August 19th 2 Corinthians, 7
1: Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2: Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man. 3: I speak not this to condemn you: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you. 4: Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation. 5: For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. 6: Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus; 7: And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more. 8: For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. 9: Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10: For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 11: For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 12: Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you. 13: Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all. 14: For if I have boasted any thing to him of you, I am not ashamed; but as we spake all things to you in truth, even so our boasting, which I made before Titus, is found a truth. 15: And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him. 16: I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all things.
Pauls says that because the Corinthians are Gods children they are therefore to live honourably in the light of this privilege. Paul pleads with them in affectionate terms – dearly beloved he says, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit in the fear of God. Can Paul speak like this to christians? Yes of course he can. Being a christian does not mean that we are sinless or that the sins of the flesh or the spirit do not overcome us. Being a christian is knowing that our sins are forgiven and coming to the realisation of sin in our lives continually and dealing with it by confession and walking in the light. It is a constant fight, a constant battle, not waged in the flesh but waged in the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. So says Paul because we are Gods children put away the filthiness of the flesh and spirit and become mature in holiness in the fear of the Lord. Then Paul changes the subject, he says, ‘Receive us’. There must have been a sense in which the believers were distancing themselves from Paul and his associates at some time. Perhaps they were even publically renouncing Paul’s ministry. Paul states that there is no basis for not receiving him. He says, we have done nothing wrong to any man. We have not perverted anyone with our teaching and we have not taken anything from anyone by theft. He says, l am not saying this to make you feel bad because as l said before you are in our hearts - for life or death. I am speaking very bold to you and great is my bragging of you. I am full of assurance for you and l am very much full of joy when l think about you, even in the middle of our troubles. When we came into Macedonia we had no rest in the flesh, but we faced trouble on every side. Outside us was fighting’s and within us was fears. However God who comforts those who are cast down, comforted us and especially by the report that Titus brought us. And we were comforted not only by the coming of Titus but by the blessing that Titus had received by seeing how you are. When Titus told us of your seeking after God and of your mourning over your condition and of your longing after me. In all these things l rejoiced in God. Paul had sent a very stinging letter to the Corinthians which the Holy Spirit has never included in scripture. This letter had had the effect of a great repentance and restoration in the Corinthians to the Lord. Of this severe letter Paul says, even though l made you sorry by my letter l do not now wish that l had never sent it or wish to change what l said in it, because l see that this letter fulfilled its purpose in making you sorry, even if it were for a short time. I do not rejoice because you were made to be sorry but because your sorrow led to a real change of mind. Your sorrow was a godly sorrow (and we did not intend this letter to bring you any harm.) Godly sorrow leads to a real change of mind which brings a restoration of the believer to the Lord. The regret of the ungodly world leads nowhere but to separation from the Lord. You had exactly the same sorrow that l am talking about, it was a sorrow of the godly and it brought to you great anxiety in spirit and this led to a clearing up of issues, It led to indignation of your sins and fear before God. This manifested itself in a great desire to be right with God and a zeal to serve him. In every sense you have proved yourself to be clear before the Lord in all these matters. It was for this purpose that l wrote to you. I did not write because you had done wrong nor even on behalf of those to whom wrong was done but l wrote to express our care for you in the presence of the Lord. We are now comforted by your comfort in God. Yes and we rejoiced in the Lord even more so by the good news of Titus. His spirit was refreshed by all of you. I am not ashamed of boasting to Titus about you. But because we spoke everything to you in truth in this was are proud of you and in this l bragged to Titus. Paul says that, the love that Titus has for you has grown even more, when he remembers the obedience to God that he saw in you all, when you received him in fear and trembling. Paul says, l rejoice because of all this that l have full confidence in you in everything.