"Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one. I do not say this to condemn; for I have said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation. For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more. For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. Therefore, although I wrote to you, I did not do it for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you. Therefore we have been comforted in your comfort. And we rejoiced exceedingly more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I am not ashamed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, even so our boasting to Titus was found true. And his affections are greater for you as he remembers the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him. Therefore I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything". (NKJV)
I. Having “these” promises: Cleanse Yourself (verse 1)
Why should we cleanse ourselves from unrighteousness?
A. “Because God made these promises and kept them: (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)
1. Promised to be Your Father and God.
2. Promised to be your protector and friend
3. Promised to indwell every believer.
We are challenged by the Lord to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh (physically and psychologically) and of the spirit; (spiritual influences from Satan and demons) thus, perfecting “holiness” in the fear (reverence) of the Lord".
B. Purify ourselves. (Sanctify ourselves)
As we go through the sanctification process of salvation, we must submit ourselves to God completely in everything pertaining to our lives. We must "walk in holiness", that is we must respond favorably to the purifying influence of the Holy Spirit and “lay aside” every weight and the “sin(s)” that so easily set us back and run with patience the race that has been set before us; looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Note: Any person who expects to be made pure by the Holy Spirit without making any physical and mental efforts of their own, will never become pure; and whoever becomes holy will be so because they put forth the strenuous efforts to resist the evil of his own heart by being obedient to the movement of the Holy Spirit and yielding to the ongoing sanctification process which cleanses us from the power of sin by giving us “resisting power”, and to become like Christ-like in our character and conduct. We have the “blessed assurance” (promises) of God to aid us. We do not go about the work in our own strength. It is not a work in which we are to do without divine help. But it is a work that God desires to perform in us, and where he will give us all the help we need. The Lord is a very present help in the time of need.
Cleanse yourself from "filthiness":
1. The filthiness of the flesh:
That is, “sensual” gratification (satisfying your senses) which triggers the gross and corrupt appetites and passions of the body. This would cover any such actions that are inconsistent with chasteness, virtue and moral purity because we must give in account of every deed done in the flesh (body) whether they are good of bad. The Bible said our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and any deeds we do in our physical body should reflect that we are both “walking” in holiness and “being kept” holy by the Holy Spirit who was been sent by Jesus to guide and aid us in bringing our bodies under His subjection-avoiding all such passions and appetites that the Holy Spirit of God would not produce in us.
2. The filthiness of the spirit:
That is, the “thoughts” or mental influences (demonic influences) that defile the way a man thinks and ultimately how he acts and interact with others. Jesus in Matthew 15:19 talked about the evil thoughts; spiritual influences that are triggered by demons buffeting your mind and making evil suggestion of what you should think and how you should act. These things proceed out of the heart, and that pollute the man’s thinking and ultimately his actions.
Paul included all the sins and passions which pertain particularly to mind or to the soul rather than to carnal appetites; sins such as the desire of revenge, pride, avarice, ambition, etc. These behaviors are in themselves as polluting and defiling as the grossness of yielding to “sensual” pleasures. Here are the reasons:
1. They stand as much in the way of sanctification,
2. They are as offensive to God, because they prove that the heart is depraved as the grossest sensual passions.
3. They are more decent in the external appearance; Because they look harmless on the outside, they can be better concealed in a person’s heart until such time they become “issues” of the heart, then your mouth will began to verbalize what’s in your heart and your actions will also reflect your feelings as well..
4. They are usually indulged by a more elevated class in society; but they are still offensive to God. It may be added, also, that they are often found in the same person; and that the man who is defiled in his "spirit" is often a man most corrupt and sensual in his" flesh." Sin sweeps with a desolating influence through the whole frame, and it usually leaves no part unaffected, though some part may be more deeply corrupted than others.
II. Corinthians’ Repentance “Paul’s appeal” (verse 2- 4)
Paul made the following appeals o the Corinthian church:
A. Receive us. (Paul and his ministry team) We’ve wronged no one, we’ve corrupted no one, and we’ve defrauded no one.
B. We are not condemning you…we are fully committed to you living and worth dying for.
C. I (Paul) am being open and frank with you in love. I equally as commending to you as I am in criticism of you when you erred, but know that I’m overjoyed that I’ve had the privilege to be your minister.
III. Macedonian Experience: “What we went through for you” (verses 5-7)
Paul explained to the Corinthians again why he went to Macedonia first before coming to Corinth.There were some who spreaded a nasty rumor that paul really didn't care about the Corinthians and their situations.
A. In Macedonia, we were agitated an put under great distress (Judaisers)
B. We experienced harassment and strife while we ministered and there was no let up.
C. The gospel preaching was constantly under fire and opposed by Pagans, Jews, false teachers. Sometimes, the crowds were violent and threatening.
D. I (Paul) finally experience joy when I heard from Titus and the good news that you were remaining steadfast in the faith and those who were in error repented and the church as a whole was walking in the faith and still had love for me.
IV. No regrets for the Letter (it’s contents) (verses 8-12)
Here, Paul reinterates that he had no regrets for writing such a "stringing" letter> (1 Corinthians) He stresses the reason he wrote to them was out of love and a deep concern for the gospel message that was preached to them, and the hope that they were remaining steadfast in the faith and continuing to follow Jesus Christ. thus he makes the following declarations:
A. I have no regrets for hurting your feelings (it was necessary and only for a moment)
B. I rejoice because the letter convicted the guilty and caused them to repent and turn away from their sin. You were indeed put to pain and grief by my reproof. You sorrowed. But it has done you no injury on the whole. It has been a benefit to you. If you had not reformed, if you had been pained without putting away the sins for which the reproof was administered, if it had been mere grief without any proper fruit, you might have said that you would have suffered a loss of happiness, or you might have given me occasion to inflict severe discipline. But now you are gainers in happiness by all the sorrow which I have caused."
C. You being “godly” sorry caused you to repent and change. (vs. 9-11)
You saw sin the same way God does and you desired to please God, so it became your desire to live he way God intended!
D. I wrote to you so you could see how much we care for you (vs. 12)
(Not just for the benefit of the sinner, nor for the one who was sinned against)
Note: Godly sorrow causes the kind of pain king David felt in Psalms 51. It overwhelmed his soul in disgrace; and made him see his sin as a sin against a Holy and Just God. All sin is against God, not just the person. Godly sorrow will lead the sinner to seek God to obtain forgiveness; to seek for God to console and comfort them. Genuine sorrow for sin leads the soul to God, and through the Redeemer, to obtain both pardon and peace which Jesus Christ only can give to a wounded spirit. In God alone can pardon and true peace be found; and godly sorrow for sin will seek them there.
The 'carnal" man sees the solutions to life's problem far differently than God does:
The Carnal man strives for "reformation" when what he really needs is "regeneration".
The Carnal man seeks to turn over a "new leaf", when what he really needs is a new life in Christ Jesus.
The carnal man wants to be justified by the Law, when true justification comes by faith in the Lord Jesus.
The Carnal man believes all he has to do is clean up the old man, when what he really needs to do is be made a new creation in Christ Jesus.
The Carnal man thinks that he can be saved by his works, when he can only be saved by the grace of God, not by his works, so his bragging on whatever he did is nullified by the grace of God.
Jesus is the only solution for a man whose life has been ruined by sin.
V. In Conclusion: "Our Joy came through Your Joy) ( verses 13-16)
A. We are overjoyed because you dealt with the offence and nipped it in the bud
B. We are overjoyed in the way you treated Titus, our fellow laborer in the ministry. Titus fell in love with the Corinthian church and grew fond of the people.
C. We are overjoyed that you found out everything I said about Titus and how he could be a help o you was true .
D. I’m (Paul) convinced that you are deeply committed to God and will do everything to live according to His will and way by His standards.
Dr. William Edward Boddie