Lesson 115: 2 Corinthians 6–7

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

Paul continued to defend to the Corinthian Saints his conduct as a minister of God. He exhorted the Saints to separate themselves from all unrighteousness. He affirmed his devotion to the Saints and rejoiced that they had experienced godly sorrow and repented of their sins.

Suggestions for Teaching

2 Corinthians 6:1–13

Paul describes characteristics of ministers of God

Invite students to consider the following scenario:

  • While you and some others from your ward or branch are doing a service project, some people pass by and make rude remarks about the Church. What might happen if you or others in your group respond with rudeness?

Ask students to think of times when they may have experienced opposition or ridicule while they were serving the Lord. Invite students to look for a truth as they study 2 Corinthians 6:1–13 that can guide them during such times.

Summarize 2 Corinthians 6:1–2 by explaining that Paul referred to himself and his fellow laborers as “workers together with Christ” (Joseph Smith Translation, 2 Corinthians 6:1 [in 2 Corinthians 6:1, footnote b]). Paul cited the prophet Isaiah’s words (see Isaiah 49:8) to emphasize that the time had come for the Saints to consider their salvation.

Invite a student to read 2 Corinthians 6:3–7 aloud. Ask half the class to look for words or phrases that describe the opposition Paul and his fellow ministers experienced. Ask the other half to look for words or phrases that describe how Paul and his fellow ministers reacted to the opposition.

  • What kinds of opposition did Paul and his fellow ministers experience?

  • What words or phrases describe how they reacted to the opposition?

Review verse 3, and explain that the word ministry refers to the work of the Church.

  • How might the actions of Church members today affect others’ opinions about the Church?

  • How would you summarize Paul’s teachings in verses 3–7 as a principle? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: As we respond to opposition with love, kindness, and righteousness, we can help others view the Church in a positive way.)

Remind students of the scenario presented at the beginning of the lesson. Invite them to explain how a person could respond to that situation in a righteous way and what results could come from doing so.

2 Corinthians 6:14–18

Paul counsels the Saints to come out from among the wicked

handout iconDivide students into pairs, and provide each student with a copy of the accompanying handout.

2 Corinthians 6:14–18

Counsel to the Saints

Promises from the Lord

  

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Invite students to read 2 Corinthians 6:14–18 in pairs. Ask one student in each pair to look for Paul’s counsel to the Saints. Ask the other student to look for the promises from the Lord that would be fulfilled if the Saints heeded Paul’s counsel. Invite them to use what they find to complete the chart together. You may need to explain that the word concord means harmony, belial refers to wickedness (see Bible Dictionary, “Belial”), and infidel refers to an unbeliever or one who believes in gods other than Heavenly Father. Additionally, Paul had previously compared the Corinthian Saints to God’s temple; thus, the word temple refers to them as a people.

Allow sufficient time for the pairs to report their findings to one another and complete the chart.

Explain that Paul was specifically warning the Saints to separate themselves from “unclean thing[s]” (verse 17)—including idolatry and those who practiced it—in order to protect themselves from sin. Idolatry is to love or worship any man-made creation more than God.

Invite students to write If above the heading “Counsel to the Saints” and Then above the heading “Promises from the Lord” on their handouts.

  • What principles can we learn from 2 Corinthians 6:14–18? (Students may identify several principles, but be sure to emphasize that as we separate ourselves from false practices and unclean things, the Lord will receive us.)

  • What might be some examples of false practices or unclean things in our day?

  • How can we separate ourselves from these things and those who promote them?

Explain that this principle does not mean that we treat those with different beliefs rudely or refuse to associate with them but that we respectfully reaffirm our beliefs and avoid participating in any activity that would lead us to sin.

Invite students to ponder a time when they felt the Lord was with them as they separated themselves from false practices that could have led them away from the Lord. Ask a few students to share their experiences.

Invite students to ponder what they may need to do in order to separate themselves from false practices and unclean things so they can receive the Lord’s blessings.

2 Corinthians 7

Paul rejoices in the Saints’ true repentance

Invite a student to read aloud the following scenario:

In an interview for a temple recommend for marriage, a young woman confesses some past sins to her bishop. After further discussion, the bishop comes to understand that the young woman has not truly repented of her sins and that her sins are serious enough to make her unworthy of a temple recommend. The bishop explains that the young woman will have to wait to receive a recommend until she has fully repented. She is alarmed, claiming she has repented because she hasn’t repeated any of those sins for a long time. The bishop explains that merely stopping the sin is not complete repentance, and he invites her to sincerely begin the process of true repentance.

  • What do you think the young woman might be feeling at this point in the interview?

Invite the student to continue reading the scenario aloud:

The young woman explains to her bishop that she is very upset because the invitations to the wedding and reception have already been sent out. She says she could not face all the questions and the embarrassment of a delay in her wedding plans. She asks whether there is a way for her to be sealed in the temple as planned and then work through the repentance process later.

  • Based on the young woman’s response to the bishop, what does she seem to be most concerned about?

Invite students to look for a truth as they study 2 Corinthians 7 that the young woman in the scenario needs to understand before she can truly repent of her sins.

Summarize 2 Corinthians 7:1–7 by explaining that Paul continued his defense against those who sought to discredit him and assured the Corinthian Saints that he had not wronged anyone.

Invite a student to read 2 Corinthians 7:8–9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how one of Paul’s earlier letters had affected the Corinthian Saints.

  • How had the letter affected the Saints?

  • Why did Paul rejoice in their sorrow?

Ask students to read 2 Corinthians 7:10–11 silently. You may want to suggest that they mark the two types of sorrow Paul mentioned and what each leads to.

  • What are the two types of sorrow Paul mentioned?

Write the headings Godly Sorrow and Worldly Sorrow on the board. Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson, who explained the meaning of the term “worldly sorrow”:

President Ezra Taft Benson

“It is not uncommon to find men and women in the world who feel remorse for the things they do wrong. Sometimes this is because their actions cause them or loved ones great sorrow and misery. Sometimes their sorrow is caused because they are caught and punished for their actions. Such worldly feelings do not constitute ‘godly sorrow’” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson [2014], 82).

  • How would you summarize what worldly sorrow is?

  • According to verse 10, what can worldly sorrow lead to? (Explain that the word death in verse 10 refers to spiritual death, meaning separation from God. Under the heading “Worldly Sorrow” on the board, write the following truth: Worldly sorrow can lead us to spiritual death, or separation from God.)

  • In what ways can worldly sorrow lead a person to spiritual death? (It can prevent a person from truly repenting and receiving Heavenly Father’s forgiveness.)

  • Based on verse 10, what does godly sorrow lead to? (Under the heading “Godly Sorrow” on the board, write the following truth: Godly sorrow leads us to repent of our sins and receive salvation.)

To help students better understand why godly sorrow leads us to repent, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson:

President Ezra Taft Benson

“Godly sorrow is a gift of the Spirit. It is a deep realization that our actions have offended our Father and our God. It is the sharp and keen awareness that our behavior caused the Savior, He who knew no sin, even the greatest of all, to endure agony and suffering. Our sins caused Him to bleed at every pore. This very real mental and spiritual anguish is what the scriptures refer to as having ‘a broken heart and a contrite spirit.’ … Such a spirit is the absolute prerequisite for true repentance” (Teachings: Ezra Taft Benson, 83).

  • Why do you think godly sorrow leads us to truly repent of our sins?

Invite students to reflect on the scenario concerning the young woman seeking a temple recommend.

  • During the young woman’s interview with the bishop, what indicates that she has not experienced godly sorrow?

  • What can we do to replace worldly sorrow with godly sorrow?

If necessary, help students understand that the feelings of godly sorrow we experience as we repent may vary depending on the seriousness of the sin.

Testify that as we feel godly sorrow rather than worldly sorrow for our sins, we will be able to truly repent, be cleansed of our sins, and ultimately receive salvation. Invite students to seek godly sorrow in their efforts to repent.

Summarize 2 Corinthians 7:12–16 by explaining that Paul expressed his care for and confidence in the Saints.

Briefly review the truths students identified in their study of 2 Corinthians 6–7, and encourage them to follow any promptings they may have felt to apply these truths.

Commentary and Background Information

2 Corinthians 6:17. “Come out from among them, and be ye separate”

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained the need to separate ourselves from unrighteousness and the blessing that comes from doing so:

“The word saint in Greek denotes ‘set apart, separate, [and] holy’ [in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols. (1992), 3:1249]. If we are to be Saints in our day, we need to separate ourselves from evil conduct and destructive pursuits that are prevalent in the world.

“We are bombarded with visual images of violence and immorality. Inappropriate music and pornography are increasingly tolerated. The use of drugs and alcohol is rampant. There is less emphasis on honesty and character. Individual rights are demanded, but duties, responsibilities, and obligations are neglected. There has been a coarsening of dialogue and increased exposure to that which is base and vulgar. The adversary has been relentless in his efforts to undermine the plan of happiness. If we separate ourselves from this worldly conduct, we will have the Spirit in our lives and experience the joy of being worthy Latter-day Saints” (“Are You a Saint?” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2003, 95).

2 Corinthians 7:8–11. “The sorrow of the world worketh death”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency explained the difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow:

“There is an important difference between the sorrow for sin that leads to repentance and the sorrow that leads to despair.

“The Apostle Paul taught that ‘godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation … but the sorrow of the world worketh death’ [2 Corinthians 7:10; emphasis added]. Godly sorrow inspires change and hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Worldly sorrow pulls us down, extinguishes hope, and persuades us to give in to further temptation.

Godly sorrow leads to conversion [see Acts 3:19] and a change of heart [see Ezekiel 36:26; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Mosiah 3:19]. It causes us to hate sin and love goodness [see Mosiah 5:2]. It encourages us to stand up and walk in the light of Christ’s love. True repentance is about transformation, not torture or torment. Yes, heartfelt regret and true remorse for disobedience are often painful and very important steps in the sacred process of repentance. But when guilt leads to self-loathing or prevents us from rising up again, it is impeding rather than promoting our repentance” (“You Can Do It Now!” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 56).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles pointed out:

“Pride prefers cheap repentance, paid for with shallow sorrow. Unsurprisingly, seekers after cheap repentance also search for superficial forgiveness instead of real reconciliation. Thus, real repentance goes far beyond simply saying, ‘I’m sorry’” (“Repentance,” Ensign, Nov. 1991, 31).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

video icon2 Corinthians 7:8–11. Video presentation—“Godly Sorrow Leads to Repentance”

To help students feel the truth and importance of the doctrine that godly sorrow will lead us to repent, at the conclusion of the lesson you may want to show the video “Godly Sorrow Leads to Repentance” (9:15) or portions of it. This video portrays a young woman learning the difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow. It is available on New Testament DVD Presentations 1–25 and on LDS.org.

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