ENDURE | Courage in Weakness PART XIII | Enduring Repentance | 2 Corinthians 7:5-16

April 25, 2021 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: ENDURE: Courage in Weakness | 2 Corinthians

Topic: New Testament Passage: 2 Corinthians 7:5–16

Christopher Rich – April 18, 2021

ENDURE | Courage in Weakness 

PART XIII| Enduring Repentance | 2 Corinthians 7:5-16


Introduction | How and why do we change?   

Good Morning! Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series ENDURE: Courage in Weakness


We are not yet perfect. Anyone want to argue otherwise?  If we are Christians our eyes are open to recognize sin is real, brokenness impacts and influences us and the world in a variety of ways, yet we are called to holiness. Surely we can all just give ourselves a pass for our actions and attitudes over the past year a least because of all the societal challenges, right? But if we’re honest with ourselves we haven’t always been crushing it in the best of times let alone the worst of times (Which I don’t contend is right now) While it seems like we’re landed but waiting for our gate to deplane to get back to “normal” we cannot be whole reliant our circumstances to change for us to experience real change in our lives and our souls. Even prefect conditions can and do still lead to sin and failure. What does endurance like individually and relationally when sin is real? 

Affliction comes in many forms. We experience grief for many different reasons. While the actions of others can discourage us, it is often our choices which cause us the greatest pain. Where we are personally derailed by the impact of sin, repentance is needed to return us to the path of endurance. Where we are discouraged we need to find comfort and encouragement to not despair. We don’t do this alone or with our own strength.  In Christ we have been made new AND we are called pursue being new for our joy and God’s glory. 


PART I | Comfort the Downcast | 2 Cor 7:5-7

2 Cor 7:5-7 |For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. 


Journey of Affliction - Internal fear and external fighting are afflictions which will always rob us of true rest and leave us despondent. We get to be realistic about the condition of the world and our weary souls. 


Sleepless in Macedonia – lit. Flesh had no sleep. This is not insignificant. When your body is out of sync it impacts all of life. Physical ailments and restless night compound our ability to effectively navigate life. 

Harassed at every turn – Can’t seem to catch a break, it doesn’t matter the path, or the day, or the sphere of life each is met with difficulty, annoyance, frustration contributing to greater fatigue. 


External Conflict – This is both environmental and specific. For many years we could read about wars happening overseas, natural disasters on other continents, civil unrest in the Arab spring, but in the past year the news and current events has had a more direct impact on our lives and culture. Additionally, this added pressure of division and separation has tried our relationships in has put us in conflicts at times. 


Internal Concern- What is outside is overwhelming but what is inside can be all consuming. Our internal lives, how we think, process emotions, find rest and renewal for our minds and souls matter. Alone and isolated leads to greater despair. No rest in our bodies lead to an unsettled soul. When have external events and/or internal struggles taken rest from you? How have you received comfort in those times? 

Comfort in Community - But God! This is a great reversal Flesh is restless, external conflicts are relentless, and to top it off internal doubt and fear reign. One would be a lot to handle, two would be overwhelming, but all three would be crushing. These are real and big challenges met by a real and bigger God who is the God of all comfort and who brings comfort not to the comfortable but to the conflicted not to the confident but the concerned, not to the strong but to the weak. Because we whole people, God comforts us comprehensive ways, mind, body, and soul and relationally. There are things in life that are good and meant to be good for our comfort and our joy. God gives spiritual comfort AND God’s comfort can and does come from specific earthly sources and specific people. Paul is downcast, God comforts by brining Titus. 


Comfort in Good News - God can bring comfort to us in the arrival of good news of repentance leading to rejoicing. Part of how Paul was comforted was in the report he received from Titus. With all his current affliction he’s suffering there was still the consistent shadow of unresolved relational tension with the Corinthians and concern for the health of the church. What he received is both they’re doing better in a key area AND they also desire to stay connected relationally. They were concerned the relationship was over. Sometimes it is right and good for relationships to end. It’s ok to mourn the loss of friendship, of relationships that are marred and marked by sin. It is important to have “Mutuality” in Friendship/relationships for them to be healthy. Paul was longing for the relationship with the Corinthians to be restored, and they wanted reconciliation as a well. Because there was mutual goals and understating they could come together again. 


PART II |Courageous Repentance | 2 Corinthians 7:8-12

2 Cor 7:8-12 |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. 10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 11 For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. 12 So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the one who did the wrong, nor for the sake of the one who suffered the wrong, but in order that your earnestness for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God. 13 Therefore we are comforted.


Truth in Love – It’s God’s Word and the Holy Spirit which bring true heart change. Yet, just as God uses community to bring comfort when we are downcast, He can and often does use community to bring care, and where necessary correction. When this happens, it requires both discernment and a delicate engagement recognizing it is usually not going to go well initially. Paul loved the church with both compassion and conviction. Paul has written them a “sever letter” where he was both clear and convicting. Time passed, the letter did hurt. It never feels good to hear we’ve sinned, screwed up, caused pain or hurt others. When we are confronted (by those who know us best and love us the most) we immediately get defensive. Tara regularly corrects me, and I don’t like it, at first. If we are the ones doing confronting, we never want to wound, nor should we seek to wound but when we speak “the truth in love”. We have humility because we know we’re not perfect either and we have patience because we know receiving and or repenting takes time.  It’s ok and loving to let that truth sink down deep and let it work in people’s lives. What happens is we don’t like to see others in grief, space and silence can seem defining so we start to doubt. If you’re cool never pulling a punch, and just “telling it like it is” then you might just be a jerk. Paul, was bold and clear and still had a healthy “should I have said that? Did I push too much or too hard?” I think if you don’t have a bit of that inside, you might not be the best to be engaging with other peoples’ mess. Grace & Truth. 

Courageous Repentance– Sin hurts and sin has consequences. When we have sinned, we should rightly experience a sense of grief. However, not all grief is created equal. They can look the same on the outside at first. Shame, defensiveness, disorientation, yearning. But what drives our grief and what these feelings and experiences lead to have dramatically different outcomes: 


Worldly Grief – (Individual Understanding of the Mess we’re in) produces death. It doesn’t take ownership it defends and never surrenders. Little grief and useless remorse lead to little change leads to greater grief later. This is you don’t like that you got caught verse confessing. It includes self-pity internally and externally produces bitterness towards others or our circumstances. Merely being upset we have been caught or are suffering consequences is unproductive in actually bring life to a situation or relationship impacted by sin. 

You don’t like the circumstances your sin as caused you rather than the hurt you’ve caused others. You don’t like how others are treating you because of your sin, rather than grieving how you have impacted others. The focus and driver of “worldly grief” is “you” is “yourself”. We all do this when we say or think we’ve done nothing wrong. “I’m sorry, not for what I did but for how what I did made you feel.” It’s incomplete. 

Religion – I’ve screwed up God is mad at me, I better change so God is happy with me. (You might not be religious) so insert (spouse, boss, current culture, yourself) either way the driver for change is to work past the shame, regret, or simply the challenging circumstances. We work ourselves to the point of exhaustion. Irreligion- I am perfect the way I am. The problem is never in here because this is the center of everything. I don’t need to change, you need to change to accept me as I am. Sin is real and for sure doesn’t cause me personally negative consequences. So when the fruit of our own choices, desires, and disposition, leads us to distress we easily become more upset with the outcome of our sin than we are actually likely to take ownership of our actions, attitudes, or sin. Neither of this produce lasting flourishing life. 

Condemnation vs Conviction - The enemy condemns us for our sin (or lies to us that we are sinless) and in doing so seeks our further separation from God and shame for ourselves The Holy Spirit convictions of us of our sin, seeking our repentance and restoration because of our secure relationship with God leading us to a settled identity and shared joy in our relationships. We don’t like either of these at first because both bring us lower than we usually see ourselves. But we need one (conviction) to avoid the other (condemnation). 

Godly Grief- (God intended Grief) We don’t have to be put out on shame island just because we’ve sinned. Nor should we expect there to be no consequences. We have self-doubt and shame and sometimes it’s necessary when we are the ones in sin. We are being conformed and transformed in Christ which means no of us are finished products. We will all fail, we will all sin, but our identity no longer “failure”, exile, or “sinner” but is now “family” “saint”, and citizen of a great kingdom. 2 Cor 3:18 | And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. No Loss - Relationship is maintained, even renewed. The grief of conviction was not worthless but productive. It didn’t ultimately take life but rather granted life.

Repentance - A complete heart and mind change including your attitude toward God and towards your own sin. You go from not caring about it to being convicted by it. Repentance doesn’t save us but it absolutely an outcome of our salvation. Repentance is a response to your regeneration in Christ and your life with Christ. 

When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said “Repent,” he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance. – Martin Luther (First of 95 Thesis)

God grants repentance. It is a gift from the Lord through the Holy Spirit. It is how we are transformed by God for God. Holiness requires repentance and repentance is an invitation to greater life. In it we are turning from that which produces division, despair and death, to that which God is calling us to experience and have life and life abundant. It’s turning our orientation from gazing inward to ourselves or outward to others or our circumstances, upward having our focus shifted to Jesus Christ leading us to Salvation and no Regret. 

God is Patient and Kind - Romans 2:4 | Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 

Earnestness and Eagerness – Integrity and intensity zeal for restitution and reconciliation.  Godly grief produces an earnest desire for restoration. We can wallow in weak regret or willingly pursue the repentance our restoration requires. It realizes at times we’re the cause of someone else being treated unjustly. It longs for justice to be done which might and often included consequences, but it does not strive for vengeance. 

David vs Judas - Contrast of these two types can been seen in the Bible with King David and with Judas. King David was responsible for the murder of an unimpeachable general because he was sold out to covering up for impregnating his wife. He was confronted and exposed by Nathan the prophets who spoke the truth in love and the response was Psalm 51 a contrite heart, against you and you alone God have I sinned, humility and seeking God for mercy and grace and finding a renewed Spirit(soul) from God. Judas participate in Jesus eventual murder by selling him out for 30 pieces of silver. Went to try to undo is actions, ease his circumstances, take care of his own conscience, overwhelmed with despair he ended his own life in disgrace. The difference is in the heart and where we go for peace. Judas went to the Pharisees; David went to God.  

We don’t repent to people! We repent to God! We can ask for forgiveness and seek reconciliation for sure. But you are not the final arbiter of someone else’s repentance. We don’t decide for others to repent or when they do. Or how. The Corinthians don’t even tell Paul directly they’ve repented he hears about it from Titus. Jesus has owned the consequences of our sin so we can be courageous in repentance. Knowing even if it doesn’t lead to restoration of earthly relationships, we have already been received by God in Christ. I’ve seen marriages restored where godly grief leading to repentance and greater life, and it’s terrible and beautiful at the same time. I’ve seen marriages and situations where there is barely worldly grief and the result is disaster. We are not responsible for outcomes; we are responsible to bring the truth to bear in love. 

PART III |Complete Confidence | 2 Cor 7:13-16

2 Cor 7:13-16 | And besides our own comfort, we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14 For whatever boasts I made to him about you, I was not put to shame. But just as everything we said to you was true, so also our boasting before Titus has proved true. 15 And his affection for you is even greater, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling. 16 I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you.


The outcome of enduring repentance, facing consequences, and pursuing reconciliation is worth it. Titus, Paul, and everyone is encouraged! It refreshes relationships because it shows they can endure and continue on. Many are comforted when God has worked to produce repentance. In time confidence in one another is restored and relationships are refreshed. How have you seen or experienced restoration associated with repentance? Where do you need to repent and be renewed by the grace and mercy of Christ? Where should you confront with truth AND love? Who do you need to forgive (with wise boundaries) releasing yourself from the burden of their repentance? Who can you comfort with your presence, provision, prayer? God comforts the downcast giving His people courage to repent, enjoying a refreshed soul to continue to Trust Jesus!