No claims of absolute originality are made for this material. As one man said, "I milk a lot of cows, but I churn my own butter." Please use these sermons as the Lord leads, but nothing on this site may be used for profit without my expressed, written permission!
Based on a sermon by Dr. John Piper
II Corinthians 4:16-18
DO NOT LOSE HEART
Intro: Did anyone come here today hoping, praying, longing, for someone to sing something, pray something, or preach something that would strip all your hope away?
Did anyone come here hoping to be discouraged?
Did anyone come here today hoping that someone would knock all the wind out of your sails?
No! Nobody came here that way today.
Nobody came saying, Please hurt me. Please strip away all my motivation for serving the Lord. Please discourage me. Please defeat me.
We came here looking for the opposite, didnt we?
We came here looking for encouragement, seeking hope, desiring to be motivated to greater things in the Lord.
We came here looking for help.
If I told you there was a secret that would allow you to have hope in this world, would you want to know what it was?
In a world that is so filled with hopelessness, discouragement, and defeat, if I told you that I knew a way you live your life every day and not lose heart, would you refuse to hear me tell you that secret?
Of course not! That is why we are here.
In this text, Paul tells us that he has found the secret to staying encouraged in the Lord. In verse 16, Paul says, For which cause we faint not. Literally, we do not lose heart. Paul knows the secret to not losing heart and he shares that secret with us in this passage.
I want to spend our time in these verses today. I want to preach on the thought Do Not Lose Heart. I want to show you some truths in these verses that will help you to faint not, even when life is at its most discouraging. Go with me through this text, if you are interested in being encouraged, motivated, and in having hope in the Lord. If that is not what you want, then you are free to go. But, if you want the secret, hear what Paul has to say as we preach on the subject Do Not Lose Heart.
I. V. 16a AN INCREDIBLE STATEMENT
In verse 16, Paul says For which cause we faint not That is an amazing statement! The word faint refers to a failing of the heart. So, the phrase can be read this way: We do not lose heart. Paul is telling us that regardless of what comes his way, he does not give up, he does not give in, he does not give out. He does not lose heart.
It is so easy to lose heart isnt it? It is so easy to come to a place where you are ready to throw in the towel, lay down your burdens, to just quit.
It seems to me, just from reading what the Bible says about the life of Paul that it would have been easy for Paul to lose heart. But, he says, we faint not. That little phrase is in the present tense, active voice. Paul is saying I never lose heart! He isnt bragging. He is making a simple statement of fact. Paul had discovered a spiritual secret that enabled him to be encouraged even in the midst of circumstances that would have discouraged anyone else.
Pauls life was anything but easy. Consider two passages that speak of the problems Paul was forced to endure his life.
- For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: (2 Corinthians 1:8 KJV)
- Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? (2 Corinthians 11:23–29 KJV)
Yet, in spite of all those trials, tribulations, and burdens, Paul is able to say: I never lose heart!
Is there any one here you can echo that statement? Is there anyone here who can say, I never get discouraged. I never want to give up. I am always encouraged, excited, and energized about my life and in my walk with the Lord.?
No one here can say that! We all stumble from discouragement to discouragement. We all want to quit from time to time. We all want to just stop and give no more because we feel that we have given all we already can.
Most of us are like David who said, And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. (Psalms 55:6 KJV) If we would be honest, we would all have to admit that we would, at times, like to sprout a pair of wings and fly far away from the trials, tribulations, and troubles of this life. I know I have been there many times.
While there are times when leaving troubles and afflictions behind seems like the best option, I am far more interested in reaching the place where I can say what Paul said. I am far more interested n reaching the place where I can say. I faint not. I do not lose heart. I believe that place is available to everyone of Gods children. I believe that place is available to you!
I. An Incredible Statement
II. V. 16b A FAMILIAR STRUGGLE
As I have already said, it is so easy to lose heart, isnt it? The reason it is so easy is found in verse 16. Paul identifies a common struggle that we all face.
Paul says though our outward man perish. The reason it is so easy for us to lose heart is that the outer man is perishing.
The outer man refers to the fleshly part of us. It encompasses both the body and the mind. The results of aging in the body and sin in the mind conspire to strip away joy, hope, and peace of heart and mind.
We are told here that the outer man is perishing. The word perish means to rot, to ruin, to corrupt, to be destroyed. The word destroyed seems to fulfill the intended meaning here.
This same word is used in a few other important verses. These verses drive home the power of this thought.
Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. (Luke 12:33 KJV)
In that verse, the word corrupteth is the same word that is translated perish in our text. Like moths can destroy clothing, the outer man is being eaten alive every single day.
And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. (Revelation 8:8–9 KJV)
The Bible tells us here that God will cast a great stone into the sea and one-third of the worlds ships will be capsized, consumed, destroyed. Same word! Every day, the outer man is being destroyed by the pain, problems, burdens, and trials that are thrown against it.
The reason we are so prone to lose heart is because our outer man is being destroyed, corrupted, ruined every day. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer man, our body, our brain, our lungs, our liver, our heart, our muscles, and our bones are wasting away, are being destroyed, are being eaten away, are being capsized, are being consumed, and are being wiped out.
This destruction of the outer man comes from two sources.
The Fallen Nature - The whole natural world is under the curse of God because of sin. The world is under a curse of futility, pain, suffering, corruption, and death.
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:22–23 KJV)
Just to remind you, but God saves his children in stages, not all at once. Now, dont misunderstand me. We are already saved. We are forgiven and justified because of what Jesus did for us at the cross and empty tomb. When we come to Him in faith and repentance, He eternally saves us from the penalty of our sins. But we are not yet free from corruption and death.
Everyone in this room, saved or lost, will waste away and die. That is the promise of the Word of God. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (Hebrews 9:27 KJV)
- We will waste away, and we will die.
- We might die of old age, and slip out into eternity in our sleep.
- We might die as a child, or a young adult.
- We might have a sudden heart attack.
- We might get cancer and waste slowly away.
- We might be consumed by Alzheimers.
- We might die suddenly in a car wreck.
- We might be struck by lightening.
- We might leave this world in any of ten thousand way, but we will die.
- The outer man is perishing!
2 Corinthians 4:7 reminds us that, We have this treasure in earthen vessels. That is, we all live out our days in fragile jars of clay. One day, the vessel will crack. It will break, and we will fade away. That is the nature of life.
If you have lived a while in this world, you know exactly what I am talking about. These bodies are dying, and they die a little every day. Consider Ecclesiastes 12:1-7.
The outer man is perishing. He is dying. He is rotting, He is broken. He is ruined. He is in the process of being destroyed. And the problems associated with his destruction causes us to lose heart.
Fallen Men - Another element is this world that causes us to lose heart is other people. If this fallen nature doesnt get you, fallen people will.
- The foolishness of a fallen man causes him to get drunk, drive his car, and kill another person.
- The fallen nature leads fallen people to strap bombs on their bodies and walk onto city buses and kill people.
- The fallen nature causes terrorists to go into shopping malls and kill people.
- Fallen people let us down.
- Fallen people hurt our feelings.
- Fallen people fail the Lord.
- Fallen people hurt us physically, verbally, emotionally, and spiritually, and this causes us to lose heart.
This was Pauls experience.
- We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:8–10 KJV)
- So then death worketh in us (2 Corinthians 4:12a KJV)
It is our experience too. It is so easy to lose heart when life and people turn against you. It is so easy to come to the place where you just want to quit. But, you dont have to!
- You dont have to be defeated.
- You dont have to become a statistic.
- You dont have to be one of those people who used to walk with God.
- You dont have to be one of those people who used to go to church.
- You dont have to be one of those who used to be faithful.
You can reach a place where you do not lose heart. You can reach a place where you can press on in spite of what presses you down. You can echo the incredible statement of the Apostle Paul, For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish
I. An Incredible Statement
II. A Familiar Struggle
III. V. 17-18 A WONDERFUL SECRET
What we need, what I need, is to come to the place Paul came to.
I want to reach the place where, though our outward man perish I faint not.
I want to come to the place where, even though I am attacked from without and from within by a fallen nature and a fallen world, I do not lose heart.
I want to come to the place where I do not lose heart regardless of what is going on around me, or in me.
This text helps us to do just that. In these verses Paul shares his secret of keeping heart even when life turns against him. Lets examine this wonderful secret because we need the help it gives us too.
The secret to not losing heart involves at least three important realizations.
V. 16c - We are given fresh strength for every day - Paul reminds us that while the outward man is perishing, but the inward man is renewed day by day. The natural man, which includes the body and the mind, is dying every day. Every day, the mind and the body are assaulted by the effects of sin and sinners. As a result of the constant attacks on the outward man it is perishing.
- Every day we die a little.
- Every day we lose a step.
- Every day we experience heartbreak, sorrow, pain, problems, and the effects of the curse of sin in the world.
- Every day we endure the problems attendant with living in a world filled with sin and sinners.
- The things we see, hear, feel, experience, all work against us to cause us to lose heart.
- The outward man is continually being destroyed right before our eyes.
- We can all relate to that!
But, while the outward man grows weaker and ever nearer to the grave, the inner man is renewed day by day. The word renew means to renovate.
Every day, the inner man is given new strength to face the trials of that day. Jesus said it this way: Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:34 KJV)
While every day brings with it its unique problems, every day also comes with its own measure of grace from the hands of the Father in Heaven. Here is His promise.
- This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORDS mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:21–26 KJV)
- and as thy days, so shall thy strength be. (Deuteronomy 33:25b KJV)
- And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9a KJV)
The inner man is renewed every day, but we need to understand that this is not a onetime drink that guarantees us daily strength and renewal. The Lord is offering us a fountain from which we can drink every day. Drinking from the fountain He offers promises us that the inner man will be renewed, renovated, and refreshed day by day, even while the outer man grows weaker and weaker.
So, each day has its own troubles, Matthew 6:34, Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Thus, each day demands its own supply of grace.
- The car of your life was not meant to run on yesterdays gas. You need to refill the tank every day.
- Your spiritual metabolism cannot survive on yesterdays meals. You need to eat fresh food today.
- The spiritual dosage that brought healing to your heart yesterday will not help your symptoms today. You need a fresh dose for the ailments of a fresh day.
Your bucket leaks! What you brought up from the well yesterday will not be sufficient for the trials you will be called on to face today!
- No spiritual fuel was designed to run your car for ten years.
- No single spiritual meal will power your life for months at a time.
- No spiritual inoculation will cure the ailments of the new day.
The inner man is renewed day by day. He is renewed by fresh fuel, by fresh food, by fresh medicine! What does this means?
- It means you need to fed on the Word of God every day.
- You need to pray to the Father every day.
- You need the fellowship of the saints every day.
- Going to church once a week, or once a month will not get the job done.
- You need a fresh supply every day!
- It is no wonder that so many lose heart! They make no investment in the renewing on the inner man day by day.
- They feed their bodies, which are perishing.
- They put gas in their cars, and keep the oil changed, and those cars are perishing.
- We go to the doctor, take our medicines, and take care of our bodies, which are perishing.
- Yet, we make no provision for the inner man who must be renewed day by day.
That is why we lose heart! We lose heart because we focus our attention on everything but the one thing that maters most in our lives. We take no thought for our relationship with God and for the renewing on the inner man day by day.
V. 17a, 18 - Nothing we face in this life will last forever - Notice carefully the language Paul uses here. He says our light affliction, which is but for a moment Lets examine that for a moment, because that is not how it feels when trials come is it? It never feels light, and it never seems like it is over in a moment.
- The word affliction refers to tribulation, trouble, pressure.
- The word light means, easy.
- So, here, Paul says that the pressure he is under is easy.
Now, this is not how Paul described his troubles earlier in this book. Here is what he said in 2 Corinthians 1:8, For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.
In that verse Paul tells us that his troubles were more than he could handle. He says they pushed him beyond his natural bounds. It was literally more than he could take. Now, he comes back and tells us that they are light. They are easy. They are merely here for a moment. The word moment means for the instant.
What Paul is saying is this, the problems of life that seem so heavy right now, the troubles that seem as if they will never end, the burdens we think will break us under their weight, are really just weighty for the moment. He tells us that compared with the eternal weight of glory that we will experience when we arrive home in Heaven, everything we face here is light and easy.
Romans 8:18 says: For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Nothing we face here is worthy to be compared with the glory we will experience there. Our problem is this: we hear this, but we dont believe it!
- What we believe is what we see.
- What we believe is what we feel.
- What we believe is the pressure we feel.
- We never think is is easy.
- You never hear a believer testify about their problems and say they are light!
The reason Paul could say this and we cant is all a matter of perspective. We have our eyes on the here and now; Paul has his on the then and there. In verse 18, Paul reveals the secret for not losing heart when life tries to kill you.
He says that everything in this world is temporal. It is merely here for a short time, and it will pass away. But, what we cant see, those things that are ours in Heaven, are eternal in nature. We will groan for a few days here, but we will rejoice for endless ages there. We will feel pain here for a short time, but we will experience His glory there forever.
The Psalmist said it this way: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. (Psalms 30:5b KJV)
The secret for not losing heart is maintaining the proper perspective. Ask the Lord to help you to get your eyes off what you can see and to help you to look beyond this world to the glory awaits in His presence.
- That was how Moses made it. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. (Hebrews 11:27 KJV)
- That was how Abraham made it. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Hebrews 11:8–10 KJV)
- That was how Stephen made it. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, (Acts 7:55 KJV)
- That is how you will make it. Remember, it did not come to stay; it came to pass.
V. 17b - Everything we face in life has meaning - Paul tells us that our affliction worketh for us. That is an amazing statement! When things happen in our lives, we often look at them think they are meaningless. We wonder how anything that painful, that senseless, that tragic, can have any meaning. But, it does!
If you are a child of God, nothing that happens in your life is meaningless. Everything that takes place is all a part of your Fathers plan to develop you as His child. Just a reminder: God didnt save you to make you happy. He didt save you to bless you. He saved you to make you like Jesus. That is His eternal purpose.
Here is how Paul said it: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:28–29 KJV)
Thus, nothing in your life as a Christian is meaningless. Some things appear to be that way dont they?
Consider for a moment, the life of John the Baptist. John was a fearless preacher. One day, John dared to tell King Heron that he had sinned against God by marrying his brothers wife. Herod cast John into prison. John languished there for sixteen months.
Then one night, Herod had a party. At that party the teenage daughter of his wife was called to dance before the men assembled at the feast. She came and danced a sexually arousing dance.
Herod was so moved that he offered to give her anything she wanted, up to half his kingdom. She consulted with her mother he told to the ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. She went back to the king and made her request.
Although it made him sad to do it, because Herod actually liked John, Mark 6:20, but to save face with the crowd, consented to her request and had John beheaded. Herod sent soldiers to the prison and they executed John, bringing his head back to Herods palace, where it was presented to the girl. Mark 6:21-28.
Meaningless! The greatest man living in the world at that time according to the testimony of Jesus Himself, Matt. 11:11, was executed to satisfy the depraved whims of a wicked mother and her foolish daughter.
From our perspective the death of John Baptist was meaningless, but from Gods perspective that act had eternal significance in Johns life. God used that meaningless event at the doorway through which He ushered John from time into eternity. I hope the last thought that went through Johns head was, We do not faith For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
Listen to me!
- When cancer comes and drains away your life, it is not meaningless.
- When your heart breaks and your dreams shatter, it is not meaningless.
- When your loved one dies at the hands of a drunk driver, it is not meaningless.
- When that car fails mechanically and someone you love dies, it is not meaningless.
- Pastor, when you struggle with problems in the ministry, it is not meaningless.
- Parents, when you struggle with your children and their decisions, it is not meaningless.
- When the tragedies of this life pile on you one after there other and you are broken, weary, and battered, it is not meaningless!
No, these things are working for you! They are for your benefit! One day, when this life is over and you step out of time and into eternity, you will find yourself relieved from the the light afflictions of the moment, and swallowed up in the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
Again, I quote the Apostle Paul when he says, For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18 KJV)
Conc: How do we not lose heart? We doing it by seeing that the inward man is renewed day by day. We do that by preaching to ourselves. We do it by reminding ourselves of the truths found in this passage.
Look all the way back to verse 7: We are earthen vessels. We are weak, and we need a power that is outside ourselves if we are to stand. That power comes from God. Preach that truth to your own heart every day. This isnt about you; it is about Him!
Verses 8-13 reminds us that we will be troubled here, because Jesus was troubled here. God is doing in us what He did in Him. God is revealing HImself through us just like He did through Jesus. The only was people can see the light inside our vessel is for the vessel to be broken. Preach this truth to your own heart every day.
Verse 14 reminds us that God has a plan in all this. He will see us through the storms of this life and deliver us safely home to glory. Preach this truth to your heart every day.
Verse 15 reminds us that everything in life is for the glory of God. Again, remind you that life is not about you, about what you want, or about how you del life is about God receiving glory in all things. Preach this truth to yourself every day!
Then, in verses 16-18, we are challenged to get our eyes off this world with its sin and problems. We are told to look beyond this life to the one that is to come. In that coming world the cares of this life will sen as nothing compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us. Preach that truth to heart every day.
Live in the truth of who you are in Jesus Christ. You are a pilgrim and a stranger. You are just a person passing through this world on your way home. Along the way, you will become disillusioned, defeated, and discouraged, but you do not have to lose heart. God can and will help you make the journey home with glory in your soul, if you will keep your eyes on Him, and not on what you see.