“Mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented…”
We are before a ‘terrifying’ truth! There were among the Christians of Corinth certain that had sinned, whose sins are mentioned in 2Co.12:20-21: “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; 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.” (2Co.12:20-21 NKJV).
Paul, the apostle, feared that, at the time of his next arrival, he would find some among them that had sinned without having repented… He feared that he was not going to find merely an unpleasant and unacceptable situation but that he was going to cry or rather to “mourn” for all those that had sinned previously and “that had not repented”. For whom someone “mourns”? For the living or for the dead? They had committed sins that drove them to death… not because their sins were unforgivable but because they didn’t want to repent… To commit a sin is a sad thing, it is regrettable, but not to repent is terrible! Therefore, the problem is not located to “sin” but to the lack of repentance. He also feared that he would be obliged to take some unpleasant and stern measures of discipline at the time of his next visit. Here is the reason for which Paul expresses his sorrow saying that he had “outside conflicts, inside fears” (2Co.7:5). Next to the opposition because of the preaching of the gospel, he was in a state of deep apprehension about their spiritual situation: Will they make shipwreck? Would his work be in vain? Is his letter of exhortation to repent going to produce the desired results? Were they decided to apply the necessary discipline within their church? Paul was besieged by the worries for the Churches. “Beside…that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?” (2Co.11:28-29 AV). Here is the consequence, for such persons, of the non repentance: the spiritual decline and possibly the spiritual death on the one hand and on the other hand Paul’s worries for their account: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Ro.8:13). It is, indeed, very useful to compare what Paul was saying with the statement that came out of the mouth of our Lord in Luc 13:3-5: “I tell you, no; …but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
May such a similar thing never happen to us: neither an impenitent spirit, nor a lack of uprightness and transparency nor a neglect to apply the necessary discipline! Indeed, to know the efficiency of Christ’s poured blood, our Saviour and Lord, to know His grace by which salvation by faith is possible and let this opportunity pass without seizing it would be comparable to the sinking of a boat in its own harbour! May such a situation never occur to us! BUT, for us that have been called by the Lord to serve our brothers and sisters in Christ: may we be besieged daily, by the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not?” (2Co.11:28-29).
Help us, Lord, to become imitators of Paul the apostle! Amen.