2 Corinthians 4
Love has freed him from fear and sin
1So long as I am a minister of such a covenant as this, I will never fear. 2It is the love of God which has dissolved at last that old hardness and darkness which hid His truth, and in that love we have for ever bidden farewell to the sins that were hidden in the dark. The word of God is ministered by me now in honesty and openness, with a conscience free and unfettered by sin, it is contaminated no longer by deceit and wickedness, but shines forth in all its splendour, and if in some it shines not, that is part of the doom of the flesh which hastens to its end and cannot be illuminated. 3And what is this light? Is it not the light of God's own creation when He spake and said, “Let there be light”? 4And what is their darkness but the original darkness out of which that light shone? Another god than the true God dwells in that darkness, the god of this world, who has blinded the eyes of those that know not faith. The light of the glorious gospel of the Christ does not reach them. 5For he is the true image of God. It is that image we preach, not ourselves, but Christ Jesus, who is our Lord; we ourselves act merely as your servants. 6It is all the work, the creation of God who has given us the understanding and knowledge of His glory in the face of His image, Christ.
The spaciousness of true living
7What if this treasure appear to be contained in a vessel of earth? That fact will but serve to make clearer the infinite power of God, without any second or competitor in any efforts we ourselves may try to make. 8For we dwell at ease and spaciously, even whilst we are oppressed and afflicted. 9We are never at a loss or in doubt, even whilst we do not know which way to turn to avoid our enemies; we are always looked after and cared for, even while our enemies persecute us; we never perish even though we are borne down. 10The eternal life of Jesus is always plainly shown forth in our bodies, even whilst his death seems operative in us at all moments. Yes, even in this mortal flesh that wondrous life of his begins to appear, even whilst we are being apparently thrust down to death. 11The immortal life of Jesus has appeared in our bodies, and we still live immortal, even at the very moment when the power of death is preparing to take us prisoners. 12The divine life itself is working everywhere; though death pursues me and tries to lay hands on me, it cannot stem the floods of life which reach all through your ranks, even whilst I suffer for it. Nor does this suffering muzzle me. 13“I believed and therefore I spake” (Ps. cxvi. 10). I know that there was in the writer of those words the same Spirit that utters itself now. I too believe, and however ardently the wicked may wish my death, I speak, 14— having faith in the eternal Power who raised our Lord from the dead, and will raise us and keep us in that safety with him where death and danger have no power over us. 15All this wonder is for your sakes, that the overflowing gratitude of great numbers may testify to the grace and glory of the divine.
In it is neither fatigue nor failure
16There is no thought of fatigue or failure or surrender here; the outward man begins to give place before the advent of that inner man who is for ever renewed, even whilst the outer man shows the evidences of death. 17A far more exceeding weight of glory and hope is coming into the light, and completely counterbalancing and outweighing these temporary trials. 18We are looking no longer on the surface of things; our inner eyes are fixed on the invisible which is eternal and which endures for ever; this short-lived evidence of the outer eyes has no corresponding significance but is only transitory. We behold in the invisible realm the house and the body of Spirit, substantial and endurable, whilst the outer man is no more than a transitory tabernacle, like that which the people carried through the wilderness, which can be furled up and laid aside for ever.

This digitised version of St Paul from the Trenches 1916 © British and Foreign Bible Society 2014

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