THE TREASURE IN EARTHEN VESSELS
Now let us read 2 Corinthians 4:7: "We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us." In order to help us realize this verse in a full way, we need to read some verses in the previous context, that is, in chapter three. Let us read 2 Corinthians 3:6: "Who has also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant, ministers not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." Who is this Spirit who gives life? We saw in 1 Corinthians 15:45b that the life-giving Spirit is Christ Himself.
Now we come to 2 Corinthians 3:17: "And the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." The Spirit mentioned in this verse is the Spirit who gives life mentioned in verse 6, in the earlier part of the same chapter. The Spirit who gives life is Christ Himself. The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Where is the Spirit of the Lord? He is in our spirit.
Verse 18 continues, "But we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit." The Lord is the Spirit, and the Spirit is the Lord. It is this Spirit who gives us life, who frees us, and who transforms us. In these three verses we have three things: life-giving, freeing, and transforming. All these things are related to the wonderful Spirit, who is Christ Himself. Christ is the Spirit who gives life, who frees us, and who transforms us.
Christ as the Spirit has given us life and now He is waiting for a chance to free us and transform us. How can He do this work? Can He do this by being far, far away from us in heaven? He can do this work only by being in us. By dwelling in us He works to liberate and transform us. He is liberating us from many bondages and transforming us from the natural life into the image of the Lord.
Second Corinthians 4:7 tells us that "we have this treasure in earthen vessels." Christ as the wonderful Spirit, the life-giving Spirit, the freeing Spirit, and the transforming Spirit is the treasure in the earthen vessels. We are the earthen vessels, vessels made of clay, the earth. Just as there is a small receiving part in a transistorized radio to receive sounds, so also within us we have a receiving organ to receive Christ. The stomach is the receiving organ for us to receive food. Within a human being there is also a human spirit which serves as the very receiving organ for us to receive Christ as the treasure into us. This treasure is in the earthen vessels, not outside, upon, or above them. This is very subjective. "We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us." This means that we have to express God, to manifest God, from within.
(The Centrality and Universality of Christ, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)