2 Corinthians 5
1-2The groans which we are sometimes compelled to utter whilst abiding in this tabernacle are but the expression of a longing — we desire and we utterly need that heavenly covering to replace this earthly; 3and when we get that new kind of body, we shall no longer like Adam and Eve be found to be naked. We shall be clothed at last, clothed in life, clothed in immortality. 4We are naked enough in this mortal flesh; and our great need is not to take anything more off, as some regard the stripping of the soul by death — 5-6but to put something on, to be so embraced and enfolded by the infinite life that the mortal may be wrung out of us for good and all. Already we have in our midst the earnest of this immortal Spirit. It is God's infinite work, He is now bringing it all to pass, and has wrought us for this purpose, and for this end, namely, this change from the mortal to the divine. There is no need, no reason for despondency or sorrow; our sojourn in the body merely means exile from the Lord, 7-8but we live and walk by faith, and so by that faith we are full of a deep conviction and of courage and goodwill in the knowledge that this exiled condition of mortality has been reversed. 9Now our exile is from the perishable body, and our home is with the Lord. 10Bearing this in mind, whatever our condition, whether exiled or at home, we seek with great care and energy to observe the dictates of the Lord and to please him; for this passage from the mortal to the immortal, this complete reversal of our state as living in the Lord rather than in the body, involves as you all know the judgment seat of the Christ, before which everyone who has partaken of this mortal flesh must receive the necessary reward for what he has done in it, either doom if it be of the flesh and worthless, or good if it agree with immortality. All that we are must be manifested in just that way.
The true self and the physical ego
11This process of the manifestation of the true self as it appears in the eyes of God continues apace, but it is not understood by men, so we have to be gentle and persuasive with them; yet I believe that in your mind I am known for what I am in the truth. 12It is that which is your real boast concerning me, it is that alone which recommends me, nothing else can afford you any grounds for satisfaction in me. 13For my spiritual self which is not in the body exists for God, whilst in my human relations with you I claim nothing, I make no pretentions — as do some who find material for self-congratulation in the outward man. But that is not so with me; for I can no longer look on man from that standpoint. 14I behold the love of the Christ, I see in his one death the death of all of us already accomplished after the manner of his death — 15the death that is to say of all that separates us from God, the death of that personal physical ego, and the release in consequence of that infinite and unselfish life which is the love of the Christ, and the life of the Christ, who died and who rose afterwards that it might be available for all. 16I no longer then, regard man as physical, but spiritual. The physical is no longer set before my eyes. 17Christ himself to me is no more a physical being; I see him spiritually, and in that spiritual vision I learn that man is a new creation. All former views of man now perish. He is a new being, all is new and wonderful. This is the work of God to-day, my brethren. 18For by this death of the physical in us we are being reconciled to God; all things are being reconciled to Him who is Spirit, through the disappearance of their mortal aspect. 19What was the Christ who appeared to us in the flesh? Was it not God Himself performing the reconciliation of the world to Himself, severing the sinful side of man from the true, and no longer imputing the sins of that physical man to the spiritual being to whom they do not belong, and making us the possessors of the truth about this, giving us the word which itself has the power to reconcile.
The Christ reconciles man to God
20It is as the minister of this word of reconciliation that I find my office and function, calling you all by means of this word to the reconciliation, acting as its bearer and agent, and on behalf of the Christ inviting you and encouraging you to be reconciled to God. 21For this is the reconciliation — that even the sinful part of man was the error and wrong which have no part in the true man, even that sinful and erroneous side of life was corrected by the eternal Christ, who himself knew no sin, and yet presented in his own person an image of the victory over sin and the death of sin, as though he had been sin himself.

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

Learn More About St Paul from the Trenches 1916