1. Perfecting holiness (7:1). Verse 1 is best understood in relation to the previous chapter; I included in this chapter because….well, it is verse 1! Perfecting holiness is a daunting task when one thinks about it, is it not? The NET reads that one ought to “accomplish holiness out of reverence for God.” That does not really help much in understanding. We know what it means to “perfect” something, just as we know what it means to “accomplish” something, but what are we to understand in this? As we cleanse ourselves, as we purge ourselves of those unholy things that contaminate and destroy, we walk toward perfection (or accomplishing) that which the Lord desires for each.
2. Godly sorrow (7:2-12). There is a difference between “sorrow” and “godly sorrow.” A “godly sorrow” gives indication of the motivation, the word “sorrow” on its own does not. One who is expressing sorrow might be genuine enough in all respects to not repeat the same offense, but a godly sorrow will not only do the same, but it will have a lasting impact. Godly sorrow produces a penitent heart, a heart that says to the Lord, “Please forgive me” and an answer that comes back from the Lord with a “I will.”
3. Encouragement (7:13-16). Paul’s primary task was to teach the Lord’s way to those who never heard, but also to those who have heard (strengthening their faith). To the Corinthians, it is the latter that he is pursuing in this epistle. Being a teacher, it is easy for one to be sure of self and know that he (she) is right on the answer and application. Nevertheless, the concern a teacher has for the pupils (students) should show itself to the student, letting the pupil know there is a genuine interest in him (or her). That is what makes a schoolteacher worth her (his) weight in gold. Paul was genuinely interested in the well-being of the church in Corinth, and so he rejoiced (v. 16).