2Corinthians 7 — To a Church in Crisis, With Love

Text: 2Corinthians 7

With love, even God’s own divine love in our hearts, Paul and I speak to you from 2Corinthians 7 today. We want you to join us in being the Amen to God’s promises of reconciliation, of salvation, and of the infilling of the Holy Spirit! Yes! Truth! He has done it in me! You will say the same thing, when you are filled!

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “Sorrowful to the Point of Repentance.” I always pray that, like some of the believers at Corinth have done, today’s church will hear and heed Paul’s Spirit-inspired words, be stricken with grief over the condition of their hearts, and repent and ask the Lord to change them! If they do, He will cleanse their hearts and perfect (fulfill) holiness in them, by filling them full of the Holy Spirit!

Verse 1 —

Therefore, having these promises . . . what promises? These promises —

2Corinthians 6:16  . . . just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. 17 Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; 

And I will welcome you. 18 And I will be a Father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty.

Having these promises, what are all Christians to do? 

— cleanse (purify) themselves from all defilements (stains, immorality) of flesh (the body) and spirit (the human spirit)

— perfecting (fulfilling) holiness in the fear (terror) of God

Do so in the terror of God? Really? Yes, beloved. If you reject Jesus’ command to be filled with His Spirit, after you are saved, He will judge you because you have not obeyed Him. The promises are for those who obey His command to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Those who obey Him, love Him —

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. 24 “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.”

You will say, I do not see anything about purified hearts in the Acts 2 account of the day of Pentecost. But what does Peter say, in the rest of the New Testament?

Acts 15:8 “And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; 9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.”

1Peter 4:1   Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

2Peter 1:4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

So, stop stalling! That is your flesh, beloved. It does not want to die! But it must, so obediently ask your Father in heaven to fill you with the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13)! Then He will purify your heart from all stains and immorality, and will fulfill holiness in you, because the Father and the Son and the Spirit will dwell within you permanently and fully, just as Jesus says in John 14:23, above.

Verse 2 —

Make room for us in (give us a space, allow us to enter) your hearts, O church! We wronged no one (we did not injure you, we were not unjust), we corrupted no one (we defiled no one’s morals), we took advantage of no one (we defrauded no one). 

But others have done this to the church at Corinth, and to today’s church! Later in 2Corinthians, Paul writes —

2Corinthians 11:4 For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.

2Corinthians 11:20 For you tolerate it if anyone enslaves you, anyone devours you, anyone takes advantage of you, anyone exalts himself, anyone hits you in the face.

Oh, beloved! See what today’s false teachers are doing to you! 

Verse 3 —

Paul does not speak to condemn (sentence) them, as if there is no hope for their repentance. He loves them, just as I love today’s church! For he and I have said before, you are in our hearts (thoughts) to die together and to live together. We always pray that you will ask the Lord to crucify the sin nature in you (Galatians 5:24), so you die, and He lives in you (Galatians 2:20)!

Verse 4 —

Great is Paul’s and my confidence (boldness of speech) in the church! Great is our boasting on your behalf (our belief that you indeed will hear and heed)!

Therefore, we are filled with comfort and overflowing (superabounding) with joy, in all our persecution and anguish and trouble from without (the world) and even from within (even from the church)! We have within us the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit, His very joy, and as Christ said to His disciples, no one will take our joy from us (John 16:22)!

Verse 5 —

Paul again refers to the persecution Timothy and he suffered in Macedonia. Their flesh (bodies) had no rest. They were afflicted (persecuted) on every side. There were conflicts from without (from those who rejected Christ) and fears (alarm) within, because their persecutors tried to kill them.Yes, Paul and Timothy knew they would be with Christ if their bodies died, but Paul writes this way to emphasize the extreme danger they were in.

Verse 6 —

But God, who comforts the “depressed?” Oh, my! What a poor translation! Paul and Timothy are not depressed! The Greek meaning is humble, lowly! How can a Christian filled with the Holy Spirit be depressed? My goodness, no one will take  your joy from you, says Jesus (John 16:22)! 

But God comforts the humble and lowly with the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who indwells us! He does not send out the proud! He does not fill the proud! And He comforts us amidst our persecution because we are proclaimer of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Verse 7 —

The Lord used a visit from Titus, and a report from him, to greatly comfort them. Titus returned to the church at Corinth, after he had delivered Paul’s painful letter to them. And Titus saw evidence of repentance at Corinth — their longing (earnest, passionate desire), their mourning (lamentation), their zeal (passion) toward Paul, in the midst of Paul’s persecution in Macedonia, for the believers at Corinth had heard of it. 

And Paul rejoices even more greatly, because from Titus’ report, he sees that the Corinthians’ hearts have changed toward him. Their mourning was a sign of repentance for their hostile behavior toward Timothy and Paul. For those who mourned in the church at Corinth, they received comfort from Titus — both encouragement and further exhortation.

I tell you the truth, beloved. Today’s congregations are in dire need of painful letters! But our pastors and denominations fear the closure of their buildings!

Verse 8 —

I cause you sorrow (grieving so as to make sorry), O church, just as Paul did with his painful letter and visit that occurred between 1Corinthians and 2Corinthians. But he and I do not regret it. We have no remorse, for we did not do wrong. And the outcome is cause for rejoicing!

We did regret having to do it, in this way — it was not pleasant for us. But though we see that our words cause you sorrow, it is only for a little while (a season). 

Verse 9 —

We now rejoice, having heard that the sorrow we caused in you led to your repentance! Our exhortation that made you sorrowful was according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 

If we had not caused you sorrow, you would not have repented, and would have remained in danger of losing your salvation! But some have repented at our words, and that has led to their salvation — they have been restored to their position of being saved. So, their restoration to a salvation without further regret.

Verse 10 —
For the sorrow that is according to the will of God (that is, godly sorrow, sorrow as God intended) produces a repentance without regret (that does not require further regret), leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world (which is grief over natural things, and thereby empty) produces death (spiritual death), because natural sorrow cannot bring anyone to repentance toward God and belief into His Son.

Verse 11 —

For behold! Look at the earnestness (diligence, eagerness) produced by your godly sorrow! Look at how you are now vindicated (cleared) regarding your past behavior! 

Look at your indignation (your concern that false teachers have treated you wrongly, by causing you to question our integrity)! What godly fear has been engendered in you, and what longing (earnest, passionate desire) and zeal (as one who has been done wrong by a false teacher), and avenging of wrong (punishment of such ones)! 

In everything, O repentant believers, you have demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter. That is, by their proper response to the “severe letter,” the repentant Corinthians have now obeyed and are “in the right,” even though they had previously believed the false accusations against Paul and Timothy.

Verse 12 —

So although Paul wrote to them, and though that letter offended them, he did not write it for the sake of the believers at Corinth, nor did he write it for the sake of the one who accused him, but for the sake of their salvation. He wrote it so that their hearts would be changed, and they would become repentant, and their new earnestness toward Paul and Timothy would make them right in the sight of God. 

Their earnestness showed God that they indeed cared for Paul and Timothy. These men were sent to them by the Lord, but were initially rejected and questioned by the believers at Corinth.

NOTE: In future chapters of 2Corinthians, you will see that some still have unchanged hearts, and have not repented. They have simply been shallowly sorry about Paul and Timothy’s troubles. 

Verse 13 — 

And for this, we are comforted, for your repentance which has made you right with God again. Paul and Timothy and all Spirit-filled teachers and preachers will keep speaking the truth, so you may be right before God, both in your position with Him and in your attitude toward us!

In this Paul and Timothy are comforted, and rejoiced all the more! For besides their own comfort, they rejoice at the joy Titus had, upon seeing the repentance among the believers at Corinth. Titus’ spirit was refreshed (eased, at rest) because he observed the fruit of repentance among them.

Verse 14 — 

Paul says, For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I was not put to shame (for indeed, some of you have repented) but just as I spoke all things to you in truth (in the truth of the Word, in the truth of Christ, as standing before God), so also our boasting before Titus proved to be truth. 

Titus observed the repentance that Paul knew he would see, if the believers at Corinth responded to Timothy and Paul’s words and believed the truth that they spoke. In the same way, I am encouraged that I will see repentance in the hearts of some in today’s church,  and I have seen true repentance among a few believers. In this, I greatly rejoice! 

Verses 15-16 —

Titus’ affection (tender mercy, inward affection) abounds all the more toward the believers at Corinth, just as mine does toward believers who repent! 

You make us glad on the inside, and we rejoice at the mercy of God toward you, because you have been obedient to our Spirit-inspired words and received us with fear and trembling (toward God). You who have repented have quaked with fear over your behavior toward those who love you with God’s divine love, and who have spoken the truth in the sight of God.

Therefore, Paul and I rejoice that in everything, we have confidence in you, we are encouraged and emboldened to continue to speak the truth to you, because you have repented!

O believer, as Spirit-filled ones teach you, it is always our prayer that you will respond with repentance. We speak boldly, so that your repentance would be seen by God and He would forgive you for believing the words of some who are against us and Him who sent us! 

Next time, Paul will test the obedience of the believers at Corinth, for they have not given as they ought, toward the spreading of the gospel. He will exhort them to fulfill their promise of support for the ones sent out into the harvest by the Lord. 

Lord Jesus, may many hear the truth you have asked me and others to faithfully speak, and may they bear the fruit of repentance. Amen. 

 

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