SPIRITUAL LEADERS REJOICE WITH COMFORT AND CONFIDENCE OVER GENUINE REPENTANCE
We need some perspective on the overall process of Reconciliation before beginning this study. There was a serious problem between Paul and some of the believers in Corinth. Remember some of the specific charges that had been leveled against him by his opponents:
– You are Ambiguous (1:13) – you are difficult to understand; Paul’s opponents would twist his words and misrepresent his teachings
– You are Fickle (1:15-20) – You can’t be depended upon; you change your travel plans and back out of previous commitments; we can not depend on your commitment to us
– You Brag about Yourself (3:1-3) – You are always commending yourself; exalting yourself; boasting in your accomplishments
– You are an Imposter (6:8) – Your apostolic call is questionable; Christ does not really speak through you (13:3)
– You have no real Authority (10:1-2) – In fact you are timid in person and only bold when you are writing from a safe distance away
– You are Crafty and Deceitful (12:16) – You take advantage of others
These are all very serious charges that have the potential to undermine the effectiveness of Paul’s ministry. Divine grace was needed not to lash back defensively and vindictively. What type of interaction would Paul choose:
– Loving Communication (with goal of restoration) or
– Angry Confrontation (with goal of revenge)
The Apostle Paul took the initiative by writing a severe letter and then waiting for Titus to report back with the response of the Corinthians.
– Loving Communication produces Godly Sorrow which leads to Genuine Repentance and Reconciliation
– Angry Confrontation produces Worldly Sorrow which leads to Superficial Regret and further Separation
(:2-4) INTRODUCTION: THE ANTICIPATION OF GENUINE REPENTANCE (LEADING TO FULL RECONCILIATION) EVOKES DEEP EMOTIONS OF CONFIDENCE, COMFORT AND JOY
A. (:2) Ministry Integrity Removes Any Barriers to Full Reconciliation
1. Plea for Full Reconciliation
“Make room for us in your hearts”
2. Personal Testimony of Ministry Integrity – A Clear Conscience
a. “we wronged no one”
b. “we corrupted no one”
c. “we took advantage of no one”
B. (:3) Tone of Loving Acceptance – Not Judgmental Spirit
1. Not out to Condemn
“I do not speak to condemn you”
2. Embracing Them in Loving Acceptance
“for I have said before that you are in our hearts to die together and to live together.”
C. (:4) Outpouring of Deep Emotions
a. “Great is my confidence in you”
b. “great is my boasting on your behalf”
“I am filled with comfort.”
“I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction.”
I. (:5-7) DIVINE COMFORT RELIEVES INTENSE MINISTRY PRESSURE
A. (:5) Inescapable Battleground Pressure – Squeezed on all fronts
“For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within.”
B. (:6) Divine Strategic Reinforcement – Divine Comfort in the person of Titus
“But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus”
C. (:7) Encouraging Scouting Report – First Fruits of Genuine Repentance
“and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more.”
II. (:8-10) GODLY SORROW PRODUCES GENUINE REPENTANCE
A. (:8-9) Godly Sorrow is a Means to an End, not an End in Itself
“For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it – for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while – 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, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything through us.”
B. (:10) Godly Sorrow is Different than Worldly Sorrow
“For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
1. It is directed by God – “according to the will of God”
2. It is the believer’s insurance policy: the premium hurts, but the benefits pay off in the long run – “without regret”
If you had to do it all over again, you would pay the insurance premiums just like you did the first time.
3. It results in salvation (or reconciliation)
(worldly sorrow results in death, separation)
4. Examples of worldly sorrow
a. King Herod Matt. 14:9
b. Rich young man Matt. 19:22
c. Judas Matt. 27:3-5
III. (:11-12) GENUINE REPENTANCE CAN BE RECOGNIZED BY OTHERS
A. Recognized according to its nature, its orientation
Def. of Repentance: “a change of mind leading to a change of action” — It results in a complete reorientation of thoughts, attitudes, and actions. It involves a turning from sin and a turning towards God. It is either used in a broad sense as synonymous with conversion or in a more narrow sense as one of the two conditions for salvation: Repentance and Faith – these two always go hand in hand – like the two sides of the same coin. Just as Repentance is essential for initial conversion, it is also essential for continued spiritual growth (this is not emphasized enough). Cf. Co. 2:6 – “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.”
B. (:11) Recognized according to its fruit – The 7 Fruits of Genuine Repentance
1. Speedy Resolution (diligence, earnestness, eagerness)
“For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you”
(our English word “speed”) – same word used in Rom. 12:11 – “not slothful in business” – I am afraid we are more diligent in doing a good job solving problems at work than we are in addressing reconciliation problems. A genuinely repentant person will quickly seek out reconciliation on his own initiative. He will not treat the situation with careless indifference or ignore the problem (hoping it will go away). There is a need to get busy and be in earnest.
2. Reasonable Dialogue (controlled by reason, not by emotion)
“what vindication of yourselves”
(controlled by reason, not emotion – cf. English word “apology”) – Not compounding the sin or seeking to justify your participation in that sin, but explaining your repentance so that now you stand in a state of innocence – not participating in any of these false charges; not giving them any more of a hearing.
3. Indignation (shame and distress) – “what indignation”
Not calm and unruffled evidencing no sorrow for sin; not arrogant and stubborn; but recognizing the shame associated with such failure and being distressed by the whole situation and yet not despairing because of the forgiveness for sins provided by the blood of Christ.
4. Fear – “what fear”
The Corinthians recognized they had sinned against a holy God and against His apostolic representative. They realized how serious such an offense was and what judgment could have been theirs; no complacency or false security.
5. Longing (to see the offended party) – “what longing”
They wanted to meet personally to set things right and to make sure that the problem is behind them; not avoiding or despising the offended party.
6. Zeal (upholding the honor and reputation of the offended party)
Encouraging others to express their loyalty towards this person; upholding his honor; not undermining loyalty to such a person and attacking him at every turn
7. Avenging of wrong – “what avenging of wrong”
The church is the proper forum for judging one another and exercising any necessary discipline. We should hold to a high standard of justice. We should not take matters into our own hands or seek revenge.
Summary: “In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.”
C. (:12) Recognized For What it Is
“So although I wrote to you it was not for the sake of the offender, nor for the sake of the one offended, but that your earnestness on our behalf might be made known to you in the sight of God.”
Essential for their ongoing spiritual growth and fruitfulness in ministry
Stedman: they begin to recover a sense of their own identity
(:13-16) CONCLUSION: GENUINE REPENTANCE EVOKES DEEP EMOTIONS OF CONFIDENCE, COMFORT AND JOY
Paul finishes this section just as he began it in verses 2-4
A. (:13) Genuine Repentance Brings Great Comfort and Refreshing Joy
1. Personal Comfort – experienced by the Apostle Paul
“For this reason we have been comforted”
2. Vicarious Comfort Evoking Even Greater Joy – based on encouragement to Titus
“And besides our comfort, we rejoiced even much more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all.”
B. (:14) Genuine Repentance Brings Vindication of Boasting (Renewed Confidence)
“For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I was not put to shame; but as we spoke all things to you in truth, so also our boasting before Titus proved to be the truth.”
C. (:15) Genuine Repentance Brings An Outpouring of Affection
“And his affection abounds all the more toward you, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling.”
D. (:16) Genuine Repentance Brings Joy in the Confident Expectation of Future Obedience
“I rejoice that in everything I have confidence in you.”
Quite the blanket statement!
* * * * * * * * * *
1) Note the compassionate heart of Christ who is able to comfort the distressed and depressed in every circumstance.
2) Note how Christ responded to those who attacked Him and His ministry? “Father, forgive them” was His prayer as He actively pleaded with them to be reconciled to God before impending wrath would strike. Note his example in 1 Peter of suffering unjustly for the sake of doing good according to the will of God.
3) Reconciliation is only possible because Christ has paid the price for our sins and become our Mediator.
4) Christ offers life and union with God the Father rather than death and separation. He alone can bring wholeness to any broken relationship.