Seeing the Unseen

Series: General | Title: Seeing the Unseen | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday August 16, 2020

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

I would like to title my message this morning as “Seeing the Unseen”.

  • It is believed that Apostle Paul was writing this letter in AD 55 probably from Macedonia. He was writing this letter to the church in Corinth after establishing many churches there and during his stay in Macedonia he wrote the second letter (2nd Corinthians) to the church of Corinth. Paul had continued to suffer for Christ and for the sake of the Gospel throughout his missionary journey and he died about 11 to 12 years later in AD 64 or 67. Traditions suggest that he was beheaded near Rome. Although Paul continued to face numerous troubles and persecution, he still kept encouraging the Corinth believers saying “We do not lose heart” Do not give up! Keep going! With all the suffering Paul endured, with the great experience he gained from ministering at a different set up, with the great revelation he received from God, he is encouraging us to still continue this journey.
  • Life issues cause us to lose heart very easily. The pain in our body, the aches we may go through in our lives, our health conditions, relationship struggles, or even age related issues/difficulties may discourage us and we can lose heart but Paul is telling us this morning that “Do not lose heart and be of good courage.” Paul also tells us why we should not lose heart which are given in the verse below.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

  • The perishing nature of human body and the renewing nature of the inner man.

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,

  • Afflicting nature of this world in comparison with the rewarding nature of heaven.

18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

  • The last thing Paul mentions are the tangible nature of this life compared to the unseen nature of eternity.
  • You may have a question now. Does it mean that this life on earth is not important and only eternity is important? No, that is not what Paul is try to tell us. Paul is saying that if we only satisfy our bodily or earthly life, then we will easy be discouraged because earthly life is perishing in nature while heavenly life is long-lasting. So if our focus is more on this earthly life, we look at the things that are happening today, what will we eat, what will I put on, what are the resources I have today hence Paul is diverting our attention towards the heavenly life is is long-lasting and eternal while life on earth is only temporary. Our human body is made of an outer shell which is natural but within us, there is an inner man which will live eternally (a supernatural being.) Paul is asking us to take our attention from the natural and place it in the supernatural. So Paul is asking us not to lose heart, but to continue what we have been doing and eventually we will receive an eternal reward. The life that we live on the face of this earth is the time that God prepares us towards eternity and that is the strong assurance we have. We all need encouragement, we all need motivation to continue our lives on the face of this earth. A life without motivation is not worth living, it can collapse anytime and it can damage others too. We get discouraged when we see what is seen but God is asking us to see the unseen. What we see is temporary and fleeting but God is asking us to turn our attention towards the unseen which is eternal and permanent. So what we require is the eyes that can see the unseen. Where do we go for these eyes? These are the eyes of faith. We need this to see the unseen.
  • Let us go into a little bit more detail.

1. Perishing nature of human body and the renewing nature of inner man.

Paul says

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

  • If we purchase an appliance from a store, it is capable of performing its function for a period of time, then its life comes to an end.  But if we replace some of the damaged components, it may continue to function until it fully dies. In the same way, our lives function until certain time and our organs start failing one after another, with the help of doctors we are able to replace an organ and then we live for some more time. Eventually these too fail and we die. We notice that day by day or year by year our bodies do fall apart. This is the perishing nature of our body. God created us to live forever by eating the tree of life, but Adam failed to do that, he sinned and we ought to die now.

Ecclesiastes 3:20 All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.

  • If we tend to keep our hope on our strengths or bodies, then this is the worst for us as we are made of dust and we shall return to dust.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it.

  • Sometime people may ask “what will happen when we die?” The answer is that our body will return to dust, the spirit will go to God because it came from Him and our soul will remain for judgement for eternity in hell or heaven. That’s why when we bury a body, we say “We now commit the body of our dear “name” to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. We are talking about the “Perishing nature of human body and the renewing nature of inner man.” God breathed life into our nostril, and because God kept eternity in our hearts, we are capable of living for ever.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

  • Paul says that the inner man grows inside of us taking the spiritual nourishment he or she receives everyday as we read, pray and meditate God’s word. So even when our outer shell is perishing day by day, our inner man is renewed everyday. It is extremely important to feed our souls. It is important for us to focus our inner man.

2. Afflicting nature of this world and the rewarding nature of heaven

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,

  • Paul is saying that it is a light affliction.  Sometimes some of us are not able to handle this light affliction. We find it very difficult. The pain and the aches we go through. The insults of family members which we tend to harbor. The frustrations and disappointments due to our inabilities distract and discourage us. Many times we ask God “How long do I have to go through this situation?” “I can’t handle it anymore!” Sufferings and hardships are part of Christian life, but when we make it personal, we take and deal with the situation with the help of God.

The Psalmist says:

Psalm 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous one, and Lord Jehovah delivers him from all of them.

  • Some of us are neglected, we are not wanted by our family members anymore because we choose to follow God. Some troubles can arise at workplaces even because we stand for the truth. Paul was strengthening the early church believers saying ““We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22. Children of Israel were afflicted by Pharaoh in the land of Egypt. Today churches in different parts of the world are persecuted and afflicted. We are talking about the afflicting nature of this world. Paul is saying that it is time that we lifted our eyes from the afflicting nature of this world and shift our focus on eternity and eternal nature of heaven. Sometimes we don’t enjoy life. Moving forward seems to be painful, life challenges throw us into a state of confusion. Every door that you knock seems to be closed.

Job 14:1-2 “Man who is born of woman Is of few days and full of trouble. 2 He comes forth like a flower and fades away; He flees like a shadow and does not continue.

Job 30:26  But when I looked for good, evil came to me; And when I waited for light, then came darkness.

  • The afflicting nature of this world causes many people to get emotional drained and joy is taken out of their lives.  People walk as if they are dead because there is no joy in their life. They are emotionally broken and shattered.

Ecclesiastes 2:23 For all his days are sorrowful, and his work burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity.

  • So, how many of our sleep is affected? Many of keep thinking of the worry which comes into our mind. We turn left and right but we still do not sleep at all.

Paul says

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

  • This is the afflicting nature of this world and rewarding nature of heaven. Let us have a look below at the reward which God has in store for us.
Crown of life

James 1:12 says “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

  • God is going to take us into eternity and give us the crown of life. So there is no need to worry. Life on this earth is afflicting and fleeting but it is nowhere compared to the eternal glory. Jesus said “Blessed are those who are persecuted for Christs’ sake,

Matthew 5:11-12 11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

  • Paul is encouraging the church saying, heaven is going to be rewarding, so don’t lose heart, God is going to reward you. He knows your struggles, afflictions and everything. He is going to wipe away our tears and going to be our God forever.

Here is a small illustration:

  • A dear elderly lady was near death and before dying, she gave her pastor a strange request: “When my casket is opened at the funeral, and all my friends come to bid their final goodbye, I want them to see me ready to be buried with a table fork in my right hand.” Then she explained to her puzzled pastor, “I want you to tell the congregation, you know what it means when they clear the dishes from a banquet table and someone says, ‘Keep your fork.’ You know that something good is coming—maybe a piece of apple pie or chocolate cake. ‘Keep your fork’ means something good is coming. Pastor, I want to be buried with a dessert fork in my hand. It will be my way of saying, ‘The best is yet to come.’”
  • Heaven is so rewarding.  We need to learn to delight in the fact that heaven is the best that is yet to come. 

3.Tangible nature of this life and the unseen nature of eternity

2 Corinthians 4:18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

  • Tangible means something we can touch or feel. Tangible nature of this life. Our five senses “touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste”.  These are the driving factors behind life. Without all these five, we can’t really live. Many times these tangible factors become our priority.
  • Touch – We need a soft pillow when we lie down to make us comfortable. Sight – We want our garden in the front yard to look pleasant. Hearing –  We want to listen to the music that ignites our mood or soothes us down. Smell – We want our closets to smell good with aromatic candles and air fresheners. Taste –  We want food to be tasty and enjoyable.
  • People cannot believe something that they haven’t seen. Idol worship, animal worship, nature worship, human worship are the result of the tangible nature of human life.

Paul says, we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.

  • Paul says this because our eyes are deceptive.

Proverbs 3:7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;  Fear the Lord and depart from evil.

  • Another example is when Samuel went to Jesse’s house to anoint the next king of Israel, Lord said to Samuel, when Samuel thought Eliab was the king to be anointed.

1 Samuel 16:7 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have [a]refused him. For[b] the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

  • We cannot depend on our senses, they are deceptive.  Our senses are deceptive in nature. Do not try to sense God, believe God. God is not in music, God is not in certain rhythm, God is not in inspiring speeches, they are all capable of producing false sense of God. Certain environments that produce positive vibes are capable of healing body and emotional conditions, God need not be there. Our senses try to see the evidence of things but that is not faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. So Paul says,  For the things which are seen are temporary and deceptive in nature, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Two reasons why we don’t trust in the things that are seen
  1. Deceptive nature of our senses
  2. Temporary nature of what is seen

Jesus said in 1 John 2:15 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

  • Your house is temporary, your appliances are temporary, the things which you are storing up are temporary, your body is temporary, your health is temporary, your family members are temporary, your spouse is temporary, your children are temporary, your own life is temporary

Jesus said in Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

  • Not because you shouldn’t love them, but because of their temporary nature. When you think about what you see at times it is discouraging, but what is unseen is encouraging and that is what Paul is trying to convey. We need grace to see the unseen because we cannot see them with our naked eyes. We see that only by faith. Because the things which are not seen are eternal.

Philippians 3:20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.

  • We haven’t seen heaven, but we believe. 

This morning God is telling that the reason for your dullness and discouragement are the following:

  1. We worry about this perishing body and we need to work towards renewing the inner man.
  2. We worry about the afflicting nature of this world but we should think about the rewarding nature of heaven.
  3. We try to satisfy all the senses of our body with what is seen which could be deceptive, trying to see what is unseen.
  4. We think everything around us is permanent, but its all going to go away from us, what is unseen is permanent and eternal

God wants us to see the unseen.

 

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