Friday, May 7, 2010

Persuading Believers To Separate From Evil And Embrace The Truth: 2 Corinthians 7:1-16

Text: 2 Corinthians 7:1-16

Theme: Glory in Christ, not the flesh

2. By separating from unbelievers (6:14 - 7:16)

Apparently the false teachers attacked Paul's character and message, and promoted glorying in the flesh (cf. chapters 10-12). For the Corinthians to glory in Christ, they had to separate from these evil influences, and embrace the truth of Paul's message again. 

7:1 expands the call for separation (cf. 6:16-18) to include cleansing "ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." A person does not get saved, or stay saved by avoiding sin (justification, sanctification, and glorification are assured to all believers by the power of the indwelling Spirit, through faith in Christ, apart from human merit [cf. Romans 3-4; 6-8]), but separation affects our fellowship with God (1 Cor. 6:16-18; cf. 1 John 1:5-10). Christians should and will (because of God's gracious work in them [cf. Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 2:13]) separate from sin if they are a child of God (1 Cor. 6:16-18; cf. James 2:14-17; 1 John 1:5 - 2:29), and this glorifies Christ rather than the flesh.

7:2-16 encourages the Corinthians to embrace the truth again. Though he had been "afflicted" ("our flesh had no rest", "conflicts without, fears within" [5], depression [6]), God comforted Paul, with Titus' report of the Corinthian's repentance. God, using Paul's "severe letter", had worked in them a godly sorrow which led them to change their minds and conduct. As a result, they became indignant against sin, avenged wrongdoing in the church (11), and confirmed their loyalty to sound doctrine (12). This caused Paul to rejoice with the Corinthians. Embracing Bible truth in the heart results in a repentance and godliness which glorifies Christ rather than the flesh. 

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