From Today in God’s Word
Job 27; 2 Cor 7
In Job today young Elihu speaks his final words and really explains the need for the cross for the one who would understand God’s love simplistically. The question being, “Why would the God who is love require a sacrifice or payment or punishment for sin?”
“23 The Almighty—we cannot find him; he is great in power; justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate. 24 Therefore men fear him; he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.”” (Job 37:23–24, ESV)
The Lord is righteous and just and his steadfast love only comes upon us from this inviolable foundation, which makes it ever so costly to him (Psalm 89:14, Rom 3:23-26). John 3:16 is pregnant with the costly love of God as his love enters as a rescue to what was befalling all mankind in the righteous and just wrath of God (John 3:36).
Paul comes to us in 2 Corinthians 7 with a word of joy just as Job was about to be humbled and led into repentance before God for his attitude (in our other reading). Paul speaks of two types of grief or sorrow that one might experience as a result of an awareness of our sin. In context, Paul is speaking of how the Corinthian church responded to his rebuking of them and his calling them out on their sin in his first letter.
“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.” (2 Corinthians 7:10–11, ESV)
When, by the grace of God, we are brought to grief by our sin (like Peter in Luke 22:62 or Matt 26:75) in a way that we are drawn to God and away from the sin by a sense of indignation for sin and war against this enemy that wants to rule over our freedom in Christ… when the fear of the Lord directs our response to sin (Job 1:8, 28:28) and we find ourselves gladly doing battle, by the Spirit, we understand the joy of repentance.
When, by our own depravity, we are brought to grief by our sin (like Judas in Matt 27:3-5) in a way that we are pulled away from God and deeper into the darkness by a hardness of heart that does not trust in the mercy of God but relies on one’s self…when self rule directs our response to sin (1 Pet 2:16, 1 John 3:4-6, Rom 6:1) and we find ourselves at peace with sin (rationalizing or justifying our sin) or hopelessly giving ourselves over to it even in disgust of ourselves, we fail to repent and we are left in the gloom of bondage. If you experience this response to sin I pray that you will reach out to someone who is walking in the joy of repentance and ask for help. Cry out to God for mercy and present yourself to him (Rom 6:13). Know that the grace of God that saves us sinners also transforms us (Titus 2:11-14). Do not settle for double mindedness and confusion but seek joy in the Lord.
God uses the community of believers
What we see in 2 Cor 7 is Paul celebrating the outcome of what the author of Hebrews urges us to do toward one another.
“12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” (Hebrews 3:12–14, ESV)
Certainly true believers will not fall away, which is what he indicates at the end of his statement above since we know that we are kept by the power of God through faith (1 Pet 1:3-7). But the message is that, like Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, we need to help one another and minister the word to one another…in other words, we need to be discipling one another.
Who are you discipling? Who do you walk closely with in a way that you both minister the word to one another and exhort one another as long as it is called today? May we be a people who practice the personal ministry of the word in our lives with one another and may we know the joy of repentance when a faithful friend helps us to see and address sin in our lives.
Soli Deo Gloria!