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. (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)
Being sorry for sin and repenting of sin are two different things. This passage not only distinguishes between sorrow and repentance (which is a change of heart), it also identifies two types of sorrow. Sorrow for sin that is directed toward God produces repentance, while the sorrow of the world produces death. You may be sorry you got caught in your sin. You may be sorry for the effects your sin had on others. But only when you sorrow because you have sinned against God will you be driven to repent – change your heart – leading to salvation. Judas was remorseful over the outcome of his betrayal of Jesus. He even admitted his sin. But Judas did not have godly sorrow. He killed himself instead of repenting of his sin (Matt. 27:3-5). If you are struggling with sin you need to be sorry “in a godly manner”. This type of sorrow toward God will generate the decision of faith to “repent, turn to God and do works befitting repentance” (Acts 26:20).
He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3)
One of the sins Jesus rebuked while He was on earth was the elevating of human religious traditions to the status of God’s will. The fact of the matter is that we do not get to tell God what is right and what He must accept from us. God’s commands, by definition, take precedence over human tradition. To think otherwise is the height of hypocrisy and self-righteousness (Matt. 15:7). Jesus said our worship is vain when we prefer to obey our doctrines instead of God’s commands: “In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9). Test everything you believe and do against the word of God. Then, follow God instead of men, and you will have His approval.
1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)
The gospel elevates us from the depths of despair to the joyous heights of salvation in Christ. God’s grace has saved us through faith and raised us from sin’s death to “sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:5-6). Such fellowship with the Son of God now compels us to live worthy of the gospel (Phil. 1:27). Conversion demands it. As a Christian, you have chosen to shape and mold yourself according to the gospel in your attitudes and your actions. Devote yourself to growing in the attitudes stated in today’s verse so that you are equipped to guard the unity and peace you have with Christ and the saved.
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.” (1 Corinthians 1:17)
Many interpret Paul’s statement to mean baptism is not essential for salvation. By doing so they set Scripture against itself. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk. 16:16). Peter said baptism is “for the remission of sins”, and that baptism “saves us” (Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 3:21). Ananias told Saul to “arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). There was division in the Corinthian church. Although Paul had baptized Crispus, Gaius and the household of Stephanas, he was glad he had not personally baptized more, “lest anyone should say they I had baptized in my own name” (1 Cor. 1:14-16). Did Paul violate verse 17 by baptizing these people? Not at all. As an apostle, Paul’s work was especially to preach the gospel. Others could baptize the sinners who responded to the gospel call to be saved. Who baptizes you is inconsequential. What is crucial is unity in Christ and His gospel, not division over men. Unity in Christ includes the gospel truth that water baptism is essential for salvation.
1 I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’ To a nation that was not called by My name. 2 I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in a way that is not good, According to their own thoughts; 3 A people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face;… (Isaiah 65:1-2)
The fulfillment of this prophecy is explained to us in Romans 10:20-21. The Gentiles seek and find God while Israel rebelliously sins, openly defying their God to His face. Yet, by the gospel, God still stretches out His hands to save “whoever calls on the name of the Lord” (Rom. 10:13). How long will you live in defiant disobedience of God and His great love for you? (There is no greater love than God’s sacrifice of His Son Jesus on the cross for your sins.) Remove the rebellious heart and life. Replace it with faith and faith’s confession (Rom. 10:9-10). Walk in the good way of God and be blessed with His salvation.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)
It is true, evil is real and it exists in the world. As we observe the power of evil around us to destroy lives we are tempted to think evil will prevail. It will not. Goodness is more powerful than evil, because “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 Jno. 4:4). Christ Jesus is stronger than Satan. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and He did (1 Jno. 3:8; Heb. 2:14-15). Evil is overcome by the goodness of God. So, God’s children do good in the face of evil. Refuse to be drawn into “returning evil for evil” (1 Pet. 3:8-9). Jesus said, “do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you” (Matt. 5:44). Wait on the Lord’s judgment; He will right every wrong on the great day of His coming (2 Thess. 1:7-10). Overcome evil with good.
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age…” (Titus 2:11-12)
This passage teaches us several things about God’s marvelous grace. First, it “brings salvation”. Without God’s love, mercy and grace we would not be saved from our sins (Eph. 2:4-5). Second, it “has appeared to all men”. God’s grace is available to all who will access it “by faith” (Rom. 1:16-17; 5:1-2). Third, God’s grace teaches us to live differently than before He saved us by His grace. We must deny sin and pursue holiness. God’s grace is greater than sin, but it does not allow us to “continue in sin that grace may abound” (Rom. 6:1-2). God’s grace is not our license to sin, it is our incentive to love God and be faithful to Him.