There is one thing that many people don't consider, or maybe, never knew. Paul's writings are not just any old guy that wrote few letters and wound up in The Bible. Paul's letters were through the revelation and inspiration of God. Jesus literally spoke to Paul. Paul's writings are literally The Word of God. Paul was so overwhelmed with revelation that it would be easy for him to get a big head about it. Paul had so much Godly Wisdom that it would have been easy to get cocky.
Paul even admits that it would be easy for him to get a little full of himself, but in God's Providence, He made sure that didn't happen:
2Corinthians 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.
Paul pleaded with The Lord to take this away; and the answer given to him by The Lord Jesus is the answer that should echo in our head when we face the battles of life, remaining steadfast in The Faith:
2Co 12:9a And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."
and our response should also be the same:
2Co 12:9b-10 Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul finishes up this section making it clear that he has fear. What does Paul fear? Paul fears that when he is able to get back to Corinth that he will not find the brethren walking in The Spirit; he fears that the brethren will look just like the rest of the world and interestingly enough, Paul uses the same words to describe the characteristics of those walking in the flesh that he will use again in letters to the Ephesians, Galatians and Colossians. As you read these words, notice that Paul uses another BIG WORD that we will be talking quite a bit about over the next few weeks.....PRACTICE:
2Corinthians 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;
21 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.
Here's the ESV version as well:2Corinthians 12:20-21 For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish--that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.
21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.
Also...as we get ready to head in to Paul's other letters, now seems to be a good time to hi-lite this point to a couple of you in the spirit of fun.....”don't tell me The Word doesn't talk about repentance as being part of the equation and that the word “practice” isn't used”.....you know who you are punks :) Love Ya!