(2 Corinthians 5:1-5)
In my last post I wrote about why Christians get sick. The key to understanding that is knowing that this Christian walk is not about the flesh but about the spirit. The work that is going on in us is a spiritual work. The flesh is of no avail.
In this section of scripture today, Paul extends this understanding and shows that God helps us in our walk by giving us the Spirit as guarantee of His help in our salvation.
It is the work of the Holy Spirit in us to transform us into the image of God. This is why God gave us the Holy Spirit. But let us consider the words Paul has written here and how the spirit as guarantee helps us.
Body And Spirit
In the first few verses of this section Paul reminds us of the emphasis that should be placed on the body of flesh versus the life in the spirit.
1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened-not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. – (2 Corinthians 5:1-4)
This “tent” and this “earthly home” Paul speaks of is this body of flesh we live in.
As Christians we do indeed “groan longingly” to put on the spirit and enter the heavenly dwelling place with the Lord. We are burdened in this body of flesh in many ways: sickness, disease, sinfulness, passion, desires, and so on.
We recognise as Christians that these things are tearing us down. They pull us into all manner of troubles one way or the other, either through the inability to live healthy lives or worse, as precursors to sin.
But we must remember that all of these things are afflictions of the flesh. They are problems of this human condition in which we live and are not part of the life in the spirit that we long for with Christ.
Where Paul spoke about us not being “naked” in our desire to put off the flesh and put on the heavenly life, he is not talking about being physically naked but being spiritually naked.
Think for a moment about the spiritual clothing that is spoken of in the bible.
One that comes to mind is in Ephesians 6, the first few verses of which give us both an overall description of this clothing as the armour of God, and why we need it.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. – (Ephesians 6:10-11)
The point of this spiritual armour is to enable us to stand in the face of opposition and to be able to fight the attacks of the devil that will come against the people of God.
Just as a soldier cannot go into battle effectively with only some of the armour, so too we are instructed to put on the WHOLE armour of God so that we can effectively wage the spiritual war that comes against us.
And how does the devil attack us? Through working on our passions, desires and tendencies to lead us into sinfulness. He wants us to be naked spiritually so that he can attack, defeat, overcome and destroy the people of God. That is why we need to be fully clothed in the spirit with the armour of God.
Consider also some of the other spiritual clothing mentioned in the bible. Another that comes to mind are the many references to the “robes of righteousness.”
We are to be robed with righteousness, but this does not come from anything we do. The robes of righteousness are first given to us as free gifts through faith in Jesus Christ.
When we enter into Christ Jesus and believe in faith that He takes away our sins and sets us free from the laws of sin and death, then we are given the robes of righteousness by faith. We are clothed in God’s righteousness because we believe Christ has died for us and we have taken on His death so as to be saved from the sinfulness of this world.
But that is just the beginning. God clothes us in righteousness when we believe in faith so that we can begin our walk with Christ. But then hard work begins as we walk to overcome the problems of the flesh and battle against the wiles of the evil one and his minions.
The Spirit As Guarantee
This is where God helps us by giving us His Holy Spirit as guarantee to guide, counsel, protect, teach and comfort us as we walk in Christ. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in us to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ and so guarantee our salvation.
It is the work of the Holy Spirit to clothe us in God’s righteousness through His transforming power so that we can stand, not just in the righteousness we have by faith, through living transformed lives of righteousness in all we do and say.
The guarantee of the Holy Spirit is to remake us into the image of Christ, so that we can be perfect as He is perfect. And we MUST be perfected in Christ eventually if we are to live eternally in His kingdom, for there cannot be any sin, evil, wickedness or any other kind of filth in the kingdom of the God. It will be a perfect kingdom and only those who have been perfected in the spirit will be able to come into the presence of God when His kingdom is established after all has been completed.
Consider this example where someone attempts to come into the kingdom and presence of God who does NOT have the robes of righteousness.
8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” – (Matthew 22:8-14)
This block of scripture speaks of the great invitation that will be sent out to the whole world to come into the kingdom of God, or rather the wedding feast of the bride (the church) to the groom (Christ).
Many will be invited to come, both good and bad and will receive and accept God’s invitation to come to Christ. When they do they will receive the “wedding garment” which is the robe of righteousness. We know from other scriptures that the bride of Christ will be clothed in white and be spotless for she will have no sin or blemish and thus is righteous.
But note also that there was a man who tried to come in without the wedding garment, that is, the robe of righteousness. What happened to him? He was rejected and cast out and unable to come into the presence of the bride, groom and the King, (church, Christ and God the Father).
No person will be able to enter without being righteous.
We are given the spirit as guarantee so that the Holy Spirit can teach us the ways of God in Jesus Christ that lead to righteousness. It is the primary work of the Holy Spirit to bring us into the presence of God by perfecting us in Christ.
But as I mentioned, we cannot do it by ourselves. Self-righteousness will not cut it because the only robe of righteousness, i.e. wedding garment, we can receive is the one given by God through faith in Jesus Christ.
The man cast out of the wedding in the example above did not have the robe of righteousness and clearly did not have the spirit as guarantee, otherwise he would have been properly dressed and attired rather than being spiritually naked.
Receiving the spirit as guarantee is to assure us that we can be transformed into the image of Christ. The God wants to help us as we fight the good fight of the spirit and so be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.
The time comes when we all put off this earthly “tent” we live in and we put on the heavenly “tent” in the spirit. But until God declares we are righteous, the only “clothing” we can stand in while the Holy Spirit works the transformation in and on our lives, is the robe of righteousness given to us by faith in Jesus Christ.
So let us hold fast our faith in Jesus Christ. Let us receive the free gift of righteousness by faith from God and let us also receive the spirit as guarantee to work the transformation that leads to perfection in Christ Jesus as we walk from day to day.
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