Sunday, January 8, 2017, 10:13 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “More Precious Than Silver.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 5 (NASB).
In This Tent (vv. 1-5)
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. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. 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. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.
In this world, we live in flesh bodies (our earthly tents) which are subject to suffering, pain, sin, sickness, sadness, trouble, hardships, decay and death. Sometimes we may feel overwhelmed by all the trouble, hardships, sin and sadness here on this earth, and we may inwardly groan and even feel burdened by it all. And, we may long for our heavenly home and for the time when all suffering, pain, sadness and sin will be no more. Today was one of those days for me. So, I prayed it all through, and I laid my burden at my Lord’s feet, and I prayed for his perfect peace to permeate my mind and my heart. Sometimes, when I feel this way, all I can pray is “Help!” But, the good news is that we have this promise of future glory where we will be with our Lord forever, and where all that is of this world will be no more. Amen!
Of Good Courage (vv. 6-10)
Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 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.
Yet, even when we groan, we can be of good courage. God makes no mistakes. He knew when he created man and woman that they would sin, and that he would put a curse on them and on the earth, and yet he created them anyway. Yet, he had a plan to save them from their sins, even from the very beginning. As well, our God is completely sovereign and in control over all he has made, so none of what we go through on this earth is without effect. It all serves his purposes in one way or another. The trials and hardships we go through are for our spiritual maturing, to teach us perseverance, and so we learn to rely on God and not on ourselves.
So, we can be of good courage because we know that our God will work all things for the good of those who love him, and who have been called according to his purposes. What we go through on this earth is temporal, but we look forward to eternity with our Lord in heaven. So, while we are still here, we make it our ambition to be pleasing to our Lord in all that we do. We have a sense of purpose, as well, and know that God put us on this earth for a reason, and so our desire is to serve our Lord in ministry, to love others with his love, to show compassion for the hurting, and to spread the message of salvation from sin far and wide so many will know Jesus, too.
We Persuade Them (vv. 11-15)
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. 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. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 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.
What is the fear of the Lord? It is taking God and his Word seriously, believing what they tell us, and living accordingly. It is giving God/Jesus honor, respect, obedience, submission, reverence, worship, devotion, passion, fidelity, commitment, and loyalty, etc. It is also not taking his grace for granted or what he did for us on the cross lightly. It is believing that he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, and so we might no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died and rose again on our behalf. It is also believing that if we say we know God or that we have fellowship with God, but we continue living sinful lifestyles, that we are liars, and that we don’t truly know God, and thus we don’t have the hope of eternal life when we die, but only a fearful expectation of eternity in the fires of hell. The fear of the Lord is NOT believing we can pray a prayer and have our ticket into heaven, but still live (walk) in sin without guilt and remorse.
If in Christ (vv. 16-21)
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. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 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.
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. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
What someone appears to be outwardly is not necessarily a true picture of what one is inwardly. What I mean by this is that we should cease judging people by external appearance, personality, façade, or charisma. Oftentimes I will hear people judge someone as being a Christian merely because he or she appears friendly, religious, winsome, fun-loving, and is nice to people, though by human standards of what is kind (nice). Yet, there are a lot of “nice” people in this world who don’t know Jesus at all, who are not bound for heaven, but who are destined to spend eternity in hell. And, just because everyone seems to love them is also not a determining factor for whether or not they are genuinely saved. Jesus and his NT apostles were certainly not loved by all, but many hated them and persecuted some of them to death.
So, what is the determining factor as to whether or not someone is genuinely a Christian? It is that their old way of living for sin and self is gone, and they have become new creations in Christ Jesus. In other words, when we believe in Jesus, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 2:20). We now walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh (See: Ro. 8:1-14).
Nonetheless, this does not mean we have reached perfection or that we never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1). It just means that a spiritual transformation has taken place in our lives of the Spirit of God in turning us from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God so that we can receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (made holy) by faith in Jesus Christ (See: Acts 26:16-18).
So, what does it mean to be reconciled to God? It means we are restored to him, that we are reunited with him, because we have been changed from being at enmity with him to being in fellowship (friendship) with him. So, how does this take place? Well, first of all we must understand that we are all born into sin because of Adam’s sin, and thus we come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (Ro. 3:23). The fellowship between man and God was broken when Adam sinned, and so it needs to be restored. So, God the Father sent his Son Jesus Christ to the earth to take on human flesh, and although he knew no sin, to become sin for us on a cross in order to put sin to death so that we could be reconciled (made right) to God.
Yet, although Jesus died for everyone, and he put all sin to death, not everyone is reconciled to God. So, we have a part in this, too, yet not in our own human flesh, but by the grace of God and in the power of the Spirit. We must repent (turn from) our sin and turn to God/Jesus to follow him in obedience. We must believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, not just intellectually or emotionally, but experientially. In other words, we must die to sin and live to Jesus and to his righteousness, not perfectly, but also not using lack of perfection as an excuse for continued sin. The Christian life is a process. Daily we die to sin and self. Daily we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit. And, daily we put on the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us.
It really all comes down to attitude, i.e. our attitude about God, about his Word, about sin and about righteousness. Are we still trying to hold on to our old way of living for sin and for self while claiming heaven as our eternal destiny? We will die in our sins, says Jesus. Or, have we been crucified with Christ in death to sin and been reborn of the Spirit of God to a new life in Christ to be lived to God and to his righteousness? We will have eternal life. So, are we still trying to hold on to this world, or have we let it go to follow Jesus wherever he leads us? What do we value most? Jesus Christ, or the things and pleasures this world has to offer? Our answers to these questions will determine our eternal destiny. I’d rather have Jesus. How about you?
More Precious Than Silver / Lynn DeShazo
Lord, You are more precious than silver.
Lord, You are more costly than gold.
Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds,
And nothing I desire compares to You.