INWARD RENEWAL

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:7-18

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” [2 Corinthians 4:16 NKJV]

The outward man is that which is physical and can be seen, but the inward man is the spirit of man, made alive through new birth by the Holy Spirit. Our bodies do become tired, worn out and decayed. I certainly cannot do physically some of the things that I did fifty years ago – running, long-jumping and triple jumping are no longer possible!! I used to be constantly on the go, travelling, and speaking in several meetings each day but my body no longer allows me to keep going at that pace, and now I need recovery time between each thing that I do!!

Paul certainly new what it was to experience his outer man perishing! His body had taken so much pressure, over years of ministry. I have even heard doctors say that our brain cells are dying little by little, although I do everything I can to keep my mind active and alert. Something that causes me great sadness is to see dear Christian friends, as well as a special elderly family member, experiencing dementia.

The inward man does not perish, but is constantly being renewed by the Holy Spirit as we walk with God and honour Him. This has never been more obvious to me than when my wife and I visited an elderly missionary in Wales. When we had lived together in Indonesia Cyril and Barbara had been a tremendous blessing to us, and possibly had saved our missionary career. In his last years Cyril’s mind went, and we visited him when he was staying in a home to give Barbara some respite.

Cyril didn’t recognise us, although we had been so close. His mind had completely gone, and I wondered how on earth we could communicate with him. Then I the thought, why not sing Cyril’s favourite hymn. He had always loved singing and worshipping God. As we sang, “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene” Cyril suddenly began to sing with us all the verses of that great hymn. When we had finished singing I prayed for Cyril, and then he began to pray for Esther and me. It was one of the most fervent prayers I have ever heard anyone pray. I suddenly realised that although his body was worn out and his mind completely gone, yet Cyril’s spirit was very much alive. What comfort this gave to my wife and me!

Even under incredibly pressure, pain and the weight of sin, Jesus could pray, “Father into Your hands I commit My spirit.” The Holy Spirit is constantly renewing the spirit of the believer even though the body and the mind decay.

Questions:

Read 2 Corinthians 3:18. What is the main key that Paul gives for the renewal of the inner man? What can you do to strengthen your spirit?

I once heard someone say, “The way that we live will determine the way that we die!” What do you think of that statement? Is there any truth in it?

What can you do to keep your mind active and alert?