Summary: Godly sorrow leads to repentance and salvation, which results in joy - for God and for the individuals involved.
A. Sometimes the truth hurts, doesn’t it?
1. Here we see a horse who has just learned the truth about himself. With tears he writes: “Dear Diary, Today I found out that I am a horse.”
2. Here we see a doctor laying out the truth for his patient: “What fits your busy schedule better, exercising one hour a day, or being dead 24 hours a day?”
3. Here’s one more of a doctor helping his patient come to grips with the truth: “Yes, it’s remotely possible that earth’s gravity has increased, but I think there’s a much simpler explanation…”
B. Sometimes the truth hurts.
1. Sometimes we don’t want others to tell us the truth.
2. In 1 Kings 22, we are told the end of the story of Ahab, the wicked king of Israel.
a. Ahab was determined to go to war and had made an alliance with Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah.
b. Ahab gathered together his 400 pagan prophets and asked them if he should go to war.
c. They all answered, “Go, for the Lord will give you victory.”
d. Jehoshaphat was a bit suspicious of all those “yes” men, so he asked, “Is there not a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?”
e. Ahab replied, “There is one. His name is Micaiah, but he never has any good news for me.”
f. Micaiah was summoned, and he delivered God’s answer which was that God would not give them victory and that Ahab would die in the battle.
g. Ahab had Micaiah thrown in prison, and the two kings went into battle anyhow.
h. Ahab tried to beat the prophesy by going to war in a disguise, but a stray arrow struck him and he died in disgrace, just as Micaiah had predicted.
C. Let me repeat my opening statement: Sometimes the truth hurts.
1. We sometimes try to deceive ourselves about the truth.
2. Sometimes we try to deflect news we don’t want to hear.
3. That’s why we need people like Micaiah in our lives.
4. At times we need someone who cares about us enough to step forward and confront us about the truth and about changes that need to take place in our lives.
D. That’s precisely what Paul had to do with the Corinthians.
1. Paul had planted the church in Corinth and ministered there for 18 months.
2. After Paul had moved on from Corinth, his opponents moved in.
3. They infiltrated the church and started to drive a wedge between the church and Paul.
4. The opponents criticized both Paul and his message.
5. In an attempt to correct the situation, Paul made a quick visit which only made the situation worse and nearly broke his heart.
6. Paul then wrote a stern and severe letter and sent it to the Corinthians with Titus.
7. Although the ministry was going quite well in Troas, Paul was worried about Titus and the Corinthians’ reaction to his letter, so he set out to meet Titus and get the news as quickly as possible.
8. He met Titus somewhere in Macedonian and learned, to his great relief and overflowing joy, that the trouble was over, the breach had been healed and all was well again.
9. That’s the background of the events against which today’s passage must be understood.
E. Let’s work our way through today’s passage and learn some important lessons about godly sorrow and godly joy.
I. Understanding the Word
A. Paul begins this section with these words: Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds. (2 Cor. 7:2-4)
1. Here we see Paul defending himself.
2. He had been accused of terrible things by his opponents, and unfortunately, some of the Corinthians had believed his critics.
3. Paul can do no more in reply than appeal to his clear conscience and the Corinthians’ knowledge of his conduct, insisting that the charges are groundless.
4. As Paul defended himself, he didn’t want to accuse or condemn them, not at this point.
5. He wanted to reaffirm his love for them and his joy concerning them.
6. The Corinthians hold a permanent and secure place in Paul’s heart – he would gladly live or die with them.
7. At this point, Paul lavished them with praise – he spoke of his confidence, pride, and joy in them – all that resulted in his great encouragement.