August 2, 2020

Online Worship Trinity Eight, Sunday August 2, 2020

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Passage: 2 Corinthians 7:9-11
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Sermon for Trinity Eight – Sunday August 2, 2020
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria

Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

2 Corinthians 7:9-11
9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

In the Name of Jesus Christ,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood –

“I’m Sorry.”

These two words are familiar because they are spoken frequently today (though some would suggest not nearly enough). While spoken often, these two simple words can be used different ways and mean different things.

For example –

When someone we care about grieves the death of a loved one…we use the words to comfort. “I’m so sorry.”
When a child hurts a sibling or friend in word or deed, well-meaning parents often require their children to – “Say you are sorry.” As expected, the sullen (but obedient) child responds: “I’m sorry.”
When a well-known athlete is caught breaking the law or in a morally reprehensible position, they will immediately call a press conference and issue a formal apology…for embarrassing family and friends and employer. If the matter had never come to light, then there would be no press conference and no formal “I’m sorry I got caught and embarrassed myself and my family speech.” I’m still waiting to hear an athlete confess: “I am truly sorry because I have sinned against God.”

But it’s not just everyone else either.

When it comes to sin, we human beings are especially good at saying “I’m Sorry” without really meaning it.
 We are good at saying “I’m Sorry” when we really mean, “I’m sorry I got caught.”
 We are good at saying “I’m Sorry” without really saying that we regret that what we have done is offensive to God.

This is what the Apostle Paul would call “worldly sorrow” and it’s not the kind of ‘sorry’ that God wants to see in us. In fact, He finds this kind of ‘sorry’ reprehensible.

This morning we take a look at the matter of repentance. We wish to discover the ‘sorry’ that God would have us to be.

May God the Holy Spirit again take captive our hearts and minds that we may hear, comprehend and grow from the Word of the Living God. Therefore we take the words of Jesus as our prayer: “Sanctify us by the Truth, O Lord, Thy Word is Truth.” Amen.
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TOUGH LOVE…that’s what they call it when parents and superiors do the right thing even when it means pain or sorrow for their children. It happens when parents correct their children and make them do things they may not want to do so that they learn.

TOUGH LOVE…was what the Corinthian congregation was in need of. They were living in one of the most morally corrupt cities in the ancient world, one that would compete with the ‘sin cities’ of today. But that wasn’t the problem really…the problem was that they were adopting some of the liberal, loveless attitudes championed in a sin-accepting society (like our own).

It wasn’t just that they were in danger of committing sin…they were in danger of accepting sin as an acceptable part of life in this world.

How bad was it? There was a man in the congregation who was living with his own mother…as if she was his wife.

There are even corners of our sinful society that recognize this kind of activity as ‘wrong’…but the Corinthian Christians were letting it go.

It wasn’t that they didn’t know it was wrong…it was that they had apparently taken up the attitude that ‘it wasn’t their business’ and it’s possible that some were even proud of their ‘open-mindedness.’

God the Holy Spirit directed the Apostle Paul to write words of rebuke in his first letter. In tolerating sin they had become guilty of it. The Apostle didn’t mince words, but wrote incredulously of their attitude toward the whole matter. (2 Corinthians 5:1-2):

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn?

This was a difficult thing for the Apostle Paul. If you’ve ever had to correct someone then you know it’s never easy. Imagine doing it at a distance by letter…and realizing that the result would either be that they would accept the rebuke and repent…or be offended and turn from Him and the Gospel of Salvation and end up in Hell!

Then consider that Paul had to wait months to find out the outcome! When He could stand it no longer, the Apostle Paul sent Titus to Corinth to discover how they had received his first letter. When Titus didn’t return the Apostle grew more concerned and went looking for him.

The words that precede these reveal his anxiety and God’s mercy to him (2 Corinthians 7:5-7):

5 For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. 6 Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more.

The Word…was good. The Holy Spirit had worked in their hearts. They regretted their careless and loveless attitude…and they were moved to correct it. They were ‘sorry’ in a God-pleasing way…and the Apostle was happy about it…

9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.

If we don’t read these words carefully…it sounds like he’s schwaffling (i.e. riding the fence)! Was he sorry that they were sorry…or not!? Yes…and no. He didn’t enjoy causing them pain…but he had done so for their good.

A surgeon may cause severe pain…but he rejoices when he sees the cure that this pain produces. Godly discipline always has a positive spiritual goal…repentance. When we rebuke or correct our children, our goal should be to lead them to see their sin and grieve over it…but also to learn to turn to Christ for forgiveness.

The Sorrow produced by Godly discipline is meant to be temporary…to be replaced by the comfort and joy of forgiveness. The Holy Spirit had led the Apostle Paul to rebuke the Corinthians for their loveless tolerance of sin. He wanted them to be sorry…but with a Godly sorrow.

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, snot to be regretted;

What usually happens when we are criticized...when our faults are pointed out? We tend to be defensive. We don’t like being shown our faults. We are defensive, even indignant. As we mature as Christians we try not to be so defensive, to try and honestly evaluate the criticisms of others to see if there is any truth in them. When we act like we don’t make mistakes and can’t be wrong…we act immaturely.

But Godly sorrow isn’t just being willing to admit that we might have done wrong. It’s confessing that we have sinned and looking to Jesus’ living and dying to be forgiven.

God pleasing sorrow grieves over sins committed against God…and trusts in Jesus’ sacrifice to make it right! Faith in Jesus is what makes it Godly, God pleasing. The Apostle Peter is a good example. He regretted his sin, expressed his sorrow with tears and trusting in Jesus was forgiven (John 21:15ff).

This is the kind of ‘sorry’ that God wants us to be…it’s not like the sorrow of the world. Godly sorrow leads to repentance and forgiveness and is not to be regretted, no matter how painful…

…but the sorrow of the world produces death.

The sorrow of the world produces death…in part because very often it’s not sorrow over sin. People aren’t sorry that they have done wrong and offended God, but because they were caught and are embarrassed. People are embarrassed because of the effect their sin has on ‘the family’ instead of being concerned about what sin does to one’s relationship with GOD. It seems that very often people are sorry only after they have been caught…and not until.

The sorrow of the world produces death…because it offers no solution for sin. The human answer for sin is to promise to do better the next time or to try and make up for the wrong doing. Godly sorrow doesn’t seek to make things right…but looks to Christ in faith.

Judas is a sad example. He was sorry that he had sinned, but despaired of forgiveness and took his own life. The sorrow of the world leads to death…but Godly sorrow also produces a different attitude toward sin…as it did in the Corinthians:

11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

There was evidence that theirs was a Godly Sorrow. When their sin was revealed they were…

Diligent…earnest to seek God’s forgiveness. It was a sign of Godly Sorrow that they didn’t respond to sin by saying, whatever, we can seek God’s forgiveness tomorrow. What is our attitude when we sin?
Defensive…not in the sense that they defended their sin, but sought to clear their name, to no longer condone sin.
Indignant…they felt revulsion toward sin. They no longer accepted it, but sought to avoid it.
Fear…they were concerned that they do everything necessary to make it right in God’s sight.
Vehement desire…they longed to have the Apostle Paul present to help them.
Zeal…to leave nothing undone if it pleased God.
Vindication…Where they had overlooked sin, they vindicated themselves by taking just action.

They proved themselves just in their handling of the matter.
They rebuked the man, who repented, left his sinful way and was forgiven. He was ‘sorry’ the way God would have us be…sorry for sin, sorry we have offended God, but confident in God’s forgiveness in Christ.

May God reveal our sin by His Law and grant us ‘Godly Sorrow’ through the Gospel,
…that we never be complacent-- but be diligent to seek God’s forgiveness when we sin.
…not condone sin or willfully dabble in it -- but rather feel revulsion for it.
…seek always to do what please God, especially when we deal with sin and sinners.

May we be daily sorry as God desires, confessing our sin and seeking forgiveness in Christ!
Amen.