Forgiveness for the Repentant Sinner:
Read (2 Corinthians 2:1-11)
The Corinthian church had many flaws. This caused Paul to delay his visit and write a letter to correct them. This letter was regarding the man who was living in sin. Paul wrote this letter out of much anguish and love (1 Corinthians 5:1-8). Love does not express itself through condemnation. The greatest joy of the servants of God is that their spiritual children are walking in the truth (3 John 3). Paul desired to rejoice in the restoration of the one who had been disciplined. Paul’s loving attitude toward him flows from the comfort he himself has received from the Lord. Doubtless, this harsh letter somehow got lost. How should Christians treat a fellow believer who is backsliding? He should be treated the same way we have been treated by Christ. It is important that church discipline is imposed carefully with much sorrow. It should be done from a desire to bring him to repentance. The repentant sinner should be forgiven and restored. Otherwise he may become discouraged and overwhelmed by grief (2 Corinthians 2:7-8). The church is not called to withhold love and forgiveness from repentant sinners (Matthew 18:15-20). The goal of discipline is to restore people to a healthy relationship with God. Paul was willing to forgive this man when he was forgiven by the church. Otherwise Satan will take advantage of him by his evil schemes. Correction done out of love will restore relationships and bring unity in the church (2 Corinthians 2:11). Let us pray that God would create in us a humble and forgiving heart. Pray that God would help us to have patience and love toward those who are struggling with sin. Unforgiving attitude will destroy harmony in the church.
Triumph in Christ
Read (2 Corinthians 2:12-17)
Paul had deep love and concern for the Corinthian church. The false teachers influenced some Corinthians to turn them against Paul. Meanwhile Paul's life was marked by weakness and suffering (11:12-15). This made some question whether Paul was qualified to be an apostle (11:5). Paul explains that his suffering is actually a sign that he belongs to God. Paul wanted to know how they responded to his letter. When Paul came to Troas, the Lord opened a wide door for him and gave him tremendous opportunities to preach the gospel. But his spirit was restless because he did not hear from Titus about the condition of the Corinthian church (2 Corinthians 7:5-6). So he went to Macedonia to find Titus. There Paul was encouraged by the report from Titus that the believers of Corinth had accepted his letter and changed their attitude toward him. Paul explains that his suffering for the gospel is actually a sign of his apostleship. Paul says that he is led in a triumphal procession (2:14). As we live in submission to God, we become the fragrance of Christ to others even through suffering (2 Corinthians 2:14-15). We become life giving fragrance to believers and the fragrance of death to the unsaved. Christian life is offensive to unsaved but a life-giving perfume to others (2:16). There are only two groups of people in the world; those who are saved and those who are lost. Paul here gives the imagery of the Roman general who is leading the victory march. In the victory parade there are two groups of prisoners of war. One group was led to life and the other group was led to their death. Our lives will bring fragrance to God and others when we live for Christ. Our job is to focus on Christ and proclaim his gospel. Paul says “Who is sufficient for these things?” Paul's adequacy and success come from the Lord (2:16). Paul contrasts his ministry with a false teacher's ministry. Paul preaches with sincerity and with Christ's authority. False teachers preach just to make money (2:17). Let us become Christ’s faithful witnesses so that the fragrance of the gospel may spread everywhere. Suffering is not a sign of God's rejection. In fact God used suffering in Paul's life to spread the gospel. Pray for the courage and strength so that we might be the fragrance of Christ in the world. The power that raised Christ from the dead is at work in us to strengthen us in our battle against sin. Focus on the Christ who loved us and gave his life for us.