Today: [2 Corinthians 5:] Being Clothed Upon: Did you know your glorified body exists now? Paul teaches in chapter 5 that the body you will inhabit in eternity will not be created at a future time but exists now and is as available to you as an article of clothing. Because of this, Paul calls believers to a deeper understanding of stewardship before God as those who will answer for our choices and actions even as believers at the judgment seat of Christ.
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[2Co 5:1-21 KJV] 1 For we know that if our earthly house of [this] tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4 For we that are in [this] tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing [is] God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 6 Therefore [we are] always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 We are confident, [I say], and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad. 11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. 12 For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. 13 For whether we be beside ourselves, [it is] to God: or whether we be sober, [it is] for your cause. 14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And [that] he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we [him] no more. 17 Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
In chapter 5 Paul continues the discourse from chs. 3-4 regarding the rigors and challenges of preaching the gospel amidst resistance and adversity on all sides. He begins with the declaration that though our physical bodies perish there remains a building of God that serves not only as the Father’s habitation by the Spirit but our glorified body as well. Paul groans within himself earnestly desiring to be clothed with this house in the heavenly realm – a physical, immortal frame or body set aside for each of us. Notice the language is present tense. We have (now) a building of God (v. 1) eternal in the heavens. This isn’t something that will be created after our death. This could very well be what Jesus referred to in John 14:
[Jhn 14:2-3 KJV] 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also.
Paul in stating that he longs to be clothed with that eternal body is not because he wants to die or has a death wish. He realizes that in his mortality in his natural body he is naked and that he will never be genuinely clothed until he takes on that habitation that God has prepared for each of us on the other side of eternity. The natural body (v. 4) is a burden, but it will one day be swallowed up of life. What does that tell us about our mortal body? Paul is saying that he realizes that you do not have to die to put on your mortality. He states in other scriptures that there will be a generation of believers who will put on immortality without going by way of the grave.
Paul’s remarks about nakedness and being clothed here give us more profound insights into what happened to Adam and Eve in the fall. Paul considered his natural body though it was dressed in clothing, it was still in a state of nakedness. Why is it naked? Because Satan told Adam he was naked. That was the question God asked in Genesis 3:11 – “who told you that you were naked?” Satan spoke nakedness to Adam and Eve and they believed it thus it became manifest. Note here the power of words. Satan brought man into bondage and the fallen nature with words. God releases us and raises us to new life with the power of the words we call the gospel. The question is what words will we believe? With the heart man believes and with the mouth he confesses (according to Rom. 10:6-11) and the corresponding condition is then brought into existence.
Who has provided this spiritual clothing for us? We don’t raise ourselves up or provide ourselves with our own habitation in heaven. He who provides this selfsame thing (v. 5) is God who has also given us the earnest of the Spirit which is the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. Notice again that the providing of the spiritual body (glorified body) is spoken of in v. 5 as PAST TENSE. It is ours now. Salvation is more than the indwelling of the Spirit of God. It is also NOW the providing of something Paul longs to be clothed with – his eternal glorified body.
Because Paul longs for that next experience of eternality doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel at home in his natural body. It is still home. However, if death comes the transference is instantaneous – to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Meanwhile, we walk by faith and not by sight. This doesn’t mean we have to die to have that experience but if we do die there is no soul sleep or interim period awaiting us. Though death claims us the immediate aftermath is putting on eternality in a physical form and living forever in the presence of the Father. Because this is our portion whether we live or die Paul says, we, therefore, labor that we might be acceptable in God’s sight. In other words, we labor in our natural lives and natural bodies as stewards of what strength and life we have. Our lives are not our own. We are bought with a price, therefore, we will serve God in whatever state we find ourselves in because (v. 10) there will be a judgment even for believers where we will answer to God for the things done in our bodies whether it be good or bad. This is very sobering. Most Christians believe that because they are born again, there will be no accounting of their lives on earth. Remember, however, that Jesus speaking of this “judgment seat of Christ” in Luke 12:48 said some will be beaten with many stripes and others with few stripes. This is very sobering. This is what Paul calls (v. 11) the terror of the Lord.
Because of this overarching weight of stewardship responsibility, Paul declares that he is constrained by the love of God in his regard for his brothers and sisters in Christ because the greatest responsibility is to love. As far as God is concerned since Jesus died for all then all are dead in Christ. The old man is perished, and we are risen to walk in new life. If there is a disparity to this in our walk because of carnality or outright sin that is where the judgment comes in – whether regarding temporal judgments in this life through the consequences of our choices or eternal judgment before God at the consummation of all things. The point for us (v 15) is that as long as our hearts go on beating, we should live not unto ourselves but unto Him who died for us and rose again. How do we live unto Him? One essential part of living for Him (v. 16) is choosing to know no man after the flesh. This points back to Paul’s statements in ch. 4 regarding judging righteous judgment about our leaders and not thinking of men more than we ought.
Are you in Christ? If you are in Christ (v. 17) you are a new creature. The wording there means that you are a new species altogether. You are not a mere man. You are not from God’s perspective a homo-sapien. Jesus brought the Adamic race to conclusion in Himself on the cross. He is the last Adam and the second man of a New Creation. You are Jesus’ brother, and God is your Father – not by imputation but by created reality. Old things are passed away. The Greek tense here is “old things are passing away…” all things are becoming new. The aging process then is reversing in Christ to the degree you appropriate by faith the implications of the New Birth. The new birth has consequences in your physical health and longevity as well as on your soul and where you will spend eternity. Jesus taught this very plainly. Whether any man or woman ever appropriates this as their own the provision is the undeniable implication of redemption. We are new creations (v. 18), and all things become new, and all things are of God. Is this your truth? Are all things in you of God or are some things of God and some things not of God? Then we know where we are struggling in our stewardship before God and regarding what actions and choices we will give an account. We tend to excuse the flesh but make no mistake – at every point where the disparity between His perfection and our character exists there will be an accounting, and there will be consequences both temporally here and now and in eternity. Let us then be fully reconciled to God by Jesus Christ and embraced with renewed sobriety the ministry of reconciliation He has committed us to being representatives of.
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