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Lesson 6: Open Wide Your Hearts (2 Corinthians 6:11-7:16)

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Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. (2 Corinthians 7:1-2)

You are the beloved child of the living God who, in His love, has made you into a new creature with a definite purpose. You are the aroma of the knowledge of God for others to sense. You are a righteous light-bearer of God’s glory that shines even in your weakness. You are able to view other people through the lens of their relationship to Christ or need for Him rather than through worldly prejudices. That’s who you are, dear Christian, in God’s eyes—the only view that really matters.

Yet, our frail bodies live in a world filled with struggles. People around us see how we respond and may be drawn to Christ by watching us live with integrity and sincere dependence on the Lord Jesus. This is also true in our relationships with other believers, as Paul addresses in this next section of his letter. His appeal to the Corinthians who are like family to him may resonate in something you have experienced as well. “Open wide your hearts, as we have opened ours to you.”

Questions To Consider This Week:

  • How do you recognize when you are being contaminated in body and spirit by a relationship or activity? What should you do about it?
  • What is the difference between godly sorrow and the “I’m sorry” the world practices?

Day One Study—Get The Big Picture.

Read 2 Corinthians 6:3-7:16, which includes verses from the last lesson. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

[To print, follow this link (or for the NIV, this one). Use your own method (colored pencils, lines, shapes) to mark: 1) anything that grabs your attention and 2) words you want to understand. Feel free to develop your own method of marking up a passage. Put a star  next to anything you think relates to dependent living.]

1. What grabbed your attention from these verses?

  • 6:11-7:1
  • 7:2-7
  • 7:8-16

2. What verses or specific words do you want to understand better?

3. What topics are repeated in this passage or continue an earlier discussion in this letter?

4. What verses illustrate or help you understand what dependent living on God looks like?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Two Study

Read 2 Corinthians 6:11-7:1. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

5. Paul appeals to their hearts and to their choices that influence their hearts.

  • What does Paul declare to the Corinthians (v. 11)?
  • Who is withholding affection (v. 12)?
  • What does he ask them to do (v. 13)?
  • What does he tell them not to do (v. 14)?
  • For we are what (v. 16)?
  • What has God already said about this “separateness” (v. 17)?
  • Since we have the promises in 6:16-18, and are the temple of the living God, what should we do (7:1)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

Scriptural Insight: “Belial” (v. 15) is the personification of Evil (cf. Deuteronomy 13:13; 2 Samuel 22:5-6), and he is the antithesis of Christ. “Belial” was a recognized name for “Satan” in Paul’s day. It may have come from combining the Hebrew word for “worthlessness” with the name of the pagan god “Baal. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 75)

What Does It Mean?

This section of text summarizes 1 Corinthians 10:1-22, where Paul had previously warned the Corinthians about idolatry. This extended to relationships as well as behavior. Being unequally yoked refers to the disastrous results of yoking an ox and a donkey together (Deuteronomy 22:10).

6. Read vv. 14-16 in several Bible translations then answer the following questions. From the original language, we learn that Paul is addressing individual believers. But we know that individuals by their choices influence the whole community.

  • What would be the general answer to all five questions that Paul asks?
  • What could it mean to be yoked together with unbelievers?
  • In what situations / relationships do you think this teaching against being “yoked together with unbelievers” especially applies?
  • What is the difference between being “yoked together” and being a “bridge-builder” as an ambassador for Christ?
  • How could being yoked together with unbelievers be detrimental to you as a believer? Look throughout today’s passage for your answer.
  • What should you do to prevent yourself from being unequally yoked?

Scriptural Insight: Paul was not saying that Christians should break off all association with unbelievers (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:9-10; 10:27). He had previously encouraged the saved partner in a mixed marriage to maintain the marriage relationship as long as possible (1 Corinthians 7:12-16). He had also urged his fellow Christians, as ambassadors of Christ, to evangelize the lost (2 Corinthians 5:20). Rather, here Paul was commanding that Christians form no binding interpersonal relationships with non-Christians that resulted in their spiritual defilement. … Such alliances can prevent the Christian from living a consistently obedient Christian life. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, p. 74)

7. Every Christian is the temple of the living God. What makes us the temple of God? See also 2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5 and 6:19-20.

8. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 6:11-7:1?

What Application Will You Make?

9. Broken relationships: Paul talks about the pain of broken relationships in 6:11-13. Is this something you are experiencing within your family or with friends? Paul gets it. Jesus gets it. It hurts. How can you follow the process Paul gives throughout 2 Corinthians 6:11-7:16?

10. Contaminating relationships: Review 2 Corinthians 7:1. To purify yourself from everything that contaminates body and spirit means to separate yourself from ungodly, immoral, and testimony-ruining activities.

  • How do you recognize when you are being contaminated in body and spirit by a relationship or activity?
  • What should you do to keep from being contaminated by that relationship or activity?

Scriptural Insight: What if you are married to an unbeliever? See 1 Peter 3 and 1 Corinthians 7. What if you work for an unbeliever or are in business with an unbeliever? See Colossians 3. What if your adult children are unbelievers? See Luke 15. Be careful about causes that you support. See Acts 13:50 and Galatians 6:10.

11. In what other ways can you apply this lesson to your life?

Think About It: Flee, don’t flirt with corrupting influences of the secular culture. Flirting with it would be considering, “How close can I get to the line of sin without crossing over? Fleeing from it would be “How far away can I get from the line of sin so I am not close enough to cross over.” (Destin Garner, RockPointe Church sermon, June 25, 2017). We often put more effort into being “anti-germ” than we do in being “anti-sin.” Consider the corrupting influences from the secular culture to be as dangerous to your health as the presence of germs in your space.

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Three Study

Read 2 Corinthians 7:2-7. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

12. Review 2 Corinthians 2:12-13 to remember the situation that Paul is addressing. Paul picks up on his wording from 6:11-13.

  • Paul asked them to do what (v. 2)?
  • Paul declares that he has not done what to anyone (v. 2)?
  • What had Paul said before this (v. 3)?
  • What did Paul tell them (v. 4)?
  • When Paul and his friends came into Macedonia, what did they experience (v. 5)?
  • But God does what (v. 6)?
  • The Corinthians had given comfort to Titus who told Paul what (v. 7)?
  • Paul’s response was what (v. 7)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

What Does It Mean?

13. Review 7:2-4. Paul is bearing his heart to the Corinthian Christians. Summarize what Paul is saying.

14. God brings comfort to Paul’s anxious heart concerning the Corinthians (vv. 5-7; 2:1-4). The context is relationship concerns.

  • Why did Paul need comfort?
  • What did God use to comfort him?
  • How did this comforting news affect Paul?

From the Greek: Paul had felt disheartened (Gr. tapeinos, meaning “brought low, humble, lowly in spirit,” not clinically “depressed”) when he could not find Titus as he first arrived in Macedonia. He was so concerned about how the Corinthians had received his severe letter that he couldn’t rest until he heard the news.

15. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 7:2-7?

What Application Will You Make?

16. Recall a time when you felt disheartened or downcast, and God sent others to encourage and lift you up. Have you recognized that comfort being from Him? Have you thanked Him for it?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Four Study

Read 2 Corinthians 7:8-16. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

17. In 2 Corinthians 7:8-16, Paul returns to his train of thought from earlier in the letter. Review 2 Corinthians 2:1-11.

  • How does Paul feel about the letter he had to write to them (7:8)?
  • Why is he now happy (7:9)?
  • Write out 2 Corinthians 7:10.
  • What had godly sorry produced in them (7:11)?
  • What had they proven by their response (7:11)?
  • What were the reasons he wrote the letter (v. 12)?
  • Besides Paul and Timothy, why was Titus happy (v. 13)?
  • What proved to be true (v. 14)?
  • What was Titus’s “take-away” from his visit with the Corinthians (v. 15)?
  • Why is Paul glad (v. 16)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

Think About It: To reconcile a relationship, one must take deliberate actions and address the problem that caused the breach. These actions hurt but are necessary. Hoping that the misunderstandings will go away on their own rarely works.

What Does It Mean?

18. Regarding repentance and sorrow for sin (vv. 8-12):

  • Describe godly sorrow from these verses.
  • What could Paul have meant by “worldly sorrow” (v. 10)? Feel free to read this verse in other Bible translations to help in your understanding.
  • What is the difference in outcome and results?

19. What was Titus’s role in reconciling the relationship between Paul and the Corinthian church members (vv. 13-16)?

Focus on the Meaning: “Fear and trembling” (v. 15) is likely a hendiadys, an idiom in which a verb is intensified by being linked by “and” to a synonym. We have them in English too. If you’re “sick and tired,” this doesn’t mean you’re sick and you’re tired, it just means that you’re very tired. Similarly, “fear and trembling” seems to mean “great reverence” (or humility) as Paul is using it in 1 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 7:15; Philippians 2:12; and Ephesians 6:5. Mark also used this in reference to the woman coming to Jesus in Mark 5:33. The same phrase is found in the Septuagint version of Psalm 2:11 and 55:5. It is the opposite of boasting. (adapted from a posting at Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange)

20. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 7:8-16?

What Application Will You Make?

As long as you live in your earthly body, you will be tempted to sin. Sin will happen—whether intentionally or unintentionally. And, though our God is no longer counting our sins against us (2 Corinthians 5:20), we still must deal with the consequences of any sinful behavior.

21. Addressing recognized sin in your life is part of dependent living. Whenever the Spirit convicts you of thinking or behavior that is definitely not pleasing to the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:9), follow this biblical process to deal with it:

  • Step One: View yourself rightly. Your identity is not “_______” (coveter, greedy, gossiper, whatever it is). You are in Christ, a child of God, who sometimes “_____” (covets, is greedy, gossips).
  • Step Two: Recognize (confess) the truth regarding your sin. To confess biblically means “to agree with God about what you and He both know to be true.” Confession is not a formula, a process, or dependent on a mediator. Regarding sin in my life, it is not saying, “I’m sorry.” It is saying, “I agree with you, God. I blew it!” See your sin as awful!

Using coveting for example: while reading Philippians 4:12, the Spirit convicts you that you have been coveting rather than being content. You agree with God that your coveting is actually not being content with His provision. Coveting doesnt fit someone who knows God. That is confession.

  • Step Three: Confession is incomplete without repentance. Repentance means to change your mind about that sin, to mourn its ugliness, resulting in changing your actions. Paul calls that godly sorrow in 2 Corinthians 7:9-11, and he says godly sorrow produces repentance. It’s saying, “I recognize what I am doing is wrong. This fills me with sorrow because it displeases You, God. Please help me to live differently.” He will certainly do that! That’s how our lives get transformed.

Using coveting for example: You want to not covet any longer, and you want to be content and grateful for what God has already provided. So, you pray, Lord Jesus, please have your Spirit nudge me when I want to covet. Replace my coveting with contentment and gratitude. By faith, Lord, I want you to do that in my life. That is repentance.

  • Step Four: Repentance leads to dependence. Depend on the living Christ inside you for that change to take place. Our Lord Jesus Christ is not interested in our compliance (outward conformity) as much as He desires our obedience from the heart. And, trust in Him to help you overcome the consequences of any sinful choices you have made in a way that brings glory to Him.

Using coveting for example: Memorize Philippians 4:12-13 and any other scriptures that deal with being thankful for Gods provision. Be sensitive to the Spirits nudging when you are tempted to covet. Choose to be thankful instead.

Think About It: Repentance isn’t repentance until you change something. You can confess “until the cows come home” (daily, habitually) and never change anything. Jesus called for people to “repent” not “confess.”

22. In what other ways can you apply this lesson to your life?

23. Review the passage for this lesson in “Day One Study.” Add reasons why God wants us to depend on Him more than on ourselves to the chart below. I’ve given a few prompts.

Verse(s)

Reasons why God wants us to depend on Him more than on ourselves

6:16-18

We are His children

7:1

To purify ourselves to perfect holiness

7:6

He comforts us when we are downcast

7:9

So we rightly respond to sin in our lives

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

As His child, God transforms your life by teaching you to live dependently on Him in weakness and in strength.

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