Summary: God desires to bring about repentance so that we might be cleansed & not lose the blessings of salvation. This repentance may not be instantaneous but may take time spent in sorrow. Godly sorrow brings about repentance that brings new faith, deeds & zeal.
2 CORINTHIANS 7: 8-13 [GAINING PERSPECTIVE Series]
Near the close of Paul's missionary career the apostle summed up his preaching around two points, as "repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ"(Acts 20:21), These two, repentance and faith, go together in thought and result since they are in fact inseparable. Where there is no true repentance in attitude and action toward God, faith is inoperative.
The tendency of our easy believism day is to say a great deal about faith and not nearly enough about repentance, The effect is to obscure the very idea of faith and cause many to preach Peace! Peace! When there is no peace. A gospel that talks about faith may seem palatable but it is also deprived of most its power [to make people godly].
But our God desires to bring about repentance so that we might be cleansed and not lose the blessings of our salvation. This repentance may not be instantaneous but may take time spent in sorrow. But, godly sorrow brings about repentance that brings new faith and new deeds and new zeal (CIT).
I. THE SORROW OF GOD, 8-10.
II. THE EARNESTNESS OF REPENTANCE, 11-13a.
Verse 8 reference the strong word spoken in love concerning a particular sin in the Church. ¡°For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, do not regret it; though I did regret it - for I see [perceive] that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while¡±
¡°My letter¡± could refer to 1 Corinthians but more likely to a lost third letter that Paul had written to the Corinthians. Paul's harsh letter had hurt them and it had hurt Paul too. He had not relished his role as disciplinarian, and in fact at one point wished he had not sent it with Titus. But genuine love cannot remain silent where it sees those loved in danger and therefore in need of warning. Yet genuine love also cannot but feel regrets at the necessity for causing sorrow even though that sorrow is temporary and directed for a beneficial end.
Paul is like a father who finds regret, not pleasure, in seeing his son temporarily suffer pain under the surgeon's knife, but grateful for the cure that the operation will produce. Or like a father who is grieved when he finds it necessary to punish his son severely but none the less goes through with the action because it is directed towards his son's welfare. Beloved, when I see no joy and rejoicing in the congregation on Sunday at what God's Word is saying I too am afflicted on every side for I know that the Lord has not yet brought about a deep repentance in us so that He might cleanse us and bring about the change that leads to the joy and the zeal of the Lord that godly sorrow desires to produce.
Verse 9 highlights that it is God¡¯s will that we become sorrowful to the point of repentance. ¡°I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us.¡±
Now that Titus had returned and brought him the good news from Corinth (2:12-13) Paul's regretting the letter is turned to rejoicing. He didn't rejoice in their sorrow but in their correcting the wrong (2:6). They could have bowed their backs and become even more rebellious in their attempt at self vindication but they didn't. They took the letter to heart and became sorrowful for their sin and this deep sorrow led to repentance.
Repentance [meta-noia] means a change of mind that leads to a change of action. There is no way to continuously remain in full fellowship with the Lord Jesus without repentance (Matthew 3:8; Luke 5:32; Acts 5:31). As we grow in Christ, the Holy Spirit continually shows us areas where we are not right with God. To cleanse the godly guilt of the Holy Spirit's conviction we must repent and change our attitude in this area and accept God¡¯s standard. If not, our heart hardens to the Spirt¡¯s conviction, and it becomes more and more difficult to repent until we become just legalistic Christians going our own way with our own opinions, justifying ourselves with our own set of rules.
Am I saying that mature Christians need to repent? Most definitely. Jesus said that we do (Luke 17:3-4), and Paul agreed with Him (2 Cor. 12:21) Four of the seven churches of Asia Minor, listed in Revelation 2-3, were commanded to repent. .... Disobedient Christians need to repent, not in order to be saved, but in order to restore their close fellowship with God. [Wiersbe, Warren. The Bible Exposition Com. Victor Books. Wheaton, IL. 1989. Vol. 1. p. 654].