Verse 1 – Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
So, what is filthiness of the flesh? I think most people know. It doesn’t have to be spelled out. We are to turn away from sinning and turn toward God.
Paul’s Meeting With Titus
Verse 2 – Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have defrauded no one.
Verse 3 – I do not say this to condemn; for I have said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together.
Verse 4 – Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulations.
How could Paul say that he was exceedingly joyful in their tribulations? Can we say that when we go through hardships? Bringing the gospel and telling others about Jesus was their goal. And when preaching God’s Word, there was no greater joy for them. Oh, that we Christians would be that excited about telling others about what Jesus has done. If we were, maybe the trials we go through would be so much easier!
Verse 5 – For indeed when we came to Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.
Verse 6 – Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus,
Verse 7 – and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more.
Corinthians’ Response to Paul’s Letter
Verse 8 – For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it, though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while.
Paul is referring to his third letter to the Corinthian church, which was lost. (not the church, the letter). After that letter, the Corinthians began to repent and change, though only for a while.
Verse 9 – Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.
When people are brought to repentance under the preaching of the gospel, ministers, like Paul, receive no pleasure in having to do the correcting. This sorrow from the Corinthians, led to change and reformation. True repentance is not just a sorrowful moment because of the consequences of sin. It is an obvious change that others will see. You can’t fake true repentance.
Verse 10 – For godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world leads to death.
Do some people honestly think that God doesn’t know when a heart truly changes toward Him? Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation, sorrow for our sins, and the result is changed behavior and attitudes towards others and the things of God. If you don’t see someone’s behavior change after they tell you they were saved, then they are lying, plain and simple. You can not follow Christ and keep on willfully and intentionally sinning.
Think of the repentance of Peter and Judas. Peter repented for denying Christ and he was restored. Judas had worldly sorrow and committed suicide. Judas only regretted what he had done to his shame and guilt, but not enough to ask for forgiveness. One brings restoration and joy, the other brings death.
True repentance will bring a change to one’s life permanently. It is not a mere regret that soon passes away. One who truly seeks God will never regret that decision.
Verse 11 – For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a good manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
There was clear evidence that the Corinthians had changed! Most people get defensive when confronted with their sin. We are to accept correction as a tool for our growth.
Repenting is not just stopping some things you have been doing, and then later on when the newness wears off, you go back to the same person you used to be. Things are supposed to change for the better. One’s attitude changes; the behavior changes; there is a strong desire to be pleasing to God and His standards. Your will for your life will change to what God wants for your life. You will study the Holy Scripture to find out everything you can about our Lord and then try to imitate Him. And you definitely will treat others better than you used to. You cannot be the same ole hateful rotten self and call yourself a Christian.
Verse 12 – Therefore, although I wrote to you, I did not do it for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you.
This correction was not merely for the individual who was sinning, but for the benefit of the entire church.
Verse 13 – Therefore we have been comforted in your comfort. and we rejoiced exceedingly more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all.
Verse 14 – For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I am not ashamed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, even so our boasting to Titus was found true.
Verse 15 – And his affections are greater for you as he remembers the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him.
Verse 16 – Therefore I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything.
We all need to be corrected at some point in our Christian walk. How we respond to that correction will determine whether we truly desire to be “Christ-like” or not!