The Agora
Bible Commentary
2 Corinthians

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2 Corinthians 7

2Co 7:1

"Just as all disciples are against sin, so all disciples are in favour of purity. But all disciples know it is easier to denounce sin than to renounce it. Most would confess that it is easier to approve purity in principle than to perfect it in practice. To be convicted of impurity seems worse than being convicted, say, of covetousness. It is not worse necessarily but it seems worse. It appears more shocking. Why is this? Because in the minds of many people impurity has a strong sexual connotation. This is understandable, because sexual permissiveness does lead to a great deal of impurity... But there is other carnal conduct apart from sexuality. There is greed and gluttony and sloth. There is the cry of the mouth, there is the seeking of the eye, there is the grasping hand. There is the allurement of temptation. There is envy, jealousy and lust. By these things discipleship is tainted. Purity, therefore, is a condition free from contamination and pollution. Positively, it is clean, chaste, unsoiled. The absolute tone of these adjectives drives home the realisation that it is easier said than done.

"As an example, think of this. We sometimes speak of having pure motives. Who dares to say that his motives are always pure? No secret selfishness; no hidden self-esteem; no veiled pride? So, although we may be satisfied that we are free from sexual impurity, wisdom should warn us that there are other kinds which have to be recognised and repudiated... The first thing to notice is that the motive force in the process of cleansing is not human strength but divine influence. 'Having therefore these promises.' The power is in the promises and the claim that faith makes upon them. To strive for the cleansing and to neglect the promises is to court failure. To accept the promises and to neglect the personal cleansing is to keep the pollution. What are the promises? 2Co 6 is the answer: 'I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.' 'I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters.' Because of the promise the cleansing command is this: 'Touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you' (2Co 6:16-18).

"It is evident that disciples under the influence of the Father have a definite thing to do. Having put their faith in the promise they must take resolute action towards cleansing from the unclean thing, whatever it is. No half-measures; no secret reservations; no escape routes; no reserves for rebuilding the old bridges in case we need to retreat. The call is for firm, clear-cut action. Associations, habits, friendships, indulgences which are known to lead to impurity must be renounced and denied. Cut the cord, burn every bridge. Go back to the early days, before you got involved in tainted things. Go back to the beginning when the vision was bright and separation entire" (GD).

2Co 7:5

Cp Rev 5:1: scroll written on inside and outside!

2Co 7:7

BUT ALSO BY THE COMFORT YOU HAD GIVEN HIM: Notice that the coming of Titus, whilst comforting Paul, also provided Titus with comfort as well. A powerful lesson when considering pastoral visits. The visitor as well as the visited benefit.

2Co 7:8

MY LETTER: In which Paul counseled them not to keep company with fornicators (1Co 5:9).

2Co 7:10

True sorrow leads to repentance (and forgiveness), but the "world", which may appear sorrowful but has no intention of changing/renewal, cannot be truly repentant (and consequently cannot be forgiven). Cp Esau in Heb 12:17.

2Co 7:11

There is a radical distinction between natural regret and God-given repentance. The flesh can feel remorse, acknowledge its evil deeds, and be ashamed of itself. However, this sort of disgust with past actions can be quickly shrugged off, and the individual can soon go back to his old wicked ways. None of the marks of true repentance described in 2Co 7:11 are found in his behavior. Out of a list of 11 men in the Bible who said, "I have sinned," poss only five actually repented. They were David (2Sa 12:13; 24:10; 1Ch 21:8; Psa 41:4), Nehemiah (Neh 1:6), Job (Job 42:5,6), Micah (Mic 7:9), and the prodigal son (Luk 15:18). The other (poss less sincere) instances? Pharaoh in Exo 9:27; 10:16; Balaam in Num 22:34; Achan in Jos 7:20; Saul in 1Sa 15:24,30; 26:21; Shimei in 2Sa 19:20; Judas in Mat 27:4.
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