2 Corinthians 3:1-6
    1. Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
    4 Such confidence we have through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

    “The letter kills,  
    but the Spirit gives life.”
    Means that trying to be saved by keeping the O/T. laws will end in death.  Only by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ can a person receive eternal life through the Holy Spirit.
    No one but Jesus has ever fulfilled the law perfectly and thus the whole world is condemned to death.
     The law makes people realize their sin,  but it cannot give life,  under the new covenant eternal life comes from the Holy Spirit.
    The Spirt give new life to all who believe in Christ.
    The Ten Commandments still points out our sin,  but forgiveness comes only through the grace and mercy of Christ.
    The Christian should be a confident person. .
    How do you reconcile those two virtues?
    Christians are not supposed to have an inflated view of their importance. But neither are we to be insecure, plagued with constant feelings of self-doubt.
    We are to evaluate our gifts properly.
    The book of Romans gives us a clue: "Do not think ' of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you" (Romans 12:3).
    We are to be confident without being cocky,
    self-assured without being arrogant.
     A good athlete who does not believe in his ability will sit on the bench.
     An overly cautious driver who lacks confidence is a hazard on the highway.
    Self-confidence is absolutely essential for the Christian as well.
    Confidence enhances the use of our spiritual gifts.
    Paul told Timothy, "Fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:6, 7).
     If you lack confidence, you're not going to encourage, or use effectively the gifts that God has given you.

    Confidence also enhances our personal testimony.
    We Christian people should not be hesitant about our salvation. If we are apologetic about our beliefs, we're not going to convince anybody.
    But when we can say with confidence, "Christ has forgiven me.     Christ has given me a new purpose in life," then our testimony is believable.
    Confidence also enhances our personal joy.
    Reader's Digest reported recently that we are born with two innate fears-only two-the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. All other fears are acquired.
    I believe that nearly all the others are from the adversary, and they need to be unlearned.
    It is a terrible thing to go through life being afraid of people - insecure, inhibited, always lacking confidence.     Life becomes a continuous, exhausting effort to avoid embarrassing yourself.
    There is a special joy that comes to people who aren't afraid any more. It is a wonderful,thing to be able to say confidently with Paul,
     "I can do everything through [Christ] who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13).

    Resist the Temptation
 to Impress Others
    Paul said, “ Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you?" (2 Corinthians 3:1).
    Paul was not out to impress people, though he could have.
    He had impressive credentials.
    He was a world traveler and a brilliant man, but he refused to boast about himself to impress other people.
    It's common today for athletes, politicians, and people in public office to try to commend themselves.
    When you have to write a resume about yourself, you know what it is to have to commend yourself.
    It's a constant temptation to find some way to boast about your accomplishments so other people will esteem you.
    I heard of a preacher who was proud that he had written a book, He got in the pulpit the Sunday after the book was published and prayed,
     "0h God, Thou who hast also written a book. ... "
    Sometimes we find pretty clever ways to commend ourselves.
    But Paul insisted, "I'm not here to try to impress you by boasting of myself, and I don't need letters of recommendations from other people, either."
    In that day when the people traveled to a new community, they didn't have credit cards that could tell a person's credit rating instantly by computer, so they would establish their credibility by bringing letters of recommendation from influential people in other towns.
    These would be similar to letters of recommendation people now write for someone else to help them get hired for a job or admitted to a college.
    In the ancient world, as now, sometimes these written testimonials didn't mean very much because people would exaggerate or falsify.
    I have given people letters of recommendations.
    I’ve help people who sit here now get jobs.
    One lazy employee was always changing jobs. He asked his boss for a letter of recommendation. The boss wanted to get rid of the slacker, but he didn't want to be dishonest by praising him falsely, so he wrote:
    "To Whom It May Concern: If you can get Bob Johnson to work for you, you will be extremely fortunate!"
    A preacher was asked to write a letter of recommendation for a church member who was completely obnoxious. The preacher didn't want to be dishonest, so he wrote:     "When you come to know Tim Hawkins the way I know him,
 I'm confident you will feel about him exactly the way I do."
    Sometimes letters of recommendation don't mean very much.   
    But Paul said he wasn't concerned about what other people felt about him. That was not the source of his confidence.
    If your confidence is directly related to other people's opinions,
you are going to be plagued with insecurity for three reasons.
    First of all, people are fickle. People can approve of you one day and then criticize you the next. One day the crowd said, "Hail, Jesus," and a few days later it was, "Nail Jesus."   Crucify Him.
     If you don't understand that people are fickle and you put a lot of stock in their approval, you can be devastated.
    The second reason you shouldn't put stock in people's opinion is that people are often wrong.
     One newspaper editor ripped Abraham Lincoln apart for his Gettysburg Address, saying his remarks were inappropriate and not worth mentioning.
    Thomas Edison's grade school teacher said he was stupid and would never learn.
    Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper whose editor said he had no creative ideas.
    Noah preached for 120 years and he had no converts except the seven other members of his family.
    If Noah's confidence had been directly related to people's response, he would have been devastated because people-even the majority of people - can be wrong.
    3rd grade teacher......
    I once had a professor who “Said Paul admit you can’t do college level work just go home.”  
     I  have a PHD.
    The professor last his job.
    The third reason you shouldn't put stock in people is because people's tastes are varied.
    What one person likes, another person may find repulsive. If you try to please everybody, then you'll be constantly frustrated and you'll lack confidence because people are so different.
    If your sense of security too closely depends on other people's opinions, your life is going to be miserable.     You've got to determine how God has gifted you and where God wants you to walk.
    Then walk in that way confidently, and don't be upset about how people feel. Remember, if you worry too much about what people think of you, you probably will be disappointed to discover how seldom they think of you at all!
    Rejoice in the Endorsement of Other Believers
    Paul didn't need to boast about himself.
    He didn't need to receive letters of endorsement, he said, because
     "You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody"
    (2 Corinthians 3:2).
    Paul's endorsements were the changed lives of people he had led to Jesus Christ.
    His record spoke for itself. Everyone could see the legitimacy of his ministry by the lives that he had won to the Lord every place he had been. ,
    God's people are open letters to their community.
    Many people will not read the Bible and will not listen to a sermon, or come to church and worship.   
    But they will read our lives and carefully observe whether the church and Jesus Christ are having a positive or negative effect on us.
    It's not just preachers that people watch.
    You are a letter, too.
    People observe your life.
    They are watching to see whether Christ and your church are making a difference in your life.     
    You are a testimony to Christ and to your local church.
    Paul said he received his satisfaction not from something written in ink, but something written by the Spirit; not written on tablets of stone, but on the human heart.
    Christian parents, you ought to receive a real confidence boost when you see your child come and accept Jesus Christ and be baptized into Him.     Maybe they're not scholars, maybe they're not great athletes, but the thing that really matters, their relationship with Christ, is not written with ink, or engraved on a trophy.
    It's written on their hearts.
    Rely on the Assurance of God's Provision
    "Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God"
    (2 Corinthians 3:4, 5).
    You can read all kinds of books on how to build up your self-confidence or how to overcome an inferiority complex.
    Almost every one of those courses will tell you you've got to believe in yourself.
     But that's not true.
     If you put your confidence in yourself alone, that confidence will invariably be shaken, because no matter how talented you are, you are going to make mistakes.
     If you can't distinguish between your worth and your performance, that will be devastating to you.
     No matter how confident you become, there will be things you cannot control.
    You might have a heart attack, or you may discover your mate is unfaithful, or you might fail to get admitted to the  school where you applied.
    No matter how confident you are, as you get older your talents begin to wane - you can't see as well,
    you don't remember as quickly, and your reflexes aren't as fast.
     But we can be confident as Christians because our confidence is not in ourselves but in God.
    Do you know what the middle verse of the Bible is?
    If you took a plumb line, put it right down through the heart of the Bible, and found the middle verse, it would be Psalm 118:9, "It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes."
    Don't place your confidence in people; trust in the Lord.
    God's promises never fail.
    His resources never run out.
    His memory never fades.
    His Word is always reliable.
    That's the reason Jesus said, "God cares for the grass of the fields and the birds of the air, and He will take care of you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow."     
    Most of us go through life all tensed up; we never do put our whole weight down on God.
    We think we've got everything under control, or if we don't, we're going to work at getting it under control.
    But God is the one who is really controlling everything, so we can relax.
     "Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall" (psalm 55:22).
     It's a wonderful day when you realize, "I'm not in control.
    I'm not competent.
     But the Lord is, and He's the one who has everything under control.
    So I'll put my whole weight down on Him, and I'll quit being afraid."
    Relax in the Freedom of the New Covenant
    "He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant - not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life"
        (2 Corinthians 3:6).
    We are not going to be confident Christians if we don't understand the important distinction between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
     In the Old Testament, people could earn God's favor by living a good life. If someone kept the Ten Commandments, God would bless and save him. But the problem was, nobody could keep the rules.
    Nobody ever completely obeyed, so nobody was ever confident of his salvation.
    But in the New Testament, there's a whole new way of righteousness.
    Jesus Christ came and died on the cross.
     He knew you were incompetent.
    He knew you had sinned, but He took the burden of your sin on himself on the cross, and now, through Him, you can be saved.
    "It is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast"   (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
    Paul Little? illustrated salvation in terms of swimming across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii ..
    Some people can swim ten feet and some can swim ten miles,
but we' re all in deep trouble, because we're all going to drown.
    But let's say that a cruise ship comes by and the captain says, "Get on board. I'm going to give you all a free trip to Hawaii."
     Everybody who got on board could relax and enjoy the trip for free.     The people who would be the most reluctant to get on board that ship would be the people who were the best swimmers.
    They might want to flaunt their superiority.
    Jesus Christ comes and says, "You can't make it.
    You can't do it on your own.
    You are all sinful.
    But I'll pay the price.
    I'll give you a free trip to Heaven if you'll just humble yourself and get on board."
    The most reluctant to get to respond are the good moral people.
     It's tough for them to admit they have sinned.
    It's tough for them to be humble enough to get into the baptistery.
    They want to do it on their own.
    If your concept is you're going to be good so that God will love you and save you,
    you're never going to be confident because,
    no matter how good you are,
     it's never quite good enough.
    No matter how hard you try,
    even your good deeds have bad motives.
    It is a wonderful day when you begin to understand that Christ has asked you aboard His ship of salvation.
    He's paying the price and you can relax.
    Now if the captain of that cruise liner asked you to run a little errand during that trip to Hawaii, you would do it in a snap-not to earn the trip, but to show him you are appreciative.
    Our good deeds as Christians are just deeds of thankfulness that Jesus Christ has saved us.
     "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:8, 9).
    The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco was built between 1933 and 1937.
    During the first half of the construction, over a dozen men fell off the superstructure, falling as far as 700 feet to their death in the water below.
    Construction was halted, and a safety net, costing several hundred thousand dollars, was put under the bridge so that, if anybody fell, he would be caught.
    During the last half of construction, about six people fell, but their lives were spared.
     But during the last half of construction, the work proceeded at twenty-five percent greater efficiency.
    Knowing the net was there didn't make the workers careless, it made them more confident and more efficient.
    As a Christian, you have a net below you called God's grace.
    When you stumble and fall, that net catches you and forgives you and reestablishes you in your role.
    When you understand about that net of grace, it doesn't make you careless.
     It makes you more confident and more self assured.
    It makes you more relaxed, happier, and more joyful in the Christian life.
    Amazing grace!
    how sweet the sound
    That saved a wretch like me!
    I once was lost, but now am found,
    Was blind, but now I see.”
    Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, ...
let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
    Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,
    for he who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:19,22,23).
    It's a wonderful day when we can be confident and say with The Aps Paul, Please stand and see say...
    "My sins are forgiven
    { let me hear you say that }
    My eternity is assured.
    { let me hear you say that }
     My present is empowered.
    { let me hear you say that }
     I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." say it..