Have you ever been accused of being out of your mind as you shared the good news of God's grace with people?
You are not alone.
So was Paul.
In 2 Corinthians 5:13, Paul says,
“If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.”
So why would some people say Paul was out of his mind?
To understand why, we must look at this verse in context, starting with 2 Corinthians 3.
In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul explains that God made him a competent minister of the new covenant (grace) and not a minister of the old covenant (law-10 Commandments).
Paul teaches that life-change doesn’t come by living according to the 10 Commandments, but life-change comes by the Spirit of the living God in the human heart.
Paul teaches the 10 Commandments is the old covenant of law and the Spirit of the living
God in the heart of a person is the new covenant of grace.
Paul teaches the 10 Commandments, written on tablets of stone, kill a person through condemnation and death, but the ministry of the Spirit brings life and righteousness.
Paul teaches the 10 Commandments, engraved in letters on stone and brought down the mountain by Moses, was temporal, but the ministry of the Spirit, which is the new covenant of grace, is eternal.
Paul teaches that a person’s hope is not in obedience to the old covenant of law, the 10 Commandments (since it brings death), but in the new covenant of grace (the Spirit brings life and righteousness and is eternal).
Paul teaches, in 2 Corinthians 3, that the Spirit of the Lord (Jesus) living in the heart of a person frees them from the old covenant of law.
He teaches that those who fix their eyes on the Lord’s glory, his grace, are transformed from the inside out by his Spirit.
Paul teaches that those who cannot see that we are not under the old covenant of law, the Ten Commandments, have never turned to the Lord and are not in Christ, because if they had turned to the Lord and where in Christ, then they would be able to see the new covenant of grace.
Paul taught that when people turn to the Lord, then the veil would be lifted from their eyes and they would be able to see that the old covenant, the 10 Commandments, kill a person, but through the new covenant of grace, the Spirit brings life and righteousness.
It took much boldness for Paul to teach the truth of the new covenant in contrast to the old covenant (2 Corinthians 3:12).
He had to be willing to be labeled by the spiritual leaders of his day as “being out of his mind.”
As he did in chapter 3, Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 4, that the ministry of the new covenant was given to him by God, and, because it was given to him by God, he sincerely and plainly communicated its truths to people.
Paul taught the gospel, the good news of grace, was veiled to those who were perishing and their minds had been blinded to the new covenant of grace by the god of this age.
This group of blinded people who where perishing still wanted to live in obedience to the 10 Commandments.
Paul explained how his body took a beating in delivering God’s grace to more and more people.
Because of the impact God’s message of grace was having on people and the gratitude that went from people to God, he did not give up (2 Corinthians 4:15-16).
He explained that he did not give up because when people learned about God’s grace, they saw how great God is and their lives were changed.
So rather than fix his eyes on the difficulties he experienced in delivering God’s grace to people, Paul fixed his eyes on the impact God’s grace (the new covenant) was having in the lives of people.
Paul knew that one day he would receive a brand new body, an eternal body, that would replace his physical body, which was breaking down as he delivered God’s grace to people (2 Corinthians 5).
He did not live by sight, watching his body deteriorate.
Instead, he lived by faith...confident he was fulfilling what God had called him to do, which was delivering the good news of grace to people, confident he would receive a brand new body, and confident he would one day be at home with the Lord.
It was Paul’s goal to please the Lord while in the body.
He knew that one day he would stand before the Lord at the judgment seat of Christ and he wanted to know that he pleased the Lord in his body by sharing grace with people.
Since he knew what it meant to fear the Lord (have great respect for the Lord), he wanted to please the Lord by sharing the good news of grace, seeking to persuade people about the new covenant.
It is here (2 Corinthians 5:13) where Paul says that some people thought he was “out of his mind” because he sought to persuade people to turn away from the old covenant of law, the 10 Commandments, and turn to the Lord and embrace the new covenant of grace.
They thought he was crazy for teaching the 10 Commandments kill people, bringing condemnation and death.
Paul was out of his mind according to this group of religious leaders and teachers, unbelievers in the new covenant of grace, those who were blinded by the god of this age and who had a veil over their hearts.
This group thought the Ten Commandments brought life, and grace brought death because they thought people would use grace as a license to sin.
Paul goes on to explain more of the message of the new covenant in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21.
It was declaring God’s message of the new covenant that led people to think Paul was out of his mind.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul said that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old covenant of law has gone, and the new covenant of grace has come!
In verse 18, he said that the message of the new covenant came from God.
Paul said this because he wanted people to know the message of grace he was declaring wasn’t from him but from God.
So if the message of the new covenant came from God, they (those who said Paul was out of his mind) were really saying God was out of his mind, since the message was God’s not Paul’s, and since God is the one who made him competent in teaching the message.
Paul explains that the message God gave him was a message of reconciliation...a message of how a person could be reconciled to God.
In 2 Corinthians 5:19-21, Paul, as an ambassador of Christ, as if speaking for God himself, said that God, through Christ reconciled the world to himself.
Paul proclaimed on behalf of God that God was not counting people’s sins against them.
This is because all of our sins were counted against Jesus.
Paul explained that Jesus became sin for us so that through Christ we would become righteous.
He implored people to be reconciled to God by accepting God’s grace and believing in the new covenant...the finished and full work of Christ.
Paul implored people to turn from the law and to grace for salvation.
In 2 Corinthians 6:1-2, Paul encouraged those who heard God’s message of grace not to hear about it in vain by continuing in the old covenant of law, the 10 Commandments.
He told them “now is the time of God’s favor” and “now is the day of salvation”, which is by grace.
So what we find in 2 Corinthians 3-6:2 is that the message Paul taught about the new covenant of grace was God’s message.
It was the message which led people to say Paul was out of his mind.
Yet Paul said if “he is out of his mind it is for God.”
Paul was willing to be labeled “out of his mind” to declare God’s message of the new covenant of grace.
If you have been labeled as being “out of your mind” because you teach what Paul taught, you are in great company...Paul himself.
As you teach God’s message of the new covenant of grace, as Paul did, your Sunday School class, small group, Bible study, church friends, mission organization, Christian school, seminary professors, church leaders, pastor, men’s minister, your family, etc...may think you have lost your mind, gone crazy with this grace teaching, taking it too far.
But be encouraged.
There are some who will hear and accept it.
There are some who will be changed by it.
And when they hear, accept, and are changed by the new covenant of grace, they will overflow with thanksgiving to God, they will come to know just how great God is (2 Corinthians 4;15)!
Continue to be bold when you are labeled “out of your mind.”
Don’t give up when you are labeled “out of your mind.”
Because you are the one who is in your right mind and people need to hear the good news
of God’s grace.