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Anticipating our Heavenly Home.
1. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Paul was always confident that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with to the glory that will be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18).One day when our suffering finally results in death, our earthly tent (our body) will be destroyed. The human body has its origins in the earth and will one day return there (Gen. 2:7 ; Gen. 3:19). It will be dissolved (disintegrate). In this sense the human body may be described as a tent or temporary residence.
When our time comes to die we may put off our temporary residence with confidence because we already have possession (by faith) of the title deeds to a more permanent residence. God has provided us with an eternal house in heaven. This house is our resurrection body which comes directly from God and is not of earthly origin (Phil. 3:21 ; 1 Cor. 15:47-49).
2. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling.
As long as we remain in the present body of corruption we groan i.e. we pray inaudibly, yearn, and intensely crave to be clothed with our eternal and heavenly body.
3. If indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked.
The word "clothed" refers to the future spiritual body of believers; the eternal habitation in which they shall abide. The soul will not be naked in heaven; that is, without a body. The present body will be laid aside and return to dust but the soul will be clothed with a glorified body suitable for eternity.
4. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
This is what we constantly long for as we are weighed down by our mortal bodies. It is not that we long to be delivered from our bodies as spirits without a home. Rather we long to be invested with our supernatural bodies that we might dwell in them in heaven. Our souls will never do away with the need for a body. They will simply exchange one kind of body for another. Our present bodies, liable to death, will be replaced by those fitted for eternal life.
5. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
He who has accomplished and provided this for us is God who has given us His Spirit as the guarantee of a full experience of redemption which is to come. The indwelling Holy Spirit gives us the assurance of this, for His presence reveals that we have been redeemed and have been appointed to eternal life.
6. So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.
Because we have such a certain hope we are always confident, for all the time that we are present in our bodies and absent from the Lord we live in expectation of our heavenly home.
7. For we walk by faith, not by sight.
We walk through life by faith, expecting the glory to come not because we have seen it but because we have believed God's Word (Heb. 11:13-16).
8. Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
Not only are we fully assured of our inheritance in heaven but we are eager to emigrate there as soon as possible. We are quite willing, and consider it a good thing, to leave behind our old tent and exchange it for an everlasting house, dwelling with the Lord in a heavenly country (1 Thes. 4:17).
Being Ready for Christ's Coming.
9. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him.
That is why we earnestly long to please the Lord, for we shall soon see Him face to face. We do not know when that day will be, but we aim to be ready for His coming (Luke 12:40).
10. For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.
When that day comes every believer must appear before Christ to give account of his life and be approved and rewarded for his works. The Bema seat of Christ is not the same as the Great White throne of God. Only those who merit reward by faithful service shall receive reward, others will not receive the reward they could have. Yet the issue of our salvation is not in question here (1 Cor. 3:13-15).
The Preacher's Motivation.
11. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences.
It was because Paul had experienced the exceeding fear of the Lord that he sought to pursuade men to receive Christ as Saviour. His sincerity and motive in ministry was fully known to God and should have been clear to the Corinthian's own conscience. Many people accused Paul of unworthy motives just as they accuse many believers of such motives today. In Paul's case some alleged that he was out to make money.
12. We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart.
Paul does not defend himself to the Corinthians but reminds them of his sincere motives so that they might share these motives and refute those who falsely accused the apostles. Such people looked only at the outward appearance and not at the heart which was true to Christ. Those who are not born again cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). An unsaved man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him (1 Cor. 2:14). That is why they can't understand the motivation of a believer's life.
13. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.
It has been a common thing in times of religious revival for those who are fervent in their love for God and zealous for Him to be branded as religious fanatics who have lost their wits. Festus said as much to Paul in Acts 26:24. Jesus was thought to be "out of his mind" by his family in Mark 3:21. What incites such zeal for God? It was certainly not mental deficiency; it is God's love for us, viewed in terms of what he has done for us, that produces love for Him and causes us to be zealous in His service. But Paul's zeal was not without wisdom. He was a perfectly rational man who taught the Word of God for the benefit of others.
14. For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.
It was the love of Christ which constrained the apostles to be zealous for God. Christ's love motivated their missionary zeal. The Lord who died for them had died for all, since all were dead in sin, and their longing was that others would come to know him too.
15. And He died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died and was raised for them.
Christ died and rose again so that all who believe in him, should no longer live for themselves but for Him. This is the language of Calvary love. Christ gave everything for me so I must give Him all I have. Believers can find no higher pleasure than when they do just that.
A New Creation.
16. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know Him no longer in that way.
Since we have received Christ as Saviour we no longer view anything from a worldly view point. Our eyes have been opened to heavenly truth. Even though we have known Jesus the man of Galilee, we know Him no more as this. He is now the exalted Lord in Heaven, possessing all power in heaven and earth. He lives in the power of an endless life and communicates that life by faith to the hearts of all who believe in Him. Christ's resurrection brings the great divide to mankind. Those who do not believe are dead in sin; those who do are alive to God. These two distinctions dissolve all others entirely.
17. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
Christ has been raised to be the Head of a new order. His resurrection life is communicated to all who by faith receive Him. These are made new creatures by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Christ is formed in them as God regards their old life as being dead and buried together with Christ's death and burial. They now live by being united with Him in His resurrection life (Rom. 6:4 ; 1 John 4:17).
"All things have become new" makes clear that human nature is not reformed or improved by this process. It is a new creation. The old man is not the starting material. The old man has gone, the new man has come, which is Christ.
18. All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.
The whole nature of this new creation is from God - no part is earthly. No part of the new creation belongs to the old. The new birth and the provision of glorified eternal bodies have been made for us by God, who through Christ has reconciled us to Himself and has entrusted to us the job of making His message of reconciliation known to all men.
19. That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.
The force of this message is that God, through the instrument of His Son, was reconciling the world to himself. God laid all our sins on Christ who became our substitute, dying the death that was the punishment we deserved. God's message of forgiveness can now be proclaimed for if Christ suffered for our sins we do not have to. He has entrusted this message of reconciliation to us. What does it mean to be reconciled? We who were once enemies by our wicked works have become friends of God, Christ having made peace between us and God (Col. 1:20).
20. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
We are Christ's representatives, acting on his behalf, bringing a message for sinners. It is as if God were going on one knee to implore men to be reconciled to Himself because of what Christ has done. God's justice has been fully satisfied by Christ's death and on these terms we may have forgiveness and eternal life. Have you accepted God's terms?
21. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
God made Christ to become sin for us and that sin was punished, that we might receive the gift of His righteousness imputed to us and be clothed with garments of salvation (Isa. 61:10).
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