2 Corinthians 4:16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. ESV
I am now in my late fifties. Though I still enjoy a measure of good health, I am also having to deal more and more with some type of physical ailment. Each year there are a few more gray hairs in my head and a few more sags in my body. More and more I experience aches and pains in my joints and muscles, and I find that it is a whole lot easier to put weight on than it is to take it off. If the Lord tarries in His return and I continue to live, my physical condition will continue to weaken. Yet as the Apostle Paul said – ‘though my outer self is wasting away, my inner self is being renewed day by day.’
Paul recognized that there were two parts to our being: our outer self and our inner self. The outer self is our physical body which is in a constant state of decline. Many believe that this decline began the moment Adam and Eve chose to sin against God. We read from the book of Genesis:
Genesis 3:17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” ESV
Often I am asked why Christians get sick and die of diseases like cancer. My reply is that sickness is to the body what thorns and thistles are to the ground. It’s all a part of the curse placed upon creation as a result of mankind’s sin. The moment Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, their bodies began the journey towards death. Overtime gray hairs began to appear upon their heads and wrinkles across their faces. Finally we read –“Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died.” (Gen 5:5 ESV) Though Adam lived an enormous amount of years, he still died. His outer man eventually wasted away.
But though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self can experience continuous renewal. In the book of Ephesians, Paul speaks of the inner man being strengthened by God’s Spirit. “Strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” (Eph 3:16 NAS) A major part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit to furnish our inner man with God’s unending strength and power.
As I think about this, my mind is drawn to an Old Testament hero named Caleb. As many of you know, Caleb was a contemporary of Joshua and the two of them were mighty men of God. Note the words of Caleb:
Joshua 14:10 …here I am this day, eighty-five years old. 11 As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me… 12 Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day… NKJV
I have often wondered what kind of physical shape Caleb was in at the age of 85. No doubt he was a very strong senior citizen, yet he was 85 years old. There was no way that he could have been as physically vibrant as he had been a half a century earlier. Yet though his physical stamina might have been fading away, his inner stamina was as alive as ever. Even at age 85, he was still in the business of conquering mountains!