“Though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”
2 Corinthians 4:16
Paul wrote elsewhere that if the Christian hope of the resurrection proved to be false, then Christians were to be pitied above all men. If their hope pertained only to this life, their hope for the future life proving unfounded, they were in a pitiable condition (1 Cor. 15:19).
Here we see the other side of matters. And it is a side of glorious truth and hope for Christian people. The reality is that all men are in a pitiable condition so far as this life is concerned. Why? Because every single one of us is simply on a downward slide toward decay and death. Our outer man is decaying, as Paul says. There is no escaping it. Not the strongest, nor the fastest, nor the wisest, nor the richest has any power to overcome the infinite reach of death and decay.
But Christians, while facing a daily struggle in the outer man just as all other men, have another life to look to, that of the inner man. And here, there is not death, but life. There is not decay, but eternal renewal of strength. This eternal fountain of life within us upholds us and lifts our spirits when we otherwise would be tempted to despair. Even if all around us seems dark and painful, we can yet rejoice unfeignedly because we have eternal life and peace within. Life is sweet and good, regardless of what external misery or attacks we might face!
Consider how pitiable is the condition of the man without this inner renewal each day. His life is deteriorating daily. His body is breaking down. He is headed towards the grave. Things fall apart for him. There is no winding back the clock to the years of his former strength and health. And in the midst of this slide that cannot be stopped, where can he turn? He has no source of life and joy to look to! He cannot look within himself and find a cause for joy, peace, and hope. Rather, he finds his inner condition even worse than his external condition! It only heaps further cause for sorrow and heartache upon him.
I hope that what Paul here speaks of is a daily reality in our lives. I hope that we are all able to look within ourselves to the very Spirit of God dwelling within, renewing our hearts and minds. I hope we are able to find joy in the Lord each day regardless of what might happen all around us.
What a source of comfort to those who know it! What a pitiable thought for those who lack it!