BY FAITH YE STAND
2 Corinthians 1:21-24 Now He, which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth. Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.
There is a great lesson found in these closing verses of the first chapter of Paul's second letter to the church at Corinth. Let no one have dominion over your faith except God, through His Son, Jesus Christ. Your faith is to be completely committed to the Savior; for it is by this faith ye stand. The preaching and teaching of Paul, and his fellow laborers, was sure and steadfast. No uncertainty could be found in the gospel messages they delivered to all seeking the hope of salvation. In Him (Jesus Christ) was yea (Vs. 19 above). Their teaching carried this same unwavering assurance. Their teaching was a positive affirmation that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, the Messiah, and the Savior of the world. God, through the Holy Spirit, had firmly established them in Christ. It was God that had anointed them, as well as all faithful Christians, with the ability to know, and to teach the truth in all things (See 1 John 2:27). Indeed, the message of Paul, and all true ministers of Christ, is the same as if it had come straight from God, Himself. The bible contains the will of God; when it is taught, without adding to or subtracting from its truths, it is God's message to the world, and not that of any man.
God's holy word is sealed. It is the real, genuine, and pure truth that has been established and confirmed in Christ through the Holy Spirit of God. God's word is also firmly established in the hearts of all faithful Christians by the earnest of the Spirit. It is the earnest money deposit that serves as the pledge to assure the fulfillment of God's promise of eternal salvation to all that obey His will and accept His Son, Jesus Christ as their Savior. This same teaching is found in Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus. He told them that it was Jesus Christ, In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory (Eph. 1:13-14). This is God's Holy Spirit-inspired message sent through his servant, the apostle Paul. It is not ambiguous, uncertain, or unreliable. God's word is steadfast, sure, and imminently trustworthy.
Paul seems to say, in verse 23, that it was good for them that he was delayed in coming to see them, as he had earlier promised. The reprimands he made in his first letter to the Corinthian brethren were extremely severe, but certainly deserved. His delay gave them sufficient time to correct doctrinal errors, and bring these erring Christians to repentance for straying from the will of God. Had he come immediately, it is possible that he would have found them still unrepentant, in which case he would have dealt with them with even greater severity. Although Paul, as an apostle of Christ, certainly had the authority to exercise severe discipline, he did not want to lord over their faith, as a monarch exercises dominion over his subjects. It is by individual faith in Jesus Christ that one stands. Christians cannot be propped up, and caused to stand, by the teaching of Paul, or any other preacher of God's word. One cannot be made to stand in the faith of Jesus Christ; it must be by their own free will. One is not force-fed and brainwashed into accepting the doctrine of Christianity.
We continually hear about "religious" leaders that control the minds of their followers, forcing them to accept their particular doctrine of error, for covetous reasons of power or wealth. Such cult followings are not allowed to "think for themselves." Their "faith" in such leaders is so strong and intense that many go to their death in defense of their leader. Such was the case with the followers of David Keresh - the Branch Davidians of Waco, Texas, the "Peoples Temple" founded by James Jones, and the "Heaven's Gate" cult led by Marshall Applewhite. Sun Myung Moon claims to succeed "where Jesus failed," and has led many thousands by altering their minds into joining his Unification Church.
If the apostle Paul did not exercise dominion over the faith of the Church at Corinth, then no earthly being has that authority to do so. Followers of false teachers stand on the "faith" of their leaders, and will be led to eternal destruction. Followers of Christ stand on faith in the Creator of us all - the God of heaven - the Author of eternal salvation. We are left with this question - Whom do you choose to follow?