Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians
God's Comfort of the Afflicted, Part 3
Seven Characteristics of Genuine Repentance
2 Corinthians 7:11-12
19 June 2016
Sorrow over sin is a good thing when it leads to repentance. The Apostle Paul rejoiced when the disobedient Corinthian believers realized their errors, and turned back to God. In Second Corinthians 7:11 - 12, Paul gives seven characteristics of genuine repentance:
It is careful, and involves earnestness. "What earnest care it worked in you," Paul writes, seeing the evidence of repentance in their diligence to make amends.
It is defended: "what vindication of yourself." Having turned from their sin, the Corinthians made their change of heart known. True repentance produces action which cannot be hidden.
It is expressed with "indignation." The Corinthians were not just ashamed of their conduct; they were angry at having sinned and caused others pain. Like the publican in Luke 18:13, they did not try to justify their sin, but confessed it for what it was.
It develops a healthy fear of God. Genuine repentance realises that all sin offends an holy God who justly punishes sin. Repentance realises the weight of sin. For believers, it cost the death of Christ.
It has a forceful longing to put things right. The natural instinct is to hide sin, or justify wrongdoing. But true repentance wants to make restitution.
It is expressed with "zeal"; love and hate in unison. Repentant believers love unity and truth, and so necessarily must hate anything that harms it. Genuine love for Christ does not produce lukewarm Christians.
It understands divine "avenging of wrong." A repentant heart is willing to be punished for rebellion, because it knows that God disciplines those He loves (Heb. 12:6).
The Corinthians were wounded to think they had abused a servant God had sent to help them. But Paul held no grudges, and was joyful to see them repent. May we also live in repentance, enjoying fellowship with God and man.