Outer and Inner Man
“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16
The Bible makes a distinction between the inner man and the outer man. In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul explains that the outer man can decay and deteriorate, but the inner man can be strengthened. The weakening and deterioration of our outer man is the result of missional engagement and/or aging. The glimpse we get of the apostle Paul’s life helps us understand that his physical outer man was extremely weakened as a result of missional living. He was afflicted in every way, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down. Paul was beaten with rods three times, stoned once, received thirty-nine lashes five different times from the Jews, shipwrecked three times, and actually spent a night and day in the deep. His experiences were the result of missional living and took a toll on his life. Thus, he concluded his outer man was decaying.
There are many Christians around the world who, like the apostle Paul, are serving our Lord faithfully and yet they face struggles and suffering. Perhaps, you are a missionary and the perils of your mission have weakened your outer man. Or, you are a pastor trying to serve faithfully in a local church and you think no one knows your struggles. Loneliness has set in like a dark shadow cast over your soul. Or, you are the only believer in your family an you feel like an isolated outcast. Emotionally and physically your outer man is decaying.
Unfortunately, the outer man can decay and deteriorate as a result of age. This is the reality for those who enter their golden years. Our dear seniors enter this season of life looking forward to retirement, grandkids, and family. Yet, often times, this season is marred by the outer man weakening and showing its age. There are dear senior saints whom I love and who have loved my family and I in ways that befit the kindness and grace of one who has walked with Jesus for years. I must admit it is difficult to watch these dear ones decline and their outer body weaken.
However, we can’t overlook how this scripture shifts our attention from our outer man to our inner man. Friends, the outer man will fail, yet spiritually our inner man can become stronger day by day. The inner man shall know the truth and be freed from the struggles of the outer man to serve in the face of a failing body. So, when missional living leads to circumstances that wreak havoc on your outer man, rejoice because the inner man grows stronger day by day. I encourage you to lift your heart in a crescendo of praise to the Lord God when your eye sight fails, hearing grows dull, your back won’t straighten, and knees hurt as you slip into the golden years. Remember, your life is more than an outer shell. Praise God, your inner man can be strengthened day by day.
The outer man will return to the dust, but the Spirit man inside of us shall rejoice today as we wait for the Savior. The melody in our hearts shall continue on beyond this life into heaven. Death will be the end of the outer man, but the inner man shall sing and rejoice into the presence of God. Today, on this side of heaven we sing a melody in our hearts, by faith, in anticipation. Yet soon, we shall sing by sight on other side in heaven with great satisfaction.
Hold on my friends, and whatever you do, please do not lose heart! God Bless and have a great week.