2 Corinthians 5:2
For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling,
Sermons
The Two Bodies of the SaintE. Hurndall 2 Corinthians 5:1-9
Assurance of Eternal Life; Faith and its EffectsC. Lipscomb 2 Corinthians 5:1-10
A Christian's Uneasiness in the Mortal Body and Desire of the Heavenly HappinessW. Harris, D. D.2 Corinthians 5:2-3
The Desire for ImmortalityT. Manton, D. D.2 Corinthians 5:2-3


Death intervenes between the present state of affliction and the glory of heaven, but death is only the destruction of the body now existing. It is not an end to bodily form and life. This is no speculation of the apostle's; it is an assurance, "for we know that if this earthly tent be destroyed, it will be followed by an enduring habitation - a mansion, not a tabernacle. In the earthly body he groans, not because it is a body, but because it is flesh and blood suffering under the effects of sin, and hence he longs for the house which is from heaven." It is a heaven for body as well as soul that he so ardently desires. To be bodiless even in glory is repulsive to his nature, since it would be nakedness. Death is repugnant. The separation of soul and body, however, is only temporary; it is not for unclothing, but for a better clothing, one suited to the capacities of spirit. If the fourth verse repeats the second verse, it enlarges the idea and qualifies it by stating the reason why he would be "clothed upon," viz. "that mortality might be swallowed up of life." And this longing is no mere instinct or natural desire, but a feeling inspired of God, who "hath wrought us for the selfsame thing." A Divine preparation was going on in this provisional tabernacle - a training of the spirit for the vision of Christ and a training of the body for the immortal companionship of the spirit. An "earnest" or pledge of this was already in possession. The sufferings sanctified by the Spirit, the longing, the animation of hope, were so many proofs and tokens of awaiting blessedness. How could he be otherwise than confident? Yea; he is "always confident." Though now confined to the body, yet it is a home that admits of affections and loving fellowships; and though it necessitates absence from the Lord and the house of "many mansions," nevertheless it is a home illumined by faith. "For we walk by faith, not by sight." The home is in the midst of visible objects that exercise our sense of sight, but our Christian walk, or movement from one world to another, is not directed by the eye, but by faith, the sense of the invisible. We know what are the functions of the eye. If we did not, the antithesis would convey no meaning. The eye receives impressions from external things, communicates them to the soul, is a main organ in developing thought and feeling, acts on the imagination and the will, and is continually adding something to the contents of the inward nature. Faith is like it as a medium of reception, unlike it in all else. Faith is not conversant with appearances. We do not see Christ in his glory; we see him (using the term figuratively) in his Word by means of the Spirit; and this seeing is faith. How do we know when we have faith? It attests itself in our capacity to see the path leading to eternal glory, and it enables us to walk therein. The path is from one home to another - from the home on the footstool to the home by the throne of Christ, and faith has the reality and vigour of a home sentiment. So strong and assuring is St. Paul's confidence that he prefers to depart and be with Christ. "At home in the body;" yes, but it is a sad home at best, and trial and affliction had begun to make it dreary to him. To die is to be with the Lord, and he was "willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." Whether absent or present, at home or away from home, we labour that we "may be accepted of him." To make himself and his life acceptable to Christ was paramount to every other desire; to labour was his absorbing thought. Such an energetic soul as his must have felt that its energies were immortal. There was no selfishness in his hope of heaven, no longing to be freed from work, no yearning for the luxury of mere rest. It was to be with Christ, for Christ was his heaven. If this was his confidence, if he was labouring untiringly to be acceptable to the Lord Jesus, was he understood and appreciated as Christ's apostle and servant among men? The burden of life was not the work he did, but the obstacles thrown in his way - the slanders he had to bear, the persecutions open and secret that followed him everywhere. He thinks of the "judgment seat of Christ." It will be a judicial inquiry into works done and "every one" shall "receive ['receive back'] the things done in his body." Measure for measure, whatsoever has been done here shall return to every one. The individuality of the judgment, the complete unveiling of personal character, the correspondence between the reward and the good done on earth and between the retribution and the evil done here, he brings out distinctly. This was with him a fixed habit of thought. "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap." How near the two worlds are - the growing field here, the harvest in another existence hereafter! But observe another idea. "We must all appear," we must be made manifest, every one shown in his true character. Not only will there be recompense as a judicial procedure, but a revelation "in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ." St. Paul had vindicated himself again and again from the charges made against him; but the battle was now going on, nor was there any sign of its speedy abatement. It was natural that he should have the idea of manifestation prominent in his mind, since we all think of the future world very much according to some peculiarity in our experience on earth. How engrossed, heart and soul, in his apostleship is beautifully indicated by the fact that heaven itself was the heaven of St. Paul as the apostle of Christ. The sufferings of the man are never mentioned. First and last, we have the autobiography of an apostle, and hence, looking forward to the glory to be revealed, the supreme felicity is that he will appear in his true character as the Lord's servant. - L.









For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon.
I. WE ARE TO CONSIDER A CHRISTIAN'S GROANS WHILE HE IS IN THE BODY UNDER PRESENT UNEASINESS. "In this we groan." And "while we are in this tabernacle we groan, being burdened."

1. As to what the body is the more immediate seat and subject of. Of this kind we may consider the following instances.(1) The weakness and disorder of the bodily nature.(2) Weariness of labour. The Christian life is a state of warfare as well as service.(3) The afflictions and sufferings of life.(4) The dissolution of the bodily frame. There is a natural love in the soul to the body arising from the close union and long intimacy together.

2. What the body may further occasion to the soul; and in several ways occasions uneasiness.(1) It is a great hindrance to our spiritual attainments, and to all our improvements in knowledge and grace. How often do the necessities and pleasures of the bodily life hinder a wise improvement of opportunities? We are apt to indulge in sloth, and regret the necessary pains of higher improvement.(2) It is a great occasion of sin, as well as of imperfection. The depravation of nature seems interwoven with the bodily constitution, and by the laws of union between the body and soul, the one is much affected by the other (Romans 6:13). The sensible world round about us powerfully strikes our sensible natures, and proves a dangerous snare. It gives a great advantage to the devil's temptations.(3) It exposes them to many troubles. How many calamities befall us by accident or violence, by the hand of Providence or our own mistake!(4) The necessary distance and absence from the Lord.

II. I AM TO CONSIDER A CHRISTIAN'S DESIRES OF THE HEAVENLY HAPPINESS. He earnestly desires to be clothed upon with his house which is from heaven. There is the weight of their present burdens. They not only groan, but desire, and the groanings breed desires. Oppressed nature longs for rest. Besides, there is the excellency of the heavenly state, or the object of their desires. In ver. 4 he speaks of being clothed upon, or covered all over with it, and mortality being swallowed up of life. Even the mortal part, or what was before mortal of us, will become immortal. He represents the future state by a presence with Christ. "Present with the Lord." The peculiar temper of a Christian's mind with reference to it.

1. He describes it by their faith of the heavenly blessedness. This he expresses in ver. 1 by knowledge.

2. There is their preparation for it. This we have in ver. 5 — "Now He who hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God, who hath also given to us the earnest of His Spirit."

3. Their courage, or fortitude of mind. This is mentioned in ver. 6 — "Therefore we are confident, knowing that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord." In ver. 8, "We are confident, I say." We have bravery sufficient to support our minds in the prospects and conflicts with death; we dare to die rather than not be with the Lord.

4. Complacency, or willingness (ver. 8).

5. Their constant endeavours. This we find in ver. 9 — "Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him." His favour is our happiness living and dying, in this world and in the other. I shall only further observe that the word also imports ambition; and it is as if he had said, "This is the highest honour of which we are ambitious, and what we propose as the proper prize."

III. I SHALL CLOSE THIS SUBJECT WITH TWO OR THREE PRACTICAL REMARKS.

1. We may learn from hence the nature of the present state. It is made up, according to this account of it, of groans and desires. The one is the fruit of fallen nature, the other of the renewed nature. The one is the effect of the curse, the other of Divine grace.

2. The difference between sincere Christians and other men. They groan under their present burdens indeed, and have sometimes a larger share than other men, but then they have their desires too. But now wicked men have groans without desires; they have no desires of the heavenly state.

3. We should look well to our interest in the heavenly glory.

4. The happiness of" departed saints. They have the full satisfaction of their highest desires, and the perfection of their felicity and joy.

(W. Harris, D. D.)

I. THE REASONS FOR THIS GROANING are —

1. The pressures and miseries of the present life (ver. 4). We are burdened —(1) With sin. To a waking conscience this is one of the greatest burdens that can be felt (Romans 7:24). It is not the bare trouble of the world which sets the saints a-groaning, but indwelling corruption, which may be cast out, but is not cast out. A gracious heart seeth this is the greatest evil, and therefore would fain get rid of it.(2) With miseries (Romans 8:20, 21). It is a groaning world, and God's children bear a part in the concert (Genesis 47:7). There are many things to wean a Christian from the present life.

(a)Manifold temptations from Satan (1 Peter 5:8, 9).

(b)Persecutions from the world.(3) Sharp afflictions from God Himself. God is jealous of our hearts. He is fain to embitter our worldly portion, that we may think of a remove to some better place and state. We would sleep here if we did not sometimes meet with thorns in our bed.

2. Our having had a taste of better things (Romans 8:23). The firstfruits show us what the harvest will be, and the taste what the feast will prove.(1) We have but a glimpse of Christ as He showeth Himself through the lattice, but there we shall see Him with open face.(2) Our holiness is not perfect, and therefore we long for more. The new nature is seed (1 John 1:9; 1 Peter 1:2). As a seed will work through the dry clods, that it may grow up into its perfect estate, so doth this seed of God work towards its final perfection.(3) Our comforts are not perfect. The joys of the Spirit are unspeakable things; but at His right hand there is fulness, pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11). These the soul longeth for.

3. The excellency of this estate. It is great ingratitude and folly that, when Christ hath procured a state of blessedness for us at a very dear rate, we should value it no more.

4. The three theological graces.(1) Faith. They that believe that there is another sort of life infinitely more desirable than this will find their affections stirred towards it, for sound persuasion showeth itself in answerable affections (Hebrews 11:13; 2 Peter 3:12).(2) Love. They that love Christ will long to be with Him (Philippians 1:23; cf. Colossians 3:1).(3) Hope. What you hope for will be all your desire (Philippians 1:20). 5 The Holy Ghost stirreth up in us these groans partly by revealing the object in such a lively manner as it cannot otherwise be seen (Ephesians 1:17, 18; 1 Corinthians 2:22), partly by His secret influences, as He stirreth up holy ardours in prayer (Romans 8:25, 26).

6. All the ordinances of the gospel serve to awaken them. The Word is God's testament, wherein such rich legacies are bequeathed to us that every time we read it, or hear it, or meditate upon it, we may get a step higher, and advance nearer heaven (2 Peter 5:4; Psalm 119:96). So for prayer — it is but to raise those heavenly desires. We long in the Lord's Supper for new wine in our Father's kingdom, to put an heavenly relish upon our hearts.

7. These desires are necessary because of their effect. What maketh the Christian so industrious, so patient, so self-denying, so watchful? Only because he breatheth after heaven with so much earnestness.

8. The state of the present world doth set the saints longing for heaven. For this world is vexatious, the pleasures of it are mere dreams, and the miseries of it are real, many, and grievous.

II. OBJECTIONS MET.

1. But how can Christians groan for their heavenly state, since there is no passage to it but by death, and it is unnatural to desire our own death?(1) They do not simply desire death for itself, which in itself is an evil, but as a means to enjoy these better things (Philippians 1:23).(2) Death is sweetened to them. By Christ's death it is made their friend, a passage to an endless life (1 Corinthians 3:22; Romans 8:38).

2. But must all sincere Christians thus groan and long? Many groan at the least thought of death.(1) Somewhat of this there must be in all that believe; they all groan in this tabernacle, and desire to be dissolved. How can you labour for that which you do not earnestly desire and groan after?(2) Much of what is here expressed may belong to an heroical degree of grace not vouchsafed to all Christians. But yet still we must be growing up to this frame of heart. Here are marks to aim at.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

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