But we had this sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raises the dead. – 2 Cor. 1:9
“There is no such thing as implicit confidence or reliance upon God until we renounce all confidence in ourself.”
So far from expecting to live, the apostle says, on the contrary, that he had in himself the sentence of death, that meaning that when he put to himself the question of whether life or death would be the issue in his conflicts, the answer was, Death! He did not expect to escape with his life. God brought him into these straits in order that he might not trust in himself, but in God who raises the dead. These two things are so connected that the former (not trusting in himself) is the necessary condition of the latter (trusting in God). There is no such thing as implicit confidence or reliance upon God until we renounce all confidence in ourself. When Paul was convinced that no wisdom or efforts of his own could deliver him from death, then he was forced to rely on the power of God.
God is here described as he who raises the dead, because the apostle’s deliverance was a deliverance from death. It was only that Being, the One who can call the dead to life, who could rescue him from the imminent peril in which he was placed. So when Abraham’s faith was put to the severe trial of believing what was apparently impossible, it is said, “He believed God, who quickens the dead, and call those things which be not as though they were.”
No Christian, until he or she is really tried, knows how essential the omnipotence of God is as a ground of confidence to his people. They are often placed in circumstances where nothing short of an almighty Helper can give them peace.
– Charles Hodge