“For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you.”

– 2 Corinthians 5:13


“You’re crazy!” “They’re crazy!” “That was crazy!” “The world is going crazy!” “Crazy” can be used as an adjective to describe our feelings about people or situations. “Crazy” can be used as a verb to describe actions. Have you ever been called “crazy”? The Apostle Paul was accused of being crazy because of what he preached and taught. To his accusers he responded, “For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you” (2 Corinthians 5:13). It’s not always bad to be “crazy.” And there is a way to keep your sanity when everyone and everything around you is crazy!

The phrase, “beside ourselves” translates a single Greek term, exestemen. Exestemen (Aorist/Active/Indicative of existemi) is a word that means confused, astounded, amazed, or insane. Paul was being accused of being confused, amazed, and astounded out of his mind, and insane because of what he was teaching. His response was that “If I am insane, it is for God.” In other words, Paul was willing to be seen as insane for God’s sake. Are you willing to be called “crazy” for serving the LORD?

You believe Jesus is the ONLY WAY to heaven? You’re crazy!” “You believe Jesus was/is GOD? You’re crazy!” “You believe THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD? You’re crazy!”  “You don’t believe in evolution? You believe God created everything? You’re crazy!” You don’t’ believe in sex before marriage? You’re crazy!” “You’re binary? You’re crazy!” “You’re trying to live a ‘holy life’? You’re crazy!” Crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy. But who really are the crazy ones?

Paul on one occasion, stood before the politician Festus to make his defense. When Paul’s message struck a little too close to home for the governor he said, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!” (Acts 26:24). To be “beside yourself” (Greek maine – Present/Middle/Indicative of the verb mainomai) means to be mad, be out of one’s mind, to be a raving lunatic and out of control. “Mad” (Greek manian from mania) means mad, insane. When the message of the gospel, and in particular the resurrection, makes people feel uncomfortable, they will often turn to accusations. They called Paul crazy in the first century. They continue to call those who proclaim Christ and his gospel crazy to this day. If you serve the risen Jesus and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and the word of God, get ready to be accused of being crazy. But who really is crazy?

This world is crazy. As the world is competing with each other to suppress God’s truth and run as far away from it as possible, the consequences are getting crazier and crazier. It’s crazy to send multiple BILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars to support wars and political preferences throughout the world to the neglect of the homeless and hungry on our own streets many of whom are veterans. It seems crazy to shut down sources that made us energy independent as a nation and install policies that make us dependent on our enemies for energy. It is crazy to open the borders of a nation and throw all caution to the wind. It is one thing to welcome the needy from foreign lands to join us in pursuing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s quite another thing to fail to vet possible enemies who infiltrate our land with ill intent. It seems crazy for our educational system to indoctrinate and prioritize progressive propensities to the neglect of actually teaching students to read, write, and think. It’s crazy for our educational system to so insanely neglect teaching the young to survive and live as responsible adults in the world. It seems crazy to push for electric cars for all when it would short circuit our electrical grids not to mention lead to gigantic lithium mine holes throughout our land to feed the need for electrical power. It seems crazy that people are defying biological make up and humanhood in an attempt to live out fantasies of alternatives to how God created them. It seems crazy that those in power are seldom called to account for their blatant crimes while those of lesser wealth are falsely accused and inordinately sentenced to prison time. Yes, the world is not only “crazy,” it is confused and corrupt and insane.

Now, I am not unaware that all of the above crazy practices mentioned above are not without motive. There is a global movement to eradicate sovereign states and individual liberties so that a one world system can be installed with an elite cadre of power-hungry politicians in control. But even with this awareness, isn’t it all the epitome of insanity? Sin leads to such insanity. If the world continues its flight from faith in God, it will destroy itself. Self-destruction is the ultimate insanity. That is the consequence of “crazy.”

It is true that there are some from the “Christian” camp you who are legitimately “crazy.” Some press beyond the parameters of scripture to indulge their flesh and abuse God and His word for their own purposes. Some use church to exalt themselves. Cults often live on the periphery and outside the parameters of the truth of God’s word. It is indeed crazy or insane to reject the truth of God’s word. But how do we avoid and escape the craziness of this world in all its shapes and forms?

Paul goes on to say, “or is we are of a sound mind, it is for you.” “Sound mind” translates the Greek term sophronoumen (Present/Active/Indicative of the verb sophroneo) which means a sound, sensible, serious mind. The sense of Paul’s statement might be, “I might be tempted to lose my mind with all the craziness in this world, but for your sakes I keep a sound mind.” How can we have a sound mind like Paul had, while living with all this craziness around us?

Cults and false teachers get into all kinds of craziness because they take scriptures out of context. If we look at the context of 2 Corinthains 5:13, we find the solution to all the craziness. Paul begins the chapter by speaking the eternity we have to look forward to as Christians. He speaks of waling by faith and not merely by what we see or feel in this world (2 Corinthians 5:1-8). He says we have a great future ahead of us but also adds that we must all stand before Jesus for judgment. Without Jesus as our Advocate, that is a terrible prospect (2 Corinthians 5:9-12). The word Paul uses to describe such a situation is “terror,” a word that translates the Greek word phobos from which we get our English phobia. Much of the world lives enslaved to phobias or fears. Some of these phobias are real, some imagined. If left unaddressed, fear can wreck us. What is the solution?

Paul is inspired by the Spirit to continue and say:

2 Corinthians 5:14–17 (NKJV) – 14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. 16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

These words are some of the most powerful in the entire Bible. They are the perfect antidote to the crazy sinfulness of this world. Let’s note the mind healing truth contained here.

First, let the love of Jesus compel you in all you do. Another Apostle was inspired to write, “perfect love casts our fear” (1 John 4:17-19). Ultimately sanity and freedom from our phobias can be found in God and His love. God shows us His love even while we live in sin (Romans 5:8). God’s love is poured out into our heart and experienced by us when we trust Jesus as our Savior (Romans 5:5). the truth about love, and in particular God’s love, is that “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8a).

The world makes self and self-seeking a person’s prime motivation. Psychology pushes “your happiness” as the end all objective of treatment. But here the love of Jesus is presented as our motivation. What is “the love of Christ”? The love of Christ is defined as a willingness to sacrifice for others. The profound truth that leads to a sound mind is Jesus, “died for all, then all died.” By virtue of Jesus atoning death for us, that provided a just way for us to be forgiven our sins as a gift of God’s grace received through faith in Jesus, by virtue of that wonderful gift of God, we belong to Him. The Bible says, “you are not your own. . .. For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthains 6:19-20). The world says, “Feed your flesh; satisfy yourself.” Jesus says, “Die to self and follow Me.” This is what coming to Jesus is all about. As you trust Jesus as your Savior and follow Him, you will learn that this gospel way liberates you from the craziness of this world.

Since “all died,” the natural effect is, “that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and rose again.” Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Marriage and parenting are ordained and given to us by God in part because they are the best suited for teaching us the blessedness of giving to others. If you’re depressed, down, or discouraged, I encourage you to get up and just do something for someone else. Serving others can be such a blessing! Serving others, especially those who could care less if you’re serving them or who are unappreciative, can be the greatest blessing because they are opportunities to purely serve the Lord with no ulterior motive of receiving from the Lord. There’s something about sacrificing to the Lord through serving others that is in and of itself a blessing. God saves us in His love. God fills us with His love. And God blesses us by helping us to live in His love.

“Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh.” Make it your ambition or perspective on life to stop doing things for people to get things from them. Don’t look at people from a selfish perspective. We are too often narcissistic in our motivations for doing the things we do. Let’s set our mind on Jesus and heavenly things rather than the cheap trinkets of this world (Colossians 3:1-4). If serving your flesh or selfish purposes is what motivates you in doing things for others, you’re setting yourself up for sure disappointment.

“Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.” We used to see and relate to Jesus only in terms of “What’s in it for me?” That’s your sinful nature speaking, your “flesh.” The word “flesh” is from the Greek term sarx, and it refers to the fallen sinful self-centered self-reliant, self-promoting human nature. Paul testifies he once saw Jesus from a self-serving perspective, but no longer does. How was he able to be freed from the bondage to self-service?

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” The key is to be “in Christ.” “In Christ” is a grammatical way to refer to having a personal saving relationship with Jesus Christ. The basis of such a relationship is stated at the end of 2 Corinthians 5, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). God the Father made Jesus His Son, who was sinless, to be sin for us. Why did he do that? Because we are all separated from God by our sinful selfish ways. And on our own there is no way for us to deal with or remove our sins. We are guilty and destined for an eternity separate from God (cf. Romans 3). The wages or penalty for our sins is death, not annihilation but eternal separation from God. This is the consequence for those who choose selfish craziness instead of the comfort from sin that God offers in Jesus Christ.

God’s redemptive plan was designed for Jesus to “be sin for us,” or to take our sin and suffer our penalty for sin on the cross. But there’s more. God did this so that “we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” God’s plan was not only for Jesus to pay our death penalty for sin, but it was also so that we can have His righteousness put to our account! How can that happen? That can happen when we are “in Him.” To be “in Him” refers to a personal saving relationship with God the Father and that happens when we put faith in Jesus. Forgiveness for our sins, the removal of guilt for our sins, the removal of the appropriate condemnation for our sins, can be received when we trust Jesus as our Savior. When that happens we are freed from the craziness of this sinful world.

When we admit our sins and ask for God’s forgiveness, when we receive God’s forgiveness by faith in the finished work of Jesus to make it all happen, we know it is true because of the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection is proof positive that what God says He will do, He will do. The consequence of sin is death. The resurrection is proof that Jesus defeated death and offers the same deliverance from the eternal consequence of death for those who believe in Him.

When we trust Jesus as our Savior and receive God’s forgiveness of our sins, the Holy Spirit then gives us eternal life! The Holy Spirit indwells us and changes us. That’s what Paul means when he says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” You can receive a fresh start from this crazy life! On your own and in your flesh the thought of serving others and living selflessly is crazy. But when you trust Jesus as your Savior and look ot Him, He gives you a whole new outlook on life, one governed and guided by the Holy Spirit, one that produces a sane “sound mind.”

The point of 2 Corinthians 5:13 is that Paul says it is worth being called crazy while serving the Lord and it was worth living out a sound mind in Jesus so others could discover such stability in Christ. It’s only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can find such soundness. And the only way to have the Holy Spirit working in us is through faith in Jesus. All of this leads us to live in the love of Jesus. That’s what God provides as the solution to the craziness of this sinful world. Crazy? I’m crazy for Jesus! Sane? I’m sane in Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit so you too can find soundness in this crazy sinful world. Amen? Amen!


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