I have confidence in you, in all things - It appears that the apostle was now fully persuaded, from the accounts given by Titus, that every scandal had been put away from this Church; that the faction which had long distracted and divided them was nearly broken; that all was on the eve of being restored to its primitive purity and excellence; and that their character was now so firmly fixed, that there was no reason to apprehend that they should be again tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine.
I rejoice, therefore, that I have confidence - I have had the most ample proof that you are disposed to obey God, and to put away everything that is offensive to him. The address of this part of the Epistle, says Doddridge, is wonderful. It is designed, evidently, not merely to commend them for what they had done, and to show them the deep attachment which he had for them, but in a special manner to prepare them for what he he was about to say in the following chapter, respecting the collection which he had so much at heart for the poor saints at Jerusalem. What he here says was admirably adapted to introduce that subject. They had thus far showed the deepest regard for him. They had complied with all his directions. All that he had said of them had proved to be true. And as he had boasted of them to Titus 2 Corinthians 7:14, and expressed his entire confidence that they would comply with his requisitions, so he had also boasted of them to the churches of Macedonia and expressed the utmost confidence that they would be liberal in their benefactions, 2 Corinthians 9:2. All that Paul here says in their favor, therefore, was eminently adapted to excite them to liberality, and prepare them to comply with his wishes in regard to that contribution.
1. Christians are bound by every solemn and sacred consideration to endeavor to purify themselves, 2 Corinthians 7:1. They who have the promises of eternal life, and the assurance that God will be to them a father, and evidence that they are his sons and daughters, should not indulge in the filthiness of the flesh and spirit.
2. Every true Christian will aim at perfection, 2 Corinthians 7:1. He will desire to be perfect; he will strive for it; he will make it a subject of unceasing and constant prayer. No man can be a Christian to whom it would not be a pleasure to be at once as perfect as God. And if any man is conscious that the idea of being made at once perfectly holy would be unpleasant or painful, he may set it down as certain evidence that he is a stranger to religion.
3. No man can be a Christian who voluntarily indulges in sin, or in what he knows to be wrong, 2 Corinthians 7:1. A man who does that cannot be aiming at perfection. A man who does that shows that he has no real desire to be perfect.
4. How blessed will be heaven, 2 Corinthians 7:1. There we shall be perfect. And the crowning glory of heaven is not that we shall be happy, but that we shall be holy. Whatever there is in the heart that is good shall there be perfectly developed; whatever there is that is evil shall be removed, and the whole soul will be like God. The Christian desires heaven because he will be there perfect. He desires no other heaven. He could be induced to accept no other if it were offered to him. He blesses God day by day that there is such a heaven, and that there is no other: that there is one world which sin does not enter, and where evil shall be unknown.
5. What a change will take place at death, 2 Corinthians 7:1. The Christian will be there made perfect. How this change will be there produced we do not know. Whether it will be by some extraordinary influence of the Spirit of God on the heart, or by the mere removal from the body, and from a sinful world to a world of glory, we know not. The fact seems to be clear, that at death the Christian will be made at once as holy as God is holy, and that he will ever continue to be in the future world.
6. What a desirable thing it is to die, 2 Corinthians 7:1. Here, should we attain to the age of the patriarchs, like them we should continue to be imperfect. Death only will secure our perfection; and death, therefore, is a desirable event. The perfection of our being could not be attained but for death; and every Christian should rejoice that he is to die. It is better to be in heaven than on earth; better to be with God than to be away from him; better to be made perfect than to be contending here with internal corruption, and to struggle with our sins. “I would not live always,” was the language of holy Job; “I desire to depart and to be with Christ,” was the language of holy Paul.
7. It is often painful to be compelled to use the language of reproof, 2 Corinthians 7:8. Paul deeply regretted the necessity of doing it in the case of the Corinthians, and expressed the deepest anxiety in regard to it. No man, no minister, parent, or friend can use it but with deep regret that it is necessary. But the painfulness of it should not prevent our doing it. It should be done tenderly but faithfully. If done with the deep feeling, with the tender affection of Paul, it will be done right; and when so done, it will produce the desired effect, and do good. No man should use the language of reproof with a hard heart, or with severity of feeling. If he is, like Paul, ready to weep when he does it, it will do good. If he does it because he delights in it, it will do evil.
8. It is a subject of rejoicing where a people exercise repentance, 2 Corinthians 7:8. A minister has pleasure not in the pain which his reproofs cause; not in the deep anxiety and distress of the sinner, and not in the pain which Christians feel under his reproofs, but he has joy in the happy results or the fruits which follow from it. It is only from the belief that those tears will produce abundant joy that he has pleasure in causing them, or in witnessing them.
9. The way to bring people to repentance is to present to them the simple and unvarnished truth, 2 Corinthians 7:8-9. Paul stated simple and plain truths to the Corinthians. He did not abuse them; he did not censure them in general terms; he stated things just as they were, and specified the things on account of which there was occasion for repentance. So if ministers wish to excite repentance in others, they must specify the sins over which others should weep; if we wish, as individuals, to feel regret for our sins, and to have true repentance toward God, we must dwell on those particular sins which we have committed, and should endeavor so to reflect on them that they may make an appropriate impression on the heart. No man will truly repent by general reflections on his sin; no one who does not endeavor so to dwell on his sins as that they shall make the proper impression which each one is suited to produce on the soul. Repentance is that state of mind which a view of the truth in regard to our own depravity is suited to produce.
10. There is a great difference between godly sorrow and the sorrow of the world, 2 Corinthians 7:10. All people feel sorrow. All people, at some period of their lives, grieve over their past conduct. Some in their sorrow are pained because they have offended God, and go to God, and find pardon and peace in him. That sorrow is unto salvation. But the mass do not look to God. They turn away from him even in their disappointments, and in their sorrows, and in the bitter consciousness of sin. They seek to alleviate their sorrows in worldly company, in pleasure, in the intoxicating bowl; and such sorrow works death. It produces additional distress, and deeper gloom here, and eternal woe hereafter.
11. We may learn what constitutes true repentance, 2 Corinthians 7:11. There should be. and there will be, deep feeling. There will be “carefulness,” deep anxiety to be freed from the sin; there will be a desire to remove it; “indignation” against it; “fear” of offending God; “earnest desire” that all that has been wrong should be corrected; “zeal” that the reformation should be entire; and a wish that the appropriate “revenge,” or expression of displeasure, should be excited against it. The true penitent hates nothing so cordially as he does his sin. He hates nothing but sin. And his warfare with that is decided, uncompromising, inexorable, and eternal.
12. It is an evidence of mercy and goodness in God that the sorrow which is felt about sin may be made to terminate in our good, and to promote our salvation, 2 Corinthians 7:10-11. If sorrow for sin had been suffered to take its own course, and had proceeded unchecked, it would in all cases have produced death. If it had not been for the merciful interposition of Christianity, by which even sorrow might be turned to joy, this world would have been everywhere a world of sadness and of death. Man would have suffered. Sin always produces, sooner or later, woe. Christianity has done nothing to make people wretched, but it has done everything to bind up broken hearts. It has revealed a way by which sorrow may be turned into joy, and the bitterness of grief may be followed by the sweet calm and sunshine of peace.
13. The great purpose of Christian discipline is to benefit the whole church, 2 Corinthians 7:12. It is not merely on account of the offender, nor is it merely that the injured may receive a just recompense. it is primarily that the church may be pure, and that the cause of religion may not be dishonored. When the work of discipline is entered on from any private and personal motives, it is usually attended with bad feeling, and usually results in evil. When it is entered on with a desire to honor God, and to promote the purity of the church, when the whole aim is to deliver the church from opprobrium and scandal, and to have just such a church as Jesus Christ desires, then it will be prosecuted with good temper, and with right feeling, and then it will lead to happy results. Let no man institute a process of discipline on an offending brother from private, personal, and revengeful feelings. Let him first examine his own heart, and let him be sure that his aim is solely the glory of Christ, before he attempts to draw down the censure of the church on an offending brother. How many cases of church discipline would be arrested if this simple rule were observed! And while the case before us shows that it is important in the highest degree that discipline should be exercised on an offending member of the church; while no consideration should prevent us from exercising that discipline; and while every man should feel desirous that the offending brother should be reproved or punished, yet this case also shows that it should be done with the utmost tenderness, the most strict regard to justice, and the deepest anxiety that the general interests of religion should not suffer by the manifestation of an improper spirit, or by improper motives in inflicting punishment on an offending brother.
For a number of months after the close of that meeting I bore a heavy burden, and urged upon the attention of the brethren in responsibility those things which the Lord was instructing me to set before them plainly. Finally some of those in positions of trust in connection with the general work, after much prayer and careful study of the various messages given, ventured to undertake by faith the work called for—a work they could not fully understand; and as they went forward in the fear of God, they received rich blessing. 2SM 401.1
It has brought great rejoicing to my heart to see the marvelous transformations that have been wrought in the lives of some who thus chose to advance by faith in the way of the Lord, rather than to follow a way of their own choosing. Had those brethren in responsibility continued to view matters in a false light, they would have created a condition of things that would sadly have marred the work; but when they heeded the instruction that was sent, and sought the Lord, God brought them into the full light, and enabled them to render acceptable service and to bring about spiritual reformations. 2SM 401.2
When the Lord sets His hand to prepare the way before His ministers it is their duty to follow where He directs. He will never forsake or leave in uncertainty those who follow His leadings with full purpose of heart. 2SM 401.3Read in context »
Often in the night season I am bidden to urge our brethren in responsible positions to make earnest effort to follow on to know the Lord more perfectly. When our workers realize as they should the importance of the times in which we live, there will be seen a determined purpose to be on the Lord's side, and they will become in truth laborers together with God. When they consecrate heart and soul to the service of God, they will find that an experience deeper than any they have yet obtained is essential if they would triumph over all sin. TM 514.1
It will be well for us to consider what is soon to come upon the earth. This is no time for trifling or self-seeking. If the times in which we are living fail to impress our minds seriously, what can reach us? Do not the Scriptures call for a more pure and holy work than we have yet seen? TM 514.2
Men of clear understanding are needed now. God calls upon those who are willing to be controlled by the Holy Spirit to lead out in a work of thorough reformation. I see a crisis before us, and the Lord calls for His laborers to come into line. Every soul should now stand in a position of deeper, truer consecration to God than during the years that have passed.... TM 514.3Read in context »
“I rejoice that in everything I am of good courage concerning you.” “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;” “being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ: even as it is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all, because I have you in my heart.” “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.” “Now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.” Verse 16, A.R.V.; Philippians 1:3-5; 1:6, 7, A.R.V.; 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:8. MH 167.1
Paul wrote to these brethren as “saints in Christ Jesus;” but he was not writing to those who were perfect in character. He wrote to them as men and women who were striving against temptation and who were in danger of falling. He pointed them to “the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the sheep.” He assured them that “through the blood of the everlasting covenant” He will “make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 13:20, 21. MH 167.2
When one at fault becomes conscious of his error, be careful not to destroy his self-respect. Do not discourage him by indifference or distrust. Do not say, “Before giving him my confidence, I will wait to see whether he will hold out.” Often this very distrust causes the tempted one to stumble. MH 167.3Read in context »
You should study also the seventh chapter, but I will not take time to read it now. FE 534.1
There is constant danger among our people that those who engage in labor in our schools and sanitariums will entertain the idea that they must get in line with the world, study the things which the world studies, and become familiar with the things that the world becomes familiar with. This is one of the greatest mistakes that could be made. We shall make grave mistakes unless we give special attention to the searching of the word. FE 534.2
The question is asked, What is the higher education? There is no education higher than that contained in the principles laid down in the words I have read to you from this sixth chapter of Second Corinthians. Let our students study diligently to comprehend this. There is no higher education to be gained than that which was given to the early disciples, and which is given to us through the word. May the Holy Spirit of God impress your minds with the conviction that there is nothing in all the world in the line of education that is so exalted as the instruction contained in the sixth and seventh chapters of Second Corinthians. Let us advance in our work just as far as the word of God will lead us. Let us work intelligently for this higher education. Let our righteousness be the sign of our understanding of the will of God committed to us through His messengers. FE 534.3Read in context »