Eliza wrote these words…

More about Jesus would I know, More of His grace to others show;

More of His saving fullness see, More of His love Who died for me.

And her chorus says…

More, more about Jesus, More, more about Jesus;

More of His saving fullness see, More of His love Who died for me.

Is that your desire and determination today? Is it your goal today, that in your life, Jesus would become the preeminent factor.


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