I read this passage this morning and it was one of those moments where the scriptures just come to life for me. I've read this chapter many times, but this aspect of it just never come forth. I believe the Lord opens your eyes to scriptures, not all at once, but in doses. I got a dose this morning and I thought it was so interesting!
In verse 8 Paul is speaking about the letter he wrote to the Corinthians earlier. I would assume that would be the letter of First Corinthians. In that book some BAD things were going on in that church, and that was quite the serious letter. Lets examine the result of that letter:
8For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.
Lets look at the word "sorry"; there are four definitions, but I believe the latter two likely applied to the Corinthians because of the nature of that church at the time it was built:
1) to make sorrowful
2) to affect with sadness, cause grief, to throw into sorrow
3) to grieve, offend
4) to make one uneasy, cause him a scruple
Now lets check out the usage of "repent":
1) it is a care to one afterwards
a) it repents one, to repent one's self
Other expressions of this particular word would be likened to:
* refers to an emotional change
* has reference to particulars,
* signifies nothing but regret even amounting to remorse
Paul was probably dreading writing that first letter. He probably was sorrowful in his heart that he even had to write such a letter to God's people! Lets not forget that men within the church were sleeping with their step mothers, others were cheating on their wives and not trying to hide it, needless to say with no intent on stopping. There were some awful things going on. He didn't want to write it, but he did write it, but he was sorry that he had to write it in the first place. We've all been in that predicament, haven't we? Some times the right thing is not always the easiest.
9Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
He saw the benefit of writing his letter. Yes, the Corinthians were probably embarrassed that Paul called them out on the sinful manner in which they were living, but Hallelujah the holy spirit was able to work in their hearts- they were not so hardened that they were beyond reproof. They were receptive to what Paul was saying, and though they might have been sorry they got "caught" by the preacher doing such things, or they were sorry that they had reason for accusation, nevertheless, their sorrow led them to get right with God. They were made sorry for the right reasons, they realized their error as it pertained to God, and they were thankful that Paul was bold enough to write the letter.
10For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
We experience this, too. The Pastor is preaching away on something that is hitting close to home, and boy oh boy- are we feeling pretty sorry for ourselves in that service! The Lord deals with our hearts, and convicts us of our sin. This can only happen if the Holy Spirit is living within us, and that can only happen if we have accepted Christ as our Savior and had our sin debt taken care of by the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for the sins of the world. But we know it doesn't stop there, we must still confess our sin as we sin day to day.
I would like to point out that the assertion that one is no longer a sinner
after they are saved- is NOT biblical. Yes, when we are saved, our sins are
washed away, but that does not mean we are not a sinner and will never sin again
in our lives. We continue to be sinners, our purpose in life from the time of
salvation is to become more Christ like- but we will not be sinless until we get
to glory. So I encourage anyone who listens to one who asserts that we're
sinless after salvation to think twice about listening to one who teaches
such things- they are NOT BIBLICAL.
The epistle of First John was written to believers, not the lost, and it
1 John 1
8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves,
and the truth is not in us.
9If we confess our sins, he is faithful
and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word
is not in us.
So the Corinthians confessed their sin and repented. The unrepentant believers that were put out of the church, some were probably reinstated to the church. Praise the Lord! I believe verse ten speaks of two different kinds of sorrow, heavenly sorrow, and worldly sorrow. It's rather self explanatory, but heavenly sorrow is the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer's heart, which brings them to repentance. However, if a lost person is sorrowful, what is accomplished? Nothing, unless that sorrow brings them to the desire for salvation. In that case, they are brought into life by the repentance of their sins and calling upon Jesus to be saved. Otherwise, their sorrow accomplishes nothing but death in the end.
The following is a very "loaded" verse, there's a lot in there-
11For 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! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
Lets break it down and examine the words here- because they sorrowed unto repentance:
"what carefulness it wrought in you"
1) haste, with haste
2) earnestness, diligence
a) earnestness in accomplishing, promoting, or striving after anything
b) to give all diligence, interest one's self most earnestly
They were more careful about striving for what pleases God, and not themselves.
"what clearing of yourselves"
1) verbal defence, speech in defence
2) a reasoned statement or argument
I imagine that Paul's letter brought much discussion and conversation into the church. I am sure there were some rumors that were dispelled in the midst of their investigations. It is just as much reason to rejoice when someone who is being lied about, is cleared, as it is someone who being accused rightly, repents, don't you think?
1) indignation, irritation, vexation
Ever heard of "righteous indignation"? I've been accused of being "too passionate" when discussing things of the bible before. I never understood that, and the Lord always brought to mind that phrase. I'm sure when the Corinthians received Paul's first letter, people who might not have otherwise said something to exhort their brothers and / or sisters, did so after the letter. You know sometimes it is GOOD to get excited about the things of God!! Sometimes it is GOOD to step out on the ledge, and risk "sounding offensive" to one who is not walking with the Lord in the way they should, to the one who might not have a clear understanding of what God's Word says about something.
If we are ever going to accomplish something for the Lord, we need to learn when it's time to be bold! Instead of thinking about "peace always", how about thinking "God always ... peace in due time", because there will be times in a Christian's life when things are completely up in the air. Emotions will get high, and feelings will be hurt, just like in the Corinthian church- but do not hinder what God might be trying to accomplish through someone for the sake of "peace", you might just hinder some one's walk with the Lord. Praise God that the Corinthians got some righteous indignation in them and as a result their church was cleansed from the unholiness that was infiltrating them.
1) fear, dread, terror
a) that which strikes terror
2) reverence for one's husband
Do we think that after Paul's letter, that the people in the church feared the Lord just a bit more than they did before? Paul was probably hundreds of miles away- yet he knew what was going on in that church. They didn't even have phones, computers for internet, faxes, even the telegrams were not in existence then. Yet God saw to it that Paul knew what was going on. That alone, is amazing to me. I believe the Corinthians had a much greater respect and reverence for God after their cleansing. I also believe that husbands and wives had stronger relationships as well, because the infidelities were repented of.
"what vehement desire"
I believe the Corinthians had a deeper relationship with God, and they longed for His return much greater than they did beforehand. How deep do we truly long for Christ to come back? How deep does that desire burn within our souls, that we would be burdened to seek others actively for His kingdom?
1) excitement of mind, ardour, fervour of spirit
a) zeal, ardour in embracing, pursuing, defending anything
1) zeal in behalf of, for a person or thing
2) the fierceness of indignation, punitive zeal
b) an envious and contentious rivalry, jealousy
Do you think they had a renewed excitement to serve the Lord above anything else they had going on? I bet they had a brand new soul winning program started and everyone attended! Do we really have a zeal for Christ?
1) a revenging, vengeance, punishment
side note: With respect to 2Cr 7:11: "...meeting out of justice; doing justice to all parties.
It crosses my mind when I read this, how BIG of a revival must have happened in that church as a result of Paul's first letter calling on them to forsake their wicked sins. To think of the sins that were happening, their were some seriously broken families in that church. I know how hard it would be for me to reconcile with my husband if I knew he was committing adultery. It would take a LOT of grace through God for me to be able to "forgive and forget".
"In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter."
I can only imagine an entire church experiencing such brokenness, for the entire church to be able to be reconciled one to another again. In today's churches certainly there would have been at least one family that would have left or fell by the wayside, yet, our bible does not leave us to believe that, but that ALL parties were reconciled! Praise God!!
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."
It wasn't that Paul was trying to stir up hurt within the church. Surly his letter could have been seen as that, like he was "judging". Lets remember, we ARE to judge, a righteous judgement. Surly Paul could have been deemed as "overly passionate", and some might think he needed to stop being so pressing in his letters. I believe the wife of the man who was committing adultery was thankful that Paul was so pressing, that he followed the Lord's lead and wrote that letter, so that her husband could repent and her marriage could be made whole again only through the power of God.
This passage perfectly explains, that even though sometimes someone might be saying something (maybe even to someone else) that makes you uncomfortable, it might be the better thing to pray for that person, and that God accomplishes His work in that person's life and / or what that person was trying to say, instead of labeling them as "too passionate", and not trying to understand what they are truly saying or convey through their words.
Paul was not happy about what he was having to write about, yet he wrote it anyway- because he knew that's what God would have him to do. As a result, the Corinthian church was redeemed from their sins because they listened to what Paul had to say, therefore, experiencing a GREAT revival in their lives.