In Paul’s warning to the Corinthians in this passage, I see a warning to us as well.
Paul told them,
I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me.
He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power.
Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you. (1-4)
When Paul had last visited the Corinthians, he came in weakness. In other words, he didn’t come exercising his authority, but rather with tears, suffering rejection by the Corinthians and grieved by their sinful attitudes. This, though he had laid down his life for them.
But now he was saying that when he came back, he would not come in weakness, but in the power of God, exercising the authority God had given him to judge the Corinthians. And he warned them, “I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others.” (2)
Jesus says the same thing to us. When last he came, he came in weakness. He came as a man, a poor carpenter and itinerant teacher. He came not as a conquering king, but as a crucified Savior. But by the power of God he was resurrected and the day will come when he will come back. And when he comes back, it will not be in weakness, but in power. More importantly, when he comes back, he will not spare those who continue to reject him. Rather, he will bring judgment.
The problem with many people today is that they simply see Jesus as the loving Son of God who sacrificed everything for us to show us how much he cares for us. That’s true. He did. But they forget that when he comes back, he will come back in judgment. The time for mercy for those who reject him will be past. He will no longer simply be the Lamb of God, but the Lion of Judah, the king who will reign forever. And those who continue to rebel against his rightful rule will face his wrath. And like Paul with the Corinthians, he will not spare any who continue in their rebellion (See Luke 19:11-27, in particular verses 14 and 27).
So the question you and I have to ask ourselves is this: Have we submitted to Christ’s rule in our lives? Or will we continue to live in rebellion to him? God is patient with us. But that patience will not last forever.
Let us not test the patience of God in our lives, but rather accept his mercy and grace while we still can.