II Corinthians 7

 

 

1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved” – The promises of God’s

indwelling and fatherly love (vs. 16-18 of last chapter) – “let us cleanse ourselves” –

Every Christian, even the best, has need of daily cleansing from his daily assoilment

(John 13:10), and this cleansing depends on the purifying activity of moral effort maintained

by the help of God’s grace. Similarly John (1 John 3:1-3), after speaking of God’s

fatherhood and the hopes which it inspires, adds, “And every man that hath this hope in

 him purifieth himself even as he is pure”- (comp. James 4:8) – “from all filthiness” -  

rather, from all defilement.  Sin leaves on the soul the moral stain of guilt, which was

typified by the ceremonial defilements of the Levitical Law (comp. Ezekiel 36:25-26).

The word used for “filth” in I Peter. 3:21 is different – “of the flesh and spirit” -  

From everything which outwardly pollutes the body and inwardly the soul; the two being

closely connected together, so that what defiles the flesh inevitably also defiles the soul,

and what defiles the spirit degrades also the body. Uncleanness, for instance, a sin of

the flesh, is almost invariably connected with pride and hate and cruelty, which degrade

the soul -  “perfecting holiness” -  This is the goal and aim of the Christian, though in

this life it cannot be finally attained (Philippians 3:12) -  “in the fear of God.” There is,

indeed, one kind of fear, a base and servile fear, which is cast out by perfect love; but

the fear of reverential awe always remains in the true and wisely instructed Christian, who

will never be guilty of the profane familiarity adopted by some ignorant sectarians, or speak

of God “as though He were some one in the next street” (Psalm 50:21; Hebrews 12:28;

I Peter 3:15).

 

In this verse Paul exhorts the Corinthians to the PURSUIT OF PURITY!  He seems

to regard the attainment of spiritual purity as consisting in two things:

 

  • Getting rid of the wrong.Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of

            the flesh and spirit.” Perhaps the reference to “filthiness” here referred

            especially to the idolatry and unchastity which was so prevalent in the

            Corinthian Church. All sin is “filthiness,” and cleansable; it is not nature, it

            is a stain on nature; it is not something inwrought into the very texture of

            our being, otherwise it could not be cleansed away. It is no more ourselves

            than the soil on the white robe is the robe. It can, it should, it must, be

            washed out, that we may appear “without spot or wrinkle.” (Ephesians 5:27)

 

  • Attaining the right.Perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Holiness

            implies the consecration of our entire nature, flesh and spirit, body and

            soul, to the Divine will, and this requires habitual, solemn effort in “the fear

            of God.” Now, the grand end of Christ’s mission to the world is to

            produce this purity in man. “Having therefore these promises” (viz. the

            promises in the last verse of the preceding chapter, which are in substance

            the promises of the gospel), this spiritual purity should be struggled for.

            “The grace of God hath appeared to all men, teaching them that, denying

            ungodliness and worldly lusts,” – (Titus 2:11) The supreme desire of every

            true minister of the gospel is that his people shall become pure.

 

 

2 Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have

defrauded no man.”  Paul insists on the fact that, whatever his enemies might

insinuate, there was no single member of their Church who could complain of injury,

moral harm, or unfair treatment from him.  The verb to be covetous, i.e. (by implication)

to overreach: — get an advantage, defraud, make a gain – here in the past tense or aorist

form - epleonekth>samen, translated – we have“defrauded no man -  pleonekte>w,

pleh-on-ek-teh’-o; is often used in connection with other verbs, implying sensuality.

It is difficult for us even to imagine that Paul had ever been charged with gross immorality;

but it may have been so, for in a corrupt atmosphere everything is corrupt. Men like Nero

and Heliogabalus, being themselves the vilest of men, openly declared their belief that no

man was pure, and many in the heathen world may have been inclined to similar suspicions.

Of Whitefield, the poet says —

 

                        “His sins were such as Sodom never knew,

                        And calumny stood up to swear all true.”

 

We know too that the Christians were universally charged with Thyestean banquets

and promiscuous licentiousness. It is, however, more natural to take pleonekte>w, —

pleh-on-ek-teh’-o; in its general sense, in which it means “to overreach,” “to claim or

seize more than one’s just rights” (ch. 2:11) In I Corinthians 9:1-6 he is defending himself

against similar charges, as also in this Epistle (5:12; 6:3; 10:7-11;  chps. 11 & 12., passim).

 

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 (boasting) of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all

our tribulation.”  (Joy in the very midst of affliction was an essentially Christian

blessing – Philippians 2:17).

 

5 For, when we were come into Macedonia-  The word  “tribulation” or affliction

reminds Paul to resume the thread of the narrative which makes this letter almost like

an itinerary. He has spoken of his trials in Ephesus (ch. 1:8) and in Troas (ch. 2:12-13),

and now he tells them that even in Macedonia he was no less troubled and agitated.

our flesh had no rest” - External troubles assailed him as well as inward anxiety.

had seems here to be the best reading (B, F, G, K); not “has had,” which may be

borrowed from ch. 2:13. Rest; rather, remission, respite -  but we were troubled on

every side” -  literally, but in everything being afflicted. The style, in its picturesque

irregularity, almost seems as though it were broken by sobs – “without were fightings,

within were fears. “From without battles, from within fears.” No light is thrown on

these “battles.” The Acts of the Apostles has no details to give us of this brief stay in

Macedonia.  The “fears” were doubtless still connected with anxiety as to the reception

of Titus, and of ch.12:20).

 

6 Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down (the humbled),

comforted us by the coming of Titus” – He of whom his opponents accused of

so much egotism, ambition and arrogance, meekly accepted the term and applies it

to himself.

 

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.”  The mere fact of Titus’s arrival cheered 

Paul, because Titus seems to have been of a strong and cheery temperament. Paul,

partly because of his infirmities, was peculiarly dependent on the support of human

sympathy (I Thessalonians 3:1-8; Philippians 2:20; II Timothy 4:4; Acts 17:15; 28:15).

It was not, however, the mere arrival of Titus which cheered him, but still more

the good news which he brought about the church at Corinth, and which partially lightened

his anxieties.  So that I rejoiced the more. More than he had even anticipated could be

possible; or, as the next verse may imply, all the more because of his past anguish (ch. 2:4).

 

In the previous three verses we have THE GOOD TRIED AND COMFORTED.

“For when we were come into Macedonia,” etc. Here we have:

 

  • A GOOD MAN GREATLY TRIED. “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.” In ch. 2:13 Paul  refers to one    

            circumstance that troubled him on his way to Macedonia. “I had no rest in my            

            spirit, because I found not Titus my brother.” He had come from Troas full of          

            excitement and agitation, fully expecting to meet with Titus, who would convey  

            to him some information concerning the Church at Corinth, which would allay

            his intense anxieties. But he was disappointed. What the other particular troubles           

            were that he refers to here, the fightings without” and “fears within,” we know     

            not; but well we know that everywhere in the prosecution of his apostolic mission          

            he met with trials — great, varied, and most distressing. The best of men in this

            life are frequently “cast down.” (see Psalms 42:5,11; 43:5) - There are many   

            things that “cast down” the spirits of good men.

 

ü      The prosperity of the wicked. Asaph felt this. “My feet had almost gone,

                        my steps were well nigh slipped,”  (Psalm 73:2)

 

ü      The triumphs of wrong. Fraud in trade, corruption in politics, errors in

                        science, moral filth in popular literature, blasphemies, sectarianism and                          

                        cant in religion. What noble souls are depressed here in England (USA                                  

                        CY – 2010) with these things!

 

ü      The non-success of Christly labor. How many preachers of spiritual

                        thought, disinterested love, inflexible loyalty to truth, are subject to

                        depressing moods on account of the little success apparently resulting                           

                        from their arduous and self-denying toils! Often, like Elijah, they feel                             

                        inclined to retire into the caves of solitude; like Jeremiah, who resolved                         

                        to speak no more” in His Name, (Jeremiah 20:9) and like One greater                                 

                        than either or all, who wailed out the words, “I have labored in vain, and                                   

                        spent my strength for nought.”  (Isaiah 49:4)

 

  • A GOOD MAN DIVINELY COMFORTED. Nevertheless God, that

            comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of

            Titus.” (v. 7) - God is a Comforter. No one requires higher qualifications than

            a true comforter. He must have a thorough knowledge of the sufferer, know

            his constitution, and the causes of the complaint; his diagnosis must be

            perfect. He must possess the necessary remedial elements; he must have

            the antidote at command. He must also have the tenderest sympathy; an

            unsympathetic nature can never administer comfort, whatever the extent of

            his knowledge or the suitableness of his means. GOD HAS ALL THES

            QUALIFICATIONS IN AN INFINITE DEGREE!   Hence He is the        

            Comforter. God comforted Paul by sending him Titus.

 

ü      The appearance of Titus was comforting. The advent of his young

                        friend was as the rising of the morning sun in the dark heavens of his                              

                        spirit.  God comforts man by man. Moses was comforted in the

                        wilderness by the unexpected visit of his father-in-law Jethro                                         

                        (Exodus 18:7). Hannah was cheered in spirit by the talk of old Eli

                        (I Samuel 1:18). David, dejected in the wood, had his heart

                        strengthened by Jonathan (I Samuel 23:16).

 

ü      The communication of Titus was comforting. “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.”

 

  • Learn:

 

ü      That Christianity in its highest form does not exempt from the trials of

                        life. A more Christly man than Paul perhaps never lived. Yet how great

                        his trials!

 

ü      That the vicarious sufferings of love are amongst the most depressing.

                        The more love a man has in him in this world of affliction and sorrow, the

                        more, by the law of sympathy, will he endure. Paul now suffered for the

                        Corinthians.

 

ü      A genuine disciple of Christ carries comfort into the house of his

                        distressed friend. Young Titus carried comfort into the saddened home

                        of the Apostle Paul.

 

                                                            “He who hath most of heart

                                                Knows most of sorrow; nor a thing he said

                                                Nor did but was to him at times a woe,

                                                At times indifferent, at times a joy.

                                                Folly and sin and memory make a curse

                                                Wherewith the future fires may vie in vain,

                                                The sorrows of the soul are graver still.”

                                                                                               

                                                                                                (Festus.)

 

 

8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, (regret it) though I did

repent:” - Every one has experienced the anxiety which has followed the dispatch of

some painful letter. If it does good, well; but perhaps it may do harm. The severity was

called for; it seemed a duty to write severely. But how will the rebuke be received?

Might we not have done better if we had used language less uncompromisingly stern?

(While traveling today, I heard a radio personality talking about the pitfalls of the

Modern day “texting” – the idea being you couldn’t take back what you texted and

that there is a permanent record of it – CY – August 3,2010) – “for I perceive that

the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.” - He

means to say that their grief will at any rate cease when they receive this letter, and he can

bear the thought of having pained them when he remembers the brevity of their grief

and the good effects which resulted from it.

 

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” - literally, according to God; i.e. in a

way which He would approve (Romans 8:27) -  “that ye might receive damage by us

in nothing.”

 

10 For godly sorrow” - “For the sorrow which is according to God worketh out a

repentance unto salvation which bringeth no regret – worketh repentance to

salvation not to be repented of” - Sin causes regret, remorse, that sort of repentance

metameleia metameleia - which is merely an unavailing rebellion against the inevitable

consequences of misdoing; but the sorrow of self-reproach which follows true repentance –

metanoia (metanoia, change of mind) is never followed by regret. Some take “not to be

regretted” with “salvation,” but it is a very unsuitable adjective to that substantive –

but the sorrow of the world”-  Here sorrow for the loss, or disappointment, or shame,

or ruin, or sickness caused by sin; such as the false repentance of Cain, Saul, Ahithophel,

Judas, etc. worketh death-  Moral and spiritual death always, and sometimes physical

death, and always — unless it is followed by true repentance — eternal death, which is the

opposite of salvation (Romans 5:21).

 

GODLY SORROW is essentially different to THE SORROW OF THE WORLD –

“Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance.”

Great is the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow.

 

  • The one is selfish, the other is generous. In the former the man regrets

            having done the wrong thing simply on account of inconvenience to

            himself; (or that he got caught) - in the latter the anguish is in the wrong itself.

 

  • The one results in future regret, the other in future joy. All the sorrow

            that an ungodly man has felt will lead to some deeper, darker, more terrible

            distress.

 

  • The one leads to ruin, the other to salvation. See the results of worldly

            sorrow in Cain (Genesis 4:12-14); in Saul (I Samuel 31:3-6); in Ahithophel

            (II Samuel 17:23); in Judas (Matthew 27:3-5).  The “sorrow of the world”

            is the certain way to DESPERATION, unless God prevents it!  See godly  

            sorrow in the prodigal son (Luke 15.); in Peter (Matthew 26:33-75; John

            21:15-23; Acts 2:1-40);  in the converts on the day of Pentecost (Ibid.

            vs.44-47).

 

There is only one way to avoid sorrow, and that is to AVOID SIN.  The ungodly may

sorrow because they have sinned. But observe:

 

  • What are the characteristics of this sorrow. When the irreligious are

            rebuked and chastened for their wrong doing, their vanity is wounded, their

            anger is excited, their resentment is aroused, they are vexed because they

            lose the favor of their neighbors or suffer in reputation.

 

  • The issue of this sorrow is death; instead of being profitable, it is

            deleterious, drawing the thoughts away from the moral heinousness of sin,

            and confirming the sinner in courses whose only end is spiritual death.

 

How different the sorrow of the godly! 

 

  • There is the recognition of the sin as an offence against the Divine Law.

      “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.”             

      (Psalm 51:4)

 

  • There is knowledge that sin is a grief to the Divine heart. As a tender

            child grieves to hurt his father’s spirit, so a truly sensitive nature is pained

            in the very pain of Christ.

 

  • There is a realization that human sin brought the holy Savior to the cross.

 

  • The realization is heightened by the knowledge that privileges have been

      abused and grace defied.

 

GODLY SORROW LEADS  to a change of mind and purpose; a turning away from

the error, the folly, the unbelief of the past, a turning away from temptation and from

the society of the sinful, a turning to God as He has revealed in Christ His infinite

mercy and loving-kindness. Especially is this repentance that “which bringeth no

regret.” He who comes out of bondage into liberty can never rue his choice.

 

THE ULTIMATE ISSUE OF TRUE REPENTANCE is SALVATION, which

contrasts with that death to which worldly sorrow leads. Such is the appointment of Infinite

Wisdom. And be who studies this process must acknowledge that, to a true and eternal

salvation, there can be no other path than the path of repentance and of  faith – THIS

PLAN WAS IN PLACE BEFORE THE WORLD WAS CREATED!  (Revelation 13:8)

 

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!   (the judicial punishment to the incestuous offender – “In all things ye

have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”  Whatever may have been

your previous carelessness and connivance, the steps you took on receiving my letter

vindicated your character.

 

GODLY SORROW BRINGS GREAT RESULTS IN THE SOUL. It brought:

 

  • Solicitude. “What carefulness it wrought in you!” Careful to resist the

            wrong and pursue the right.

 

  • Deprecation. “What clearing of yourselves!” How anxious to show your

            disapproval of the evil of which you have been guilty!

 

  • Anger. “What indignation!” Indignation, not against the sinner, but

            against the sin. This is a holy anger.

 

  • Dread. “What fear! Dread, not of suffering, but of sin; not of God, but

            of the devil. This fear is, indeed, the highest courage. He who shrinks from

            the morally wrong is the truest hero.

 

  • Longing. “What vehement desire!” What longing after a better life!

 

All  these expressions mean intense earnestness, and earnestness, not about temporal

matters, which is common and worthless, but about spiritual matters, which is rare

and praiseworthy. Genuine repentance is antagonistic to indifference; it generates

earnestness in the soul, it leads to the most strenuous efforts, to the most vehement

cries to Heaven. “Sorrow in itself,” says F.W. Robertson, “is a thing neither good nor

bad; its value depends on the spirit of the person on whom it falls. Fire will inflame

straw, soften iron, or harden clay; its effects are determined by the object with which

it comes in contact. Warmth develops the energies of life or helps the progress of

decay. It is a great power in the hothouse, a great power also in the coffin: it expands

the leaf, matures the fruit, adds precocious vigor to vegetable life; and warmth, too,

develops with tenfold rapidity the weltering process of dissolution. So, too, with sorrow.

There are spirits in which it develops the seminal principle of life; there are others

in which it prematurely hastens the consummation of irreparable decay.”  Remember

what we learned in ch. 2:15-16!

 

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.  Thus the godly

sorrow which the Corinthians manifested on account of that which was wrong amongst

them, was in every way satisfactory to Paul; it gave him comfort, it greatly refreshed the

spirit of Titus, increased his affection for them, and inspired the apostle himself with

confidence and with joy.

 

 

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