Grace For The Journey
The theme of 2 Corinthians chapter 4 is “Do not lost heart.” In verse one the Bible says, “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lost heart.” In verse 16 the Bible says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” In this chapter, Paul argues that his faith in Christ enables him to live and minister with unwavering confidence.
The verb translated “lost heart” means “to be exhausted, spiritless, or weary.” It pictures a laborer in the field who becomes so exhausted that he quits his work, or a soldier in a battle who becomes so discouraged that he retreats from the fight. The term literally means “to grow fainthearted to the point of giving up.” In Luke 18:1, the Bible records Jesus teaching that His disciples “that men ought always to pray and not lose heart.” In Galatians 6:9, the Bible says, “And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Paul uses the term here to testify about his spiritual resolve. Would-be leaders in the church at Corinth challenged Paul’s ministerial authority, credentials, work. They claimed he was spiritually weak and that he experienced more suffering than success. Paul responds by agreeing with his enemies.
But . . .
He contends his weakness
Is the platform
For God’s strength,
His suffering is
For God’s glory.
The proof of this
Is That Paul
Did not lose heart.
In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, Paul recounts his sufferings for Christ: “in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a da I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fasting often, in cold and nakedness – besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”
A fraction of these sufferings
Would cause the average person to give up.
Yet, Paul says, “We do not lose heart.”
Paul’s unbreakable and undefeatable spirit
Was not the result of personal fortitude.
Spiritual realities undergirded Paul’s faith.
These spiritual realities are available
To all who trust Christ.
You will never face the variety, intensity, and severity of sufferings Paul endured. But we all face quitting points that tempt us to lose heart. Faith does not prevent this temptation. Even those who follow Christ face overwhelming circumstances that tempt us to lose heart. You have no control over it. But you can control how you respond. You can give up or hold on.
During a flight from Portland, Maine, to Boston, pilot HENRY DEMPSEY heard a noise near the rear of his small aircraft. He turned over the controls to his co-pilot and went back to investigate. As he reached the tail section, the plane hit an air pocket, and Dempsey was tossed against the tail section. He quickly discovered the source of the noise. The rear door had not been properly latched. As it flew open, Dempsey was sucked from the jet. Seeing the light that indicated an open door, the co-pilot made an emergency landing. He reported the pilot had fallen out of the plane and requested a helicopter to search for him in the waters below. After the plane landed, they found Dempsey holding onto the outer ladder of the aircraft. Somehow, he had caught the ladder, held on for ten minutes as the plane flew 200 mph at an altitude of 4,000 feet, and survived the landing. It took airport personnel several minutes to pry his fingers from the ladder.
The turbulence of life will place you in precarious situations where you only have two choices: give up or hold on. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 gives three reasons to hold on no matter what.
The Process Of Inward Renewal.
Verse 16 says, “Therefore we do not lost heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” There is a contradictory process taking place within us.
- The Outer Man Is Wasting Away.
“Outer man” is one of several ways Paul describes one’s physical life in this chapter.
- Verse 7 the Bible calls it “earthen vessels.”
- Verse 10 the Bible calls it “the body.”
- Verse 11 the Bible calls it “our mortal flesh.”
Here Paul calls it the “outer man.” The term refers to life in our physical bodies. Paul says it is “perishing” or “wasting away.” It is possible Paul wrote this with reference to the toll his labors for Christ and battles for the gospel had taken on him. But this statement primarily refers to the present, constant, and inevitable process of physical deterioration every person experiences.
In Genesis 3:19, The Lord said to Adam, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” This is the fate of every descendent of Adam and Eve. The outer man is wasting away. It is not obvious when you are young. Young people are so filled with life, health, strength, vitality, and hope, is seems they will live forever. But even young people are wasting away. Ecclesiastes 12:1 wisely warns: “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them.”
This is not a conditional thing that only applies to the old, sick, or weak. This process is happening in all of us right now. The scientific term, “apoptosis,” describes the process by which 50-70 billion cells die in the average adult every day. The outer man is wasting away. There is nothing you can do to stop this process – proper diet, exercise, and living right will make you healthier and feel better. As stewards of our God-given bodies, it is right to do these things. But none of these things halt our steady march to the grave. Some protest that they are getting better, not older. They only comfort themselves with a lie. The outer man is wasting away. This is a rebuke to the cosmetic culture we live in. We nip and tuck to give the allusion of youth, beauty, and vitality. But we are still wasting away.
The Bible says in Isaiah 40:6-8, “A voice says, ‘Cry!’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ ‘All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.’”
- The Inward Man Is Being Renewed.
Verse 16 says, Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” Paul described his outer self as wasting away. Physically, he was becoming old, tired, and weak. This process was intensified and accelerated by his sufferings for Christ.
Yet, a paradox was at work . . .
As the outer self wasted away,
The inner self was
Renewed day by day.
Physically, Paul was facing death.
Spiritually, Paul was enjoying life.
A transformation took place
Underneath the skin.
Paul was being “renewed.”
New life was growing
As his mortal life was dying.
This process of inward renewal
Was a being repeated day by day.
This is the testimony of Christian.
The Bible describes it in Colossians 3:10 as putting on the new man, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. You may not feel it. But the inner self is being renewed day by day. In the ultimate sense, Christians live Lamentations 3:22-23: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Though the outer self is wasting away, the inner self is being renewed day by day. Michelangelo is reported to have said, “The more the marble wastes, the more the stature grows.” This is only true for those who have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Without Christ, the outer self is wasting away, and the inner self is wasting away. Ecclesiastes 1:2 describes life without a relationship with God: “Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher, ‘vanity of vanities. All is vanity.” But everything changes when you give your life to the crucified but risen Savior. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
When Adam and Eve sin, they died.
Immediately, they died spiritually,
As sin separated them from God.
Progressively, they died morally,
Going from bad to worse.
Ultimately, they died physically.
This is the crisis of inherited sin.
1 Corinthians 15:22 says, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
Saving-faith in the Second Adam
Immediately, you are born again.
Progressively, you are growing
In the grace and knowledge of Christ.
Ultimately, you will live forever in eternal glory.
Though the outer self is wasting away; the inner self is being renewed day by day. The Bible sums up our attitude in situations that cause us to lose heart, “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”