Amplified: Therefore we do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear). Though our outer man is [progressively] decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day after day. (Lockman)
ASV: Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day.
Barclay: That is the reason why we do not grow weary. But if indeed our outward frame is wasting away, our inward self is renewed day by day, (Westminster Press)
BBE: For which cause we do not give way to weariness; but though our outer man is getting feebler, our inner man is made new day by day.
Darby: Wherefore we faint not; but if indeed our outward man is consumed, yet the inward is renewed day by day.
God's Word: That is why we are not discouraged. Though outwardly we are wearing out, inwardly we are renewed day by day. (GWT)
ESV: So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. (ESV)
GNT: For this reason we never become discouraged. Even though our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day.
HCSB: Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.
ICB: So we do not give up. Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new every day. (ICB: Nelson)
ISV: That’s why we are not discouraged. No, even if our outer man is wearing out, our inner man is being renewed day by day.
KJV: For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
Mace: for which cause I am not discouraged, but tho' my body decays, yet my mind is daily renewed.
MLB (Berkley): For this reason we are not discouraged, but even though our outer nature suffers decay, our inner self is renewed day after day.
Moffatt: Hence I never lose heart; though my outward man decays, my inner man is renewed day after day.
NAB: Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
NEB: No wonder we do not lose heart! Though our outward humanity is in decay, yet day by day we are inwardly renewed.
NET: Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day. (NET Bible)
NIV: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (NIV - IBS)
NJB: That is why we do not waver; indeed, though this outer human nature of ours may be falling into decay, at the same time our inner human nature is renewed day by day.
NKJV: Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
NLT: That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: This is the reason why we never collapse. The outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear, but every day the inward man receives fresh strength. (Phillips: Touchstone)
RSV: So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day.
TEV: For this reason we never become discouraged. Even though our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day.
TLB: That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day.
Weymouth: Therefore we are not cowards. Nay, even though our outward man is wasting away, yet our inward man is being renewed day by day.
Wuest: Wherefore, we are not losing courage. But and if, as is the case, our outward self is progressively decaying, yet our inward self is being changed into a new kind of life [fit for the new spiritual existence into which we have been ushered in salvation, and constantly being conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus] day by day. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: wherefore, we faint not, but if also our outward man doth decay, yet the inward is renewed day by day;
for the Saints
|Testimonial & Didactic||Practical||Apologetic|
Misunderstanding & Explanation
|Apostle's Conciliation, Ministry & Exhortations||Apostle's Solicitation for Judean Saints||Apostle's Vindication
Ephesus to Macedonia:
Macedonia: Preparation for Visit to Corinth
Adapted & modified from Jensen's Survey of the New Testament (Highly Recommended Resource) & Wilkinson's Talk Thru the Bible
The Secret of
2Co 4:1 Therefore, since we have this ministry (from chapter 3 this is a reference to the Better Covenant, the New Covenant), as we received mercy, we do not lose heart (ekkakeo),
Comment: Jesus' commission to Paul to be a minister of a new and better covenant was one of the reasons he did not grow discouraged in spite of seemingly overwhelming odds.
Paul presents us a great example in crediting the mercy of God for the effectiveness of his ministry. We may be saved by grace but we still have the rotten flesh which loves adulation and praise and recognition. It loves to take credit for a "job well done!" Paul's testimony should cause us all to pause (frequently) to take inventory on whether His New Covenant ministry has been replaced by "our" ministry. Anything we do by grace is a reflection of God's infinitely inexhaustible mercy, for none of us knows the depths of the evil of our flesh which colors even our motivations for ministry. Thank God for His mercy. Without it none of us would have any eternal efficacy in ministry.
Paul's editorial use of the first person plural ("we") renders this section directly applicable to all true ministers of the Gospel of grace (which is all believers).
Colin Kruse: In 2Co 4:1 Paul said that he does not lose heart, because he realized the greatness of the ministry upon which he was embarked. In 2Co 4:16-18 he says he does not lose heart, because while afflictions affect the outer man so that it wastes away, his inner man is being renewed every day. (Tyndale Commentaries - 2 Corinthians: Colin Kruse. IVP, 2008)
2Co 4:2 but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame (secret thoughts, feelings, desires and underhandedness -- methods and arts that men hide through shame), not walking in craftiness (using clever trickery and cunning with an evil motive) or adulterating (watering down in a deliberate attempt to ensnare and corrupt by an admixture of error to [probably mixing law and grace]) the Word of God, but by the manifestation (clear, candid declaration of truth open to all) of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
Comment: Paul contrasts the craftiness of the false teachers and their misrepresentation of the Word of Truth by adulterating it with error.
HCSB Study Bible: False teachers are recognized both by wrong motives (deceit) and the wrong message (distorting). True teachers are recognized by true motives and by "the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all" (Jude 1:3). There is no secret tier of truth reserved only for those who have been initiated into its secrets. (HCSB Study Bible)
2Co 4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled (covered over - as discussed in 2Co 3:14, 15, 16), it is veiled to those who are perishing (because they would not turn to the Lord in belief, which results in removal of the veil - 2Cor 3:16)
2Co 4:4 in whose case the god of this world (Satan - 1Jn 5:19, Jn 12:31, 14:30, Ep 2:2 - mentioned 2 other times in this epistle - 2Co 2:11; 6:15; 11:3) has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (Col 1:15).
Comment: Note that because these souls refused to believe the Truth about God, God gave them over to the authority of Satan who was given the power to blind their thoughts. We must pray for God "to open their eyes (even as a blind person cannot see glory of the sun, without God's enablement, no blind sinner can see the Gospel of the Son), and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God" (Acts 26:18, cp Col 1:13,14). If you are "toying" with believing, don't put it off, for today is the day of salvation.
2Co 4:5 For we do not preach ourselves (as the false teachers accused him of doing) but Christ Jesus as Lord (1Co 1:18, 19, 23, 2:2, "Lord" - Ro 10:9, 10, 1Co 12:3, Col 2:6), and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake.
MacDonald: "In this one verse we have both the poorest theme for a preacher, and the best theme. The poorest theme is ourselves, while the best theme is Christ Jesus the Lord."
2Co 4:6 For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," (Ge 1:3) is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (ie, that Christ is God incarnate, to know Him is to know God - Jn 1:14,18; Heb 1:3).
Comment: In the first creation God commanded the light to shine, but in the re-creation, God Himself shines into our hearts! (cp Col 1:13-note) God is the "Initiator" in both. The chaos of the physical and spiritual darkness (Ge 1:2; Jer 4:23) is changed by God's light (cp Jn 1:5, 8:12).
HCSB Study Bible: "Light" given by God results in the human response to "gospel/knowledge" which in turn results in "glory of Christ/God's glory" being admired.
2Co 4:7 But we have this treasure (this light and power that now shines within us ~ the divine Light of the Gospel, cp the "more… glory" of the New Covenant 2Co 3:8) in earthen vessels (clay pots, cheap, breakable, replaceable, albeit necessary for normal household function), that the surpassing greatness of the power (dunamis [word study]) may be of God and not from ourselves;
Comment: Jars of clay (such jars could be easily purchased in Corinth and cheaply replaced if broken) was a well known ancient figure of speech descriptive of human weakness. The weakness of Christ's bondservants serves to magnify His power. The fragile nature of the clay pots which God chooses to use as His instruments () also introduces the following passages that recount Paul's sufferings in the power of Christ. The more common, mundane and humble the vessel, the more glorious the precious treasure appears!
Plummer “The power is limitless, but it is stored in very unlikely receptacles.”
Hudson Taylor said "All God's giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on Him being with them."
Wiersbe: The important thing about a vessel is that it be clean, empty, and available for service. Each of us must seek to become "a vessel unto honor, sanctified [set apart], and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work" (2Ti 2:21). We are vessels so that God might use us. We are earthen vessels so that we might depend on God's power and not our own.
2Co 4:8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;
2Co 4:9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck (knocked) down, but not destroyed ("knocked out");
|Struck down||Not destroyed|
Comment: The first element of each pair characterizes frailty of humanity, especially in man's service to God. These two passages are the first of four lists of Paul's sufferings in 2 Corinthians (2Co 4:8, 9; 6:4, 5, 8, 9, 10; 11:23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28; 12:10).
Four contrasts (all present tense = picturing continuing action) each of which demonstrates the weakness of the clay pot (Paul) on one hand and the power of God on the other hand, each of which contributed to the argument that Paul was a true servant of God and strongly rebutted his adversary's' false charges.
New Bible Commentary paraphrase: “Hemmed in, but not hamstrung; not knowing what to do, but never bereft of all hope; hunted by men, but never abandoned by God; often felled, but never finished.”
Illustration - A boy and his father were in the toys section of a department store. The little boy began to play with the inflated rubber man which was weighted in the base so it stood upright. The boy hit it from every direction. Yet no matter how hard or from which direction he hit the rubber man, it still came back to its original position. The boy exclaimed, "Someone must be living inside him." As Christians we are like this rubber man. We have Christ inside us so that though we are pressed from every side, we are not crushed; though we are perplexed, we are not in despair; though we are persecuted, we are not abandoned; though we are struck down, we are not destroyed because Jesus is in us and we are to able to get back up.
2Co 4:10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the (resurrection) life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
Comment: Paul was in danger of losing his life every moment because of his ministry. This refers to Paul's ongoing suffering and summarizes the 4 contrasts, each of which was in a sense "carrying about… the dying of Jesus", suffering for His sake. On the other hand, the phrase "the life of Jesus" pictured the Lord's power to keep him from being crushed, despairing, forsaken or destroyed.
H A Ironside: It was Arthur T. Pierson, I believe, who when visiting George Mueller asked him, "Mr. Mueller, would you be willing to tell me the secret of your great work and the wonderful things that God has done through you?"
Mr. Mueller looked up for a moment, and then bowed his head lower and lower until it was down between his knees, and he was silent a moment or two, and then said, "Many years ago there came a day in my life when George Mueller died. As a young man I had a great many ambitions, but there came a day when I died to all these things, and I said, ‘Henceforth, Lord Jesus, not my will but Thine,’ and from that day God began to work in and through me."
General Booth expressed it in a different way. J. Wilbur Chapman said to him, "Will you tell me the secret of the great work that you have accomplished?"
He said, in his straightforward way, as he looked right into the face of Doctor Chapman with that eagle eye of his, "Dr. Chapman, when I was a lad of seventeen, I determined that God should have all there was of William Booth."
That is it! When I come to the place where I am through with my own ambitions, when I can say, "None of self, but all of Thee," I understand what Paul means when he talks about "Bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus."
2Co 4:11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over (like a prisoner to the executioner, cp 2Co 1:9) to death for Jesus' sake (1Co 15:31), that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh (1Co 15:53).
Comment: Continues the thought from verse 10. Paul acknowledges the reality that any of his daily trials could have result in physical death (and finally did result in his martyrdom). However, through his weaknesses and sufferings (see who God uses - 1Co 1:26, 27, 28, 29), Christ's resurrection power and life in Him (cp Gal 2:20) was put on display and became instrumental in bringing spiritual life to the Corinthians.
Even as a precious stone is best seen against a black background, the precious life of Christ in us the hope of glory (Col 1:27) is best seen against the dark background of death.
2Co 4:12 So death works in us, but life in you.
Comment: Us is an editorial addition which refers to Paul himself. Paul's example of suffering was meant to bring about the same resurrection life in the saints at Corinth. The paradox of physical suffering, yielding spiritual life. (cp 2Co 1:5, 6 - similar thought in Ep 3:1, Col 1:24, 2Ti 2:10).
J H Jowett said "Ministry that costs nothing, accomplishes nothing."
Warren Wiersbe put it this way "The test of a true ministry is not stars, but scars." (cp Gal 6:17)
2Co 4:13 But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE," we also believe, therefore also we speak;
Comment: The meaning of spirit is felt by a few to be the Holy Spirit, but most interpret as reference to the same kind of spirit the psalmist possessed (he is quoting Ps 116:10 in the Septuagint), an attitude or outlook of faith.
The point of Paul's quote from Ps 116:10 is that trust in the Lord motivates a person to action ("we… believe… we speak").
2Co 4:14 knowing (fully confident, full assurance derived of faith, a hope [certainty] of the future bodily resurrection - this future hope sustained Paul in present trials) that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus (Jn 5:28, 29) and will present us with you (alluding to our future glorious reunion at the resurrection at the presentation of the "Bride", the Church, to Christ).
Comment: Paul was sure of ultimate victory, for Jesus had conquered death (1Co 15:54, 55, 56, 57). Someone has well said that until you are prepared to die, you are not really prepared to live.
Barnes: In the hope of the resurrection they were ready to meet trials, and even to die. Sustained by this assurance, the apostles went forth amidst persecutions and opposition, for they knew that their trials would soon end, and that they would be raised up, in the morning of the resurrection, to a world of eternal glory.
2Co 4:15 For all things are (taking place in 2Co 4:8-12) for your sakes (designed to promote your salvation, all that Paul had endured was for the benefit of the Corinthians), that the grace which is spreading to more and more (through the majority) people (through the Gospel Paul preached - see note below) may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God (as more came to know Christ as Savior - God would get the glory, not Paul).
Comment: Paul had faith that God would be glorified in all that was taking place. Our sufferings are never wasted in God's economy (see Ro 8:28). Note also that what begins with grace, leads to glory (Ps 84:11, 1Pe 5:10).
The first purpose stated is that Paul suffered for the good of the people. His suffering resulted in the people of Corinth hearing the Gospel and being saved.
Grace in this passage could also refer to the power of God which was conferred on Paul to enable him to live victoriously even in the face of his many afflictions, and that his same power was extending to more and more members of the church at Corinth. Most favor the spread of God's grace indicating that more people were being converted.
John Butler Outlines this last section of chapter 4 as follows…
The Purpose of His Sufferings - 2Co 4:15
For the good of the people - 2Co 4:15a
For the glory of God - 2Co 4:15b
The Persistency of His Service - 2Co 4:16
The Product of His Trials - 2Co 4:17,18
--The Valuing of the Trials - 2Co 4:17
--The Vision for Trials - 2Co 4:18
John MacArthur introduces this last section of chapter 4…
All Christians can learn from Paul’s example how to endure the loneliness, disappointment, pain, and persecution they face. It was his vision of God’s glory revealed in the face of Jesus Christ (see the discussion of 2Co 3:18–4:6 in chapter 9 of this volume) that radically changed Paul’s perspective on life—including his sufferings. That vision is the foundation for living a triumphant life; because of the astounding realities of all that was his in Christ and the new covenant, Paul could not lose heart. No amount of trouble could make him neglect his calling, privileges, or duty.
Based on the reality of God’s glory revealed in Jesus Christ and God’s mighty care in his life, Paul gives three heavenly reasons for earthly endurance in 2Co 4:16-18; three principles that enabled him not to lose heart. He exhorts believers to value spiritual strength over physical strength, value the future over the present, and value eternal realities over temporal realities. (MacArthur, J: 2Corinthians. Chicago: Moody Press or Logos or Wordsearch)
THEREFORE WE DO NOT LOSE HEART: Dio ouk egkakoumen, (1PPAI): (we: 2Co 4:1 Ps 27:13 119:81 Isa 40:29 1Co 15:58)
The Psalmist shows the power of a hopeful future (similar to what Paul describes)…
Psalm 27:13 I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Therefore (see term of conclusion) - He has just described the hope of the resurrection (2Co 4:14), the spread of grace (salvation and spiritual welfare of the saints at Corinth) and the fact that God was being greatly glorified (2Co 4:15) and these truths undergirded him and held him firm. May we hold fast to the Word of truth that it might hold us fast when the winds of adversity and testing begin to blow.
Paul is explaining why he is able to minister and preach as he does (in face of such afflictions).
Ralph Martin explains "therefore"…
The connecting dio (therefore) gives the reason for Paul’s indomitable spirit. Earlier he reflected on God’s mercy shown to him; here it is the recall of God’s power in raising Jesus from the dead. These articles of faith bolster him in a testing time.
Not (ouk) signifies absolute negation. Paul was not boasting but was expressing confidence in the good promises of God even when things did not "look good" or "feel good". With a series of dramatic contrasts in this section, Paul explains why he does not lose heart. The practical application is clear -- believers today who are being afflicted for their faith need to focus on the future to facilitate present living.
The Apostle now returns to the topic he has already introduced (2Co 4:1). But the digression, if indeed it be a digression, only tends to strengthen the assertion he has made. 'We faint not,' he says, 'not merely because we have a glorious ministry (2Co 4:1), not merely because we have the knowledge of God (2Co 4:6), not merely because, though oppressed and afflicted ourselves, we see the blessed results of our ministry in others, but because (cf. 2Co 4:10, 11) our sorrows and sufferings, the decay of our mortal body, are but external. There is a spring of life within that can never fail (cp Jn 7:38, 39), the new life, which comes to us from God through Christ. (Cambridge Commentary)
Paul began the chapter (2Corinthians 4:1) by declaring since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But in the chapter, he describes all the death-like sufferings he has to endure in the ministry. It is as if Paul is anticipating the question, "how can you not lose heart?" Therefore is part of the answer, because it points us back to what Paul has just said. Paul has just explained that his "death-like trials" made for more effective, life giving ministry for the Corinthian Christians. Knowing that made him not lose heart in the midst of trials and suffering.
Another reason why Paul does not lost heart is because though all his suffering takes a toll on the outward man, yet the inward man is being renewed and blessed! Outward man has the same idea as earthen vessels in 2Co 4:7 and mortal flesh in 2Co 4:11. The message is the same: "On the outside, we are suffering and taking a beating. But on the inside, God is blessing and renewing us!" (2 Corinthians 4 - David Guzik Commentary)
The best of men would faint, if they did not receive mercy from God. And that mercy which has helped us out, and helped us on, hitherto, we may rely upon to help us even to the end.
We do not lose heart - become discouraged, exhausted and worn out through fear, utterly spiritless. Paul was human and earlier had written "we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired (extreme despair, implying both anxiety and fear) even of life." (2Co 1:8). Every believer is prone to lose heart from time to time -- it therefore behooves all of us to ingest and mediate on Paul's words in this great section.
Geoff Thomas (sermon) sees three main reasons Paul did not lose heart…
1. We Do Not Lose Heart because We are Being Daily Inwardly Renewed.
2. We do not Lose Heart because Our Troubles Achieve an Eternal Weight of Glory.
3. We Do Not Lose Heart Because Our Eyes are Fixed on What is Unseen and Eternal.
Recall the last words of the great preacher of the Great Awakening, George Whitefield, the night before he died in 1770
Lord Jesus, I am weary in Thy work, but not of Thy work. If I have not yet finished my course, let me go and speak for Thee once more in the fields, seal Thy truth, and come home and die.
Lose heart (1573)(ekkakeo [egkakeo, enkakeo] from ek = out of or intensifies meaning + kakós = bad) literally means to give in to evil. It can convey the idea of to become weary in or tired of doing something, and can convey the idea of losing one’s motivation in continuing a desirable pattern of conduct. Instead the person becomes fainthearted or despondent in view of the trial or difficulty. Such persons are at risk of losing their motivation to accomplish their intended goal. Ekkakeo conveys the idea of becoming exhausted, giving up, turning coward.
Ekkakeo is a strong Greek term which refers to abandoning oneself to cowardly surrender. Our redemption is drawing nigh - take heart! Don't quit running the race, fighting the good fight of faith.
Rienecker writes that ekkakeo
is also used in the papyri in the sense of treating someone badly. It became a Christian technical term expressing the unflagging pursuit of the goal of service to neighbor, or of apostolic ministry, as well as the tautness of the determined heart that does not let up or lose courage. (Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament)
In the other 5 uses of ekkakeo (no uses in the Septuagint), the Spirit instructs us not to lose heart about several things…
Prayer (Of prayer to which the answer seems deferred)
Luke 18:1 Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart
Tribulations on behalf of the saints…
Eph 3:13-note Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory
Doing good (In view of the danger of failure in perseverance or temptation to laxity)
Gal 6:9-note And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.
A T Robertson comments: "It is curious how prone we are to give in and to give out in doing the good which somehow becomes prosy or insipid to us"
2Th 3:13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.
Serving (Of the ministry of the word in purity, without adulteration 2Co 4:2)
2Cor 4:1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart
John Piper rightly notes that…
The apostle Paul wrestled as much as anybody with the temptation to lose heart because of the wasting away of his body. He strengthened his heart with truth about the future grace of dying. And he wrote it down so that we might follow him… The first part of his answer is in 2Co 4:16… He doesn’t lose heart because his inner man is being renewed. How? The renewing of his heart comes from something very strange: it comes from looking at what he can’t see (2Co 4:18)… This is Paul’s way of not losing heart: looking at what you can’t see. What did he see? A few verses later in 2Co 5:7, he says, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” This doesn’t mean that he leaps into the dark without evidence of what’s there. It means that the most precious and important realities in the world are beyond our physical senses. We “look” at these unseen things through the gospel. By the grace of God we see what Paul called “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God” (2Co 4:4). We strengthen our hearts—we renew our courage—by fixing our gaze on the invisible, objective truth that we see in the testimony of those who saw Christ face to face. (Future Grace - The Purifying Power of Living by Faith in Future Grace )
I read recently about a man in Bucharest, Romania, who was severely beaten by an anti-Christian mob. When Good Friday came, he showed up at church still bearing his bruises and the marks of the beating. As he described what happened, he also described how he had decided to pray about the incident. He told his friends that while he could not in good conscience pray for an end to suffering, he had learned to pray this simple prayer: “Lord, give me the strength to go on.”
Not long ago, I read an article by a man who had married the woman of his dreams, but one day the police showed up at his door with the heart-stopping news of her murder. It took a long time for him to begin working through his loss, but he had finally written the article on the subject of grief management that I was reading, and the title of the article was: “The Strength to Go On.”
As I prepared this message, I read a newspaper article about a woman in Jackson, Tennessee, whose little baby had died from a rare disease. She has since become a counselor helping couples who face such losses, and she told the newspaper:
“When it happens, you feel like you can't go on. But God gave me the strength to go on. I feel like God has given me that way to help other people live with it. That's kind of my mission — to help other people go on, to deal with the loss.”
All of us come to a point in life when we aren’t sure we have the strength to go on. But the Bible has very many passages for us when we feel that way. The words strong, strength, and strengthened occur over 500 times in the Bible; and today I’d like to show you a wonderful passage that talks about the strength we need to go on—our daily strength. It’s found in the book of 2 Corinthians, which is the most autobiographical of all Paul’s writings. In 2 Corinthians he describes his hardships and heartaches in detail, telling us about his whippings and beatings and fatigue and rejection. But overall, the book doesn’t have a gloom-and-doom feel to it; it’s a triumphant book. And in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, we find the secret as we come to another of the Bible’s great day-by-day passages:
There are four dimensions here to finding the strength to go on, whatever our circumstances in life.
The Onward Dimension - First, notice the onward dimension of Paul’s everyday life. 2Cor 4:16 begins—Therefore we do not lose heart. The word therefore connects this paragraph with the preceding one where Paul is talking about how he is cast down but unconquered. Notice verses 2Co 4:8ff: "We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…”
Paul’s life is beset by struggles and suffering on every side, but he has made up his mind that he wasn’t going to lose his joy, his enthusiasm, his exuberance, his victory, or his morale. In 2Cor 4:1, he declares: Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. And here in 2Cor 4:16, in today’s text, he repeats himself: Therefore we do not lose heart.
This is a very powerful phrase—we do not lose heart. Paul may lose sleep, but he isn’t going to lose heart. He may lose friends, but he’s not going to lose heart. He might lose earthly fame and prestige, worldly wealth and comfort; he may even lose skin off his back and years off his life, but he is determined not to lose heart. As long as he has the promises of God in the Bible and the indwelling Spirit in his heart, he is not about to lose heart. The Greek word Paul used means to lose motivation, to become weary and to become discouraged and to give up. He is saying, No matter how hard things may be I am not going to lose my motivation, fall into discouragement, lose heart, and give up. This is pure, dogged determination, and this is commended in the Bible.
1 Samuel 17:31 says, “Don’t give up hope.”
2 Chronicles 15:7: “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work shall be rewarded.”
Psalm 143:3 says, “When I am ready to give up, He knows what I should do.”
Acts 18:9 says: “Do not be afraid, but keep on speaking and do not give up.”
Romans 12:11 says, in one translation, “Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 4:7 says in a modern translation: “Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up”
Hebrews 12:2-3 says: Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for Him, He thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and He is now seated at the right-hand side of God’s throne. Think of what He went through; how He put up with so much hatred from sinners! So do not let yourselves become discouraged and give up.
In Luke 18:1, Jesus said, “Always pray and not give up.”
Perhaps you’re facing some hardships in life right now and you feel like giving up; but one the greatest secrets to the prevailing life is the refusal to give up or to give in. The greatest leaders in human history and in the world of sports and athletics have all had one thing in common—they refused to give up even when things were grim.
Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, the famous American war hero, once explained his victories and successes by saying:
My mother, a very poor woman in Columbus, Ohio, taught her kids to pray, to read the Bible, to follow Jesus Christ and never to give up.
Alabama coach Bear Bryant said:
Don’t give up at halftime. Concentrate on winning the second half.
Michael Jordan said:
If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.
Golfer Tony Lema said
If I had to cram all my tournament experience into one sentence, I would say, “Don’t give up and don’t let up!”
That may be sports talk but that’s also Pauline theology. The apostle Paul said, “Therefore we don’t lose heart. We don’t give up and we don’t let up. We don’t allow adversity to neutralize our calling. We press on.” That’s the attitude we’ve got to adopt if we’re going to finish our course having kept the faith.
BUT THOUGH OUR OUTER MAN IS DECAYING: all' ei kai o echo hemon anthropos diaphtheiretai (3SPPI): (though: 2Co 12:15 Job 19:26,27 Ps 73:26 Isa 57:1,2 Mt 5:29,30)
Outer man - The material, physical nature, our bodies. Note synonyms Paul uses in this section - "earthen vessels" (2Co 4:7), "the body" (2Co 4:10), "mortal flesh" (2Co 4:11), "earthly tent… our house" (2Co 5:1), "this tent" (2Co 5:4), "at home in the body" (2Co 5:6).
Murray Harris comments that in using outer and inner man…
Paul is not thinking of two distinct entities, "the body" and "the soul," but is considering his total existence from two different viewpoints. His "outer man" is his whole person in his "creaturely mortality" (J. Behm, TDNT, 2:699), the man of this age; his "inner man" is his whole person as a "new creation" (2Co 5:17) or a "new man" (Col 3:9, 10), the man of the age to come. (Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary - New Testament. Zondervan Publishing)
NIV Application Commentary agrees noting that…
The correspondence between 2Co 4:1 and 2Co 4:16 makes it clear that "outer" and "inner" do not refer to a dualistic body/soul dichotomy. Rather, they point to the moral transformation of Paul’s life as a believer (his "inner self") in the midst of his life within the suffering and sin of this present evil age (his "outer self"). In both cases, the "inner" and "outer self" refers to Paul in his entirety as one who lives eschatologically in this "overlapping of the ages." (NIV Application Commentary New Testament - NIVAC)
C K Barrett adds that…
Inward and outward man are not the elements of a psychological dualism (of which hardly any trace is to be found in Paul’s writing as a whole) but refer to the man of this age and the man of the age to come (cf. the natural body and the spiritual body of 1Co 15:44)…
From one aspect, Paul as a whole is the old man… subject to a thousand troubles and under sentence of death; from another aspect, Paul as a whole is the new man, whose very being is Christ (cf. Gal 2:20; Php 1:21), the heavenly man (1Co 15:47). The outward man can only decay (for Paul’s word, diaphtheiretai, cf. 1 Cor. 15:42, 50, 53: phthora, phthartos), not simply because of such attacks as are described in 2Co 4:8f. but because it belongs to a world that is passing away (1Co 7:31). The inward man experiences constant renewal. ‘According to the rabbinic notion, the ethical renewal of man belongs only to the future, which alone can bring the promised new Spirit, or the new heart’ (S. B. iii. 600 f.); that is, the renewal Paul speaks of is an anticipation of eschatology. For the verb to renew (anakainoo) compare Ro 12:2-note (anakainosis), though here the thought is different. (Black’s New Testament Commentary The Second Epistle to the Corinthians)
As Brian Bell says there is…
No need to fear the years, for they bring him nearer, not to death, but to God! We are to focus not on the external but the internal. (Ed: Not the temporal but the "eternal") (2 Corinthians 4)
The psalmist Asaph says it this way…
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Ps 73:26)
Comment: Note the contrast between temporal (flesh fails, either today but always in death) and eternal ("forever") just as in this section of Paul's letter. Note the focus -- not my self and my weakness but God and His strength, which is always the best pattern. Flesh fails, but God does not fail.
Spurgeon says it well: After having been driven far out to sea, Asaph casts anchor in the old port. We shall do well to follow his example. There is nothing desirable save God; let us, then, desire only him. All other things must pass away; let our hearts abide in him, who alone abideth for ever.
Paul echoes what all aging believers know (or should know) and that is that there is comfort in the fact that decay is accompanied by renewal. And yet the psalmist presents a excellent prayer we would all to well to utter from time to time…
Do not cast me off in the time of old age. Do not forsake me when my strength fails. (Ps 71:9)
Spurgeon comments: Alas for us, if we were abandoned by our God, as many a courtier has been by his prince! Old age robs us of personal beauty, and deprives us of strength for active service; but it does not lower us in the love and favour of God. An ungrateful country leaves its worn out defenders to starve upon a scanty pittance, but the pensioners of heaven are satisfied with good things.
Do no forsake me - Bear with me, and endure my infirmities. To be forsaken of God is the worst of all conceivable ills, and if the believer can be but clear of that grievous fear, he is happy: no saintly heart need be under any apprehension upon this point.
Decaying (1311)(diaphtheiro from dia = intensifies meaning + phtheiro = to ruin, corrupt, spoil, shrivel, destroy, defile) (English = diphtheria) means to cause the complete destruction, to destroy, corrupt or decay utterly (through and through so to speak), to rot thoroughly, to ruin, to pervert utterly, perish. It always signifies a change for the worse.
The Bible uses diaphtheiro literally of physical corruption, destruction or decay (Re 8:9, 11:18, Jdg 6:6Lxx) or figuratively of moral decay (1Ti 6:5, Jdg 2:19Lxx)
In the present context the literal sense is used signifying a gradual bodily incapacitation and loss of one's strength. In a sense we are "wasting away" in the aging process. Diaphtheiro is used of the worm or moth that eats provisions. As noted in the 6 NT uses below, diaphtheiro can refer to either physical or moral destruction. Keeping the context in mind, we need to think first of the deterioration on Paul's body wrought by the many hardships he has just described (eg 2Co 4:8, 9, also see Paul's Living Martyrdom). In other words, what brought about the deterioration of his body was the cumulative effect of his manifold sufferings.
The present tense signifies this process of physical decay and deterioration is inexorable and unavoidable. The seeds of decay and dissolution are in the body from birth. There is no "fountain of youth" for the outer man, but there is one for the inner man! For the believer the unavoidable truth of ongoing decay of the outer man is lessened by the truth of a corresponding ongoing renewal of the inner man. The New American Bible paraphrase picks up this association…
our inner being is renewed each day even though our body is being destroyed at the same time.
Here the decay (diaphtheiretai) of the bodily organism is set over against the growth in grace (anakainoutai, is refreshed) of the man himself.
Albert Barnes on decaying…
Grows old; becomes weak and feeble; loses its rigour and elasticity under the many trials which we endure, and under the infirmities of advancing years. It is a characteristic of the "outer man" that it thus perishes. Great as may be its rigour, yet it must decay and die. It cannot long bear up under the trials of life, and the wear and tear of constant action, but must soon sink to the grave. Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical.
Our outward circumstances of life are very mean and despicable; we are oftentimes in a very distressed condition through hunger, thirst, nakedness, and want of the common necessaries of life; our bodies are almost worn out with fatigue, labour, and sorrow; our earthly tabernacles are tottering, and just ready to fall in pieces
Diaphtheiro - 6x in 5v in the NT, translated decaying(1), depraved(1), destroy(2), destroyed(1), destroys(1). See also the related noun - diaphthora - decay - Acts 2:27, 31 13:34, 35,36, 37. Another derivative adiaphthoria is used once in Titus 2:7 calling for young men to let their teaching have freedom from corruptible mixtures or adulterations. The exhortation was not to mix in teaching or doctrine (didaskalia) with anything that would in any way corrupt and deprive Christian teaching of its eternal value! Oh my, how pulpiteers need to heed this exhortation in a day when truth is becoming more and more difficult to find in the very place that should be the bastion and defender of Biblical truth.
Diaphtheiro - 59x in 56v in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (LXX) - Jdg 2:19; Jdg 6:5; 16:7, 16:8; 20:21, 25, 35, 42; Ru 4:6; 1Sa 2:25; 6:5; 13:17; 14:15; 23:10; 26:15; 2Sa 1:14; 11:1; 14:11; 20:20; 24:16; 2Kgs 8:19; 13:23; 18:25; 19:12; Ps 13:1; 52:2; 56:1; 57:1; 58:1; 74:1; 77:38, 45; Eccl 5:5; Mic 2:10; Nah 2:3; Zeph 3:7; Mal 1:14; 2:8; 3:11; Isa 49:19; Jer 5:26; 6:5, 28; 12:10; 13:7; 15:6; 27:45; 28:1, 25; Lam 2:5f, 8; Ezek 20:44; 23:11; 28:17; Da 7:19
Judges 2:19 But it came about when the judge died, that they would turn back and act more corruptly (Heb = shachath; Lxx = diaphtheiro - here used figuratively to describe the decay in their heart, the character, their conduct) than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them and bow down to them; they did not abandon their practices or their stubborn ways.
Judges 6:5 For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, they would come in like locusts for number, both they and their camels were innumerable; and they came into the land to devastate ("devour" continues image of a locust plague) (Heb = shachath; Lxx = diaphtheiro) it.
Jeremiah 6:28 All (speaking of faithless Judah) of them are stubbornly rebellious, going about as a talebearer. They are bronze and iron; They, all of them, are corrupt. (Heb = shachath; Lxx = diaphtheiro in the perfect tense = describes their permanent state)
Here are the NT uses of diaphtheiro
Luke 12:33 "Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys (present tense = continually).
Comment: Everyone can identify with this portrayal of the destruction wrought by a moth on some fine suit or dress -- it is usually ruined even though the holes may be small.
2Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
1Timothy 6:5 and constant friction between men of depraved (perfect tense = speaks of a the permanence of this condition, cp 2Ti 3:7, 8) mind and deprived (passive voice = something pulled them away from the truth) of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.
Comment: Note relation between a depraved mind and a "deprived mind"! Their depravity is in accord with their lack of truth.
John MacArthur: The external cause of false teaching is satanic deception (cf.. 1Ti 4:1). The internal cause, however, is the depraved or unregenerate mind of the false teacher. “The mind set on the flesh,” writes Paul, “is hostile toward God” (Ro 8:7). Such a mind does not function normally in the spiritual realm; it does not react normally to truth. Being natural men, false teachers cannot understand the things of God, which seem foolish to them (1Co 2:14). As a result, “God gave them over to a depraved mind” (Ro 1:28; cf. Ep 2:1, 2, 3; 4:17, 18, 19). Not having “the mind of Christ” (1Co 2:16), false teachers can produce only error.
Revelation 8:9 and a third of the creatures which were in the sea and had life, died; and a third of the ships were destroyed.
Revelation 11:18 "And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth."
Comment: Here is God’s assessment of modern environmentalism—which purports to radically care for the earth while denying the Creator behind the creation and creatures which it panders to. At the Second Coming, the condition of the earth has reached the equivalent of the time of the flood where “the earth is filled with violence” (Ge 6:13). This corruption was due to the great wickedness of man in that “every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Ge 6:5). This is the predictable end of unregenerate men once the Restrainer is removed and the mystery of lawlessness reaches full flower (2Th 2:7).
(Quoting from Henry Morris - The Revelation Record) “The word ‘destroy’ is the same, actually, as ‘corrupt.’ Man had destroyed the earth by corrupting the earth, using it not for God’s glory, but instead to satisfy his own greed and lust.” (A Testimony of Jesus Christ - Revelation 11:18)
Plummer comments that…
In the case of the physical powers there is a ceaseless wearing away, under the pressure of hard work, ill health, anxiety, and persecution; in the spiritual powers there is a ceaseless increase of strength. The one process, in spite of frequent Divine deliverances, must end in death; the other, by Divine decree, ends in eternal life. The force of the present tense must be preserved, ‘is being destroyed,’ ‘is being renewed’… "How is it being renewed?" asks Chrysostom, and replies, "By faith, by hope, by zeal.’ (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 --A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians. 1915. New York: Scribner)
Hughes notes that…
It’s axiomatic: our future hopes determine how we live in the present. The question is: how are our "futures"? What are you living for? It’s never too late to get it right. Don’t waste your life. Aging and decay can be disheartening, and especially so for those without hope of resurrection and transformation. The Greco-Roman culture of Paul’s day gave voice to remarkable expressions of despair. The Greek poet Aeschylus declared, "there is death once and for all and there is no resurrection." The Roman Marcus Aurelius held that at death all that is left is "dust, ashes, bones and stench." Very contemporary expressions, are they not? (2Corinthians Power in Weakness)
Robert Morgan comments…
One of my favorite writers was a New Zealander named J. Oswald Sanders. He died at age ninety just as he finished his last book, which was on the subject of aging. In the introduction of that book he makes a very interesting point. He says that it is possible to be realistic about aging without being pessimistic and depressed. He said:
Realism and optimism with regard to the aging process can sleep in the same bed.” (J. Oswald Sanders, Enjoying Your Best Years: Staying Young While Growing Older (Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers, 1993), p. viii.)
I know this is true based on my observations through the years… When it comes to aging, we have to be realistic, but we can either be realistic/pessimistic or we can be realistic/optimistic. Paul was realistic/optimistic, and his secret is in the next phrase and in the next dimension of healthy living, the inward dimension (yet the inward man is being renewed day by day). (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Our Daily Strength)
D E Garland has an interesting parallel regarding Paul's description of the outer decaying and inner renewing…
His image is the exact reverse of the plot in Oscar Wilde’s novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. In that story the vain Dorian Gray has his portrait painted; and when it is finished, he laments: “How sad! I shall grow old and horrible, but this picture never will be older. If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! I would give my soul for that!” He got his wish. The portrait became a mirror of his soul, which showed every sign of evil and aging. He locked it away to prevent the world from seeing the truth about himself and deceived others with an outward appearance of one who was young, pure, and handsome. The contrast between the loathsome, evil, and wrinkled visage on the canvas fed by mad, ravenous passions, and his exquisite outward appearance grew more stark every day. (The New American Commentary. page 241. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers)
Henry Martyn had the right attitude toward the inevitable decline of our physical state…
If I am going to burn out, let me burn out for God.
H A Ironside on the outer man decaying…
The outward man perisheth. How well we know that! What is the outward man? It is the physical man, the body, and many of us realize that the outward man is perishing. There is not the elasticity in the step that there used to be, there is not the physical vigor that there once was. We tire a great deal more easily than we did some years ago. We do not remember things as well as we once did.
YET OUR INNER MAN IS BEING RENEWED DAY BY DAY: all' o eso hemon anakainoutai (3SPPI) hemera kai hemera.: (inner: Ro 7:22 Eph 3:16 1Pe 3:4) (being renewed: Ps 51:10 Isa 40:31 Ro 12:2 Eph 4:23 Col 3:10 Titus 3:5) (day by day: Lk 11:3)
LIVING BY FAITH
|Outer man||Inner man|
|Things seen||Things unseen|
|Tent||Building from God (2Co 5:1,2)|
|Earthly||Heavenly (2Co 5:1)|
|Torn down||Eternal (2Co 5:1)|
|Naked||Clothed (2Co 5:2-4)|
|Mortal||Life (2Co 5:4)|
|By sight||By faith (2Co 5:7)|
|At home in body||Away with the Lord (2Co 5:7-9)|
Yet (alla) introduces a refreshing "change of direction", a conspicuous contrast, so that instead of outer decay God offers us the sure hope of inner spiritual renewal. This caused Paul to put his problems in proper perspective, allowing him to keep on keeping on. A good perspective of our present passing life is necessary for good Christian service and will keep us going when (not if) the path becomes rough and perilous.
As our body, through pain and disease, is constantly sinking towards the grave, here is our continual consolation,-that our inner man is renewed day by day.
Inner man - the inward, nonphysical, spiritual self. The redeemed man. The Spirit-supported self. Synonyms in this section - "a building from God, a house not made with hands" (2Co 5:1). Compare "the hidden person of the heart" (1Pe 3:4-note). Not only is Christ in us (Col 1:27-note), but our now "life is hidden with Christ in God." (Col 3:3-note).
Paul uses a similar expression in Romans where he declares…
For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, (Ro 7:22-note)
Adam Clarke says the inner man is…
which cannot be felt or seen by others, is renewed—is revived, and receives a daily increase of light and life from God, so that we grow more holy, more happy, and more meet for glory every day.
H A Ironside on the inner man…
The inward man is… the real man, regenerated by the power of the Holy Ghost. The body gets weaker and weaker, but the inward man gets stronger and stronger. The nearer we get to heaven, the more real the precious things of the Lord become to us. I think Bunyan’s picture is a very lovely one. He saw the aged saints lying on the shores of the river of life in the land of Beulah, and they could get glimpses every now and then of the glory of the celestial city. At times they could actually see the shining ones from the other side, and at others they thought they could even hear the voices of the saints and their songs of praise. I think the aged know much of that. God’s saints who have lived for Him through the years, and now have gotten very close to the end of this life, already seem to get the sounds and sights from the celestial city yonder to which they are going; and be assured that these things will become more and more real to you the closer you get to the end. "At eventide, it shall be light."
OLDER ON THE OUTSIDE
YOUNGER ON THE INSIDE!
Being renewed - The process of inner renewal parallels the ongoing process of external decay. Wuest paraphrases it "being changed into a new kind of life (fit for the new spiritual existence into which we have been ushered in salvation, and constantly being conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus)" This process of renewal begins with our new birth or regeneration and is consummated at our glorification.
The best commentary on the strengthening of the inner nature is found in the prayer of Ephesians 3:14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19. There the inner nature is to be strengthened when by the Spirit it is indwelt by Christ and rooted and grounded in the love of God. (Tyndale Commentaries - 2 Corinthians: Colin Kruse. IVP, 2008)
ESV Study Bible comments that this section
refers to the weakening of the physical body in contrast with the strengthening of the spirit, and also assumes a contrast between Paul’s life of suffering in this present evil age (his outer self) and the moral and spiritual transformation of his life into the image of God as seen in Christ (his inner self; see 2Cor 3:18).
Henry Alford - writes that renewal refers to
our spiritual life, the life which testifies the life of Jesus, even in our mortal bodies (2Co 4:11), is continually fed with fresh accessions of grace.
Stanley cites a line attributed to Michael Angelo: “The more the marble wastes the more the statue grows.” Compare Euripides: “Time does not depress your spirit, but it grows young again: your body, however, is weak” (“Heraclidae, ” 702, 703).
Of itself, suffering will not make us holier men and women. Unless we yield to the Lord, turn to His Word, and trust Him to work, our suffering could make us far worse Christians. In my own pastoral ministry, I have seen some of God's people grow critical and bitter, and go from bad to worse instead of "from glory to glory."
Barnes on being renewed…
Is renovated, strengthened, invigorated. His powers of mind expanded; his courage became bolder; he had clearer views of truth; he had more faith in God. As he drew nearer to the grave and to heaven, his soul was more raised above the world, and he was more filled with the joys and triumphs of the gospel. The understanding and the heart did not sympathize with the suffering and decaying body; but, while that became feeble, the soul acquired new strength, and was fitting for its flight to the eternal world.
the internal hidden man of the heart, the new man is in a prosperous condition; our souls are in good health; the work of God is comfortably carried on in us; we have sweet and repeated experiences of the love of God; we are growing in grace, and in the knowledge of Christ; and, like the palm tree, the more weight is hung upon it, the more it thrives; and, like the children of Israel in Egypt, the more they were afflicted the more they grew.
Dan Mitchell writes that…
People who have walked with the Lord many years have an inner beauty that transcends the transient beauty of the flesh. Peter speaks of this when he admonishes women. "And let not your adornment be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God" (1Pe 3:3, 4). (AMG 21st Century Biblical New Testament Commentary - 2Corinthians - Grace Under Siege)
Caird explains this renewal process
But it is a secret process, invisible both to the outsider and to the believer himself, known only to faith. To protect that faith from the encroachments of pride, which would turn spiritual renewal into a human achievement instead of accepting it as a gift of grace, God has provided that the process be concealed within an ‘earthenware vessel,’ a perishable body subject to pain and decay (2Co 4:7; cp. 2Co 12:7, 8, 9). Those whose eyes are not on the seen and transient, but on the unseen and eternal, can detect beneath the decay of the outer nature an inner life which is being daily renewed (2Co 4:16–18). (G. B. Caird, Paul’s Letters from Prison, New Clarendon Bible)
GOD designed your life as a Christian to get younger on the inside as you get older on the outside.
Renewed (341) (anakainoo [word study] from aná = back or again + kainóō = to make new > from kainos = not recent but qualitatively new and different) is used only here and in (Col 3:10-note) and means literally to make new (in quality) again (in context we were made in the image of God but fell, and are now be renewed into that image again ["ana-"]). It is to cause something to become new and better or superior. In the present context Paul uses anakainoo to signify that the believer's inner being is to continually (present tense) being changed into a new quality or kind of life (that heretofore never existed), which is in opposition to the corrupt, depraved state of the unregenerate individual, a state which is continually "decaying" (spiritually). Renewed is in the passive voice which indicates our inner man is being acted upon by an outside power, the supernatural power of God and especially the Spirit, as 2Co 3:18 and Ep 3:16-note make clear.
"Renewable Energy" is a catch phrase in our modern world. How it should encourage all saints that our inner man is "renewable"! The deposit of the Spirit within us sets in motion a regenerative overhaul of the self that culminates in complete transformation at Christ’s return (2Co 1:22; 5:5).
Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words…
The very image of God is being restored in us (Ed: That's the sense of the preposition "ana-" which means "again") as we grow in true knowledge of Christ (Col 3:10). All of this is accomplished by what Titus called the cleansing of “rebirth and renewal” (Titus 3:5-note, anakainosis in Greek). Jesus taught that eventually all things would be renewed (Matt. 19:28, paliggenesia in Greek). We, as believers, should look forward to that spectacular day of renewal. (Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words)
Anakainoo is used only one other time in the NT…
Comment: Anakainoo is in the present tense which indicates that we are "continually being renewed” to a new quality of life, describing a process that will continue the rest of our earthly days, a process with is essentially synonymous with progressive sanctification, growth in holiness, gradual being conformed to the image of God's Son, growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The passive voice indicates we are being acted upon by an outside power, the context indicating that it is the supernatural power of God, the Holy Spirit Who sanctifies us. Of course, the Word is that entity by which we are renewed and progressively set apart (cp Jn 17:17). And thus once again we see the vitally important role the pure milk of the Word has in the believer's renewal and overall spiritual growth. In short - no intake of God's Word, no growth spiritually (see 1Pe 2:2-note).
The noun form of anakainoo is used by Paul in Romans to exhort the believers not to be continually
conformed (present imperative) to this world, but be transformed (present imperative) by the renewing (anakainosis - qualitatively and so a renewal which makes one's mind different than it was in the past) of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Ro 12:2-note)
Wuest comments on anakainosis in this passage: Thayer defines the word, “a renewal, renovation, complete change for the better.” That is (in Ro 12:2) the change of outward expression is dependent upon the renovation, the complete change for the better of the believer’s mental process. This is accomplished through the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who when definitely, and intelligently, and habitually yielded to puts sin out of the believer’s life and produces His own fruit. He does that by controlling the mental processes of the believer. It is the prescription of the apostle. “Habitually be ordering (present imperative) your behavior within the sphere and by means of the Spirit, and you will positively not fulfil the desire of the flesh (evil nature) “ (Gal 5:16-note)
In Titus Paul also uses anakainosis…
Comment: While some interpret the use of anakainosis in this passage as a reference to the one time event of the new birth, others favor this as indicating a continual renewing by the Holy Spirit, similar to the renewal in 2Cor 4:16. Bishop Trench writes that anakainosis refers to "the gradual (progressive, lifelong) conforming of the man more and more to that new spiritual world into which he has been introduced, and in which he now lives and moves; the restoration of the divine image". W E Vine writes that in Titus 3:5 anakainosis refers to "the adjustment of the moral and spiritual vision and thinking to the mind of God, which is designed to have a transforming effect upon the life".
Paul asks the Father…
Comment: This passage supports the premise that the Holy Spirit is the major effecter of renewal of the inner man described here in 2Cor 4:16.
Richard Pratt explains that…
At the present time… a paradoxical situation exists for followers of Christ. On the one hand, they have believed the gospel and have been granted salvation. The Holy Spirit lives within believers as the “deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (Ep 1:14-note - Ed: "view to the redemption" ~ glorification), bringing many spiritual blessings into their lives. On the other hand, they have yet to be granted full salvation, including the resurrection of their bodies at the end of the age (Ed: See "day of redemption" ~ glorification in Ep 4:30-note). This is why Paul spoke of himself as decaying and being renewed at the same time. As he waited for his physical existence to be renewed at the resurrection, he took comfort and joy in the renewal of his inward person by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. (Pratt, R. L., Jr. Vol. 7: I & II Corinthians. Holman New Testament Commentary)
Paul alludes to the process of renewal of the inner man in 2Cor 3:18 writing that…
we all, with unveiled face (perfect tense = describes our permanent state, one that had its inception the day we believed [veil was lifted] and were born again, Jn 3:3, 5) beholding (middle voice = signifies that we initiate this action and participate in the benefits therefrom; present tense = a continual process) as in a mirror the glory of the Lord (His glory is shone in the heavens Ps 19:1, but this refers to His glory as shown in His Word, cp Jas 1:23, 24, Jas 1:25), are being transformed (being = passive voice = effect exerted by the Spirit on our inner man as we behold the "mirror" of God's Word; transformed = present tense = a continual process) into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
I like the way the ancient sage Charles Simeon (see a fascinating biographical summary of Simeon by Dr John Piper) describes the believer's continual renewal stating that…
our light will be progressive, advancing like that of the sun, from its earliest dawn to its meridian height (cp Pr 4:18). This is the change which the Gospel has wrought on millions of the human race: and that Gospel shall yet be found, by every true Believer, “the power of God to the salvation of his soul.” (Ro 1:16-note and 1Pe 1:9-note) (Horae Homileticae - Man's Original and Present State - Ecclesiastes 7:29)
Found in Christ, I will not falter,
Faint, or fail to do His will.
Outwardly I’m growing weaker;
Inward, stronger still!
Day by day His Word renews me
With the Spirit’s inner flow
As I look at things eternal,
Not at things below
Inward, outward, onward, upward
As I ask Him to impart
Daily strength and hope eternal
To my trusting heart.
Robert Hughes writes that Paul…
experienced daily renewal of his inner man, though his outer man was decaying (4:16). That amounted to a startling description of resurrection taking place within a decaying corpse. Paul’s critics, and the Corinthians as a whole, shared an all-too-high regard for physical status and well-being. How could he ever have hoped to warm their hearts to viewing the outer person as quite secondary to inner renewal? Because, second, he also had a world view that linked affliction to eternal glory. According to Paul’s view, the one who loses heart is the one who sees suffering as an end in itself, rather than as a means to glory. He did not look at "things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen" (2Co 4:18). That was the very perspective he labored to instill in the Corinthians throughout this section (see 2Co 5:12). The various strands of Paul’s thoughts were controlled by the central concept of what is unseen and eternal: the glory of the Spirit (chap. 3), the pledge of resurrection (2Co 1:22; 5:5), and the new creation of the believer in Christ (2Co 5:17). (Everyman's Bible Commentary Series )
How does this supernatural renewal take place? As the believer chooses to saturate his or her mind with the abiding seed, the living and active Word of God (and obey the truth imbibed), the Holy Spirit progressively "renovates" the mind (not like remodeling of a house but generating a brand new way of thinking) so that the way we see, think and feel lines up more and more with the mind of God. We begin to see with eyes of faith the eternal significance of temporal events.
The crucial ingredient in this mind renewal process is regular ingestion of "everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD" (Dt 8:3, "every word" in Mt 4:4, Why? see Lk 1:37ASV), cultivating an "infant like" attitude (see 1Pe 2:1-note for what you need to do to cultivate this desire and give you an "appetite".) If you do not have an appetite for God's Word, do a personal inventory with 1Pe 2:1 (Be honest) so that you will…
like newborn babes long for (epipotheo - earnestly, intensely crave a command in the aorist imperative = indicates this is NOT optional! Do this now. Without delay. It is vitally important!) for the pure ("no additives", unadulterated, nothing that would cause decay!) milk of the work, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation (1Pe 2:2-note).
Every believer needs to cultivate a heart attitude like Job who affirmed…
I have not departed (withdrawn, ceased, removed myself) from the command of His lips; I have treasured (laid up, concealed or hidden = same Hebrew verb used in Ps 119:11 - Spurgeon's note) the words of His (God's) mouth more than my necessary food"! (Job 23:12-note).
Question: Could Job's attitude toward the Word in any way explain how he was able to persevere in the face of such incredible testing?! Look at the context - specifically notice the confidence Job expressed in the preceding passage - Job 23:10-note. How could he be so sure? Could Job 23:12 be the answer! Job's outer man was wasting away and yet with eyes of faith, his inner man envisioned not the temporal but the eternal purposes of God (cp Job 42:5, 6). Lord give us "Job like" vision to see the eternal in the temporal. Amen
If your mind is to be renewed…
this book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate (meditation = same Hebrew word in Ps 1:2-note) on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to ALL that is written in it (When you study the Bible "hit or miss," you miss more than you hit) , for then you will make your way prosperous (referring to spiritual wealth [~renewal of the inner man] not necessarily fiscal prosperity) and then you will have success" (because your mind is renewed) (Joshua 1:8-note). (Related resource- Inductive Study on the Power of God's Word)
Joshua 1:8 (note) is a passage which was God's call to Joshua (and all believers) to think "Biblically", reading, assimilating, reflecting on and obeying the Word of God, so that might we live "Biblically" in all we say and do. As clearly stated in Joshua 1:8 (note) a key element in this process is meditation which is so crucial to mind renewal but unfortunately is a spiritual discipline which is seldom practiced by Christians today. Now think with me for a moment. Is meditation optional? Not really because reading the Bible without meditating on it is like eating without chewing! It's not how many times you "go through" the Bible, but how many times the Bible "goes through" you! One of the most productive ways to study the Bible for yourself is to learn to read it inductively (see Intro to Inductive Bible Study).
In Isaiah 40 we see another passage that alludes to the renewal of the inner man…
He (Jehovah) gives strength to the weary (cp outer man decaying), and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait (see word study) for the LORD will gain (Hebrew conveys idea of changing clothes, taking off the old weaknesses and putting on the new inner strength from God) new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not get tired. They will walk and not become weary. (Isa 40:29, 30, 31-see commentary)
In Ephesians Paul exhorts the saints at Ephesus to lay aside the old and to…
Comment: Renewed is in the passive voice indicating the effect is from an external source (the Spirit) and the present tense indicating that this renewal is an ongoing or continual process (cp, progressive sanctification, growth in Christlikeness, growth in holiness).
Paul exhorts the believers in the church at Ephesus (and you and I in the Body, the Church of Jesus Christ) to the lofty goal of continually allowing the Spirit of God to renew the way they (we) think. This renewal is not only in what one believes (which is vitally important), but is a belief which transforms feelings, attitudes and behavior. Paul desires that we all partake of this miracle of inner renewal which enables us to have a divine perspective on this temporal, transient, visible, passing world (1Jn 2:17-note) and the (spiritually) dead people (Ep 2:1-note) passing their lives in emptiness and vanity (Ec 1:2, cp Ec 12:13,1 4). This inner renewal is calculated to help us not grow weary and lose heart (Gal 6:9, 2Th 3:13, He 12:3-note), even though our body is growing old and the spiritual battle rages fiercely all around, even in our mind (cp Gal 5:16-note, Gal 5:17-note). Beloved, let us press on… pressing ever upward (Php 3:14-note)
Peter Martyr dying, said, "My body is weak, my mind is well, well for the present, and it will be better hereafter." This is the godly man's motto. (John Trapp)
Paul understood the relationship between suffering and sharing Christ’s death and His resurrection life, declaring his desire to the saints at Philippi…
that I may know Him (Jesus) and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Php 3:10, 11-note)
Day by day (hemera kai hemera - see similar phrase in note on Lxx of Ps 68:20) - The promise is for daily renewal and speaks of progressive sanctification as Paul has just alluded to in 2Cor 3:18. Vincent remarks that "day by day" is a Hebrew form of expression, but there is no definitive correlate in the OT (cp Ge 39:20, Ps 68:20), and specifically hemera kai hemera does not occur in the Greek Septuagint. Other commentators suggest that this phrase is more probably a colloquial use of the temporal dative, with the repeated hemera denoting repetition, "day after day," or, as in the colloquial English expression "day in and day out." The similar phrase "hemera te hemera" is used in Modern Greek for ‘day by day’.
Barnes on day by day…
Constantly. There was a daily and constant increase of inward rigor. God imparted to him constant strength in his trials, and sustained him with the hopes of heaven, as the body was decaying, and tending to the grave. The sentiment of this verse is, that in an effort to do good, and to promote the salvation of man, the soul will be sustained in trials, and will be comforted and invigorated even when the body is weary, grows old, decays, and dies. It is the testimony of Paul respecting his own experience; and it is a fact which has been experienced by thousands in their efforts to do good, and to save the souls of men from death.
The renewal of humankind (after the new birth)… proceeds gradually and is accomplished more quickly in some individuals and more slowly in others.
To be like Jesus is our goal,
Though it doesn’t happen fast;
We trust the Spirit as our Guide
Till we’re glorified at last.
The conversion of a soul is the miracle of a moment;
the growth of a saint is the work of a lifetime.
Alexander von Humboldt
There is a tree in South America called the cow-tree. It grows on the barren flank of a rock that its roots are scarcely able to penetrate. To the eye it appears dead and dried, but when the trunk is pierced there flows from it a sweet and nourishing milk. This is not unlike the Christian, who outwardly may appear to be withering and dying but within possesses a living sap that is welling up to eternal life.
As Christians, we must live a day at a time. No person, no matter how wealthy or gifted, can live two days at a time. God provides for us "day by day" as we pray to Him (Luke 11:3). He gives us the strength that we need according to our daily requirements (Deut. 33:25). We must not make the mistake of trying to "store up grace" for future emergencies, because God gives us the grace that we need when we need it (He 4:16). When we learn to live a day at a time, confident of God's care, it takes a great deal of pressure off of our lives.
Yard by yard, life is hard!
Inch by inch, life's a cinch!
Spiritual Reupholstering - When we moved into our home 5 years ago, we discovered that the former owner had left us six dining room chairs. They were covered with fabric of beautiful African art—tasteful zebra stripes. We appreciated the unexpected gifts and used them frequently when entertaining guests.
When we recently moved again, those chairs needed a makeover to match our new decor. So I called an upholsterer and asked, "Shouldn't we just put the new material over the existing fabric?" He responded, "No, you'll ruin the shape of the chair if you just put new material over the old."
The work of God in our lives is similar. He's not interested in merely changing our spiritual appearance. Instead, He intends to replace our character with what is called "the new man," made in the image of Christ (Ephesians 4:24). The flesh has a tendency to perform religious activity, but this is not the work of the Holy Spirit. He will completely transform us on the inside.
But the process is a partnership (Php 2:12-note;Php 2:13- note). As we daily lay aside our old behaviors and replace them with godly ones, the God of grace works in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
God wants to reupholster us. —Dennis Fisher (Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Dear Lord, You've given new life to me—
A great and full salvation;
And may the life that others see
Display the transformation. —Hess
When you receive Christ,
God's work in you has just begun.
Phil Newton commenting similar use of anakainoo in Col 3:10 writes that Paul describes renewal as a process which assures that the believer…
is being sanctified (Ed: being made holy, being progressively, daily set apart from the profane and common of this world and unto the Lord and for His use) by the Lord. Paul is not speaking of something that might take place in the Christian. Instead, he refers to the certainty and constancy of being renewed. Anakainoo is (related to the) term that is used in Ro 12:2-note (Ed: the cognate noun anakainosis) when were are told to
be transformed (present imperative = command calling for continual action - what God commands, He always enables) by the renewing (anakainosis) of your mind, so that you may prove (dokimazo) what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
It implies a newness in quality that keeps growing and changing and improving in the believer. When you come to faith in Christ, you still have the same body with the same brain. All the patterns of the past are etched in your mind. But as you grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ (cp 2Pe 3:18-note), a renewing process takes place. Those old patterns are gradually culled and the newness of life in Christ fills your mind. This is the glory of sanctification: that the Lord will work His grace in us, reproducing us in the image of Jesus Christ.
The renewing affects the way you think and what you understand about the Lord, his will, and his working in your life. Colossians 3:10 (note) calls it "a true knowledge." It could be translated as "a thorough knowledge." It is intensive, life-changing knowledge that shapes the way you live your life according to the pattern found in Christ. It is knowledge of Him, which is why Paul declares that his whole passion is to proclaim Christ (Col 1:29-note).
How does this renewal take place? We must recall the words of our Lord in his high priestly prayer:
Sanctify (aorist imperative) them in the truth; Thy word is truth (John 17:17).
As we partake of God's Word, hearing it, reading it, thinking upon it, meditating on it, digesting it and applying it, then the gradual work of sanctification occurs. Certainly the Lord uses other things in the sanctification process as in our trials, testing, needs, relationships, etc. But foremost of all is the Word. That is why the renewing that takes place is to a "true knowledge according to the image of the One who created" us.
If you are born of God, a sure evidence of it is the sanctifying work of the Spirit in your life. You have the assurance that the One who began his work in you will complete it (Php 1:6-note).
Conclusion - This is radical living. We must never be satisfied with simply going to church each week but not living radically for Christ in the balance of the week. Your union with Christ (see in Christ) demands a different lifestyle. May the Lord do His transforming work in each of us. (Sermons from the Epistle to the Colossians) (Bolding added)
Oswald Chambers has a devotional entitled Continuous Conversion which touches on the subject of the continual renewal of our inner man…
These words of our Lord (Mt 18:3) describe our initial conversion, but we should continue to turn to God as children, being continuously converted (Ed: Used in the sense of progressive, ongoing, daily sanctification) all the days of our lives. If we trust in our own reasoning power, instead of God’s power, we produce consequences for which God will hold us responsible. When God in His sovereign work brings us into new situations, we should immediately make sure that our natural life surrenders to the spiritual, obeying the orders of the Spirit of God (Gal 5:16-note). Just because we have responded to the Spirit once is no guarantee that we will do so again. The relation of the natural to the spiritual is one of continuous "conversion", but this is where we so often refuse to be obedient. No matter what our situation is, the Spirit of God remains unchanged and His salvation unaltered. But we must "put on the new man … " (Eph 4:24-note). God holds us responsible every time we refuse to "convert" ourselves (Ed comment: This process of ongoing "conversion" is initiated and empowered by God, even though we are called to work it out in fear and trembling), and He sees our refusal as willful disobedience. Our natural life must not rule— God must rule in us.
To refuse to be continuously converted is a hindrance to the growth of our spiritual life. There are areas of obstinate self-will in our lives where our pride pours contempt on the throne of God and says, "I won’t surrender my will." We in essence deify our independence and self-will and call them by the wrong name. What God sees as stubborn, selfish weakness, we call "strength". There are whole areas of our lives that have not yet been brought into submission to the Lord, and this can only be done by continuous "conversion". Slowly but surely we can claim the whole territory for the Spirit of God (Ed: Although we will never attain perfection until the day of glorification).
Thomas Watson comments that…
Like those two laurels at Rome—when the one withered the other flourished.' When the body withers—the soul of a Christian flourishes. How often have we seen a lively faith—in a languishing body! Hezekiah was better on his sick bed—than upon his throne. When he was upon his sickbed he humbles himself and weeps. When he was on his throne he grew proud (Isaiah 39:2). God's children recover spiritual health, by physical sickness. In this sense, 'out of weakness they are made strong' (Hebrews 11:34). (Beatitudes)
By the 'outward man,' you are to understand not merely our bodies—but our persons, estates, and outward conditions in this world; and by the 'inward man,' you are to understand our souls, our spiritual estate. Now, when the inward man gains new strength by every new trouble, when as troubles, pressures, afflictions, and tribulations are increased—a Christian's inward strength is increased also, when his afflictions are in love. When the presence of God is with our inward man, cheering, comforting, encouraging, strengthening, and renewing of that, we may safely conclude that all these trials, though they are ever so sharp and acute, yet they are in love. (Mute Christian)
Inner man - The spiritual man - The spiritual life - Thomas Sherman (1680) writes…
The spiritual life, though a hidden, is a real life. Those only deny it who are strangers to it. But that there is such a life, is manifest from its vigorous actings. When natural life is lowest, and the outward man perishing, there is the renewal of the inward man, (2Corinthians 4:16.)
The reality of the spiritual life may be inferred:
(1.) From the high esteem the saints have of it; being willing to "bear in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in their mortal flesh," (2Co 4:10.) Not loving their natural lives unto the death—if so be that they may preserve their spiritual life.
(2.) From the care also that they take to nourish it, by feeding upon that living bread who came down from heaven, and gives life unto the world.
And as it is a real life—so is it also an excellent life—a life of the noblest extraction. Those who partake of it are born from above—born of the Spirit—born of God! It is also a life of the choicest endowments; giving light to the understanding, rectitude to the will, spirituality to the affections, and regularity to the whole soul.
It is a life also of the most exalted aims—having the enjoyment of God for its chief good—and the living to God as its great end.
In a word, it is a life of the highest perfection, being the life of God—the life of Christ; both head and members living one and the same life.
And as it is an excellent, so is it an enduring life; being "hid with Christ in God;" that is, laid up and secured "in Christ" the head of all divine influence; and "in God," the fountain of all spiritual life. If, therefore, God has set up in your soul the light of reason, bless Him for that—but rest not in it without the light of life, (Jn 8:12.) It is a mercy to be alive in the world as a rational creature; but herein lies your happiness: to be made "alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord," (Ro 6 11.) And though in the world you may, with Christ, be despised and rejected by men—yet, "when Christ who is your life shall appears—then shall you also appear with Him in glory!" (Col 3:4)
Grace Abides - There is a pair of famous bronze gates in the city of Florence, which Michaelangelo, in a burst of admiration, declared were fit to be the gates of Paradise. They are panelled with noble figures and dainty pictures. Once they were gilded, and Dante referred to them as "The Golden Gates." But the centuries have worn off the gold—so that hardly a particle is left now. Still the fine masterly work of the artist abides in the solid bronze, looking none the less impressive in its severe simplicity. So while the years may wear away many meritorious accomplishments and much of the glitter of the natural life, the graces firmly ingrained in our soul by the Great Master of all Arts and Hearts will abide. No change can touch these, for "though our outward man perish, the inward man is renewed day to day" (2 Cor. 4:16).
Geoff Thomas has a pragmatic exposition of this passage…
The Christian lives in a universe of contrasts. He lives in a visible creation and that is all he can see with his physical eyes, but he fixes the eyes of his faith on an unseen eternal world. He is body, but he is also soul. He once was old man under the dominion of sin, he now is exclusively new man under the authority of Christ. Yet this new man encounters within himself the power of remaining sin - the 'flesh', but he is given victory over it day by day by the power of the regenerating Spirit which is located at the very control centre of this one new man. So within his own life the flesh and the spirit constantly war one against the another.
Paul in our text conceives of the Christian as comprising two distinct selves which concept is slightly different from the flesh/spirit contrast. There is a reality which he refers to as the outer self, and he means by that all that his body and mind and affections are experiencing of the temptations and contaminations and mortality of this present evil world.
THE INNER MAN
But he speaks also of the inner self and he means by that all that he has become through being joined to Jesus Christ. By this he is referring to his new status in Christ, his divine resources and the energy of the Holy Ghost which is working mightily in him, the redeemed and reborn child of God. By this impartation he has become a partaker of the divine nature (2Pe 1:4).
So these two 'natures' or, better, 'selves' characterise every single Christian. What he is outwardly, and what he is inwardly. The Christian can quote the words of the Lord Jesus and apply them to himself, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak," and he cares nothing about charges men make that he has fallen into dualism. He will be safe with the divisions the Lord himself has made. Yet the Christian is one man. He is no spiritual schizophrenic. All the followers of Christ live within these dynamics throughout their lives. They know that there will never come a time while they are in the body when they will be exclusively the inner man. On their last day on this earth they will be groaning because they are still remain outer man as well as inner man, and on their death beds there will be the spiritual warfare. But not for much longer!
When Paul looks at what he is according to his outer self he realizes that he is wasting away. Of course this is true physically. His body is getting older. He doesn't bounce back so quickly when he has been laid low. His brain cells die and are not being renewed. He is more forgetful. His eyesight is not what it once was. He cannot walk as far in one day as he could. His body has been damaged by all the sufferings he has endured for the sake of the gospel. Paul could see that the work of the gospel was killing him. He was old long before his time. He made no attempt to hide that from himself or others. He was a broken man at an age when others were fighting fit. But he as to his outer man was also exposed to fierce temptations. He finds within himself the seeds of every sin - anger, jealousy, lust, greed, retaliation, bitterness, self-pity, reluctance to pray, cowardice to speak and a spirit of self-righteousness, so the evil that he would not do he finds himself doing. The good he knows he should be doing he find himself avoiding. That is the condition of every Christian. We are weak and dying men. We groan; we sigh; we cry, "O wretched men that I am!" We experience a fight with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world. We have to pray, "Lead me not into temptation and deliver me from evil." The believer often finds a thorn in the flesh troubling him. It throbs away. It is a fearful distraction, so insignificant and yet so demanding of our attention. Outwardly the Christian is wasting away, and you would think that he must certainly lose heart.
But that is only half the story: "yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day."
Every single Christian is also making daily progress in the new life. His trust in God is stronger. His convictions about the gospel are deeper. His wisdom in knowing himself and the troubles of others is more profound. His resistance to sin is more determined. Paul appeared to be a fading sick old man, but inwardly he was being effectually transformed day by day. His youth was being renewed like the eagle. Paul could remember clearly certain men and incidents from thirty years earlier as if they had happened yesterday. He had memorized entire sections of the Scriptures and could repeat them to old age. He could shrug his shoulders at disease, decay and death and get on with the work of God. When everyone else left him he knew the Lord was standing by him. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," he would say.
THE DAILY INWARD RENEWAL
OF THE INNER MAN
Now let us ask what are some of the areas that Christians are being inwardly renewed day by day.
i] Trusting the Bible.
The young Christian reads the Bible because God has created a desire within him to do so. You remember Mary Jones walking to Bala in her bare feet to purchase her own copy of the Scriptures in the Welsh language. She would have been fascinated by the ministry she heard each Sunday which took her through chapters of the Scriptures and which explained the teaching to her, and drew out lessons and applications that she might have missed. So she longed for her own Bible and finally got one from the hands of Thomas Charles himself. She would read a passage and she would ask it questions: what does this tell me about God? what promises does God make to me in these words? what duties does he require of me? (Ed: See related topic inductive Bible study) The more she read the more she understood. She began to remember whether certain statements were on the right or left pages of her open Bible, at the top or bottom of the pages, left or right columns. And as she became familiar with the Bible she grew in appreciation of its beauty and perfections. "O how love I thy law!" (Ps 119:97) she would feel. Like the psalmist in the first psalm her very delight was in the law of the Lord (Ps 1:2). Her knowledge of her Saviour and his great redemption was constantly being renewed by her growing familiarity with the Bible.
The more she read the more she found
she could trust the Bible.
Even the prepositions of Scripture became important to her. When she became an old lady keeping bees and selling the honey (giving the money to the Bible Society) she still treasured the Word of God. She lived by every word that had proceeded from the mouth of God that is found in the Scriptures (Mt 4:4).
The Christian is inwardly renewed day by day
by trusting in the Bible.
ii] Learning Contentment.
We bring our own fallen personalities to Christ. We are restless, frustrated, angry, discouraged, ambitious people. It is not easy for us to become contented with the ways God deals with us. There were the early simple answers to prayer in the provision of a sunny day, or a ticket for the big game. Then God begins to test us - the delays, the unanswered prayers, the heartache, the opposition, the falls. What coldness of heart and unhappiness we discover within us. We want to plead as an excuse for our restlessness our own special personalities and needs. We say that we can't help acting as we do. Other Christians we judge to be more docile while we are naturally fiery and leaders. We have vision. We are dynamic. Let others be content to be foot-soldiers we would be generals. Then God presses us with the duty of contentment with the chores He gives us to do, where He sets us in life, what roles He calls us to fulfil, what the mundane tasks and duties He sets for us might be. He teaches us to submit to Him. He may let us have our own way, and then how painful an experience that is. He enables us to look into the cup He gives us to drink and to say, "Let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not my will but thine be done." (Lk 22:42) Increasingly we are renewed as we learn contentment with God's good and perfect will (Ro 12:2).
iii] Evangelistic Earnestness.
During Paul's last imprisonment he was still the world's greatest evangelist. He was conscious that the palace guard had heard the gospel through his being in jail adjoining the palace in Rome and that made his years in chains sweeter (Phils. 1:13). He wrote letters counselling Timothy and Titus that indicated how alert he was to the needs of their churches on Crete and in Ephesus. He never chafed at the terms of the great commission. He was dying for men and women to be saved. He said, "I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race" (Roms. 9:3). That was his spirit. It was purified and made more holy as he entered old age. So often we see evangelism as the province of the young, but the young are not best equipped for it. They are good followers but not good leaders. But do they have examples to look up to in those who have been Christians for many years? Are the old ones only full of warnings of wild evangelism than being actual examples of true evangelism? Are those retired men rather cynical about their own youthful zeal, that it was foolish and immature? Of course, much of it was. But does that excuse those who have been known by God for forty years never giving a word of witness, never inviting anyone to the services, never praying for anyone personally to be converted. We are not encouraged merely to criticise those ungodly aspects of what the world calls 'evangelism.' We only have the right to involve ourselves in every form of biblical evangelism.
Shouldn't the righteousness of God become ever brighter as the years of our pilgrimage pass? Shouldn't God's love for sinners become increasingly amazing to us? You could pick out two evangelistic sermons from Spurgeon's ministry, one preached at the beginning of his ministry in 1856 and one preached at the end in 1891 and it would be a challenge to tell which was which. The same passion, the longing for men and women to be saved, the freeness of the offers of grace, the pleading with sinners to come to Christ was there at the end of his ministry as it was at the beginning. In all the controversies he endured and the illnesses he bore so bravely the inner man was being renewed in evangelistic earnestness day by day. Remember those great last words of his hero, George Whitefield, the night before he died in 1770: "Lord Jesus, I am weary in thy work, but not of thy work. If I have not yet finished my course, let me go and speak for thee once more in the fields, seal thy truth, and come home and die."
iv] Victory over Sin.
There are certain sins that beset certain Christians most easily. Perhaps you have a moroseness of spirit, a critical attitude to others, a self-pity, a pride, a sharpness of speech, lust, prayerlessness, self-importance, a mistrust of God's ways, a readiness to speak but not a willingness to hear, a love of alcohol, rage, smugness, an unforgiving spirit, a readiness to take offence, pompousness, self-importance, a refusal to bear the burdens of the weak, a love of a high position and an unwillingness to hew wood and draw water, a meanness, and so on. The most fearful state a Christian can be in is when he turns a blind eye to that very sin that so easily besets him. He refuses to acknowledge that this is his own great weaknesses. Then what can be done? Must he carry this sin with him to the grave? It will mar his testimony, and spoil his usefulness. The salt will lose its savour. A shade will fall over much of the light. Should not every Christian cry mightily to God that he discover his own heart? "Show me myself!" Then his inward man will begin to be renewed. Can we sing from our hearts Francis Bottome's hymn:
Search me, O God! my actions try,
And let my life appear
As seen by Thine all-searching eye -
To mine my ways make clear.
Can we sing these other anonymous words from our hearts?
Show me myself, O holy Lord;
Help me to look within;
I will not turn me from the sight
Of all my sin.
Aren't those biblical sentiments? "A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup" (1Co 11:28). There might be a certain sin that is preventing us being used by God as we could be. He cannot entrust us with a greater work because we are already vain enough concerning the success of some little work. We are not growing in knowledge because the small sum of knowledge which we do possess has made us puffed up. God will not lead us into counseling because he cannot trust us in personal relationships. Yes, we are fit and healthy in so many aspects of the Christian life. We are responsible parents. We are regular at the means of grace. We are orthodox in our faith, but in this one area sin has the total mastery of our lives. How would you describe your condition if in one area of your life, in one organ, or one limb, there were some untreated disease? "I am a sick man," you would say, and you take no comfort from the doctor point out to you all the other 99 parts of your body that are perfectly healthy. If we are going to be renewed in the inner man day by day then it certainly must be in this area of victory over that personal sin. "Show it to us all, Lord! Grant that not one here shall go on at this poor dying rate! Reveal to us what we are and take us to the Lamb of God for confession and cleansing and to the Spirit of God for renewal. Give us grace to mortify it by the Spirit and to look unto Jesus for strength." So we slowly and steadily gain victory over the sin that so easily besets us, but we are ever vigilant. That is another way the inward man is being renewed day by day.
So there are these spheres of renewal, and no doubt there are many more. But "outwardly we are wasting away" (2Co 4:16). There is absolutely no escape from that. The older Spurgeon once described his feelings about this in these words, "For my own part, I would have remained a young man if I could, for I fear I am by no means improved by keeping. Oh, that I could again possess the elasticity of spirit, the dash, the courage, the hopefulness of days gone by! My days of flying are changed to those of running, and my running is toning down to a yet steadier pace. It is somewhat cheering that the Scriptures seem to indicate that this is progress, for such is the order which it prescribes for saints: 'They shall mount up with wings as eagles;' away they go, out of sight. In your first sermons, - how you mounted up! Your first evangelistic efforts, - what flights they were! After that, you slackened and yet improved your pace; but it grew more steady, and perhaps more slow, as it is written: 'They shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.' God grant that we may not faint; and if our running days are over, may we walk with God as Enoch did, till the Lord shall take us home!" Spurgeon was conscious of the outward-inward dynamics of the Christian life.
I was once sent a sweet booklet produced by the parents of a young woman called Wendy Faith Moxham from Purley after her premature death at the age of twenty-one. They loved her daughter, and her last years had been a grand testimony to the sustaining strength of her Saviour providing his own comfort to her. People encouraged them to write about her faith in Jesus. The power of the words of our text were being worked out day by day in her own experience as a young woman. Her body was wasting away but she was being inwardly renewed. Wendy kept a little "Quiet Time" book and in one of her last entries she wrote these words which seem to sum up Paul's teaching perfectly:
It is wonderful to know that whatever the circumstances, they are all in God's almighty hand. However depressed I feel, I still feel the firm Rock beneath me, which gives me inward peace.
Those simple and sweet sentiments from a dying girl prove exactly this truth of what Paul is saying here. In every single one of God's own people, "inwardly we are being renewed day by day". It is happening. Inward renewal is effectual in all the elect. It does not hang upon some Christian 'secret' of gaining the victory. God has made up his mind that his servants will be changed from one degree of glory to another by the Spirit. It must happen, and as we look ahead we must do so with great confidence. When we feel that our Christian life is going round in circles we must say to ourselves that God has promised us inward daily renewal, and we must look for every indication that this is happening and thank him from our hearts.
So the first foundation which delivers us from losing heart is to acknowledge that though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day, and that we ensure that this is happening. (THE FOUNDATIONS FOR CHRISTIAN ENCOURAGEMENT)
Waiting for Holiness - The British novelist J. R. R. Tolkien wrote,
Sheep get to be like their Shepherd, it is said, but slowly.
The renewal of the inner person, becoming Christlike, is not accomplished in a moment but a lifetime.
Augustine (354-430) observed that this process is like healing from a near-fatal wound.
It’s one thing to remove the spear, but quite another to heal the wound by long and careful treatment.
This healing occurs gradually as our old ways of thinking and living are erased, and we become more like our Savior as we are renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16).
This renewal takes place not by self-effort alone but by faith. It involves reading, meditating on, and obeying God’s Word. We must also fix our minds on the character of Christ and ask God to make us like Him.
Then we must wait, confident that God is working in us to accomplish His purposes. Every day has its mishaps and memories of something we should have done or not done, but we must not be impatient. Though incomplete, we are in process. Sin may frustrate us for a day, but God is at work—and on ahead lies perfection, which is “the hope of righteousness” (Galatians 5:5). Someday we’ll see His face and we’ll be like Him—as holy as the holy One (1 John 3:2). (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Dear Jesus, take my heart and hand,
And grant me this, I pray:
That I through Your sweet love may grow
More like You day by day.
The new birth takes only a moment;
growth in holiness takes a lifetime.
New Wood -The poet Henry W. Longfellow was on in years and his hair was white, but he remained a vigorous man. When someone asked him the secret of his vitality, Longfellow pointed to an apple tree in bloom and said,
That tree is very old, but I never saw prettier blossoms on it than it now bears. That tree grows new wood each year. Like that apple tree, I try to grow a little new wood each year.
That is God’s design for His children. Although the years take their toll on our bodies, our souls have the capacity for unending renewal. Through life’s experiences, narrow attitudes can broaden into greater understanding if we let them.
The apostle Paul found his motivation for growing “new wood” in his relationship to Jesus Christ. He longed to know Him increasingly, not in theory but in reality (Php 3:8, Php 3:10). This meant reading (2Ti 4:13), renewing his mind (Ro 12:1,2), accepting life’s trials as part of the good that God was continually working out in his life (Ro 8:28), and holding to his confidence in Christ (2Ti 2:13).
Worn Bibles, prayer according to God’s will, and trusting Him in all circumstances are characteristic of Christians who are growing “new wood.” Is this true of us? — by Dennis J. De Haan
Continual growing in Christ
comes from a deepening knowledge of Christ.
Older and Better - When Paul Molitor of the Minnesota Twins baseball team got his 3,000th hit as a major leaguer, he won a small victory for everyone over 40 years old. He showed that he still had great skills at an age when most players had long ago retired.
No matter how hard we try, though, none of us can hold back the natural processes of aging. We can exercise, eat right, put on moisturizing lotions, but we still get older. That undeniable truth is found in 2Corinthians 4:16, which states, “Our outward man is perishing.”
Enough of the bad news. Let’s get to the good news. At the same time our bodies rush relentlessly toward destruction, we can enjoy a youthful vitality in our walk with God. Through the constant renewal of our spirit (2Co 4:16), we grow more and more prepared to be with God. Spiritual age, then, does not have the same effect as physical age. Instead of slowing down as we walk longer with God, we should be enjoying a more sprightly step. The longer we fellowship with Him, the better off we should be.
Yes, we should be growing spiritually. The afflictions we bear are helping us store up heavenly glory, not weighing us down. It’s true—if you’re walking with Christ, you’re not just getting older, you’re getting better. — by Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
THINKING IT OVER
To what extent does our society emphasize
physical beauty and downplay spiritual attributes?
What can I do to improve my spiritual fitness?
As we grow more Christlike
we grow more beautiful.
The Ultimate Airplane - Tremendous heat is generated on the exterior of the Concorde airplane when it flies at supersonic speeds. The temperature on the outer surface of the plane can get to 127 C (261 F) even though the outside air temperature is -56 C (-69 F).
The expansion caused by this heat makes the plane 9 inches longer at cruise speed than at rest. The cabin floor of the aircraft is built on rollers and doesn’t expand, and four air-conditioning systems keep the inside comfortable. While the outside of the plane is undergoing tremendous stress, the inside climate remains constant.
In today’s Scripture, Paul described our “outward man” as perishing under the heat of great pressure, while our “inward man” is renewed day by day. Note the contrast:
|On The Outside||On The Inside|
|Pressed on every side||Not crushed (2Co 4:8)|
|Perplexed||Not in despair (2Co 4:8)|
|Persecuted||Not forsaken (2Co 4:9)|
|Struck down||Not destroyed (2Co 4:9)|
When faced with trials, we too can have an inner strength through Christ (2Co 4:11). Our part is to look beyond the temporal to the eternal (2Co 4:18) and to renew our minds daily (Ep 4:23) through the Word of God and prayer.— by Dennis J. De Haan
Upon your own strength you cannot rely;
There's a fount of strength and grace on high;
Go to that fount, your strength renew,
And the life of Christ will shine through you. —Hopkins
God's Word refreshes our minds;
God's Spirit renews our strength.
Better With Age - Some people are obsessed with physical fitness—daily workouts, vitamins, organic food—in spite of the fact that our bodies keep ticking away in inevitable decline. In our twenties and thirties we think we’re invincible, but in the decades that follow, the eyesight starts to go, then the knees, then the mind. Let’s face it, trying to ensure long-lasting physical health is like trying to stem the tide with a pitchfork!
And while it is true that the older we get the worse we get physically, it doesn’t have to be that way spiritually. Believe it or not, it is possible to get better with age. It’s what the apostle Paul meant when he said,
“Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2Co 4:16).
Many of us fear aging with all the trouble it brings. But when we are gradually stripped of everything that props us up—whether wealth, independence, health, dignity, beauty, or all of the above—we are left with more and more of God. So no matter how old you are, it’s not too late to dig deep in God’s Word and invest more and more time in your spiritual well-being. You’ll see the payoffs, now and later. The older you get, the better you can become! — by Joe Stowell (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Although our outward shell decays,
We still can be renewed each day;
Commitment to God’s Word and prayer
Give strength that will not fade away. —Sper
To get better with age, get spiritually fit.
How Are You Today - Wilfred Yoder is one of the most enthusiastic Christians I know, even though he has suffered with the pain of arthritis for many years. When people greet him and inquire, “How are you today?” he cheerfully answers, “Just fine!”
Those who know of his pain sometimes question his sincerity. “How can you say you’re fine when you’re in so much pain?” Wilfred’s standard response is: “How I feel has very little to do with how I am. You see, the part of me that hurts is just a shell, not the real me, and the real me is just fine!”
What Wilfred calls a shell, Paul called a tent (2Co 5:1). And the “real me” that Wilfred refers to, the apostle called the inward man (2Co 4:16).
Although Wilfred’s earthly tent is painful and perishing, he realizes that it is after all just a temporary housing for the inward man. One day he will exchange it for his permanent home awaiting him in heaven. That is his confidence. But until then, the inward Wilfred is conscious of being renewed daily.
How are you today? Is your tent drooping? Remember, if Christ is your Savior and Lord, a perfect body awaits you one day. But until then, no matter what’s on the outside, on the inside we can say, “I’m just fine!” — by Joanie Yoder
I am rejoicing in Christ today,
Though there are problems along the way;
He is the One who can help me say,
"The real me is just fine." —Hess
Our body is perishing,
but our spirit can be flourishing.
Older Or Better? - We know we’re getting older when we say things like, “Can you believe how young those professional baseball players are?” And it’s a sure sign of aging when we no longer ask, “How are you?” but say, “Hey, you look terrific”—as if we’re surprised.
Aging is inevitable. Unfortunately, society has taught us to fear advancing age and to disguise its reality as much as possible. But aging can actually be a wonderful thing. Followers of Jesus have the capacity to get significantly better with age. As Paul put it: “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2Co 4:16).
Just as there are physical signs that reveal we’re getting older, there are signs that show we are getting better. Rather than becoming more crotchety, intolerant, and unloving, the maturing follower of Jesus grows better at forgiving, loving, and caring. Growing older is a continuation of the journey to become more like Jesus, which means that as time goes on our heart and attitudes should increasingly resonate with and reflect the compelling character and winsome ways of our Savior.
So as we grow older, let’s embrace the opportunity to become spiritually more like Jesus. Our friends will notice that we look better with age. — by Joe Stowell (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
The seeds of aging sprout in youth,
As weeds or grain they’re sure to grow;
But if we sow with love and truth,
A golden harvest we can know. —D. De Haan
Don’t just grow older—
Grow better as a follower of Jesus.
Octavius Winslow's devotional related to suffering (2Co 4:15, 16)
CHRISTIAN sufferer! you marvel why the Lord keeps you so long upon the couch of solitariness and upon the bed of languishing—why the “earthly house of this tabernacle” should be taken down by continued and pining sickness, the corrodings of disease, and the gradual decay of strength.
Hush every reasoning, anxious, doubtful thought.