Paul the apostle spent much time in the city of Corinth helping the young believers to develop. Sometime after his departure, word came back to him that they were struggling in many areas. God inspired Paul to write the epistle that is now referred to as First Corinthians wherein numerous confrontations are. The city of Corinth in the Roman Empire was considered the “party” place where drunkenness, sexual promiscuity, and all types of sensuality were enjoyed. The young Christians had difficulty separating themselves from this moral-less environment.
He chastised them regarding many matters such as: the elevation of worldly wisdom above the wisdom of God; fighting over which man was most important instead of Christ; sexual immorality; seeking worldly authorities rather than settling problems within the family; marriage; eating meat offered to idols; lack of financial support for their spiritual leaders; communion; manifestations of the holy spirit; self-centeredness rather than godly love; the public behavior of the prophets wives; and the resurrection.
Paul was not sure how they would do with all this information and found great joy when it was reported that they received his instruction with meekness, mourning, and repentance. Titus brought the good word to him.
2 Corinthians 7:6 and 7
But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more.
Paul continued to discuss their mourning and the sorrow they experienced and explained that there are two types of mourning.
2 Corinthians 7:10
For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
The sorrow of the world may be evidenced in sin conscienceness, guilt, condemnation, etc. These responses to sin lead a person into more darkness. True mourning leads to change away from the sin into godliness. Godly sorrow leads to the following actions.
2 Corinthians 7:11
For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.
Each of the seven words communicates the proper response from a repentfull heart. The following is designed to help you to understand each word.
True Godly Mourning (2 Corinthians 7:7-11)
Earnestness [diligence, hard work] is serious attention to what we are thinking, saying, and doing. In our darkness, we are unconcerned about our thinking, saying, and doing. We are indifferent and thoughtless toward God and the things of God.
Vindication [Greek – apologia from which we derive “apology”] is a full acceptance of the responsibility of the sin and a strong desire to vindicate oneself for the wrong caused by it. This clearing includes making amends with others whenever possible. In darkness, we rationalize our sin and blame others, circumstances, or situations. Rather than admitting the error as our own, we shift the blame to others or dismiss it as not being that significant —"no big deal." We live with the sin and do not care enough to change.
Indignation is to become very upset at our own sinful living. It is a righteous anger directed at one’s own sinful behavior. Walking in darkness, we become very passive and accepting of sin. Life without God becomes normal.
Fear is reverence, awe, and respect directed toward Almighty God along with a fearful concern for what you do. Walking in darkness, our thoughts of God diminish because our focus is on self and the things of the world. Without God in minds, our attitude of reverence and worship dissipates. We develop an irreverent attitude toward Him and no longer care what He thinks of us.
Longing is to have an urgent, passionate hunger for God and the things of God. Walking in darkness encourages hunger for and involvement in things of the world. Lust, selfishness, and worldly desires replace desire for God.
Zeal is to be hot, fervent, on fire for God. As we walk in darkness, life becomes humdrum and complacent. Time and life slip away with no urgency pertaining to godly living. We have no fire for godly living.
Avenging of wrong is to make right or just what was wronged while we were sinning. Walking in darkness, we lose interest and do not care that our evil has its way in hurting other people.