V11Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.. Verse 11Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. clearly belongs to chapter 6. The promises given at the end of chapter 6 are meant as an encouragement to cleanse yourself. The world is impure and if you stay in touch with the world the impurity will stick to you and defile you. The Lord Jesus would like to present the church to Himself “in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing” (Eph 5:2727that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.). Spots mar a garment and must be removed. Also the spots that mar the life of a believer must be removed.
“Defilement of flesh” means the visible outside life of the believer. Examine if you are guided by God in your behavior and by His Word in your speech, in your clothes etc. or whether you are led by the motives by which unbelievers are led. If you discover that you are guided by wrong motives you need to cleanse yourself. Again: What was the promise?
In addition to this defilement of the flesh there is also the “defilement … of spirit”. The counsel to cleanse yourself holds true here as well. The defilement of spirit is a danger that you are constantly exposed to. What are your reading materials? What kind of movies are you watching? These are things you choose yourself. What fills your thought field? On top of this there are incredible numbers of things which come to you without invitation.
The current thinking in the world is permeated with demonic principles. This is evidenced in the world’s acceptance of the alternative style of living together, in same sex marriage and in the lack of recognition of authority in relations. I was shocked once when I realized that I also thought the same way as the world thinks on a certain issues. When I looked at this issue in the light of the Bible I saw how my spirit was defiled.
To cleanse ourselves from both the defilement of the flesh and of the spirit we must read the Word of God. The Bible is compared to water. How it works we read in Ephesians 5: “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (Eph 5:25-2625Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,26so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,). The Lord Jesus is making every effort to bring you in conformity to Himself. The Father desires that He is able to acknowledge you as His child. The Father and the Son give you all that is necessary to help you reach their standard.
The purpose of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is that you will be “perfecting holiness”. God wants you to live totally for Him and for Him alone. If you live “in the fear of God”, that is, in reverence and awe for Who He is, you will meet the purpose He has for your life.
V22Make room for us [in your hearts]; we wronged no one, we corrupted no one, we took advantage of no one.. In the previous chapter Paul shows how to identify the servants of God. They are not people who make themselves comfortable. They are people who will not spare themselves in order to serve others. The Corinthians knew Paul as such a man. He had sacrificed everything to bring them the gospel. They also accepted it. Now Paul asks if they would again give him a place in their hearts. Did he do any injustice to them when he preached Christ to them? Did he condemn anyone citing wrong reasons? Did he exploit them?
One gets the impression that some people accused him of doing so. Jealous people claiming to be servants of God were whispering into the ears of the Corinthians evil reports about Paul. The danger was that the believers in Corinth pushed Paul into insignificance and denied him his due place in their hearts. They should not have listened to such people.
V33I do not speak to condemn you, for I have said before that you are in our hearts to die together and to live together.. Paul says this to teach them a lesson, but please note how he does this. He does this not in the judgmental tone and he does not look down upon them. When someone does this he has already lost what he wanted to win. The apostle reiterates that they had a place in his heart; and what kind of a place? He opens his heart to them. He vents out his feelings towards them, and says how he and they belong to each other in order “to die together and to live together”.
Yes, this is a remarkable order. Normally people say that they would first live together and then would die together. But faith and love argue otherwise. In 2 Samuel 15 Ittai says to David: “As the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, surely wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or for life, there also your servant will be” (2Sam 15:2121But Ittai answered the king and said, “As the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, surely wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or for life, there also your servant will be.”). David was on the run and Ittai, although he was with him only for a short time, loved him. That brought him to a complete commitment to David regardless of the outcome. Love sees the danger but she is willing to defy that even though it could cost her dearly. So says Paul to the Corinthians. He loves them and expects their love in return. United in this love they can die together for the Lord and if this is not necessary then they can live together for Him. This sequence shows how his love for them was unshakeable.
V44Great is my confidence in you; great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort; I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction.. In verse 44Great is my confidence in you; great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort; I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction. he continues to enumerate the things that must touch their hearts. He does not restrain but he gives a free rein to his heart and feelings. He now writes frankly and without any restraint. He can boast of them to others, for his first letter produced the desired result.
V5-65For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within.6But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus;. How worried he was until Titus arrived with a joyful report. What a consolation his restless heart found in his report. An overflowing joy took possession of him and that in the midst of all afflictions. Indeed Paul had been in great distress in Macedonia. He already mentioned a little about it in chapter 1. In chapter 2 he wrote how troubled he was and how anxiously he was waiting for the arrival of Titus who would come with news from and about Corinth. At that time things were not easy for Paul. He was surrounded by hostile people and he was troubled in his heart over the uncertainty about the Corinthians.
If you ever have been going through such harrowing experience I am sure you will be able to realize what relief it would have been for Paul when Titus brought him the good news that his first letter had the desired effect upon his readers. How much can good news mean for a person! May be you can also be a kind of Titus for believers who have a hard time. Tell or write to them a few nice things from your experience what God can do in the lives of believers. Paul was greatly comforted by what Titus told him.
He received that consolation from the hand of God “Who comforts the depressed”. You see Paul’s mind here. You can be sure that he called upon God for the sake of the Corinthians. He knew that it was not in his hands to change their condition; but it was God who influenced their hearts. That realization brought him down to his knees. He humbled himself before God. A believer who assumes this position always receives consolation.
V77and 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.. Paul enjoyed a twofold consolation. Firstly the report of Titus which assured that the threat of a breach in the relationship between Paul and the Corinthians had been averted. Secondly he was comforted when he heard that Titus himself was comforted by the Corinthians. When Titus reported this Paul rejoiced even more.
What beautiful moments both would have experienced when they shared their joyful feelings about the Corinthians. Titus also reports about their earnest desire for the apostle. They loved Paul and would have him once again with them. How they mourned when they realized what terrible evil they had tolerated in their midst. That is why Paul had to admonish them sternly (1Cor 5:1-131It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.2You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.3For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present.4In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus,5[I have decided] to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.6Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump [of dough]?7Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are [in fact] unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.8Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.9I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people;10I [did] not at all [mean] with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.11But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.12For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within [the church]?13But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.). It made them zealous to do what Paul had told them in his letter. Paul’s letter produced the right result and he was very happy about it.
V88For 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—. The fact that the letter caused sorrow was not a matter of grief for Paul. This type of sorrow is very necessary. God is not happy to see superficiality in sensing sin. What God expects is genuine sorrow over evil. First Paul regretted having written this letter. He had posted, so to speak, this letter and then he thought of the stern tone of it. Then the big question that plagued him was how the Corinthians would react to the letter. Paul’s empathy shows that he does not feel exalted over the believers like people who expound the truth coldly and without any feelings for the listeners.
The way he talks here is certainly not inconsistent with the inspiration of the Bible. Some see inspiration as though the writer wrote down like a robot what was dictated to him being completely detached from himself. But that is not inspiration. What inspiration is you can read in 2 Peter 1 (2Pet 1:2121for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.). When you read the Bible you will notice that each writer has his own style which is not apart from his personality. This makes the Bible a book in which every word is inspired by God (2Tim 3:1616All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;) and in which each writer, chosen to be an instrument of God, retains his own character still.
Verse 88For 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— makes it clear that Paul did not feel sorry for what he wrote but that he was worried about the consequences. This gives a beautiful picture of his love for the Corinthians. Similarly it can happen that you have someone who means a lot to you, such as a friend and you have to tell him or her something which is altogether unpleasant. But you are constrained to do so out of your love for him or for her. However, having done that the fear then can be that you would lose your friend. But how happy you are when you discover that your admonition did not lead to a rupture in the friendship but it was well received.
Now read 2 Corinthians 7:1-8 again.
Reflection: What is Paul’s consolation in this section? Write down for yourself what comfort means to you.