Summary: What we see can distract us from what needs to be seen. With the eyes of faith we look beyond the temporal view to behold that which is glorious and eternal.
Looking at What We Cannot See
After saying: 4:18 …while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Paul goes on to describe looking at things we can not see.
The first thing we look at that we can’t see is what happens after we die.
I think it would be safe to say that most of us here do not want to die. Just to be on the safe side… how many here today want to die? I don’t believe that Paul wanted to die either, but some of the things he says here clearly indicate his willingness to die. He speaks very positively about what happens on the other side of death.
Let’s read the first 12 verses together:
1For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 9Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are clearly known to God, and I also trust are clearly known in your consciences.
12For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart.
Now there is a lot more in this passage than just Paul talking about what happens after we die, but that is clearly in there. So without trying to unravel the arguments he is presenting to convince the Corinthian church that his apostleship is valid and his motives are pure and in line with Christ, we will spend our time focusing on what he says about what happens after we die.
But let me just say this… If Paul had not had to deal with several problems in the places where he first taught them the gospel and set up churches, we would not have this wonderful information! Most of the letters of Paul were written to deal with problems in the church! I’m sure Paul didn’t know it at the time, but God was using the struggles of the early church to supply us with all this wealth of scriptural instruction in the New Testament. And right here, while trying to defend his apostleship to this church that he had started, we learn some great insights about what happens after we die.