A. V.16-18 Each verse takes us a step deeper into what it means to be a Christian in this world.
B. 2Corinthians 4:16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
II. “THEREFORE WE DO NOT LOSE HEART.”
A. In the face of being "afflicted in every way, ...perplexed, ...persecuted, ...struck down ...always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus", and "constantly delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake" (v.8-11) what is it that keeps Paul afloat? What is it that keeps him from losing heart? How come he doesn’t abandon his ministry?
1. One thing: There is a Power inside that is greater than the powers pulling him down.
B. And the same is true for us! If you are in Christ, there is One hanging onto you, and His power to hang on is greater than any power that would snatch you away: "I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand." (John 10:28-29)
C. Did you hear that? NO ONE IS ABLE TO SNATCH AWAY those who are in the hands of God.
D. Your Father will never leave you or forsake you. The One who is within you is greater than all of the burdens and stresses and pressures of your life.
E. This divine power at work within us is the reason "we do not lose heart."
F. If God was not at work within you, you would have been washed away long ago by the riptide of life’s difficulties. The very reason you are clinging to Him is because He is clinging to you.
G. Listen to how Paul puts it in Colossians 1:11–12 “...being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father...”
H. Paul has faced many foes and many dangers. But he doesn’t shrink back.
I. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear but a Spirit of power & love & self-control.” – 2Tim.1:7
J. That’s why we don’t lose heart.
III. Now to the rest of the verse.
A. Paul has been talking about how we are dying and we are coming to life. “always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 ...always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” – 2Corinthians 4:10–11
B. Now in v.16 he explains this dying and coming to life a little more deeply.
1. He tells us in what way we are dying: We are dying outwardly, we are dying in our mortal bodies.
2. And the way we are coming to life is inwardly, in our souls.
3. You see, Christians have been born twice. Like everyone else, we were born outwardly of our mothers. But then we were born again. But this second birth was not outward but inward.
4. And this inward life which God has created within us is very different than the outward life which we’ve had since we were in our mothers’ wombs.
5. And one of the differences between our outer life and our inner life is that “our outer self is wasting away” but “our inner self is being renewed day by day.” Let’s talk about what that means.
IV. “OUR OUTER SELF IS WASTING AWAY”
A. We don’t want to hear it. Our whole society is in rebellion against it. But no matter how much we resist it, it is true: Our outer man is decaying. We live in cursed bodies in a cursed world. Sickness, injury, breakdown, wearing out with use, loss of eyesight, loss of strength, loss of teeth: they are a part — and always will be a part — of our earthly existence.
1. We are dying. Ever since Adam and Eve sinned we have been dying in fulfillment of God’s warning in Gen. 2:17. And the older we get, generally the more we deteriorate.
B. Why? Why is the physical universe deteriorating? It’s not because everything which is physical inevitably deteriorates. It’s because of the curse. Things weren’t deteriorating before the fall. And in the new earth and in our resurrection bodies, there won’t be deterioration.
C. Why would God allow those whom He loves to decay? Because He is preparing us for a better home. As our earthly tent wears out, God is preparing our inner man for a change of address.
1. We are moving to a new earth! Outward decay is designed to turn our hearts away from this world and onto the next. As we age we become less and less equipped for life here on this earth, and more and more equipped for life in the new heavens and the new earth.
2. “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10)
3. "I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:2-3)
D. The people of the world have only one life to live for. And they’re in a panic, because that life is fading. And they’re doing everything in their power to try to delay that fading.
1. Billions of dollars spent to try to delay or undue the aging process.
2. Scientists searching desperately for a way to arrest or slow the process.
E. But believers don’t need to put their identity in the outward self. We don’t need to mourn and moan about aging. When we look in the mirror and see the changes which have occurred, we don’t need to get depressed over gray hair, over sagging skin, over slower step, over aches & pains.
F. Our outer self is wasting away. But God’s power is made perfect in weakness! (2Cor.12:9)
G. “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.” – 2Corinthians 12:9–10
H. We don’t have to be fixated on the outward appearance, like the Pharisees Jesus condemned in Matthew 23:25–28: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
I. But our focus is on the inward self, where Christ’s life flows into us.
1. 1Peter 3:3–4 “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” Cf. 1Timothy 2:9–10.
J. I know a part of us would like to thrive in both the outward and the inward self, just like a young person would like to maintain all of the advantages of being a child and also enjoy all the advantages of being an adult, with the disadvantages of neither. But that’s not the way it works. In those in-between years (15-25?), your childhood is fading away and your adulthood is getting stronger and stronger.
1. We still need to be good stewards of the bodies God has given, but outwardly we are wasting away. We need to accept our weakness and remember that God’s strength is increased in it.
K. We’re only going to bear an effective witness in this world if we are different than the world.
1. All they have is this life. This world is their only home.
2. But this world is not our home. And this life ultimately is not our life. Our life is in Christ. And our citizenship is in heaven.
3. People around us can tell what’s important to us. And if they see that the outer life is what’s really important to us, then they think we’re just like everybody else, and that we have nothing to say that they need to hear.
4. But when they see that we’re not all about the outward because there’s something much more important to us, then they wonder what we have that they don’t have.
V. “OUR INNER SELF IS BEING RENEWED DAY BY DAY”
A. Aren’t you glad there’s a second half of v.16? The world doesn’t have this. They only have the “Our outer self is wasting away” part. But we have “Our inner self is being renewed day by day.”
B. Cross-stitch story
1. In February 1990, my wife Mary Ann was in the midst of a long series of physical maladies which had already gone on for almost 10 years. As you can imagine, it was pretty discouraging.
2. At a church roller skating party one evening, Lynne Murphy presented MA with a cross stitch with this verse on it, to encourage her in her trials.
3. That night we had a house fire, which destroyed many of our things, and this verse came to have added meaning for us. Our outer life is fading away, but our inner life is being renewed daily.
C. There is another realm besides the one we can see. There’s another life besides the life we share with everyone else in the world.
1. And this life isn’t deteriorating. It’s growing stronger and stronger. It’s expanding and flourishing.
2. You see, it’s not dependent on us. It’s something God is doing. (Notice the passive tense. We are being renewed. We’re not renewing ourselves. We are being renewed by God.)
3. The life of Jesus is flowing into the hearts of His people, so, though like the rest they continue to deteriorate outwardly, inwardly they are coming more and more alive.
D. What a blessed truth! We were dead in our trespasses and sins, by nature children of wrath. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love, made us alive together with Christ and raised us up with Him. (Eph.2:1-6)
E. And this process continues. God doesn’t just raise us up from spiritual death and leave us there. He continues to renew our souls day after day, filling us with the life of His Son.
F. When my daughter Michelle was 1½ years old, her body stopped producing red blood cells. You can’t live without red blood cells, and her body began to die. She grew pale and lethargic.
1. We rushed her down to Children’s Hospital where she received four blood transfusions.
G. During that time she didn’t have life in herself, she needed it from someone outside herself.
1. And that’s the way we are. We don’t have life in ourselves. We need it to come from outside.
H. And the life of Jesus flows into us. This is how we are being renewed day by day in the inner man.
1. Psalm 46:4 “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God” (Jerusalem).
I. We talk about having a relationship with God. And He is a person, and we have the wonderful privilege of having a relationship with Him. However, it goes even deeper than that.
1. Mary Ann and I have a personal relationship. But her life doesn’t flow into me. And my life doesn’t flow into her. I don’t abide in her and she doesn’t abide in me. I didn’t create her life and she didn’t create mine.
2. But the life of the Lord does flow into us. And we do abide in Him. And He did create this new life in us.
3. This isn’t just figurative language. There is an invisible life in us that God has created. And it keeps coming.
J. But we have a role too. We don’t just sit around waiting for it to happen. God calls us to seek it.
1. John 15:4-8 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
2. We’re not talking about Christian self-improvement. We’re no talking about seeking a feeling.
3. We’re talking about being connected with Jesus so His life flows into ours.
K. So what is a Christian? Someone who is religious? Someone who agrees with traditional Christian doctrines? Someone who loves his neighbor? It’s so much more than that.
1. A Christian is a person who has new, supernatural life inside, eternal life, life given by the living God, life which is flowing into him/her from above.
2. Of course, this effects a person’s lifestyle and how he treats others.
3. But before it does that, it effects a person’s identity.
L. Christians have two selves. This verse literally refers to the outer man and the inner man. And I don’t mean a male. The word here is ANTHROPOS, from which we get anthropology. It’s not the word which refers to a human being of the male gender. It means mankind in general.
1. We have an outer man and an inner man, and outer person and an inner person, an outer self and an inner self.
2. The outward self is the one people can see. It’s what we have in common with all people.
3. But the inner self is invisible to others. But that is where Christ is at work pouring His life into us.
4. The outer self has to drink water to keep hydrated. But the inner self drinks the living water. At the well, Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14