A couple of weeks ago we both taught at a young adult internship on the missions base. Bethany’s teaching was amazing! She taught on resisting the lusts of the flesh out of Love for the Lord. I taught the next day on 2 Corinthians 4-5, which also exhorts people to make it their aim to please the Lord, and talks about the resurrection from the dead, which fuels us to resist lust in this age.
I have a growing burden because of these two chapters. The Apostle Paul tells us what the spirit of faith is two times. Faith is setting your attention on the current invisible realities of the next age, which are the resurrection from the dead, our perfected bodies, heaven and earth together, the presence of the Lord and the absence of darkness. They are currently invisible to us because they are future or they are spiritual realities. But they are very real and will be seen very shortly. In verse 4:13, Paul says that He believes in the things to come, therefore he speaks it out as though it is real, “I believed and therefore I spoke.” Later he says that the invisible realities of the next age or eternal and the visible things of this age are temporal.
Paul lived in light of the glorious truths of the next age and it really fueled him and motivated him to persevere with joy. His trials seemed momentary/brief/passing because of what his eyes were set on. His afflictions were light/easy in light of the things to come. His troubles were actually working on his behalf because they were producing things in his heart that would be rewarded by God forever in the next age. His afflictions were his employees, earning him eternal profits, that’s why he could say that they were producing in him an eternal weight of glory. The weight of glory is a literal glory that will rest on his heart and body in the age to come. 1 Corinthians 15 says that some will shine like in weighty glory like the sun or stars. Paul knew that everything good and bad could work for his good, not circumstantially but eternally in his heart. His prison times, beatings, persecutions, starvings and labors were not in vain because they could carry through to the next age and last forever. Most of our frustrations in life are because we don’t see the purpose of things in our lives. We think circumstances are robbing us from being alive in God or doing His will or just being happy and comfortable but the very things we think are in our way could actually be used to renew our inner person day by day and carry impact through to the eternal age. Meditation on the glories of the next age causes afflictions in this age to grow more and more dim and causes our hope to grow stronger and stronger.
The part that has been impacting me the most is verses 5:1-4. Paul talked about the resurrection and the eternal weight of glory that was awaiting believers and then he reveals the deep things of his heart to us as readers. He said that he groaned for his new body and physical nearness to the Lord and that the fact that he didn’t have them burdened him. The great apostle groaned and was burdened because of the gap of what our present age is and the glorious fullness of what is coming. The gap between what is coming and what is currently going on bothered him. As I read this I had to confess that I did not groan for these things at all. I was bothered that I didn’t have a groan of pain in my heart because I wasn’t with the Lord in a new body without any resistance of love. The Lord has been showing me areas of my life that have caused my heart to settle into the things of this age and have dulled my longing for the fullness of the age to come.
(Check out the “Teaching Notes” section for full notes on this topic)