2 Corinthians 7:1 ESV
“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”
“These promises” are what are spoken of at the end of chapter 6, but as with all of God’s promises, they have conditions which must be met. The conditions are that we are not to be in partnership (fellowship) with unbelievers. And an unbeliever is not defined by his lack of profession of faith in Jesus Christ but by his actions. For many professers of faith in Jesus Christ are still walking in darkness (sin), and so they don’t really know the Lord, because they are also not walking in obedience to his commands.
So, the conditions being spoken of here are that we are not to be in intimate fellowship and in agreement with those who are living in opposition to the Lord and to his gospel. Instead, we are to go out from their midst, and we are to be separate from them, says the Lord, and we are to touch no unclean thing, i.e. we are not to be participants in what is evil and ungodly and immoral. And then our Lord will welcome us, and God the Father will be a father to us, and we will be his children (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
So, because we have these conditional promises, we need to cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. So, we are to cease with sinful practices and we are to walk in obedience to our Lord in holiness and in righteousness, in the power of God. Sin is to have no mastery over our lives to where we obey its desires, for if sin is what we obey, it leads to death, not to life eternal. But if obedience to God is what we obey, it leads to eternal life.
2 Corinthians 7:2 ESV
“Make room in your hearts for us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one.”
When we share (teach or preach) the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are going to face criticism, especially if we are talking about sin in people’s lives and of their need to cease from sinning and to now walk in obedience to his commands. For the more we speak on repentance and obedience to our Lord, the more opposition we are going to face, and the more we will be criticized and even falsely accused of things we did not do and that we did not say. It goes with the territory. And Paul faced such criticism, too.
So, when Paul came up against such opposition and criticism and false accusations against him, and against his character, he was known to come to his own defense and to counter the lies being spread about him. And this is what he was doing here. He was correcting whatever lies or misconceptions which were being spread or rumored about him. And he was proclaiming the truth about himself, not in pride or in arrogance, but in the power and righteousness of God who is the one who called him to this ministry.
And sometimes we may be called to have to defend our own honor, too, for the sake of the gospel which we are sharing with others so that the message of the gospel does not also fall under disrepute. But we must exercise godly wisdom here, too, for there are people in this world of ours, like the ones Jesus encountered regularly, who will try to bait us and to lead us into fruitless discussions with the intent to try to trip us up with our words. So we have to be careful that we do not fall into any of their traps.
2 Corinthians 7:8-10 ESV
“For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
When we are teaching the truth of God’s word in its fulness, and so we are having to tackle difficult and unpleasant subjects, we are not going to be voted most popular. We are not going to have a ton of followers, most likely, and we will not get a lot of “likes” on what we write, either. For the majority of people, it seems, want to hear nice things, pleasant things, and things which make them feel good and which don’t confront them with their sins, and which do not call them to repentance and to holy living.
But the goal of why we should be teaching the “whole counsel of God” is for the salvation of the people and for their spiritual growth and development in their walks of faith in the Lord Jesus. And yes, it is not going to be all nicey-nice and pleasant, especially when we have to address very specific sins which are running rampant in the church today and which are destroying people’s lives, and their marriages, and their households, and the church, the family of God. So it shouldn’t always be feel good stuff.
But the reason that we should be sharing the whole truth of the gospel is out of love for our Lord and out of love for the people because we want to see them genuinely saved and walking in obedience and in pure fellowship with the Lord. And even though the truth is not always pleasant, and sometimes it hits hard and it smacks us between the eyes (a figure of speech), it is for our good to bring us to genuine repentance and to walks of faithful obedience to our Lord, which are required of God for true salvation.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
Near the Cross
Hymn lyrics by Fanny J. Crosby, 1869
Music by William H. Doane, 1869
Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.
Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.
Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.
Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand
Just beyond the river.
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
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