READ BETWEEN THE LINES: This chapter begins in the middle of a paragraph in which Paul is telling the Corinthians why he's not coming back in person, because their previous visit was too 'painful (v1).' It's not that Paul didn't love this church (v4), but it just seems that these people wanted to be part of the church but at the same time didn't want to give up their sinful lifestyles.
STAY ANGRY... SATAN LOVES IT: It always feels kind of good to have righteous indignation - that feeling of anger against something that is clearly wrong. While there's a proper time and place for anger (it's not always sinful to be angry), holding on to your anger plays right in to Satan's hand as he works to 'outwit (v11)' you. Rather, once a sin has been properly dealt with (either against the church or against you individually), you must let go of the anger and instead 'forgive and comfort (v7).' That's way harder than being angry, isn't it.
WOULD YOU PASS THE TEST? One of the primary reasons Paul wrote this letter was to inquire as to whether the Corinthians would 'stand the test and be obedient in everything (v9).' That's one of the toughest parts of the Christian life; it's difficult enough to resist daily temptations, but to be obedient in everything includes forgiving those who've wronged us.
ON PARADE: Christians are 'captives in Christ's triumphal procession (v14).' A victorious general would often return to Rome by way of Corinth and triumphantly parade the spoils of his latest victory, including the best of the captives being brought back to serve the Roman empire. You and I are those who've been 'captured' in Christ's victory over sin and death, and now we're paraded before the Father so that we can be used in His Kingdom.
YOU SMELL: Paul says we are 'a pleasing aroma of Christ (v15),' but that doesn't mean that all people will agree you smell good. Those whose hearts (and spiritual noses) have been renewed by the Holy Spirit will enjoy the fragrance you bring, but unfortunately many people will think you and your faith reek and will be revolted. This will hurt, but remember that they're rejecting Christ and not you.
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Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The God who will reign victorious over Satan (v11, 14)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Stand the test and be obedient in everything (v9)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: