this is the third time i am coming to you. every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. i warned those who sinned before and all the others, and i warn them now while absent, as i did when present on my second visit, that if i come again i will not spare them— since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. he is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. for he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. for we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God. [2 corinthians 13:1-4]
God is glorious. all glorious. he is the author and essence of all that exists. he created all things, and all things exist to show his glory.
God is holy. set apart for his own glory. his mission is to lift high that which should be lifted high, his own name, his own character, his own being.
God created man to reflect his glory. Created in his own image, man reflects much of his own character. from our characteristics, to our creativity, to our weakness, and even to our sinfulness, God uses us to show his glory.
God’s children are holy. chosen and set apart for God’s glory. this doesn’t mean God’s children are without sin, of course. it means we have been given a new purpose and a new name. we are not our own, because he purchased us with the blood of his Son. we live a life now of continual repentance as we grow to love him more and lay aside the worldly desires of our flesh for something so much better in him.
so when paul says he will not spare those who are living in a pattern of sin, unrepentant, it is because paul has a purpose as an ambassador of Christ to uphold the glory of God. for those in the church who have claimed the name of God only to defame it by a life that is rebellious toward him, paul is adamant about calling out their folly! not for his own gain, but for theirs, and for God’s. he longs for them to be as passionate about God’s glory as God himself! the Lord says in isaiah 42:8,
I am the Lord; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to carved idols.
so if Christ who lives in the power of God also lives in his children, we will welcome this reorientation that paul is describing. when he calls us to reorient others to the mission of the gospel, we will do it in love, not for our own gain, but with the power of God working through us, for his glory. when he calls us to reorient our own thinking through the admonition of others, we will receive it with humility and joy, laying aside worldly wisdom, and embracing our gospel purpose with thanksgiving. what a mercy is the gift of repentance!
in the presence of the Holy One, ask for boldness and humility as you consider this passage and what it means for the body of Christ. all things done in the body should be for the building up of the body, so we can boldly proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light!
who in your life has been willing to call you to repentance? thank them right now! it’s a hard thing to do, and not many are willing to love in this way. who in your life needs reorientation to their purpose in Christ? would you be so bold in love as to sit down and have that conversation? how is the Spirit prompting you? as we seek to spread the aroma of Christ, the aroma itself will do the work. he only calls us to walk in obedience, to the praise of his Holy name.