2 Corinthians 7
“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1)
Paul has just addressed our bodies being the temple of God in chapter 6. It seems to me that he was pretty much addressing outward sins, sins against the flesh in chapter 6. However, he is here addressing not only sins of the flesh but sins of the spirit. Lest we get all holier than thou and think well I don’t have trouble with some of those fleshly sins so I must be ok, we all have trouble with sins of the spirit. I believe that will always be a constant struggle as long as we have breath in our bodies. But that doesn’t excuse us from working on it. Ohhh how many times does my mind wander away to things that, well I would not want to admit to anyone. I have a war going on in my mind all the time about thoughts I have against myself as well as against others. Yet, Paul is saying that with God we have the ability to cleanse ourselves, cleanse our minds and bring holiness to completion. (But please know that it is a constant thing, not a one time thing.)
This letter takes a more positive turn where the Corinthians are concerned in this chapter. We have seen in most of these chapters that Paul is admonishing the Corinthians for wanting to remain in their lifestyles even though they had accepted Jesus. They wanted to straddle the fence so to speak. But in this chapter Paul has been encouraged by Titus who had been to see the Corinthians and is delivering word to Paul that the Corinthians received him well when he visited them and that they were grieved somewhat by Paul’s letter but that it was a godly grief which brings repentance.
“As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)
Paul has found the perfect balance when he is admonishing the Corinthians. It is so hard to find that balance. We tend to either want to turn our head and pretend that the problem doesn’t exist in someone’s life or to shame someone or worse cut them off completely because of the sin in their life. Now mind you I am talking about those who are stronger in their walk. As said before if someone is still struggling with a sin, they will more than likely need to separate themselves for at least a time to gain strength. But understand shame never brings about godly grief. Just being sorry about something can produce shame or resentment or bitterness. But repentance turns back toward God. Many people think they have to repent in order to come to God. Spurgeon says “Repentance describes the very act of coming to God.” We are supposed to turn to God and then allow Him to cleanse us. We have to come to Him in order to be washed in the blood and that is the only way to cleanse us from sin.
Paul is leaving the Corinthians in this chapter with some encouraging words.
“For whatever boasts I made to him about you, I was not put to shame. But just as everything we said to you was true, so also our boasting before Titus has proved true. And his affection for you is even greater, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling. I rejoice because I have complete confidence in you.” (2 Corinthians 7:14-16)
Paul is so proud of them. Even though the Corinthians had many struggles, Paul had built them up to Titus. He was so proud of the fact that the Corinthians received him well and received his instructions well too. I have often heard, speak into someone what you want them to become. While Paul has admonished and corrected them over and over, right here he is telling them he has complete confidence in them. It’s just like children respond better to praise than they do to criticism. That doesn’t give us a free ticket not to correct, however when they act right and anytime correction can be coupled with confidence and praise, they will respond better.
Oh Lord, help us to be cleansed from sins of the spirit as well as sins of the flesh. Lord, help us too if someone in our midst needs correction to bring it to You for guidance first so that if we must say something that we say it in a way to produce godly grief and not just sorrow which leads nowhere.
Please pray for our government, for our President, Vice President and those making decisions that affect us all. Also for our state and local government.