But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
—1 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NKJV)
The love of God has given us the greatest treasure. Another way of defining the treasure we have been given is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Paul was speaking of our lives being joined with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:17) and all the benefits it affords. This truly is a treasure, far beyond anything this earth or any man can give us. This treasure was purchased with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19).
The earthen vessels that Paul speaks of are our physical bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:7 compares the worthlessness of our bodies to the matchless value of Christ in us. Our bodies are like clay pots that contain the precious treasure of Christ. Paul says hard times and things might come against us but they can’t destroy the treasure of His grace within us.
In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, Paul wasn’t saying God was the source of these troubles. He wasn’t saying the Lord was performing some kind of redemptive work using these problems. Paul was only listing things that are shared by everyone. But he also showed how God’s power makes us more than conquerors in every difficulty (Romans 8:37). What Paul shows us in these verses is how the credit for the power to live a victorious life goes to God and not to us.
Paul came into situations where he didn’t know what to do and even where there seemed to be no escape. But He knew he was never without God’s help. His earthly reasoning didn’t have the answers. But Paul wasn’t just a mind and body. Paul had Christ living in his born-again spirit, and he drew on the power of the Holy Spirit from within. He had the treasure of God’s grace living in him, and he drew from that treasure by faith. This kept him from despair and discouragement. Our problems or even our lack of problems should never determine how we feel. We can draw from the treasure of Christ within us—the power of the Holy Spirit—to overcome every situation and to know what the Holy Spirit asks of us (Romans 8:37, 1 Corinthians 15:57).
It is only when we die to ourselves that Christ can manifest His life in us. God doesn’t give us problems to prove that we are His. Satan is the one who afflicts and attempts to steal God’s truth from our hearts (John 10:10). Godly believers are constantly persecuted because of their stand for Christ. When we draw on the truth of who we are in Christ, we experience His life and His power in our lives.
Paul endured his afflictions for the sake of others. He denied himself so that others could receive the grace of Jesus. Throughout his ministry, many made Christ the Lord of their lives. And this was enough reward for Paul. In dying to self his inner man was being renewed every day. When we allow our inner man to be transformed by the truth of who we are in Christ, we conform to God’s image of us (Romans 12:2).
Paul died to himself so Christ might live through him (Galatians 2:20). Knowing his position in Christ and all the benefits it gave Him, Paul was able to yield to God. Knowing your position in Christ is crucial to yield to Him. You yield to God when you trust Him more than yourself. Dying to self—dying to your need to prove yourself, magnifies God’s position in your life. And knowing who you are in Christ gives you God’s perspective. You have His power within you to show your power is from Him and not from you. You have His faith to believe that Christ is greater in you than anything that comes against you.
Do you know the treasure that you have received in Christ? Do you realize all the benefits of the new life He gave His precious blood for you to have? Never forget them! Guard them in your heart! Allow Jesus to live through you! You have been entrusted with God’s greatest treasure!
© 2023 Lynn Lacher