In the face of serious criticism, Paul defended his sincerity as a servant of the Lord (see 2 Corinthians 5:11–6:18). He reminded the Saints that earthly trials are nothing compared to eternal glory (see 2 Corinthians 4:17). As you read 2 Corinthians 4–7look for Paul’s description of the characteristics of true ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ (see 2 Corinthians 6:4–7).
Prayerfully study 2 Corinthians 4–7and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
Earthly trials are nothing compared to the eternal glory awaiting the faithful (see 2 Corinthians 4:15–18).
We must not participate with or agree with those who believe and practice ideologies that go against the gospel (see 2 Corinthians 6:14–18).
A person with godly sorrow for sin realizes he has offended God and desires to repent. Those with worldly sorrow still want to sin and will not repent (see 2 Corinthians 7:8–11; see also Alma 42:29–30).
The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 302–3.
Suggestions for Teaching
Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for 2 Corinthians 4–7.
New Testament Video presentation 16, “Godly Sorrow Leads to Repentance” (9:25), can be used in teaching 2 Corinthians 7 (see New Testament Video Guide for teaching suggestions).
2 Corinthians 6:16–7:1, 8–10. Godly sorrow results from knowing that we have offended God and leads to true repentance.
Write godly sorrow and worldly sorrow on the board. Ask students what they think the difference is between the two. Invite students to imagine the following situation and listen to see what kind of sorrow it represents: In an interview for a temple recommend for marriage, a young woman confesses some past sins to her bishop. The sins are serious enough that the bishop denies the recommend, explaining that she will have to wait until she fully repents. She is alarmed, claiming she has repented because she hasn’t repeated any of those sins for a long time. 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. The bishop explains that merely stopping the sin is not complete repentance and invites her to sincerely begin the process of true repentance. Ask students:
What do you think the young woman would be feeling at this point in the interview?
Why would it be appropriate for a bishop to withhold a recommend in a situation like this?
Read 2 Corinthians 7:8–10. Explain that Paul had called the Corinthians to repentance in his previous letter. Ask: According to Paul, what is the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow? Display a poster or overhead transparency with the following explanation by 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’ (2 Corinthians 7:10).
“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’ (D&C 20:37). Such a spirit is the absolute prerequisite for true repentance” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 72).
Discuss the following questions:
Why must a person feel godly sorrow to truly repent?
Read Alma 42:29. How did Alma say our sins should affect us?
Why is it not enough to just stop sinning?
Read the following statement to your students:
“To be effective, repentance must be directed toward one’s relationship to God. …
“True repentance follows when a person has deep remorse that he has offended God by breaking his laws and being disobedient. He is sorry because of the alienation from God that the sin has brought into his life. … Because repentance requires a broken heart and a contrite spirit, nothing less will bring permanent relief” (Robert J. Matthews, “The Doctrine of the Atonement: The Revelation of the Gospel to Adam,” in Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, Studies in Scripture: Volume 2, the Pearl of Great Price , 124).
How can concern about our own embarrassment get in the way of godly sorrow?
Read James 4:6. How might pride keep us from feeling sorrow for our sins?
You may wish to conclude by testifying that godly sorrow has brought you closer to Heavenly Father and helped you find true relief in repentance.