Our Earthly Tabernacle
THE APOSTLE Paul calls our earthly bodies a tabernacle, which is a portable dwelling, set up, taken down, and removed, just as it pleaseth the owner of it to do. This tabernacle, as it now stands, is not to continue, because of the misery which attends the inhabitants of it in its present state. For we that are in it do groan, being burdened. There is in it the plague of leprosy and therefore it must be pulled down. There is a body of sin, a body of death in it, and this has made it corruptible, and corruption is the seed of death: "It is appointed unto all men once to die."
The apostle calls these our earthly bodies clothes which a man puts on in the morning. So we come into this world with these corruptible bodies; and, as a man puts off his clothes at night and goes to bed, so there is a night coming on (in which no man can work) for the Lord's servants, when they shall be paid; they who labour under the cross, in faith and love and in self-denial, at which time they will put off their clothes, go to rest, or fall asleep in Jesus.
But this is not all that hope is conversant about. "Not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life." In the resurrection-morning, when the marriage of the Lamb is to be consummated, these bodies of ours shall not only be put on again upon our souls, but these corruptible bodies themselves shall put on incorruption, and these mortal bodies shall put on immortality; and this is to be done when He who only hath immortality shall appear. This will be the finishing stroke to the new creation, and is the last transforming view that we are looking for. "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Tit. 2:13).
We have already put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and have walked in him, namely by putting on his righteousness, the garments of salvation, and the covering of the Lord's Spirit. But at this time we shall put him on with a witness, and that for good and all. The Holy Spirit will quicken our mortal bodies, and infuse divine life throughout every member of them, "when Christ, who is our life, shall appear" The Spirit will purge away not only all ,our sins, which is called changing our vile bodies (Phil. 3:21), but will eradicate all corruptible matter, for incorruption shall be put on. We shall then know the love of Christ, which, in this state, passeth knowledge, and be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:19). The church is Christ's body, the fullness of him, all dwelling in him; and he will fill them all, be all fullness to them, and be all in them (Eph. 1:23). Our bodies will not only be purged from all their gross and corruptible matter, which is now a clog and a weight, but they shall be spiritual: "There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." This dead weight shall give place to an eternal weight of glory (II Cor. 4:17). It shall be raised in power ? power to bear this eternal weight of glory, and power to bear the sight of seeing God the Father; for "the pure in heart shall see God" (Matt. 5:8). Christ said, "In that day I shall show you plainly of the Father;" In this power the body will be a fit companion for the soul; it will be vigourous, alert, and for its agility, as angels of God in heaven. Hence, in the delightful service of God there will be no fainting, no weariness, though we shall sing salvation to God and the Lamb for ever and ever.