20 For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; 21 lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced. (2 Corinthians 12:20–21, NKJV)
Paul wished to come to the Corinthians bringing edification instead of a sharp rebuke (2 Corinthians 12:15, 19, 13:7-10). For this to occur some would need to repent of sins they had not yet corrected. The list of transgressions in verse 20 is reflective of hearts that were not yet open to God’s will. Their sins would provoke sorrow within Paul when he arrived if not corrected by repentance. Repentance produces a change in one’s practice. Christians are called on to examine our hearts (our values, motives, thoughts, etc.) and our conduct carefully to repent and bear its godly fruit. Otherwise, we contribute to our own spiritual demise and hinder others. Use today to reflect on whether you would bring the apostle sorrow or joy should he visit you. If sorrow, then repent. If joy, then continue to do good.
And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ (Acts 13:22, NKJV)
What an extraordinary blessing for God to identify David as “a man after My own heart.” God did not describe David this way because he was sinless (far from it), but because David gave his heart to God and to His purposes. He loved the Lord with all His heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). This kind of heart prepared David to do all of God’s will. When David sinned, he learned some hard lessons. He learned you cannot hide your sins from God (Psalm 32:3-5). He learned the painful consequences of sin (2 Samuel 12:11-14). David’s heart allowed him to learn the lessons. When his sins were laid before him, David did not become defensive. He did not blame others. He took responsibility, he repented, and he remained faithful to the Lord (Psalm 51). None of us are without sin. How we acknowledge our sin and remedy it shows whether or not we are people after God’s own heart, who do all of His will.
“Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him.” (Proverbs 27:22, NKJV)
The proverb depicts a process of separating the husk from the kernel of grain in a manner that is more intricate and careful than the usual threshing process. (The word “grind” means “to pound or beat small.”) Pulpit Commentary notes in this proverb “is expressed the idea that the most elaborate pains are wasted on the incorrigible fool…an obstinate, self-willed, unprincipled man cannot be reformed by any means; his folly has become his second nature, and is not to be eliminated by any teaching, discipline, or severity” (Proverbs, 519). Although pounding and grinding grain yields its intended results, you cannot beat foolishness out of a fool. You cannot pound the truth of God into a heart that is hardened by sin against it. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why it is said to be “impossible…to renew them again to repentance” who have tasted heaven’s sweet goodness and then fallen away from the Lord (Hebrews 6:4-6). Unless and until the obstinate heart softens toward God and toward His truth, the sinner will go on, unaffected by efforts to separate him (or her) from the foolishness of his sin. “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your heart” (Hebrews 3:7-8)!
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots. (Luke 23:34, NKJV)
God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Question: Did God forgive the murderers of Jesus in their unbelief? No, for without faith in Jesus as the Son of God, they would die in their sins (John 8:24). Did God forgive the murderers of Jesus in their ignorance? No, they killed Jesus “in ignorance,” and their failure to know the truth prevented their salvation (Acts 3:17). You don’t have to know everything to be forgiven, but you do have to know some things. When did not forgive the murderers of Jesus? The answer is in Acts 2:36-41, where about 3,000 believed the gospel message “that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (v. 36). The murderers asked, “Brethren, what shall we do?” (v. 37), and were told to “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (v. 38). The sinners who received his word were baptized and added together to form the church (v. 41, 47). God’s desire to forgive sinners combines with repentant faith that is baptized. Then, sins are forgiven. If not, when were the murderers of Jesus forgiven?
1 And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. 2 Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. (Mark 2:1–2, NKJV)
As the crowds gathered around Jesus, “He preached the word to them.” It is no secret that preaching is not in high demand, nor held in high regard today. The general population disdains Bible preaching, for it exposes sin to the light of God’s truth. Frequently, the worldly conclude that when one preaches a moral and doctrinal message, he is “judging” them – and he is evil to do so! Yet, Jesus was not bashful to proclaim heaven’s word to the very ones who needed heaven’s mercy and salvation. He did not shy away from expecting sinners to have active faith in Him to be saved by Him (Mark 2:3-5). When Jesus preached, He demanded that sinners repent, or perish (Luke 13:1-5). May we not preach God’s word today, knowing it possesses the same authority today that it had when Jesus preached it? Indeed; We can, and we must (2 Timothy 4:1-2; Titus 2:15). When we preach the word, we proclaim God’s truth and love, extended to a lost and dying world. We proclaim the reality of sin, death, and salvation (Romans 6:23; Matthew 7:21-23). Like Jesus and His apostles, we urge repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21; 26:19-20). We must never stop preaching the word.
10 Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?” ’ Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ (Ezekiel 33:10–11, NKJV)
Without doubt, Israel had grievously sinned against the Lord God. From the depths of despair, with their sins bringing ruin to their nation, they wondered how they could survive. Although judgment was being exacted upon the sinful nation, it gave God no pleasure to see its demise. He is not a vindictive God, who delights in the destruction of those who sin against Him. Even when sin has separated sinners far from Him, God yearns for their life, not their death. For that reason, God pleaded with these souls to turn from their evil ways, and live. At this very moment, you may be weighed down by sin. If so, God wants you to have eternal life, not eternal death. Through the gospel of Christ, He calls you to turn away from every sin, and live. Godly sorrow produces repentance, that leads to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10; Acts 2:37-38). Turn, and live.
And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. (Matthew 18:17, NKJV)
The church is to be fully engaged in trying to restore the Christian who has resisted private attempts to call him to repentance. If the Christian continues to refuse the church’s warnings to repent, a separation must occur. The unrepentant Christian is lost, but he is not the enemy of the church. Like other sinners, he must be admonished about his sin, not encouraged in his sin (2 Thessalonians 3:15). Normal social interaction must be ended, to help produce shame for his sin, and the necessary repentance (2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14). Thus, he is delivered over to Satan to destroy the flesh and, in this final effort, to save his soul. This social separation by each Christian also protects the church from the impure influences of a Christian who has no remorse for continuing to sin against the Lord (1 Corinthians 5:6-13).