Sufficiency in Christ - Message 6
October 24, 2021
I. Introduction: Continuing our survey of 2 Corinthians, Sufficiency in Christ.
A. Today’s message is entitled, Repentance.
- Theme: 2 Corinthians7:9 (NLT)-…the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. …
- The English word, repent, is translated from the Greek word, mĕtanŏia, which literally means, “after think (or thought),” but its practical meaning for us is change of mind.
- Repentance, is not merely altering an opinion or admitting a mistake; it’s not merely apologizing, whether wrong or not, to escape an uncomfortable situation,
- Repentance is a total change in thought, becoming convinced of wrongness, absolutely certain of immorality, which produces guilt and changes behavior.
B. Background for today’s passage (in what I think is Paul’s most pastoral letter):
- Paul was experiencing pain from being rejected by people in the church at Corinth that he loved, had led to faith, helped to establish as a church and remained with the congregation for 18 months to teach them (Acts 18; 1 Corinthians 1:11; 5:9; 16:17)
- The church had allowed in false teachers who sought to establish their authority, to replace Paul as leaders; to do so, they attacked Paul’s character and ministry.
- Some of the Corinthians believed these false teacher’s lies about Paul, so they started following them, and began criticizing and opposing Paul.
- During a brief visit by Paul that went badly, one person apparently verbally assaulted him and the other people did not defend him, leaving him deeply hurt. (2 Corinthians 2:5-8,10)
- The visit was so distressing that Paul did not return to Corinth (2 Corinthians 2:1); instead, he wrote a sternly worded letter rebuking the Corinthians, delivered by Titus. (Titus 1:4)
- Paul left Ephesus, where he wrote the letter, and went to Macedonia, anxious to meet Titus and discover the Corinthians’ response to his confrontational letter.
Like Paul, we will learn the results of the letter and the…
II. Effects of repentance: (Psalm 51; 2 Corinthians 7:5-13) [that applies to us]
First, we see the…
A. #1 - Restoration of relationships. (2 Corinthians 7:5-7. C/R: Proverbs 10:17; 28:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15; 1 Peter 4:8)
- 2 Corinthians 7:5a (NLT)—When we arrived in Macedonia, there was no rest for us.
- Paul arrived in Macedonia anxious, concerned that his letter made things worse.
- He wondered whether he would encounter a hostile environment and was concerned about how they would treat Titus. (Remember travelers relied on generosity.)
- 2 Corinthians 7:5b (NLT)—We faced conflict from every direction, with battles on the outside [conflict with people who wanted Paul to leave] and fear on the inside [anxiety over the situation in the church at Corinth].
- 2 Corinthians 7:6-7a (NLT)—6But God, who encourages those who are discouraged [including Paul], encouraged us by the arrival of Titus. 7aHis presence was a joy, but so was the news he brought of the encouragement he received from you. [Corinthians]
- Titus revealed that the majority of the Corinthian believers repented and reaffirmed their support of Paul and the truth he taught, which greatly encouraged Paul.
- 2 Corinthians 7:7b (NLT)—When he told us how much you long to see me, and how sorry you are for what happened, and how loyal you are to me [Greek, zēlŏs, zeal, heat]
- Loyalty, or better, zeal, refers to motivation or intensity to restore their relationship with Paul and renewed fervor to defend him from further attacks. (Not complacent!)
- The Corinthians’ recognized that they had made a big mistake, a terrible error in judgment, when they were persuaded, even deceived, into rejecting Paul as their apostle and teacher and supporting these false teachers instead.
- The Corinthian Christians were sorry after realizing that their sin caused Paul pain.
- In our culture, being sorry is often a shallow expression used to smooth over some misunderstanding, but the Greek, ŏdurmŏs, is better translated mourning, with moaning.
- The Corinthians felt agony and deep regret over the pain they caused Paul.
- They desired to see him and take action to restore their relationship with him!
- APP.: When we injure someone with our words or actions, do we mumble an apology when pressed, but then fail to do the work of restoring and rebuilding the relationship?
- The Corinthians’ renewed enthusiastic support of Paul and effort to reconnect with him, encouraged him, so he declared, 2 Corinthians 7:7c (NLT)—I was filled with joy!
An important effect of repentance, is that it…
B. #2 - Results in transforming sorrow. (2 Corinthians 7:8-10. C/R: Proverbs 3:12; Luke 17:3; John 16:7-8; 2 Timothy 2:25)
- 2 Corinthians 7:8 (NLT)—I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while.
- Paul knew that he caused the Corinthians’ sorrow with his confrontational letter—and he did experience some remorse over writing the letter.
- While he waited for Titus’ arrival from Corinth with the church’s response, Paul worried that he might have made things worse.
- Paul was not a harsh disciplinarian or an angry preacher; he loved these people and took no joy, no pleasure, in causing even temporary pain to them.
- He was motivated to write the painful letter by his love for them and for the Gospel truth, as well as his concern for the consequences of pursuing false teaching in their lives.
- 2 Corinthians 7:9a (NLT)—Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways.
- The Corinthians’ felt painful remorse and regret, which caused them to recognize they were on the wrong path following false teaching and rejecting Paul and his teaching.
- This was not merely embarrassment or humiliation caused by getting caught or suffering the wounded pride of exposure and the self-pity that can result.
- The Corinthians’ distress and regret was real, appropriate, accurate; it led to repentance —a change of mind and direction, turning from falseness to truth, from sin to holiness.
- 2 Corinthians 7:9b (NLT)—It was the kind of sorrow God wants His people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way.
- This was healing, transforming, mourning that occurs when the Holy Spirit exposes sin and a person knows the truth of the situation, with no excuses, or justification, or blaming of others—only a person standing naked, exposed, before our holy God.
- 2 Corinthians 7:10a (NLT)—For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow.
- God intends for us to feel deep, painful, sorrow for our sin because it produces repentance which precedes salvation and returns a sinner to intimacy with Christ.
- APP.: Do you remember the painful conviction of sin that preceded your salvation or that brought you, or returned you, to closeness with Christ?
- ILL.: Upstairs on Main Street. God spoke to me. I heard, “I am a man of unclean lips!”
- Your conversion may have been less tortured than mine, but you had to have an encounter with the Holy Spirit that revealed your sin so you fled to the Savior.
- Not all sadness or sorrow leads to repentance, to Christ and salvation.
- 2 Corinthians 7:10b (NLT)—But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.
- Guilt, remorse, regret, shame, resentment, anguish, despair, depression, hopelessness, which lack repentance, will lead you away from God—in self-pity or even anger, into yourself, which leads to spiritual death, which is ultimately final separation from God.
- Confrontation of sin by the Spirit leads to sorrow, which leads to repentance, which leads to salvation.
- We have a role in confronting sin, just as Paul did, but we must carry it out reluctantly, carefully, cautiously, motivated by love, never anger, or we shouldn’t attempt it.
- Truly loving someone requires you to do what is best for them—spiritually, relationally, emotionally—though that person make reject you for your efforts.
- APP.: Are you willing to confront a situation in a person’s life for their good, motivated by your love for him/her, even if you are rejected as a result?
Another effect of repentance…
C. #3 - Readiness to correct wrongs. (2 Corinthians 7:11-16. C/R: Matthew 3:8; Acts 26:20; Galatians 6:1; James 1:22)
- 2 Corinthians 7:11a (NLT)—Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you!
- Paul was excited by what he heard about the Corinthians’ repentance from Titus.
- He listed the effects that repentance had on these believers’ lives.
- 2 Corinthians 7:11b (NLT)—11b Such earnestness [eagerness, haste, to make things right, no complacency], such concern to clear yourselves [remove the stigma of their sin, prove themselves trustworthy], such indignation [outrage over their own sin, angry at the shame they brought on themselves], such alarm [awe of God, fear about dishonoring and disobeying God], such longing to see me [deep desire to reconnect with Paul], such zeal [for holiness], and such a readiness to punish wrong [truly repentant people want to see justice done, including accepting consequences for sins].
- 2 Corinthians 7:11c (NLT)—You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.
- APP.: When you repent, are you eager to correct wrongs, repair relationships, or do you attempt to “just turn the page” or “sweep it under the rug?” That’s not repentance!
- 2 Corinthians 7:12 (NLT)—My purpose, then, was not to write about who did the wrong [Paul’s accuser] or who was wronged [Paul wasn’t seeking vengeance]. I wrote to you so that in the sight of God you could see for yourselves how loyal you are to us.
- Paul’s letter was used by the Spirit to expose to these people how far they had fallen; when they saw it, they returned!
- He said at 2 Corinthians 7:13 (NLT)—We have been greatly encouraged by this.
- APP.: Is it time for you to repent and return to the Savior?
Memory verse: 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NLT)—For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.