2 CORINTHIANS 7


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

Smoking


Many things that are not expressly forbidden are excluded from a saint's practise, if he seek to reach the standard set up for him in the writings of the apostles. We are exhorted to "cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh" (2 Cor. vii. 1), because "our bodies are the members of Christ" (1 Cor.vi. 15), and that is why we must observe things that are of virtue and praise, things that are lovely and of good report, which cannot be said of smoking.

Smoking is a habit — one reason against its indulgence by men of Christ, who above all should be of rational actions. It is associated with every form of degradation extant in society. It is an interference with the natural appointments of God—who

never intended the mouth for smoke, or narcotics for the healthy man, and saints never desire to be at war with God in anything.

It is a debasing mental comfort, it substitutes a merely physical sensation for the power of idea, and thus interferes with the effect of moral discipline. How can a man by

chastisement of God become a partaker of holiness who eases off its effect with a pipe? By this the sinner smokes away his discomforts, drugs himself into insensibility against the smartings of conscience, and by this soothes the sorrows which God intends to be met only by the power of prayer.

It is offensive to natural health and cleanliness. It is of proved deleterious effect to the mind and nerves of those who practise it. We can never imagine the Lord Jesus doing it. Can you imagine Christ with a cigar in his mouth?

"Whether ye eat or drink, do all to the glory of God." "Give none occasion to the adversary to blaspheme."

What loathing we experience when we see a woman indulging in it — how we shrink at the sight of children doing it. Brethren and sisters! if you are really seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness you will shun the use of tobacco as you would the plague.

Brother Roberts (Reprinted in the Berean Magazine Sept 1937)



A burning question...


A brother has asked me to say something about smoking. Surely these principles touch the question. I don't care to go into it particularly, but one or two simple questions seem to me to settle it. Putting it in the mildest way-is it not possible that Christ will consider this practice (only about two or three hundred years old) an unholy thing? Is it not certain that he will have no fault to find with those who do not smoke, so far as that goes?

The abstaining from it cannot be wrong; the indulgence in it may be, and by the general rules of apostolic holiness doubtless is. Nature itself teaches us something in the matter, and Paul appeals to nature itself in some matters.

Smoking is against nature, for who can smoke for the first time without being sick, and what healthy person can come near a person reeking with narcotism without physical loathing? Let us put it extremely by a way of test; imagine a whole ecclesia sitting in clouds of tobacco smoke! Why not if it is right? An ecclesia can meet for tea or dinner; why not for smoking, if it be a holy thing?

There are other arguments against it, but time does not allow. All the world smokes.* This is an argument against it: for the world knows not God and is odious to Him and ripening for judgment. It is our part, having come out from among them to be holy in all manner of conversation.

Seasons 2.9.

*19th century different times



IT is said that smoking is now to be seen in ecclesias where formerly it was unknown, and that in many ecclesias it is on the increase. This, if the rumour be true, is a bad sign. It means spiritual degeneracy. Smoking is a dirty and worldly custom, and opposed, as brother Roberts once said, to "the whole morality of Christ's commandments" (Christadelphian, Vol. XXIV., p. 422).

It is unnatural—a nasty habit which has to be acquired. It is injurious both to mind and body. It muddles the intellect, deadens the moral faculties, and renders foul the breath and person. That it should be the bosom friend of vice is sufficient to evince its wrongness.

The drunkard loves smoking, so do harlots, and the frequenters of music-halls and theatres. Our duty is to aim at cleanness of mind and body, and to eschew ways which would thwart this end (2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Thess. 4:7; Phil. 4:8).

It is impossible to imagine Christ with a cigar or pipe in his mouth, or in close friendship with a professed disciple who had. Who would think of applying to a man with a cigar or pipe for information upon the things of God?

This is the kind of person who invariably resents religion, smiles when obscene jokes are rehearsed, and delights in unholy talk. The question is, How is the evil to be checked? By faithful exhortation, and by right-minded brethren and sisters protesting, kindly but very firmly, against the practice. This will require courage, but it will have to be done, and, if the evil is growing as alleged, it must be done despite consequences (Christadelphian, Vol. XX., p. 182).

Bro AT Jannaway

The Christadelphian, Jan 1906



...filthiness of the SPIRIT is a real and pressing problem for all. This includes anger, pride, selfishness, covetousness, worldly ambition, unkindness, irritability, the natural, universal human proneness to criticize and belittle and think evil, gossip, being absorbed and interested in the passing unimportant things of natural existence, instead of setting the heart and mind and affections on the pure and eternal things of God.

Bro Growcott - BYT 2.26



3 I speak not this to condemn you: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you.

I speak not this to condemn you


That was neither his nor any mortal's prerogative. That is reserved for the judgment seat of Christ. His duty and desire was to exhort, upbuild and inspire-to present the vision of the beauty of holiness with such infinite and appealing desirability that the mind will be ennobled and enlarged, and perishing worldly things will lose their deceptive attraction and will stand revealed as ugly stumbling-blocks in the glorious way to life.

Bro Growcott - 2.26



4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.

Great is my boldness of speech toward you


Why? Because they had reacted so wonderfully and affectionately to his former entreaty.

He had, as he said, written his first letter with anguish of heart and many tears. He had not long since called them out of darkness and corruption to form in Corinth a community of holiness and zeal. Then in his absence the light had grown dim and the world had slipped in among them-the mind of the flesh had reasserted itself.

All his labours seemed to have been in vain. The divine fire he had kindled among them seemed to be on the verge of extinction. So he wrote in tears, and waited in prayerful apprehension for their reaction. He had no rest in his spirit. How relieved and overjoyed he was when godly sorrow worked such repentance in them!

Bro Growcott - 2.26



I am filled with comfort

"I am exceeding joyful, even in all my tribulation."

Why should he care? Why should he let the failures of others make him so disturbed and unhappy? Could he not say: "The Lord knoweth them that are His?" Could he not just quietly do his own faithful part, preaching, exhorting, and warning, and leave to God the concern about results and increase?

If others would not rise to the height of their calling, need Paul agonize and strive so much about it? In the end, the elect would all be there. Unnumbered millions had been perishing in darkness for ages. Need he be so upset if a few insisted on slipping back among those millions?

But Paul did not look at it like that. His whole outlook and attitude was just the opposite. He was terribly distressed and concerned at every sign of weakness and declension and slipping away. THIS MAY BE, FOR US, THE BIGGEST LESSON OF THE WHOLE EPISTLE. The first words of defiant human rebellion against the mind of the Spirit were-

"Am I my brother's keeper?"

Paul felt that he was, and he felt the obligation to its fullest extent. His whole life was one of labor and concern for others-not because they deserved it, but because they needed it. We must guard against the easy outlook that our own salvation is our only concern.

Nor does this mean that we are fulfilling our duties to others by just criticizing and condemning. Anyone will happily do that.

In order to help, there must be a sacrifice of self. There must be a basic desire to help and upbuild, based on sympathy and love, a desire to understand, to strengthen and comfort and inspire-a fellowfeeling for every human weakness born of a humble recognition of our own weakness and failures.

No man liveth to himself. All who try to just shrivel up and die. Jesus said of himself in a beautiful enigma-

"Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."

"He that loveth his life shall lose it" (Jn. 12:24-26).

Paul, in his concern for his brethren, perceived the secret of the corn of wheat that did not abide alone, but fell into the earth and died. The second great command is-

"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

Where does the command stop? How far does it go? The only limit is our ability to perceive its boundless implications.

Bro Growcott - 2.26



9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.

10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

No man should be condemned without the fullest opportunity of answer, whatever his crime may be. If on a proper hearing, he is found guilty, the apostolic rule requires that he should be

"rebuked before all that others also may fear" (1 Tim. v. 20).

If he defends his sin, or is without token of repentance, the same rule requires that he should be repudiated in all spiritual and social relations (Matt. xviii. 17; 2 Cor. ii. 7). But it does not require this line of action if there is manifest repentance. If he confesses and forsakes his sin, he is to have mercy (Prov. xxviii. 13) for

"all manner of sin shall be forgiven unto men but the sin against the Holy Spirit" (Matt. xii. 31).

If duly sensible of his offence, he is to be forgiven and comforted,

"lest such an one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow" (2 Cor ii.7).

This is according to the character of God revealed so abundantly, leading Him to say in Ezekiel, that

"he has no pleasure in the death of the wicked but rather that he should turn and live"

(Ezek. xviii. 23).

The Christadelphian, Jan 1898



11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

 The second epistle was written after Paul had received word through Titus that the Corinthians had finally responded to Paul's exhortations and entreaties with an intense reaction of sorrow, affection, self-purification.

People are strange creatures -- ourselves included. Enlightened believers are a combination of two powerful forces: the ugliness of the flesh from beneath, and the beauty of the Spirit from above. We can swing from one extreme to another, according to which is in the ascendancy.

Paul was able, by warning, entreaty, and loving persuasion, to bring the mind of the Spirit back on top in Corinth.

It is a matter of what our mind is focused on -- what it is tuned in to -- what it is giving heed to: the natural motions of the flesh within, or the facts, truths, promises, instructions, evidences in the Word --

"Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17)

-- and faith (trust, assurance, conviction) is the power-link between the mind of God and the well-springs of conduct and action within us.

Bro Growcott



Metanoia - Thinking WITH Yahweh


The apostle did not say that godly sorrow produced repentance in an unjustified, or unbelieving sinner. He refers to the effect of sorrow according to God on the minds of saints in Corinth, who, before they had obeyed the gospel of the kingdom, had been the subjects of that condition of mind called metanoia. It was not "sorrow" of any sort that produced this prebaptismal metanoia; but speech and preaching in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, producing faith unfeigned and obedience, by which they were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

... metanoia ... in ignorant sinners...results from the opening of their eyes after the apostolic method so amply illustrated in Acts... I repeat with Paul that it is "the goodness of God" apprehended, and not sorrow of any sort, that "leadeth to metanoia."

An incestuous brother appeared among them. His iniquity was reported to Paul; and that while it existed among them, instead of mourning on account of it, some were glorying in Paul, others in Apollos, others in Peter, others in Christ; others because of certain gifts; thus they were puffed up for one against another. This both grieved and angered the apostle, and caused him to write his first letter to them, rebuking them sharply, that they might return to their former condition before God.

The letter produced the effect he desired. He had shown them the mind of God with respect to them, which when they understood caused great sorrow. The apostle did not rejoice at this, but that they sorrowed into thinking with God upon the case of their incestuous brother, so as to approve themselves to be clear in the matter. Thus "sorrow in accordance with God worketh a thinking with (him) into a salvation not to be regretted."

...In the case of the saints in Corinth, the sonship of metanoia may be granted.

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Aug 1854



16 I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all things.

The Corinthians were for the moment purged, and re-established on a sound foundation, and reunited to Paul, but their continued stability was by no means assured. The flesh, though temporarily dethroned and restrained, is never dead. They had to be regrounded with strong evidence they would remember.

Bro Growcott