Wednesday, 13 January 2016
…lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced. 2 Corinthians 12:21
Paul just spoke of his coming and the many possible difficulties he expects that he might face upon his arrival. In addition to those things, he repeats the notion of his coming and an expectation that he “will be humbled among” them. He is writing as if it is a pretty certain thing that this will be the case. He was a faithful pastor, presenting them with the gospel and they received it. However, being saved carries more than just walking through the doors of this new life. It also involves the purging away of the old life.
He will be humbled because they only grasped the salvation, but then failed to put their salvation into practice. Because of this, he says he “shall mourn for many who have sinned before.” The word “before” is taken by scholars in a couple of ways. One is that it speaks of their lifestyle before being saved. The other is that they fell into sin since then, but before his coming to them. The first seems the more natural. They were saved by Christ and yet never put their salvation into practice. Either way, the idea of his words is that they were already-saved offenders.
After this he says, “…and have not repented.” This shows us that repentance is necessary for right living within the church, but it is not necessary for salvation. The categories are far too often mixed by people in the church. In essence, their call is “Repent and then be saved.” This is not proper doctrine. Salvation is one category, repentance is another.
It is illogical to say one must “repent in order to be saved” if salvation is by grace through faith. It is also illogical to say that one will “lose their salvation” if they don’t repent. The reason for this is found in Paul’s words. He never tells them this would occur. Instead, he shows in his writings that the consequences for failing to repent will result in difficulties in this life and a loss of rewards at the judgment seat of Christ.
Next Paul identifies three categories of sin which required correction: Uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness. The “uncleanness” indicates impurity of some sort. Their defilement is because of their lifestyle. “Fornication” is related to pornography or sexual impurity. HELPS Word Studies says that it indicates “‘to sell off’) – properly, a selling off (surrendering) of sexual purity; promiscuity of any (every) type.” And the word for “lewdness” indicates “wonton caprice.”
Paul was afraid that these were still being practiced among the congregants. Vincent’s Word Studies notes that the three categories of sin should be connected with Paul’s mourning and not with the repentance. In other words, “I shall mourn for the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness of the many that have sinned before and have not repented. This then demonstrates with all certainty that “repentance” is an entirely different category than salvation itself. The two cannot be logically connected.
Life application: There is a logical structure to salvation and then walking with the Lord which is often twisted by those who are unwilling to research proper doctrine. Israel was redeemed from Egypt and then they were given the law. God did not “unredeem” them if they failed to adhere to the law by sending them back to Egypt. Rather, he gave penalties for disobedience. The same is true in the church today. We are saved unto holy living; we are not holy livers who are then saved. It is by grace that we are saved through faith. After that, we are to get our doctrine and our lives in order.
Glorious God, thank you for the salvation that comes freely through faith in Christ. Thank You that we didn’t have to do something in order to receive this gift. Instead, we simply called out for a Savior. Now Lord, help us to walk rightly in our new life and to repent of what we have wrong in our life so that we will be pleasing to You. For all You have done for us, we owe You this and so much more! Thank You for the shed blood of Christ. Amen.