2 Corinthians 5

All the afflictions and trials and persecutions and sufferings and sins can get us down. We can be really troubled when we see our dark side. Paul describes this in Chapter 4 and also in Romans Chapter 7.

1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

2 For indeed in this {house} we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven,

3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked.

4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.

A human being is a spiritual being. That is, a human being is identified by its spirit. The body – or house – in which the spirit resides in while on earth is merely a temporary shell – what Paul here calls ‘the earthly tent’.

When Jesus returns, we will get another house, a house given to us by God (rather than from our parents), and further, an eternal house, prepared for the heavens.

As we grow old, and go through persecution and sufferings and time, or earthly tent gets torn down. Should we despair? Absolutely not! Why? It is because one day we will be clothed with our dwelling from heaven.

But that’s not the best part! More than physical deterioration, our earthly tent is temptable, making us spiritually fragile because as long as we are temptable there is a possibility of falling into sin.

The resurrection body, which God will give us, is not temptable. As a result, we will sin no more. And further, we won’t have to struggle to keep from sinning, like we have to do now. That is why Paul calls this new body ‘eternal in the heavens’. It is a body in which we can have spiritual life forever. It is a body in which we can have eternal life.

Those who constantly fight against sin know the pain involved. Such people, who groan through that struggle against sin, long for the resurrection because they want protection from sin.

A physically naked person is not protected from the physical elements. A spiritually naked person is not protected from spiritual calamity i.e. sin. A resurrection body is protection from spiritual calamity because it is a body that cannot be tempted, and therefore cannot sin.

Different people long for the resurrection for different reasons. But the godly man longs for the resurrection because it ends his constant struggle against sin.

5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.

God made us to be in His image.

Now we know that God is spirit. He has the knowledge of good and evil, but cannot be tempted. The ability to be tempted is called ‘having sinful flesh’ or flesh (the part of us through which we are tempted) that can sin.

When God first made man, He made man with spirit and flesh, but without the knowledge of good and evil. And He gave man a choice – man could choose whether he wanted the knowledge of good and evil.

Man chose the knowledge of good and evil, and therefore became accountable for his deeds, and quickly sinned.

The redeeming work of Jesus gave man a second choice – man could choose to be rid of the flesh (not merely the physical flesh but the possibility of being tempted). Those who choose this, by being born again, will at Jesus’ return, indeed be rid of the flesh and then be just spirit with the knowledge of good and evil, just like God.

So initially, man was not in the full image of God. But in the end, man can be in the image of God. It is this latter image that God has prepared us for. He did this by giving us His Holy Spirit when we were born again. The indwelling Holy Spirit is God’s pledge to us that He will indeed make us in His image.

Rom 7:24-25 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Understanding this, at the end of Romans 7 Paul asks who can save him from his dark side, and answers, “Jesus Christ.”

6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord –

7 for we walk by faith, not by sight –

8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

Paul wanted to be with the Lord, but while on earth he decided to focus on what God promised him even though he couldn’t see it yet. This allowed him to be of good courage in spite of all the difficulties he faced while on earth.

This is the secret of handling our own difficulties – look forward to receiving the promises of God when Jesus returns, and count all things here on earth as ‘rubbish’.

Have you learnt to count all things of this world as rubbish, or are you still fascinated by the things that men highly esteem even though they are an abomination in God’s eyes?

Longing for the things God has promised to those who love Him help you become more spiritual.

9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Paul realized that he has to give an account of what he did and how he spent his time and money. He realized it to such a great extent that it affected his life. It changed his focus and desires from a person who pleases himself to a person who pleases God.

A wise person will follow Paul’s path. Don’t let yourself get distracted with things of the world. Realize that there will soon be a judgment and let it change the focus of your life from pleasing yourself to pleasing God.

Enoch live a pretty mundane life before his wife gave birth to Methuselah. But when God gave Methuselah to Enoch God told Enoch that when Methuselah dies the judgment comes. In fact, that’s what the name Methuselah means literally. So Enoch had the end before him constantly. And thereafter he walked with God for the next 365 years.

Having the end before you will make you more spiritual. That is why it is good to sing songs and hymns that remind you of the end. Also, let a death in the family remind you of the end.

In 2 Pet 3:3-4, Peter talks about how some people question whether the Lord will ever return. You may think that he is not referring to you there. But if you live your life so caught up in the things of the world then, even if you don’t outwardly question whether Jesus will return, your life speaks out the question loud enough.

11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil (Pr 8:13). It is to hate to do what displeases God. Paul hated to do what displeased God (because he realized that he would have to give an account of himself to God) and so he persuaded men to fear God too and seek to please Him.

He tells the Corinthians that if God were to examine his motives He would see that they were good. He hoped that the Corinthians also realized that Paul was speaking to them from good motives.

12 We are not again commending ourselves to you but {are} giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have {an answer} for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart.

Paul explains his motive in pointing these things to the Corinthians – it is not that he wants to look good in their eyes, but so that they will be able to explain to others why they chose Paul.

The others were more interested in making the Corinthians look good on the outside, but Paul was trying to teach them to be good on the inside. That is, Paul wanted the Corinthians to be truly spiritual and so he was pointing to them the secrets of how to be spiritual.

13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you.

When God gets a hold of a person and stirs him or her up the person does indeed get stirred up. Such a person can be beside himself. Some Jews thought that Jesus was insane (Jn 10:20). Festus thought Paul was insane (Ac 26:24).

While Paul was stirred up by God and would have loved to just fellowship with God he took the time to organize his thoughts and stir up others.

14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;

15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

The next secret of being spiritual is to be grateful to God for saving you from sin – from its penalty, its power, and finally its presence.

In the beginning of this chapter, Paul talked about how looking towards salvation from the presence of sin. Now he talks about how gratitude to God for saving him from the penalty of sin also motivates him to be spiritual.

Paul spent time thinking about what Jesus did for him. And he came to a conclusion – he concluded that he should live for Christ henceforth. God’s love for him so enthralled him that he was willing to make whatever sacrifices were necessary to do what God wanted him to do.

We must take the time to remind ourselves of the great sacrifice Jesus made to pay the price for our sins and let it make us willing to do whatever God asks us to do.

16 Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know {Him} {in this way} no longer.

17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, {he is} a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

To recognize someone according to the flesh is to evaluate them according to their gifts – intelligence, good looks, skill in some area, and so on.

When a person comes to Christ, the Holy Spirit begins to dwell in that person, and such a person is a new creature. Specifically, such a person went from being body, soul and spirit to body, soul, spirit and Holy Spirit.

We now evaluate people not on the basis of what they can accomplish for themselves on earth but on the basis of how they can be used to build the kingdom of God, reconciling lost sinners to God and encouraging them to be pleasing to God.

18 Now all {these} things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,

19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

If the Corinthians whom Paul addresses in this letter were already believers, and therefore by definition are already reconciled to God, why does Paul ask them to be reconciled to God? Paul’s statement makes no sense unless it is possible for a person who was once reconciled with God to become unreconciled.

God’s ministry is one of reconciling people to Him. Note that the ‘reconcile’ is defined here as ‘not counting their trespasses against them’.

An ambassador for Christ is one who speaks for God. Paul is saying that he is speaking for God when he tells these Corinthians that they need to be reconciled to God. God has done His part in the reconciliation, and now these Corinthians need to do their part.

21 He made Him who knew no sin {to be} sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The reason why God saved us is so that we might demonstrate His nature to the fallen world.

We should ponder on the great sacrifice Jesus made – for a sinless person to take on the sins of the whole world on Him is a very big thing. Think of how your life would be if you were a housewife who likes to keep her house spotless and got married to a filthy slob.

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