“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5.17
There is an email that has made the rounds for two or three years. Every so often, it pops up in my inbox again because it speaks to how most Christians understand our relationship to Christ. The story goes: a little boy is in the back seat of his mother’s car, watching the windshield wipers sweeping the raindrops off the windshield. He observes to his mother that God is like windshield wipers in that we just keep on sinning and He just keeps on forgiving. We like that story because we know it is true. No matter how hard we try, sin simply doesn’t go away. If it weren’t so hurtful, the prospect of being sinless is plain funny. So, the confidence that God is going to forgive and keep on forgiving is salvation to us.
But that is not what Paul says here. He doesn’t write that we are merely forgiven in Christ Jesus. He writes that we are a new creation. We are someone else, someone other, someone different from whom we once were. Once, we were creature of death, but in Christ, we are now creatures of life. The old is gone, and the new has come. We are a different being than we were; we are a new being.
Last week I talked about being born of God, and this is the reality that we so seldom discuss because we have either forgotten or never known. To be born of God is to be given the life of God Himself by His Holy Spirit who lives in us. Just as Jesus was born of Mary and born of God, we receive the same Holy Spirit who overshadowed Mary when she conceived. As Jesus was a Being unlike any other – fully God and fully Man – you and I become an adopted version of this new being as well. We are born of God and become a new creation. This is the true heart of Christian salvation. What else can it mean to say that we are ‘born of God’ and have become ‘children of God?’
Understanding this truth about God’s intention for our salvation changes the way we read the whole New Testament. Paul’s letter to the Romans makes no sense unless we know the creature of death within us is in a battle to death with the creature of life within us. Unlike Jesus, our human nature is not perfectly obedient. Jesus was fully human but did not sin. All the rest of us actually excel at sin! We have it down to an art form and have just about perfected it. Why? Because our nature is the nature of sin and death. That is who we are in our birth – creatures of death whose natural instinct is sinful. We may not be all that bad by human standards, but we are still creatures of death, headed for the dust from which we came.
But in Christ, we are a new creation. The creature of life – born of God – will defeat the sinful nature and overpower the creature of death. Eventually. So long as we are in these mortal bodies, the sinful nature struggles against the Spirit of God in us, but the war has been won, in spite of the battles we lose.
If we could change Christians’ perception of this one facet of Christian life and teaching, entire churches might come to life as the Spirit is allowed to grow in the hearts and minds of Christians. There is an old man and a new man. The old man may seem like a nice guy, but he is a creature of death, living under the rule of the law, judged by his failure to live in Christ. Tragically, our churches are full of people like this. We do not know that we are a new creation, in spite of the sin that continues to ravage our lives. We do not realize that, within us, the Spirit of God has the power to triumph over the old man.
Do you live as a new man, a new creation? Do you know that you are a creature of life? So many Christians live small, fearful lives of defeatism because we do not realize who we are. We do not know that we are a new creation, a new being, with a new life and a new destiny. We continue to work and strive to make the old creation good enough, with the gnawing, grating knowledge that we are not succeeding, grateful that forgiveness keeps on wiping us clean. That is not the salvation and life that Jesus Christ offers. We have been given the Spirit of God to defeat the sin and death within us.
Are you defeated by the old man, bound by the failures and mistakes of your sinful nature? That is not how God sees you. God sees a new creation, even if you do not realize that is who you are. This new creation God sees is a creature of life and of astonishing nobility and beauty. This new creation is child born of the divine life of God. Ask the Spirit, who lives in you, to lead you to life and to teach you to live as a new creation, not merely the forgiven old man, the creature of death.
In Christ –
© 2007 Servants’ Feast Ministry
All Rights Reserved.