For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven,2 Corinthians 5:2(NASB)
Paul was a tentmaker who supplied portable shelters to the many nomads and travellers living in Israel. He used the picture of a tent as an illustration of a human body. A tent is a portable home in which pilgrims and wayfarers shelter. It is not a permanent residence and Paul compared this deteriorating, mortal body in which dwells our eternal spirit and soul, with a temporary, transitory tent that is taken down... or 'dissolved' at death.
Paul's illustration follows a section on Christian suffering that encourages us to hold on to our blessed hope in Christ. He reminds us that although we are living in a deteriorating, mortal body which may have to endure persecution or even premature death, our inner man is being renewed daily... and the passing nature of our present suffering and persecution is producing for us an everlasting weight of glory - a splendour that is far beyond any comparison.
It is as he speaks of the suffering of a Christian that he brings up the subject of death, but rather than instilling fear and uncertainty in our heart, he enters into a comprehensive discourse that suggests that death is simply a dismantling of this earthly body. This body of flesh is only a temporary tent in which we live during our brief sojourn on earth - which will one day be torn down. "For we know that if our earthly house, which is a temporary tent, is destroyed," he writes, "we have a building from God - a house not made with hands, that is eternal in the heavens."
Just as Christ rose from the dead, never to die again, so we who have faith in Him will also rise to life immortal. Our mortal body, which is ravaged by pain and accelerating towards death, will be clothed with immortality. This corruptible tent, which is our covering on earth, will be clothed with a body that is incorruptible.
Paul is gently guiding us to the verse that reads, "in fact, we groan in this body, longing to put on our house from heaven." Today, our spirit and soul are living in a perishable body and we are subject to mortal sickness, physical pain, and the disadvantages of advancing years. We are handicapped by our physical limitations and hampered by many fleshly frailties.
Death holds so much anxiety and fear for the unsaved soul, but it should never cause God's children concern, for we have the Lord's assurance that we will one day take off this mortal tent and will be clothed in a resurrected body of flesh and bone. We will be re-clothed with a new, incorruptible body at the Rapture of the Church, just as Christ was clothed when He rose from the dead.
When a Christian dies, their spirit and soul goes immediately to be with the Lord Jesus in heaven until the day He comes in the clouds to gather his saints to Himself. Christians who are still alive will be raptured and this mortal body will be clothed with a new uncorruptible body. The decaying bodies of believers who have already died will be raised from the grave with an incorruptible body and be reunited with their spirit and soul.
Let us never forget that we have a blessed hope in Christ and full assurance that we will one day be clothed with a new, immortal, resurrected body - our eternal dwelling place from heaven and we will be like unto Christ. Today, we certainly do groan in this deteriorating earthly body and long to be clothed with our promised dwelling from heaven, but until that day, let us occupy until the Lord calls us to be with Himself for the praise and glory of His holy name.
Heavenly Father, thank You for my life and for my new life in Christ which gives me full assurance that I will one day rise to life immortal and be clothed in a dwelling from heaven that You have prepared for me. Thank You that I have a hope in Christ and that nothing can separate me from Your love. Give me the strength I need to live my life in the way that honours You, and may I look day by day to that blessed hope I have in Christ Jesus Who died for my sin and rose from the grave so that I too may rise to life immortal. This I pray in Jesus' name, AMEN.