2 Corinthians 5:6-10
Greetings, everyone! Christ is risen, risen indeed, and Christ is coming again! A continued most happy and blessed Resurrection celebration to all of you on this Tuesday’s edition of EDiBS; I hope your weekend was a special one filled with joy and peace as you soaked in the victory of our Lord Jesus over sin, death, and all the powers of hell. Because He lives, we also live — both now and forever!
Thanks for joining in today as we come back to walk, verse by verse, through God’s Word together. Our time this session finds us continuing on in 2 Corinthians 5, so take a moment, turn there, and join me for a word of prayer.
Heavenly Father, thank you for this special moment in time – a moment where we have the opportunity to dedicate ourselves to the study of your Word and apply it to our lives. We ask that you would mercifully grant us the ability to understand what we read, and that being the case, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It’s in His name that we pray, amen.
As we get started today, having written with great confidence about our hope in the Lord, a hope which keeps us and spurs us on in our faith even though we are outwardly wasting away, Paul now moves into the obvious and natural conclusion to the point. Our focus: at home in the body, but away from the Lord; walking by faith and not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:6-10
6Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7We live by faith, not by sight. 8We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
One of the young ladies from our church youth group had been at our home doing some work for us. It was to earn money for our summer mission trip to the Oaks Indian Reservation in Oklahoma. When she was finished for the day, she got in her car and drove off, but a few minutes later we got a tearful call from her because — ironically — while she was fiddling with her Garmin navigation doohickey in the car, she took a curve on the gravel road too fast and ended up spun out in the ditch. I didn’t take the time to point out the rather comical paradox of the situation to her because it would have been uncouth, but her mishap brings up an interesting question: how is it that we as Christians tend to navigate our way through life? By faith or by sight? And are there times when we are apt to confuse the two...sometimes ending up in the ditch as a result?
Verses 6-7: In today’s reading, Paul begins by continuing to express the reason for our confident hope as people bought with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Referring back to our readings from the past couple of days, what is that reason? The fact that though there is a reality that is seen, a world in which we presently live, a place we now temporarily call our home, there is also a reality that we do not yet see except by faith, the reality of a world that is to come, a place in the presence of Almighty God where we will once and for call our permanent home. Our Lord Jesus Christ has gone to prepare this place for us and will come back to get us, that where He is we may be with Him, John 14. And as he begins today in verses 6-7, Paul is simply stating the case that because this incredible dwelling called heaven is not yet in our possession, we are away from what is truly our home place. As long as we are here, we are away from a face-to-face fellowship with God. As long as we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord.
Now — of course we have prayer and worship, of course we have His Word and His Spirit, and of course God is with us now, but think about it: one day we will have that relationship with Him in all of its fullness, in His very presence in heaven. That’s what Paul is talking about here. There’s a yearning because of this, certainly; but because we know that it will soon be ours, there is within us a great confidence as well.
Verses 8-9: Paul goes on in verses 8-9 to talk about this some more, doesn’t he. Would we rather be absent from this earthly body and present with the Lord? Of course! No question! No brainer! I love my life, love my family, love my ministry, love even the pleasures of this earthly body to a degree, but give me the choice of opting out and going to be with Jesus and I’d be there in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. And yet, here’s the fantastic thing about the text: Paul says in verse 9 that whether here in the body or there with the Lord, one thing remains constant for the child of God: having the high aim, the goal, of pleasing Him in everything that we do. It’s an ambition which, as John MacArthur says, is not altered by our state of being. Wherever we are, whether here or in heaven, we as the redeemed children of God are to care about how we live for the Living Lord.
The Greek word here for “goal” means to love what is honorable. So in other words, Paul is saying that it is right and noble for the believer to strive for excellence in all that is honorable before God. If we are careless it would be easy to take that as a law-based, works-righteous statement, but it’s not that at all; rather, it’s a declaration that as people freed from the power of sin, we are now also free to love and honor and cherish and please the One who has freed us. It is a gift that we have been given, one that honors the Lord and brings great joy to our hearts at the same time.
Verse 10: As we move into verse 10, Paul expands this thought one more position, as you can see, and this particular verse is sometimes fraught with difficulty for Christians who puzzle over it. What is Paul talking about here regarding Christ judging us for the things we have done, both good and bad? What is it that we are due to receive because of those deeds? The judgment being spoken of here is not judgment for sin. Remember, that was taken care of completely at Calvary. No, the judgment here is one of our Lord Jesus handing out eternal rewards. It’s an image of an athlete receiving a prize, and one that the Corinthians would be readily familiar with since they had a “bema,” or platform, in their city designed precisely for that activity.
The point is that as Jesus looks at our ministry for His kingdom while we were living here on earth, He will reward us accordingly. Nothing that we’ve done remains in terms of sin; only what we do for Him as His beloved redeemed is left. So what, then, is the reference to things good and bad? Not to things morally good or morally reprehensible; again, it’s not an indication of sin. What Paul means here is that as Christ bestows heavenly rewards on His people at this time of judgment, there will be a clear distinction between those things that were worthwhile and eternally impactful as opposed to those which were not; and those things which had no bearing on salvific issues will simply be as chaff separated from the wheat.
Wrapping up for the day, look briefly if you will at the progression here: we have confidence because of who we are and what we have and will receive in the Lord Jesus Christ. We yearn for the time when we will be with Him face to face. Yet nonetheless He is with us by His Spirit, and because He has loved us with an everlasting love and forgiven us our sin and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms, we have been freed by His work for us at Calvary to love and honor and offer our lives as a living sacrifice to Him as our spiritual act of worship – all of which, when the end comes, will be rewarded in the form of heavenly treasures. From beginning to end, it’s all grace – all a gift from His loving hand to ours. And though we could go much deeper here, it’s worth remembering on a parting note that even those good things we do which are of eternal spiritual significance are things which God prepared beforehand for us to do, that we might walk in them. God is good, all the time – good for us, good in us, and good to us! Have a terrific day, everyone – I’ll see you again next time.