Exhortation to Purity
2 Cor. 7:1-5
As children of God we are to live a pure and clean lives. In this opening verse of chapter seven, Paul is reminding us of the previous promises from chapter six. Imagine the promise “I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters.” What a wonderful promise, if
we would just live a life that is pure. As usual, I will explain to you verse by verse what Paul means with his letter.
Illustration 1: Likeness to Jesus
Robert Murray McCheyne wrote to Dan Edwards after the latter’s ordination as a missionary, “In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the instrument, will be the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God”. Leading the Way by Paul Borthwick, Navpress, 1989, p. 65
I. Personal Purification (2 Cor. 7:1)
A. “Having therefore these promises”. Those named in 2 Cor. 6:16-18, God’s assurance of His presence and fellowship to those who obey Him, the Word of God encourages to action.
B. “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness.
1. “The filthiness of the flesh” is meant external pollution, defilement by outward actions, actions committed in the body, whereby the man is defiled; such as all impure words, filthiness, and foolish talking, all rotten and corrupt
communication, which defile a man’s own body; as the tongue, a little member, when so used does, and corrupts the good manners of others; all filthy actions, as idolatry, adultery, fornication, incest, sodomy, murder, drunkenness, revellings, etc. and everything that makes up a filthy conversation, which is to be hated, abhorred, and abstained from by the saints. (J. Gill).
2. “Filthiness of the spirit” is meant internal pollution, defilement by the internal acts of the mind, such as evil thoughts, lusts, pride, malice, envy, covetousness, and the like
C. “Perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1b): This expresses or indicates the way in which we are to purify ourselves. It is by perfecting holiness. The word translated perfect does not here mean simply ‘to practise,’ but to complete, to carry on to perfection. It is only by being completely or perfectly holy that we can attain the purity required of us as the temples of God.
Illustration 2: Ermine
In the forests of northern Europe and Asia lives little animal called the ermine, known for his snow white fur in winter. He instinctively protects his white coat against anything that would soil it.
Fur hunters take advantage of this unusual trait of the ermine. They don’t set a snare to catch him, but instead they find his home, which is usually a cleft in a rock or a hollow in an old tree. They smear the entrance and interior with grime. Then the hunters set their dogs loose to find and chase the ermine. The frightened animal flees toward home but doesn’t enter because of the filth. Rather than soil his white coat, he is trapped by the dogs and captured while preserving his purity. For the ermine, purity is more precious than life. – Our Daily Bread, April 21, 1997
II. The Converted Life (2 Corinthians 7:2-4)
A. “Receive us…” (2 Cor. 7:2): “Make room for me us your hearts”, love us as we love you. Receive us as your apostles and teachers; we have given you full proof that God hath sent us. Have confidence in us.
B. “We have wronged no man”. Paul and his fellow workers have not treated any of the Corinthians unjustly, they did not cause injury to any one, neither they cause any of them to fall into sin. Basically, they are blameless for they never wronged anyone.
C. “We have corrupted no man.” “It may refer to money, or morals, or doctrine”. Paul can never be accused of any immoral conduct.
D. “We have defrauded no man.” That charge was made in Thessalonica (I Thess. 4:6). “Not one of the Corinthians has ever been wronged or ruined or cheated by Paul.
Illustration 3: The Briefcase
Last winter, a lowly-paid waiter in a major city found a briefcase containing cash and negotiables in a parking lot—and no owner in sight. No one saw the waiter find it and put it in his car in the wee hours of the morning. But for the waiter, there was never any question of what to do. He took the briefcase home, opened it, and searched for the owner’s identity. The next day he made a few phone calls, located the distressed owner, and returned the briefcase—along with the $25,000 cash it contained!
The surprising thing about this episode was the ridicule the waiter experienced at the hands of his friends and peers. For the next week or so he was called a variety of names and laughed at, all because he possessed a quality the Bible holds in high regard: integrity. Today in the Word, July, 1989, p. 18
III. Love for the church (2 Cor. 7:3-5)
A. “I speak this not to condemn you…” (2 Cor. 7:3) I do not accuse you, that’s what Paul is telling here. Paul really love them and forgives them despite of the fact that they believed the false teachers and hurt his feelings and offended him.
B. “Ye are in our hearts…” You are in our hearts to share death and life. Paul loved them too much that he cannot condemn them. They were his children in the gospel. He was concerned about them. He wanted them to “separate” themselves from sin in and out of the church. “Whether we live or die you live in our hearts.”
E. “Great is my boldness of speech” (2 Cor 7:4) – He seems to refer to the manner in which he spoke of them to others.
F. Great is my glorying of you – They had probably been very loving and affectionate previously to the time in which they were perverted by their false apostle. He therefore had boasted of them in all the Churches.
G. I am filled with comfort – My affection for you has still the most powerful
ascendancy in my soul. Here we may see the affection of the most tender father to his children.
H. I am exceeding joyful – I superabound in joy; I have a joy beyond expression.
I. In all our tribulation – Under all our tribulations, I feel inexpressible joy on your account.
J. For, when we were come into Macedonia (2 Cor. 7:5). When Paul arrived in
Macedonia after leaving Troas.
K. “our flesh had no rest”. they were continually fatigued with preaching, disputing, fighting; what with false teachers, and violent persecutors, they had no rest in their bodies.
L. but we were troubled on every side. from every quarter, by all sorts of enemies; 2 Cor. 4:8.
M. “without were fightings”. Probably he here refers to fierce opposition, which he met with in prosecuting his work of preaching the gospel. He met there, as he did everywhere, with opposition from pagans, Jews, and false brethren. Tumults were usually excited wherever he went; and he preached the gospel commonly amidst violent opposition.
N. Within were fears, referring probably to the anxiety which he had in regard to the success of the epistle which he had sent to the church at Corinth. He felt great solicitude on the subject. He had sent Titus there to see what was the state of the church, and to witness the effect of his instructions. Titus had not come to him as he had expected, at Troas, (2Co 2:13,) and he felt the deepest anxiety in regard to him and the success of his epistle. His fears were probably that they would be indisposed to exercise the discipline on the offender; or lest the severity of the discipline required should alienate them from him; or lest the party under the influence of the false teachers should prevail. All was uncertainty, and his mind was filled with the deepest apprehension.
I V. Conclusion:
The Apostle Paul is exhorting the Corinthian Christians to live a pure life, holy life as children of God. The Word of God tells us to do so also. The question is will you obey? Will you live a pure life?