Sinning in the Same Old Ways

2 Corinthians 13:2 MSG
“On my second visit I warned that bunch that keeps sinning over and over in the same old ways that when I came back I wouldn’t go easy on them. Now, preparing for the third, I’m saying it again from a distance. If you haven’t changed your ways by the time I get there, look out.”

Paul has warned the Christians in Corinth that they need to change. The problem is that some of them are continuing to sin even after he has warned them.

While Paul doesn’t specify exactly what sinful behavior they are refusing to change, the list of sins in the previous chapter might be a good starting point for speculation as to the specifics: quarreling, jealousy, angry outbursts, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance, sexual sin, and debauchery (12:20-21).

Perhaps our time spent with that list would be more productive if we, rather than merely speculating about Paul’s original intentions, took some time to prayerfully reflect on this sin list. God can use such lists in a powerful way if we pray through them, asking Him to search our hearts and alert us to any areas of our hearts that harbor neglect or rebellion.

Two thoughts filled my mind as I prayed through this list recently – honestly trying to lay bare my heart before God —

First, this is a second-chance call to repentance. Paul is calling them out a second time on their sinful behavior. I am comforted by knowing that I am not the only one whose repentance doesn’t always take the first time around. I know what it means to pray — “God if you will forgive me this time I promise I will never do it again!” — only to turn around and do it again. Thank God for second chances!

Second, real change is expected. Paul did not warn them once and forget about it. He didn’t say, “Oh well, they are only human.” Instead, he warned them a second time and underscored the importance of their repentance by reminding them that he expected them to have changed by the time he arrives for his upcoming visit. Thank God for keeping after us!

A second call to repentance is both a gift of God’s grace and a reminder of His holiness.

For meditation –

  • Identify areas of your life that have changed over the last few years and are changing even now.
  • Identify areas of your life that have not changed over the last few years and are not changing even now.
  • Thank God for pricking your heart.
  • Ask God to continue shaping your life.

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