Living by Faith (2 Corinthians 5:1-10)
In these verses from 1 Corinthians 5, we see that a life of faith is a life lived trusting that God will fulfill His promises, and that walking by faith results in a life that is pleasing to God. Rather than a vague feeling of optimism or a blind leap into darkness, faith is the assurance that God will bring about all that He has revealed in His Word. It is the ability to look at the things that are eternal, which are not seen, rather than to walk by sight, looking at temporal things which are seen.
Future Resurrected Life with God (verses 1-5)
To walk by faith means that we know that there is a future resurrected life for the believer. Our life here is transitory, but our life with Christ is eternal and abides forever. Knowing what awaits us when we are resurrected, we groan with desire to be with Christ. We groan because we long to be free from sin and we desire bodies in which we can praise God joyful and eternally without the struggles of this weak body and the sin that so often plagues us. We as Christians have seen the glory of Christ by faith, and we know that it’s real because the Holy Spirit has been given to us as a seal, testifying that we belong to Him. Now that we have seen Him by faith, we know also that we will see Him face to face. Christ has been raised from the dead and we know that we also will be raised from the dead in order to live with Him in our glorified bodies.
Immediate Life with Christ when We die (verses 6-8)
To walk by faith means that we we know there is immediate life with Christ when we die. When the child of God closes his eyes in death, he is immediately brought to the presence of the Lord, just as Jesus told the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). As good as living by faith here on earth might be, being with Christ immediately after death is gain for us (Philippians 1:21).
Walking by Faith Produces a Life that is Pleasing to God (verses 9-10)
Because of God’s promise that Paul would be raised from the dead to live forever with Christ, he desired to please God and bring glory to Him through his ministry. Also, Paul knew that he would come before the judgment seat of Christ, and while Paul knew that we are saved by grace exclusively on the basis of Christ’s work, he also knew that his works give public witness of salvation. Paul also kept in mind that our works that are done for the glory of God motivated by love and carried out in faith, will also be rewarded by God. The degree of reward that we receive will depend on the quality of the work that we have carried out (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). Salvation is not under consideration in these verses, but rather the reward. And because we recognize that even the reward we will receive is the result of God’s grace toward us, we will worshipfully lay the crown we receive at Jesus’ feet because all along it was His grace at work in us to produce a life of faith.
Groaning and Glory
For the Christian, groaning always precedes glory. All suffering in this life, for those who walk by faith, only ushers in incomparable glory in the life to come. We walk in the steps of Christ who groaned on this earth and suffered agony on the cross, and yet endured it because of the joy of the glory that awaited Him. However, for the person who walks by sight, seeking his ultimate pleasure in this life, this life will be as good as it gets. Any suffering and groaning that the unbeliever experiences will not usher in glory, but instead will be followed by eternal suffering and agony.
– Do you find yourself growing in your longing to be with Jesus and to be free from a life that is filled with suffering and sin? What are some ways that we can seek to grow in that holy longing? What are some of the glorious benefits that await us when we are given our glorified, resurrected bodies?
– What is the relationship between faith and works? Why does James say that faith without works is dead? Can works add anything to our salvation? What is the difference between a “reward” and “salvation”?