There were those in the Corinthian Church who had been offended by Paul's first letter because he corrected the corruption found in the church. In retaliation, some challenged his authority and apostleship, so Paul writes, in part to defend himself.
He defends his apostleship by pointing to the converts there in the church as evidence of his calling among them. He refers to them as his 'epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men."(3:2).
Paul compares the false teachers who use the ministry deceitfully by twisting the Scriptures (2:17) to his ministry by declaring, "But we have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty (shame), not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully..." (4:2).
He answered his accusers by pointing to the faithfulness of his life as lived before them. He distances himself from those who were dishonest by openly renouncing not only their questionable practices, but also by distinguishing his ministry as one that was open and above board. His testimony before others was without reproach.
The hard question that arises from this passage has to do with whether we can make similar claims. Have we renounced things that are hidden from others that would otherwise harm our testimony for Christ? Are there things hidden in our lives that would hinder a clear message of the Gospel? Could there be certain attitudes that cause our gospel witness to be 'veiled to those who are perishing'? (vs 3-4).
To renounce such things, we must first confess them to God, repent of them and continue living in such a manner that gives evidence of having left them behind. To put it briefly, we must Admit it, Quit it and Forget it!
When we begin to agree with God as to those things that are hindering our walk with Him and our testimony to others, we are well on our way to 'renouncing the hidden things'.
A hymn worth singing, Cleanse Me, was written by J. Edwin Orr , after a revival meeting in New Zealand. Upon leaving, he was meditating on Psalm 139:23-24, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." KJV May it speak to your heart as you consider 'renouncing hidden things.'