Renewal (2 Cor 4:16)

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16, KJV)

Recently, there was a revival that caught the headlines. It broke out at Asbury University. A routine chapel service began and did not conclude at the normal time. The chapel speaker asked the students to experience the love of God and become His love. There was a closing prayer to be revived by God’s love. Something special happened in this service. It extended for hours and days. The students stayed and kept coming back. Word got out and visitors traveled to the campus to be part of the revival. The word revival is not seen in the Bible, but we can most certainly see evidences of it in the Scriptures.

Perhaps the best word in the Bible that characterizes revival is, renewal. Renewal is something that every believer has experienced upon saving faith. It is also something that, in one sense, is ongoing in every believer. Yet, in another sense, there are those special times of renewal that happen when there is a special manifestation of God, by His Spirit, that goes above and beyond the norm. This is what happens when we speak of true revival.

Renewal happens individually and collectively when the Holy Spirit moves in a person’s heart. It can happen in one person and it can happen in an assembly of people. This type of manifestation of God is responsible for many unusual responses of God’s people. Most often there is sense of God’s love, agape, and a characteristic response of God’s love towards others. There is humility and repentance in the heart of those renewed. It will also manifest itself in commitment to the Lord and service. People so affected by the movement of God’s Spirit will have a great desire to tell others of the great things God has done. They will be compelled by God’s love to invite others to experience saving faith also.

In this passage Paul has been presenting reasons that, even in the midst of severe hardships, he persisted in preaching the gospel. One of the major reasons he did so was that he continually experienced inner renewal. He stated, “though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” In the verse the verb “perish,” diaphtheiro, can mean to rot thoroughly (Strong G1311). The English Standard Version translated it as “wasting away.” Paul was aging and the physical and emotional stresses of the ministry were likely accelerating this. He likely found himself exhausted on many occasions. Yet, amid this, he indicated that he experienced inner renewal every day.

The Spirit of God renewed Paul everyday in the inner man. It is in this renewal that he received the compulsion and strength to carry on in the most dire of times. The Spirit renewed or renovated Paul’s life daily. He was reinvigorated in every way, in his love for God and others, in his pursuit of righteousness, in his zeal for reaching others, etc.

Renewal is something that the Holy Spirit continuously works in every true believer. We also know this as the work of sanctification, that is growing in Christ likeness. Yet, what we truly need in Christendom is a special manifestation of God’s Spirit in us. One that will move us in our hearts so much that we will stand out as weird in a darkened world. It is a manifestation that will so renew the heart that we will move to extraordinary heights, experiencing true humility, recognizing our failures, and repenting, renewing our first love, seeking the Lord our God with a whole heart, and boldly witnessing to the glory of the gospel even when it will cost us. Let us pray that the Lord will renew our hearts afresh every day.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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