2 Corinthians 7:1-4

1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one.

I do not say this to condemn; for I have said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together.

Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation.

The “therefore” in verse one refers back to Paul’s instructions to be separated from the world in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. Chapter 7 should probably begin with verse 2.

these promises (v.1) — the promises from the OT quotes in 2 Corinthians 6:16-18.

spirit (v.1) — man’s spirit (not the Holy Spirit)

Holiness becomes the sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty. This holiness is both inward in the mind and outward in the body; for some sins are physical and some mental. Sanctification is progressive; hence the word “perfecting.” Justification is an accomplished fact and lies wholly in the activity of God. Christ is indeed the believer’s sanctification as well as his justification. The believer cannot grow in justification, but he is commanded to grow in sanctification and in grace and in knowledge.

The Christian is useless unless he is in the world, but if he lets the world into him he perishes—just as a ship is useless unless in the sea, but if the sea enters into it, it sinks. — Williams, page 903.

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The word “flesh”, here, does not refer to the body, but rather to the nature which man received from fallen Adam. Thus we are to cleanse ourselves from all “filthiness of the flesh [the old Adamic nature] and the spirit” that we may perfect our holiness, or complete our sanctification, to God.

Let us never forget that when we sin the spirit is defiled along with the “flesh.” The heart and mind, with their desires and thoughts and motives are, indeed, the cause of outward defilement. Recall our Lord’s words with regard to this in Matthew 15:18-20: “… Those things which proceed out of the mouth came forth from the heart, and they defile the man. For out of the heart [the inner man] proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man …” — Stam, pages 161-162

corrupted (v.2) = ruin, cause moral deterioration

cheated (v.2) = defrauded, taken advantage of, make a gain from

condemn (v.3) = censure

comfort (v.4) = encouragement

tribulation (v.4) — described in verse 5 and also earlier in 2 Corinthians 6:4-5.

When a person has a guilty conscience he is apt to blame others, even those who are trying to help him, for his troubles. It was so with the Corinthian Christians. Some of them actually found fault with Paul, as though he had wronged them! … After all his labors for them, after a multitude there had come to know the Lord through his ministry, a ministry that could well have cost him his life; after this they grew careless and disgraced themselves and the Lord, and now were offended that he should be concerned about their plight!

But he protests: “We have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man.” It was they who had wronged and defrauded others, especially God and Paul, letting the apostle labor for them in the face of the gravest dangers, without contributing even one small coin toward his meager needs. The apostle well knew what was behind their petty criticisms [see 2 Corinthians 12:17-18]…

The apostle does not protest here that he has not wronged them in order to condemn them, for he had already assured them: “Ye are in our hearts to die and live with you.”

He had been “very outspoken” to them; this was necessary, but he had also boasted to others about them, and was now “filled with comfort” and “exceeding joyful” that there appeared to be some change in their attitudes. And he experienced this comfort and joy in the midst of “all [his] tribulation.” — Stam, page 164.

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