I. The Explanation of His Actions. 2 Corinthians 1:3-2:13
II. The Exhortation to Understanding. 2 Corinthians 3:1-7:1
III. The Earnest Desire for Unity. 7:2-16
Following his explanation in chapters 1 and 2 and exhortation in chapters 3 through 6, Paul revealed that he had received information from Titus that they improving – that for the most part, they loved Paul and they had treated Titus with respect, caring for him as they should care for the man of God.
An interesting and valuable lesson we have from Paul here is the pattern he used in dealing with a very difficult situation. The pattern is simple – negative and then positive. He dealt with their loss of confidence in him and then he referred positively to the information that Titus had delivered to him. The false teachers were still in the church and divisions remained, but Paul would deal with them more specifically in the latter part of this letter. For now, he had defended himself and the ministry and was preparing to challenge the church to fulfill their responsibility in serving the Lord.
He had reminded them of their foundation, the Lord Jesus Christ, and restored his authority in order to exhort them to their faithful service unto the Lord. In chapter seven, he reinforced his love and appreciation for them.
A. The Confession of his undying love for them. 2 Corinthians 7:2,3
1. The declaration of his actions. 7:2
2. The declaration of his care for them. 7:3
Care is placed in the heart of God’s men for those He sends them to. I think of the English missionary David Livingstone. He arrived in Africa in 1840 and served the Lord faithfully until his death there in 1873. He had been requested many times by those in England to return and retire, to teach and lecture. He was told that it was too much of a sacrifice to spend his life in Africa, to which he replied –
“For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.”
The men of Africa of who served the Lord alongside him knew where his love was placed. When he died, they wrapped his body and carried it to the coast to be returned and buried in England – but before they prepared his body, they took his heart and they buried it in African soil. They said that is where it belonged.
The Spirit that was in Paul is in each of us who are saved and we have the privilege of submitting to God as Paul did, and as David Livingstone did, and as millions of other faithful saints of God have whose names we do not know.
David Livingstone spoke of times of wavering, the soul being troubled. Paul had experienced those things, but he also experienced –
B. The Comfort of the Lord to overcome. 2 Corinthians 7:4-7
1. The resolve to press forward. 7:4,5
Note the words that Paul used to describe the difficulties that they faced: “Tribulations, troubles, fightings, fears”. He was attacked physically and emotionally, yet he refused to allow these things to overcome him and stop him. He trusted the Lord and kept on. He depended on the Lord –
Ephesians 6:10-13 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
2. The reunion with Titus. 7:6
It is a wonderful thing to be used of God to encourage others. I have spoken many times of this most important ministry of faithfulness. Is this your ministry? Is God using you to be an encouragement to others?
3. The rejoicing in the good report. 7:7
Proverbs 25:25 As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.
C. The Confidence in his actions toward them. 2 Corinthians 7:8-11
1. The charge brought against them. 7:8
Not just an accusation, but making them aware of their sin with the purpose of repentance.
As the children of God, we should not enjoy charging someone with wrongdoing. It is painful to see those you love grieve in guilt and shame over their sin. It must have been terrible for God to listen to the cries of David, the man after His own heart, as he cried out in desperation over his sin.
Psalm 32:3-5 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.
God kept His correcting hand upon David until David confessed his sin.
The Lord has told us, as a father chastens his child, there is no pleasure in this correcting –
Proverbs 19:18 Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
Often a parent will cry over the correction of the child, but the parent must not relent because it is for the good of the child. Paul had thoughts of being too harsh, maybe he could have corrected them another way, “…though I did repent…”, but he knew in his heart the correction was needed.
2. The challenge to repent and do right. 7:9
They had been confronted with their sin after a Godly manner – prayerfully and forcefully. God had been involved, convicting them of their sin –
John 16:8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
The people were sorry, some that they had been caught, but most, that they had been wrong –
3. The choice they could make. 7:10 They could –
a. Reject the truth in anger.
b. Receive the truth and repent.
Paul thanked the Lord for their choice and commended them for –
4. The change brought about through repentance. 7:11
A change in attitude and action had taken place. Through the confrontation of God’s Word and conviction of God’s Spirit, they had changed from being –
a. Unrighteous in their pride
1 Corinthians 5:2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
1 Corinthians 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
To being –
b. Righteous in their humility and submission to the Lord.
The church had followed a determined course of action: changing their attitudes, confessing their sin, and correcting their actions. In doing this, they were restored to their fellowship with the Lord and with the Apostle Paul.
Are we ready to be submissive and obedient to the Lord in our lives. What is there that we know that the Lord wants us to do, yet we have not done it? Salvation, Baptism, Serving?
We you obey the Lord today?