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Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God.


Paul’s Joy at the Church’s Repentance

2 Make room in your hearts for us; we have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. 3I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. 4I often boast about you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with consolation; I am overjoyed in all our affliction.

5 For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted in every way—disputes without and fears within. 6But God, who consoles the downcast, consoled us by the arrival of Titus, 7and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was consoled about you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. 8For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it (though I did regret it, for I see that I grieved you with that letter, though only briefly). 9Now I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance; for you felt a godly grief, so that you were not harmed in any way by us. 10For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death. 11For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves guiltless in the matter. 12So although I wrote to you, it was not on account of the one who did the wrong, nor on account of the one who was wronged, but in order that your zeal for us might be made known to you before God. 13In this we find comfort.

In addition to our own consolation, we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his mind has been set at rest by all of you. 14For if I have been somewhat boastful about you to him, I was not disgraced; but just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting to Titus has proved true as well. 15And his heart goes out all the more to you, as he remembers the obedience of all of you, and how you welcomed him with fear and trembling. 16I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you.


10. Sorrow according to God 644644     “Tristitia secundum Deum;” — “La tristesse qui est selon Dieu;” — “The sorrow which is according to God.” “Κατὰ Θεὸν, in such a way as God requireswith reference to his will and glory, i.e., as Rosenm. explains, ‘arising from causes out of which he would have it arise, and producing effects such as he would approve.’” — Bloomfield. .Ed. In the first place, in order to understand what is meant by this clause according to God, we must observe the contrast, for the sorrow that is according to God he contrasts with the sorrow of the world Let us now take, also, the contrast between two kinds of joy. The joy of the world is, when men foolishly, and without the fear of the Lord, exult in vanity, that is, in the world, and, intoxicated with a transient felicity, look no higher than the earth. The joy that is according to God is, when men place all their happiness in God, and take satisfaction in His grace, and show this by contempt of the world, using earthly prosperity as if they used it not, and joyful in the midst of adversity. Accordingly, the sorrow of the world is, when men despond in consequence of earthly afflictions, and are overwhelmed with grief; while sorrow according to God is that which has an eye to God, while they reckon it the one misery — to have lost the favor of God; when, impressed with fear of His judgment, they mourn over their sins. This sorrow Paul makes the cause and origin of repentance. This is carefully to be observed, for unless the sinner be dissatisfied with himself, detest his manner of life, and be thoroughly grieved from an apprehension of sin, he will never betake himself to the Lord. 645645     “Ne pensons pas que iamais il se convertisse au Seigneur;” — “Let us not think that ever he will turn to the Lord.” On the other hand, it is impossible for a man to experience a sorrow of this kind, without its giving birth to a new heart. Hence repentance takes its rise in grief, for the reason that I have mentioned — because no one can return to the right way, but the man who hates sin; but where hatred of sin is, there is self-dissatisfaction and grief.

There is, however, a beautiful allusion here to the term repentance, when he says — not to be repented of; for however unpleasant the thing is at first taste, it renders itself desirable by its usefulness. The epithet, it is true, might apply to the term salvation, equally as to that of repentance; but it appears to me to suit better with the term repentance “We are taught by the result itself, that grief ought not to be painful to us, or distressing. In like manner, although repentance contains in it some degree of bitterness, if, is spoken of as not to be repented of on account of the precious and pleasant fruit which it produces.”

To salvation Paul seems to make repentance the ground of salvation. Were it so, it would follow, that we are justified by works. I answer, that we must observe what Paul here treats of, for he is not inquiring as to the ground of salvation, but simply commending repentance from the fruit which it produces, he says that it is like a way by which we arrive at salvation. Nor is it without good reason; for Christ calls us by way of free favor, but it is to repentance. (Matthew 9:13.) God by way of free favor pardons our sins, but only when we renounce them. Nay more, God accomplishes in us at one and the same time two things: being renewed by repentance, we are delivered from the bondage of our sins; and, being justified by faith, we are delivered also from the curse of our sins. They are, therefore, inseparable fruits of grace, and, in consequence of their invariable connection, repentance may with fitness and propriety be represented as an introduction to salvation, but in this way of speaking of it, it is represented as an effect rather than as a cause. These are not refinements for the purpose of evasion, but a true and simple solution, for, while Scripture teaches us that we never obtain forgiveness of sins without repentance, it represents at the same time, in a variety of passages, the mercy of God alone as the ground of our obtaining it.

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