In chapter 4 Paul brings everything back to the gospel as he always does. He encourages the church at Corinth not to give up on the ministry they had been given, even in the face of all the opposition they had just gone through, and despite the false teachers and apostles that tried to come in, take over and divide their church. In verse 2 he said, “Instead we have renounced shameful secret things, not walking in deceit or distorting God’s message, but commending ourselves to every person’s conscience in God’s sight by an open display of truth.” By confronting all the issues in the church head on when Paul had come for his “painful visit”, they had exposed the tactics of the enemy and shed light on the truth so now they were all with a clear conscience because the truth exposed always disarms the plots and plans of the enemy.
Paul reminds them (and us) how important it is that we share the gospel so that people have an opportunity to see it, because Satan is working hard to keep the gospel “veiled” to the eyes of unbelievers and he is also working hard to deceive believers into a false and distorted gospel as well. He will use all kinds of things to distract us and shift our focus if not in division like he tried to do at the church of Corinth, he will occupy our minds with our own selves, our own desires, and our own problems so that we are so inwardly focused that we are not effectively sharing the gospel.
In verse 7 Paul compares us to fragile, common clay jars with treasure hidden inside “so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us.” Like these clay pots, our ordinary, fragile, frail, and weak human bodies are intended to keep us humble so that we remember that the treasure inside us (the powerful gift of the Holy Spirit packed with all the spiritual gifts, miracles, wisdom and truth) comes from God and not ourselves. Otherwise, we might become prideful and make it about ourselves. Paul reminds us again that like Jesus, we have to die to our flesh every day because we have the promise that we will also be raised to life with Jesus. We can’t raise to life without first dying to ourselves. Paul encourages us not to give up under pressure, under persecution and especially under our own personal struggle to crucify our flesh on a daily basis because as much as we feel the pain of telling our flesh no, and the persecution and pressure of a world that doesn’t understand us, this pain and suffering is all only temporary in comparison to eternity.