Part 24 of 25
Paul here seems to sum up the believer’s lot in life and the purpose thereof.
“For WE WHICH LIVE ARE ALWAY DELIVERED UNTO DEATH FOR JESUS’ SAKE, (so) THAT THE LIFE ALSO OF JESUS (SPIRIT OF LIFE) MIGHT BE MADE MANIFEST IN OUR MORTAL FLESH. 12So then death worketh in us, but life in you. 13We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; 14Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. 15For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 16For which cause we faint not; but THOUGH OUR OUTWARD (BODY) MAN PERISH, YET THE INWARD (SOUL) MAN IS RENEWED DAY BY DAY. 17For OUR LIGHT AFFLICTION, WHICH IS BUT FOR A MOMENT, WORKETH FOR US A FAR MORE EXCEEDING AND ETERNAL WEIGHT OF GLORY; 18While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but THE THINGS WHICH ARE NOT SEEN ARE ETERNAL. 2 Cor. 4:11-18
We have all lived by the illusion of what we think this world has had to offer and we have navigated life by our wits and self-abilities, hoping we can fix or control everything that enters our way. Yet, Paul says we as believers are destined to deny our self preferences and “be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom 8:29). Eventually the sovereign Lord will turn our hearts to trust Him in our daily living. This must be so if we are to become the expression Christ’s life that is within us – our life is not our own. This realization comes to us through the instrumentality of suffering that exposes the illusion of control that we once held to; it brings us to a new mindset that forsakes the folly of trying to live independent of the Lord’s governance.
Paul says the Lord first “gives” or “favors us” with His intervention in our life by bringing us “to believe,” then He intervenes in our lives with “suffering for His sake.” “For unto you it is given (charizomai, “His favor is granted”) in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him but also to suffer for his sake;” (Philip. 1:29).
“We are bought with a price” and our life is not our own. 1Corinthians 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. I would hope that by now we have clearly seen that our suffering is ordained and orchestrated by God our Father and that it is something loving and wonderful. We are His and He cares for us so much that He will not leave us as we are or were.
But, why suffering? Suffering accomplishes what we cannot do in and of ourselves. It is by enduring suffering that He pushes us, wrenching our hands open to let go of the illusion of control, to trust Him. Our insurmountable situations force us to admit defeat and the hopelessness of ourselves. It is so we would turn our heart to trust our Father’s provision of Christ in us as our all, and to trust the precious promises and the wise words given us through our Apostle, Paul.
Jesus knew how to be a proper son. Jesus trusted and lived only according to the will of the Father who indwelled Him (John 17:21). Now Jesus in us is able to trust the Father as us. We need to turn to and trust Jesus in us, learning to yield to Him as He guides and governs us daily. He is as close as our breath and we cannot say we do not know and hear Him speaking within us (John 8:47a), guiding us.
Suffering is the cure for our self-reliance as we may still cling to our trust in our self. Paul wrote this as he viewed his many sufferings. “But we had the sentence of death in ourselves…” Paul goes onto tell us why God allowed such sufferings in the life of Paul and his co-workers.?) “… (SO) THAT WE SHOULD NOT TRUST IN OURSELVES, BUT IN GOD which raiseth the dead:” (2Cor. 1:9).
By suffering, the Lord causes us to see our self-reliant selves as inadequate and consequently it amplifies our seeing Him as the all-sufficient loving life dwelling within us. We see Christ manifest in us as the real and potent life that we may enjoy as we abide subservient to Him.
His speaking within us helps us to see and know “experientially.” We can then differentiate between our fallen soul-self and our spiritual Christ-self. His innermost speaking divides our soul-self from our spirit-self. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the DIVIDING ASUNDER OF SOUL AND SPIRIT, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) This awareness of Christ within us affects our “joints,” our “walk,” because we then have recognized Him as the hidden life source within us, just as the life-giving “marrow” is hid within the bone.
Suffering is also the cure for the pretense or hypocrisy that is so common to those trapped in legalistic, religious circles. Religion’s demands foster pretense and hypocrisy. Religion demands that you do that which you cannot do. Religion demands that you appear a certain way - always victorious, full of prayer, spiritual, etc. Of course God is not fooled, looking upon us, all the while knowing “the thoughts and intents of our heart.” With religion's prescription of “works,” you must; try hard, pretend, be in denial, or drop out. Lying and pretending is in the fallen nature of man’s flesh. Actually, God uses religion demands to frustrate us, so that we might ultimately drop self-effort for self-improvement. He desires that we turn to trust Him; His love, grace and life, as our sufficiency.
Suffering overwhelming situations brings us to something we no longer can handle or cover up. Intense suffering cracks our facade, opening us to face the reality of our utter neediness. We may have hidden behind a once seemingly necessary facade to conform or please others (mom, dad or those in authority), but now He must break that facade it\f we are to genuinely know Him within.
We must learn to sense and hear Him alone, as our life, guide, and rest. This is who we really are - we are Christ-persons, no longer independent selves. Thus, we may ultimately come to bear His life and expression, as He desires to be, in our living. He then is truly becoming the Lord of our life.
The purpose of suffering is so that we would agree to yield, “let go”, and be willingly resigned to trust Him and His will in all matters, regardless. We are brought to yield, that we would, in obedience, permit His life and expression to flow out through us. Paul writes here of this as his realization and willing resignation.
“And he said unto me, My grace (Christ in you) is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” We must become resigned to trusting Him and His way as being best for us. Philip. 4:11-13
“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (2 Cor. 12:9)
The intimacy of union with Christ often grows out of suffering, as our “consolation.”
“For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so (that) our consolation (paraklesis, comfort by being called near) also aboundeth by Christ.” (2 Cor. 1:5)“And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation (Gk. parakaleo, “being called near”). (2 Cor. 1:7)
Intimacy with Him is to know Him by tasting His life rising out of the mortification or death of our independent self. We have mutuality in with Him in His death and…in His life.
“That I may know (ginosko, experientially know) him, and the power of his (out) resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” Philip. 3:10
“It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: (“live” here and Rom 6:8, Gk. “suzao” means “in union with His life” - not 2 lives but as one life)
12If we suffer (remain under), we shall also reign (rule over) with him: if we deny him (turn from Him), he also will deny us (be shut off from us):” 2 Tim. 2:11-12
Our sufferings work to bring us to rely upon His life and thereby become manifestations of His life toward others…“for Jesus’ sake.”
2 Corinthians 4:8-12 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, (so) that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
There is much that we all do for our own sake, for the sake of our children, of our loved ones or others, but the real test of the believer's love for the Lord is what he does “for Jesus' sake.” We forgive others “for Jesus sake.” Under the dispensation of Law our Lord told His disciples that to be forgiven they must forgive: “Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” (Luke 6:37), “but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:15). But now, under “the dispensation of the grace of God” we have “a new way of living.” He exhorts us to forgive one another “even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). The difference is striking since we were forgiven “freely” (Rom 8:32, 1Cor 2:12). Before the cross: If you would be forgiven, you must forgive. Now, in the light of the cross: You have been graciously “forgiven for Christ's sake” (Eph 4:32). In the light of this we can be tenderhearted and forgiving toward others.
And we are to go farther than this: Not only are we to forgive our brethren in Christ, but we are to be prepared to show this attitude toward the world as well. Paul said: “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all” (I Cor. 9:19), and referring to his persecutions by unbelievers, he said: “We... are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake” (2 Cor. 4:11). I wonder how many unbelievers may be won to Christ and how many of our Christian friends would be strengthened and helped, if we adopted this attitude toward others.
As to suffering itself, the Apostle Paul bore it “for Jesus' sake.” In writing to the Corinthians, he said: “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). Paul had learned that in weakness he leaned the harder, prayed more, and was brought closer to His Lord, and herein lays his spiritual strength.