Final Warnings and
1 I am on my way to visit you for the third time. And as the Scriptures say, “Any charges must be proved true by at least two or three witnesses.” 2During my second visit I warned you that I would punish you and anyone else who doesn't stop sinning. I am far away from you now, but I give you the same warning. 3This should prove to you that I am speaking for Christ. When he corrects you, he won't be weak. He will be powerful! 4Although he was weak when he was nailed to the cross, he now lives by the power of God. We are weak, just as Christ was. But you will see that we will live by the power of God, just as Christ does.
5Test yourselves and find out if you really are true to your faith. If you pass the test, you will discover that Christ is living in you. But if Christ isn't living in you, you have failed. 6I hope you will discover we have not failed. 7We pray you will stop doing evil things. We don't pray like this to make ourselves look good, but to get you to do right, even if we are failures.
8All we can do is to follow the truth and not fight against it. 9Even though we are weak, we are glad that you are strong, and we pray you will do even better. 10I am writing these things to you before I arrive. This way I won't have to be hard on you when I use the authority the Lord has given me. I was given this authority, so I could help you and not destroy you.
11Goodbye, my friends. Do better and pay attention to what I have said. Try to get along and live peacefully with each other.
Now I pray that God, who gives love and peace, will be with you. 12Give each other a warm greeting. All God's people send their greetings.
13I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will bless you and be kind to you! May God bless you with his love, and may the Holy Spirit join all your hearts together.
Paul is writing to the Corinthians about coming to make sure they are being truly faithful to Jesus. He urges them to evaluate themselves before he gets there. He wants them not to sin so that when he comes he does not have to be hard on them. Finally, he prays for their restoration (v 9).
The message of this passage is similar to that of the parable of the ten virgins found in Matthew 25:1-13. Jesus is coming back at some time in the future that even he does not know (Mark 13:32). Christians should always be in a mental and physical state of readiness. We are always to be prepared to meet the Lord, whether here on earth when he comes, or when we go to him when we pass on. Paul’s prayer for the Corinthians is that they would know the reality of Jesus Christ living in them here and now. I love David’s prayer found in Psalm 139:23, 24. He asks the Lord to search his heart. You cannot go wrong with that kind of prayer.
Notice the warmth with which Paul writes to a church which has hurt him by rejecting his teaching. He prays for them, that they will “aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace” (v 11 NIV). He may have written strong words to them, and warns them that when he comes he may have hard things to say, but he makes it clear that he never stops loving them.
It is also my prayer for you that you will have a heart like David’s, who was a man after God’s own heart.
Written by Rob Longley and Annabel Robinson.
Search me Lord to see if there is any offensive way in me. Cleanse me and make me as white as snow. Search my innermost being to see if there is any wickedness in me. Cause me to desire you more than anything else. You are my life; you are my cleansing fountain. In your name I pray, Amen.