2 Corinthians 4:16-18
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.…
It is assumed —
I. THAT SPIRITUAL LIFE EXISTS. The phrase, "inward man," has the same meaning as the "new man." The agent producing this life is the Spirit of God; and whilst there is great variety in the means employed to produce it, its main features are always the same, the character and habits brought into conformity with God's will.
II. THAT THIS SPIRITUAL LIFE IS SUSCEPTIBLE OF GROWTH. This growth consists —
1. In the more vivid apprehension of spiritual realities. Spirituality of mind distinguishes the sincere Christian from the formalist.
2. In the development of a holy character. The influence of truth upon the character of a good man is like that of the sun upon the blossom, which causes it to expand in fragrance and beauty.
3. In a more enlightened and comprehensive view of spiritual truth. "When I was a child," etc.
III. THAT THE GROWTH OF THIS SPIRITUAL LIFE IS BEST PROMOTED BY THE FAITHFUL AND ACTIVE DISCHARGE OF DUTY. Here were men who sought no monastic seclusion, who resigned themselves to no luxurious meditations who had no time for any lengthened seasons of retirement, and yet whose spiritual life grew. Conscientious obedience to the will of God will be followed by the advancement of the spiritual life. By this obedience we exercise its faculties and display its moral excellences. True, intercourse with the world has its dangers, but our dangers are our discipline, and it is by discipline that the spiritual life attains to maturity.
IV. THAT THE GROWTH OF THIS SPIRITUAL LIFE IS GRADUAL AS WELL AS PROGRESSIVE. "Day by day." Elsewhere we read of "the renewing of the Holy Ghost." There is, then, continuous agency on the part of God, and there are continuous efforts on the part of man.
1. This daily renewal of the inner life is needed. There is the influence of a depraved nature, and the constant presence of natural objects, and these would exhaust and enfeeble its strength.
2. Is accomplished by all the events and circumstances of our ordinary life. This was the case with the apostles, who rendered prosperity and adversity subservient to the promotion of their spiritual growth.
V. THAT THE PHYSICAL LIFE DECLINES WHILST THE SPIRITUAL LIFE ADVANCES. "The outward man perisheth." True, that body is the workmanship of God. A fitting palace for the immortal guest within, but taken from the dust it must return to that from which it was taken. Contrast with this, the immortality of the spiritual life. In the forests of South America, it is no uncommon spectacle to see the trunks of aged trees covered with the joyous blossoms of climbing plants that have twined around them, as if Nature, with her kindly hand, sought to conceal and even beautify the corruption which she could not stay. In like manner, the beauty of the spiritual life appears amidst the decrepitude of the perishing body, giving grace and dignity to that which otherwise it would be pitiable to behold. Conclusion —
1. The words of the text suggest to us that the better part of our nature is the spiritual.
2. They furnish consolation to those Christians who are advancing in life.
3. Let each examine into his spiritual condition.
Parallel VersesKJV: For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.