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February 2, 2020 11:00 am
Today we move out of second Corinthians chapter 6 and into chapter 7 which very much continues the discussion which Paul was involved in.
In chapter 6, chapter and verse divisions of course were not in the original. This particular case it could have been omitted, but it would've made a long chapter, chapter 6 and seven were combined together so there is in our passage for today. Some elements of reiteration of what has been said in chapter 6, but there is also some expansion of thoughts that are beyond what has previously been stated that all of this is profitable if we will receive it with faith and apply it to our lives today in the first four verses we are going to focus upon two essentials for the Christian life to essentials for Christians to be able to please God in those two essentials are holiness and love holiness. Holiness is not highly valued by most Christians, but it ought to be love is far more readily received and widely proclaimed, but is nevertheless not well understood nor is it is actively is actively exercised as it could and should be and therefore it will help us to learn more about both of these elements and how God expects us to apply them to our lives. And so what we have today is first of all, a call to holiness. In verse one and then a call to love in verses two through four.
The call to holiness. Verse one therefore, having these promises beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. We see immediately that this verse is a conclusion. It is a final statement based upon some things that have gone before the word therefore of course points to that understanding. It is a call to holiness and it tells us the incentive for holiness. The activity of holiness and the motive for incorporating holiness into our lives in the incentive is instated in this way. Therefore, having these promises beloved. Therefore, having these promises. Beloved, let us cleanse ourselves. Let us perfect holiness in the fear of God having these promises, beloved, and it's interesting that Paul does insert that warm word beloved at this point in the letter fairly common word in some of the epistles of the New Testament. It's not that common in the writings of Paul. For more common in the writings of John Paul only addresses three of the churches that he writes to with this term. Beloved in the terms only found six times in all of the 13 epistles of Paul and therefore when Paul says it here. It does have special significance and we need to pay attention to it accordingly. Paul wants them to understand the warmth of his heart toward them. He talked about that in chapter 6. He talked about his disappointment that they're not returning the same level of warmth and love to him that he has extended to them, but he continues on with this call to holiness by couching it in terms of his loving relationship to them. Beloved, but here's the incentive having these promises beloved and that of course takes us back to chapter 6 and what is he talking about what he's talking about these promises is talking about a promise of God's presence and a promise of God's fellowship. You may recall that from last Lord's day the promise of God's presence is primarily in verse 16 he said what agreement has the temple of God with idols, for you are the temple of the living God.
And then this is God has said, I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be there God and they shall be my people, drawing from various Old Testament texts. Paul picks up these words of God spoken originally to his people Israel and applies them now to his people. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ and says there is this promise to the people of God, namely that you plural.
Collectively the church of the Lord Jesus Christ are the temple of the living God. And just as God made promises to his Old Testament people about his presence with them promises that were very much connected with the temple. Nevertheless, you though were not talking about a building that were talking about a people talking about a church were talking about a collection of people who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. But please realize that you collectively are the temple of the living God and God lives in you.
God dwells in you. God lives among you will all the people of God. God dwells with you, the people of God, the promise of God's presence is the first premise that Paul is pointing to. As an incentive for increased holiness in our lives.
Therefore having these promises beloved promise number one. The promise of God's presence and then number two the promise of God's fellowship, which is even beyond his presence and is in some ways more astounding, yet because the second promise which focuses on the last part of verse 17 in primarily verse 18 of chapter 6, where God says if you come out from among them and be separate. Don't touch what is unclean. What's the result I will receive you, I will be a father to you and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. That's the second premise upon which this appeal is based. The two premises can be understood in the following way.
The first one is an unconditional reality. The second one is a conditional promise in regard to the first one.
If you are saying that if you are child of God. This applies to you. It applies to all of those who are truly the children of God and the promise is I will dwell among them. I will be their God and they shall be my people, I will walk among them. That's true regardless of the warmth. This sort of coldness of your heart toward God of your level low of obedience or disobedience in your walk as a child of God. This is still true.
This is an unconditional reality, God is present, God is with you. God is walking in and out among you who are the people of God.
This incredible reality. This unconditional reality of God's presence with us. That's a reason to give ourselves to holiness.
But then there is that second promise which is a conditional promise, and that's the prospect of God's fellowship. Though God dwells among us. If we are his children unconditionally and that we are his children and he is our father. Again, an unconditional relationship that exists.
Nevertheless, the, the point of of Paul's words in chapter 6. As we looked at them last Lord's day is that if were going to enjoy this relationship if were going to experience the fullness of God acting like a father toward us and of our enjoying this relationship as his children. What must we do Lee told us in chapter 6 we must come out from among that which defiles a be separate and touch not the unclean thing is something for us to do in order to enjoy the fullness of this relationship God as our father and we, as his children. This is a conditional promise, but both of these promises lay the predicate for this appeal. This command they are an incentive for us to obey the injunction to holiness because number one we have the assurance of an exalted position number two because we have the prospect of intimate communion. Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit led us perfect holiness in the fear of God. The assurance of an exalted position.
We are the temple of the living God. We are the people of the living God. God dwells with us. That's an exalted position.
It's it's amazing that we could even say such things and we are given the assurance of this is true, and that should call forth from us the greatest gratitude. It's amazing amazing love how can it be thou my God shouldst die for me.
Amazing love how can it be that I should be incorporated into the temple of the living God amazing love how can it be that God is dwelling in my midst. In the midst of of of myself with others who are part of the people of God and that I have the special relationship with him. That's an amazing thing and I therefore out of gratitude for having been made a member of the people of God made us stolen a living stone in the living temple of Almighty God, something which I know I do not deserve. I know it doesn't come because of my merit. I know it's entirely because of undeserved grace.
I therefore respond to this call, we decide all filthiness of the flesh and spirit took to live out of gratitude for what God has done to make me one of his own to live in the light of this reality.
If I am a stone in the temple, the place where God is worshiped.
If I am a living stone in the temple of Almighty God, then I need to be a holy stone that the temple of the living God might be a holy temple. So the assurance of this exalted position, but then beyond that the prospect of intimate communion that God should act as a father toward me that I can relate to God as a child to a father I can do this when I come out from among them and them separate and don't touch the the defiled thing and draw close to God and intimate fellowship and convenient communion. This is something that I need to value and to cultivate and find satisfaction in we are, of course, because of our Adamic frailty always being tugged back to the things of the world that there's something within us that that answers the call to sinful temptation even though were not enslaved to it were not bound to it the way we were before we work redeemed and regenerated by the work of the Spirit of God.
Nevertheless, as we know long as we are in the world before we are with the Lord completely. There's always that pulled that tugged that call back in that direction, but we got to understand that surely we do understand and theory. May we understand and practice that there's far more satisfaction in developing close intimate communion with Almighty God, than there is in dabbling in the sinful things of the world. Why are we still at least the times if were honest to admit it, why are we still endeavoring to find satisfaction in the world when we have the prospect of a far greater satisfaction of such intimate fellowship with the Almighty create tour of this universe, but to develop that requires making progress in holiness. Having therefore these promises beloved that is cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God's own is called a holiness number one. The incentive is these promises that were mentioned in chapter 6, number two, there is an activity that is involved. If were going to make progress in holiness.
Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. Let us be perfecting holiness in the fear of God. This activity is a Christian responsibility.
It is a rigorous activity.
It is a lifelong endeavor, let us plans ourselves and of course that's predicated on the reality that we have been cleansed by God. This can only be said to Christians, let us cleanse ourselves an unbeliever cannot cleanse himself in any way. And Christians don't cleanse themselves in the sense of justifying themselves before the judgment bar of God. We don't cleanse ourselves in order to qualify for salvation. God does that. We don't do that but having been cleansed past tense once for all by the blood of Christ, let us be continually cleansing ourselves. You see this responsibility that rest upon us to grow out of the great work of cleansing which God has done for us and only he can do for God has cleansed us past tense. He's the only one who can therefore we must cleanse ourselves present tense in this life that's the activity the Christian responsibility to cleanse ourselves. Paul includes himself in this, let us cleanse. Let us not let you let us this Paul himself and the other missionaries, let us cleanse not your sales but ourselves. The great apostle Paul is still involved in this work of ongoing sanctification does work of cleansing himself. It is a Christian responsibility. It is a rigorous activity.
This is not an easy responsibility.
We cleanse ourselves from all defilement, not some of it. It's not partial of the flesh and of the spirit, a rigorous activity. This is challenging, we cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and of the spirit of those words, flesh and spirit are used in various different ways in different settings in different contexts, but here it refers to the body is and the soul. It can in it it it relates to the physical and the spiritual.
It relates to things which are outward in those things which are in. So, in part, this is certainly not comprehensive to cleanse the flesh means that we rid our lives of all activities that are obviously a violation of God's commands clearly and obviously in cleansing artists are flesh we put aside sexual immorality, fornication, and any of its forms. We put away stealing no more theft we put away lives without tell the truth. We don't physically injure others send audit goes, we don't slander others. These are things that we do various activities in one way or the other that relate to our flesh to our body and we are cleansing ourselves from all of these kinds of activities which are violations of the law of God. But that's not enough, in itself, and sometimes we don't want to go far enough, but we've also got to cleanse our spirit. That's what is in word that relates to our desires that relates to our thoughts that relates to our mind and so we not only cleanse ourselves from acts, deeds of sexual immorality. But we must cleanse ourselves from lustful thoughts. That's harder. That's part of it. We are to cleanse ourselves in the flesh and the spirit. That's what Jesus said in the sermon on the Mount is not only true that thou shall not commit adultery but it's also true that if a man looks at a woman for the purpose of lusting after he's committed adultery already in his heart.
That's the inward part.
That's the spirit lustful thoughts. So there's no place in the life of a child of God. For example, for pornography, but doesn't cover everything that has to do with lustful thoughts, but that sure a big one in our day and time and how many of the people of God are sneaking away in privacy when no one sees them except God Almighty and finding lascivious delight in the most degrading acts of immorality that are restricted only to the mind. I would never actually do any of these things, but I sure do feast.
My mind upon these things. That is just as defiling that is just as antithetical to holiness as actually committing the deeds. The deed may do more to damage of another person when you're what, what you do is only in your mind. At least you're not defiling someone else along with yourself, but what you are doing in your mind is just as much a violation of holiness before the God who made us his child and placed us in his holy temple. No lustful thoughts and so many areas we got to deal with our pride, that's a matter of the spirit we got to deal with envy and covetousness and malice in all of these things and too often Christians think only in terms of the external and not enough in terms of the internal only in terms of deeds and not enough in thoughts only in terms of what they see as outward sins that there's so proud that they don't do and their so disdainful of others who do and their own hearts are so filled with wicked carnal pride that their spirit is defiled before a holy God.
Therefore, having these promises. Beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. It's a Christian responsibility as a rigorous activity.
It's a lifelong endeavor perfecting holiness.
He doesn't get perfected in this life is ongoing, perfecting holiness, perfecting holiness is a process.
Absolute perfection awaits heaven, but we are to be striving for perfection on earth say why should I strive for something that I can achieve because that's the way you make progress. That's the way you prove that's the way you become more holy, you will be completely holy until you are with the Lord that work of entire sanctification has to be a divine worker, God cleanses us from every sin from every spot every blemish is all God will all be gone in the day when we step into the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But here upon the earth, we gotta keep working at it, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. And that's the motive in the fear of God with a reverential awe and respect for God, recognizing that there is a day of accountability were grateful that the day of accountability for a child of God is not the same defining condemnation ultimate and final condemnation that awaits the unbeliever.
It's not that praise God for for that, but it's not insignificant.
It's not painless. Sometimes it is portrayed by Christians who fail to take into account all of the evidence in Scripture.
It is an act of divine judgment to root out the sins of God's own people to prepare us for that final holiness and we are to live in the light of that in take that seriously. We are to be perfective whole perfecting holiness in the fear of God member with Paul said back in chapter 5 verse 11. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord we persuade men. Paul was busy doing his work of persuading men to trust in Christ because of the terror of the Lord. Some think he's talking about the terrible Lord that falls upon the unbeliever. Perhaps not in that context it seems like he's talking more about his own accountability before God Almighty in that day when he will give an account is one that day when all of us will give an account as the servants of God as stewards that have been entrusted with the responsibility by God, there's a day when were going to give an account of our stewardship. Therefore, let us perfect holiness in the body and the flesh and the spirit, perfecting it in the fear of God. Looking forward to that day call to holiness.
Secondly, in this passage we have a call to love and that's verses two through four. Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have treated no one.
I do not say this to condemn, for I have said before that you are in our hearts to die together to live together. Great is my boldness of speech toward youth greatest my posting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort.
I'm exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation called a love this too is based upon what Paul said previously in chapter 6, so some of the statements only make sense, or maybe only come to their full understanding based upon what has been said before, and some of them even and are based the full understanding is based on what comes after this chapter of the portion that I read to you earlier, but in talking about this call to love. Paul is obviously talking about his love for them back to this. I open my heart wide to you language that we saw in chapter 6 is talking about his love for them and what we learn in this call to love is number one. Love requires action.
Verse two number two. Love requires commitment verse three and number three. Love requires forgiveness verse four. Love requires action. What is he saying verse two open your hearts to us.
Open your hearts to us that something for them to do. That's what it said in verse 13 of chapter 6 now in return for the same that is my love to you return for the same. I speak as to children you also be open in return for my warm effusive love for you. I'm calling upon you to open your heart wide in return in your love for me this is something for them to do this is something for us to do see a little bit more about it in a second, but Paul doesn't say now if you're emotions allow you to do this if you feel like doing this. If you can work up this this the proper attitude for this in your heart, then the do this. He says no, he just doesn't do it there's there's there's an action for us to perform that can be carried out regardless of our feelings too often were driven by our emotions and not to be the other way around.
Our actions are to be based upon truth, we do what we know to be true and right and basically say feelings get in line. Phalanx follow. This is the direction were going were going in the direction of truth and feelings. I command you to get in line and I'm going to do what's right regardless of how I feel. That's what Paul is saying here, but indicates that there are some attitudes that will need to be overcome before going to be able to do this properly he refers in verse two to what evidently are false accusations by the false teachers that have been infiltrating the Corinthian church and have been denigrating Paul saying things about them that are not true to try to harm his reputation before them, and so he says we have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one. Evidently that's what he was accused of doing. Paul is wrong to.
Paul has harmed you, Paul has treated you know, no, no, and Paul could say that with a clear conscience and he could also say that knowing that no man could rightly deny what he was saying. They all knew that it was true, and yet they been harboring some of these false accusations and and therefore they had wrong attitudes toward him and this is one reason why the heart was close toward him. So Paul tells them to get their attitudes right and yet he doesn't say you have to get your editors right before you can open your heart to us. He says your hearts to us right actions.
And while you're doing that get you attitudes right get you attitudes in line with through we have wronged no one that means we haven't treated anyone unjustly. We don't know exactly what the accusation was but but because the chapter goes on and talks about the letter that is in Santa and the sorrow that it caused an Paul's regret that he had to send it in because that sorrow in some ways wishes he hadn't had to do that. Nevertheless, he knew he had to and and it seems like he's talking about this man referred to in first Corinthians chapter 5, who was a member of the church and was living in an incestuous relationship with his stepmother in the church had dealt with it.
So the man was gravely at fault, but the church was also at fault for failing to deal with it and I would suppose, in the light of what he saying here that the false teachers were saying something like Paul treated that man too harshly.
Paul treated that man unjustly. That was too harsh.
That was unloving what he just told the church to deal with it and get them out of the church, but that's not very loving.
That isn't very fair.
You can just hear this the kind of language we hear today. Paul said come on you know that I dealt according to truth. I treated no one unjustly. That's the truth now adjust your wrong attitudes. Accordingly, we have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one that word means to injure or to destroy again, maybe with the same man in mind the critics the false teachers said Paul's unloving overly harsh demand for discipline destroyed that man know we haven't harmed anyone as a matter of fact, the evidence of second Corinthians is it brought about his repentance and returned to the church doesn't always have that result.
I wish I wish you did. We all wish to did, but that doesn't change the truth of what we are commanded to do so.
We have wronged no one, we have corrupted or injured or destroyed.
No one, we have cheated no one the false teachers apparently were charging Paul of defrauding the church of of taking advantage of them financially making gain of them. And again that's not true. And that's already been documented so clearly that everyone knows it's not true. Paul bent over back toward's not even taking wagers that were right fully, unjustly, he is, but in order to to lay aside any accusations of his taking financial advantage of them. He didn't take any of that from them and so these are obviously false accusations that were laid against Paul, but it's amazing how sometimes our minds are quicker to believe, at least in part false accusations than they are to act according to true and we need to understand that deal with that in our own lives.
Many times we have a false sense of being wronged by someone. It is not true.
Many times we have a false sense of injustice is being committed, but that is not true. Many times we have a false sense of being used or taken advantage of what it really is not true.
Again, learn to act in accordance with truth, not according to the way you feel. Love requires action sweep away all error and open your hearts to us.
Number two. Love requires commitment verse three.
I do not say these things I did not say this for these things to condemn, for I have said before that you are in our hearts to die together and to live together. Follow saying I'm not saying these things in order to get some kind of revenge or some side of satisfaction. I'm not saying this to condemn you.
This is not a personal thing that I've got to to point these things out for personal satisfaction.
I'm not defending myself in order to condemn you.
In fact, Paul seems to be saying I really don't blame you for having some of these wrong thoughts about me because I know you've been misled by the false teachers. I understand that but I also understand that you know the truth and so I'm telling you deal with it. Get rid of it. You have been misled, but you don't need to stay misled is what is what I'm saying is impelled by love, not by bitterness.
I'm not condemning you I'm not I'm not like I don't have this seething sense of my own injustice that you have treated me unjustly and therefore I'm lashing out at you. That's not what I'm doing at all, because in here he makes a statement of the most unconditional love toward them that he could possibly make to prove his statement. I do not say this to condemn you for I have said before that you are in our hearts to die together and to live together.
What's he saying he saying I love you unconditionally. I will love you all my life I will love you until the day I die. That's really what the statement is saying it's up simpler than it looks. Just basically saying I promise to love you in life.
I promise to love you – how can you do that Paul is in your love for them based upon their attitudes and actions in the way they treat you know my love toward them is based on the fact that there believers.
I am a believer. God tells me to love fellow believers. My love is based on the fact that Christ love me unconditionally.
I'm glad he didn't requires some kind of performance from me in order to love me as I do been hung shown and therefore I love you like Christ loved me unconditionally. I will love you in life. I will love you and death. I'm I believe that were going to get to a better relationship than we've had he really does believe that here. I believe that some of these problems are to be cleared up but I promising you I love you regardless. But for your sake and for the honor and glory of Christ. I hope you will learn to love me like you, I love me. I'm promising to love you the way I ought to love you as a Christian and I am praying fervently that you will learn to love me the way you want to love me as a Christian so love requires action. Love requires commitment godly commitment to the word of truth and love requires forgiveness verse four. Great is my boldness of speech toward you.
Great is my boasting on your behalf. I'm filled with comfort.
I'm exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation, when he says great is my boldness of speech toward you. He's talking about speaking favorably of them. He goes on to say in the next race.
Great is my boasting on your behalf. Great is my boldness of speech toward you. Now this statement does follow the news of their repentance. In verses seven and following. Great is my boldness of speech toward you or another way of putting it is great is my confidence in you will. How can Paul be so confident of them because Titus is brought him news of their repentance well is Paul basing his relationship with them upon the condition of their repentance. No, but he is basing his commendation of them on the evidence that God has worked in their hearts, and they have responded to it which is evidence if they truly are his children in this area.
Repentance will get into it more as we get further into the chapter, but this air repentance is a very significant area of truth and of God's operation our lives because it really boils down to this. Those who do not. Those who will not those who cannot repent of their sins are demonstrating they are no true child of God, but where there is godly repentance because of sin, there is the most clear evidence that that one is a child of God God the Holy Spirit is at work in their hearts, and he who has begun a good work and you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. I see evidence of your repentance.
Therefore, I am confident in my speech toward you, I can confidently say you are God's children and you are on the right track. You are seeing the work of God in their lives. I have great confidence in you.
Great is my boasting on your behalf. The way these Corinthians had acted improperly in so many ways would've caused what response from some of God's people complaining about them criticizing them gossiping about them to others but not Paul is complementing them he's honoring them is rejoicing in the evidence of their heart of repentance and therefore there forgiven heart and therefore giving heart and what is the fruit of Paul's forgiveness toward them comfort and joy. That's the fruit because he has forgiven them for they have repented of their wrongs. He says I'm filled with comfort. I'm exceedingly joyful in all tribulation comfort and joy is overflowing with joy in the midst of affliction because he has forgiven them.
He's not holding anything against him. He is loving them the way he ought to love them, why are so many of God's people joy less probably. Lotta reasons, but one of them. In many cases is because they have an unforgiving spirit. They won't let go of some wrong perceived or real. That's an offense against God. It's an offense against others but also hurt yourself. It takes away your comfort. It takes away your joy, hope to wrap up this passage when we have couple lessons number one regarding the bed battle for holiness and number two regarding the cost of love. Paul is telling us when it comes to holiness, no pain, no gain. We got a fight. We cannot coast we must fight we must struggle, we must battle a flash, the text that the songwriter had a right sure I must fight if I would gain increase my courage, Lord Albert the toil, endure the pain, supported by thy word.
The battle for holiness is an ongoing battle. Are you in the battle. Are you engaged in the fight are you serious about holiness, number two, the cost of love.
Love is costly to love as we ought to love are going to have to relinquish all rights to love as we ought to love. We must let go of wrongs that have been committed against us to love as we ought to love are going to have to follow the example of Christ who loved sacrificially who prayed on the cross. What after the most hideous wrong than ever been done to any person, he prayed father forgive them for they know not what they do. We talk a lot about love. Love is a one of those wonderful warm things that Christians love to talk about. But the question is how much do we really practice it in the biblical sense of love. This kind of love is costly and does not come easily. It does not come naturally. It requires work like holiness. It is active, loving, not emotional response becomes by determination becomes by seeking divine help becomes by obeying divine instructions, so to East Central ingredients for a God honoring life holiness and love.
We have to work hard at both of them.
We got our work cut out cut out for us that's look to Christ, shall we pray father helpless. So help us. You have redeemed us by the blood of your son, you have given us your Holy Spirit. You have given us a changed heart with spiritual desires have placed within us a desire to respond to the call to holiness and to respond to the call to love is we ought to love but we confess our weakness.
We find this difficult Lord, we know that were not without divine resources you've given us all that we need. Therefore, Lord help us to be obedient serious as we ask in Jesus name, amen