16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
Paul draws a conclusion from God’s provisions and his call to ministry. The inference is from 2 Corinthians 4:7-15. There is a reason why the gospel team suffered as they did and preached as boldly as they could. There is a resurrection ahead for them (2 Co 4:14-15).
we do not lose heart [despair].
Regardless of suffering in time, Paul’s team did not become discouraged or give up (2 Co 4:1). Since God gave them the promise of resurrection, they did not despair because God will raise their bodies from the dead (2 Co 4:14). Since this is true, the team did not quit serving the Corinthian church. They saw beyond their present problems.
Even though our outward man [everything that pertains to the physical person] is perishing [decaying, decomposing],
The physical bodies of the team were growing weaker (2 Co 11:24, 25; Ga 6:17). Their jars of clay were wasting away. The “outward man” pertains to creaturely mortality, which belongs to the time in which we live.
yet [sharp contrast] the inward man [our spiritual life] is being renewed day by day.
The word “renewed” comes from two Greek words: to renew, again. The Christian should be renewed repeatedly. One dose of the Word of God is not sufficient. As we must eat every day physically, we need continuous spiritual means to sustain spirituality.
The gospel team continued to grow in Christ; this was a daily transformation into the likeness of Christ. Although the team was not impervious to problems, their trials made them stronger spiritually. This was a sharp contrast to the decaying of the outward man.
The “inward man” is the person who belongs to a different realm than non-Christians. This is a person who began eternal life at the point of salvation (Jn 5:24).
Progressive transformation into spiritual maturity is God’s purpose for every Christian.
Having an eternal point of view strengthens the Christian. It makes the inner person progressively stronger. No matter what battering we experience in life, we can become more and more like Christ.
As the believer gradually adjusts his thinking to God’s Word, his character progressively transforms into the likeness of Christ.
Destruction and construction work simultaneously in the life of the believer. While the growing Christians’ earthly life slowly dissipates, his spiritual life becomes more robust. His spiritual life gets more substantial by claiming the promises of God. The day-by-day renewal of the believer’s spiritual strength comes from the Word of God. Temporal struggles may batter the believer, but they do not defeat him. This requires short accounts with God. Weekly intake of God’s Word at church will not do. It takes daily digestion of what God has to say. To neglect the daily intake of God’s Word is to throw God’s vision for us out of perspective. Today’s affliction for the Christian is not the end of the story.