“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
We recently brought in a new year. 2011 is forever history and 2012 is fresh and new. For many, the beginning of a new year means the opportunity to make fresh start over against mishaps, mistakes, and missteps from the previous year. Many people view the ending of the previous year as a symbolic ending of former things. Many people also use the beginning of a new year as the symbolic beginning of resolutions they have made, in hopes the coming year will be better, and that they themselves will strive to be better people.
In the Scripture verse we just read, Paul talks about the fact that those who are in Christ are now new. They may look the same, but inwardly they have been renewed. The qualifier here in the phrase in Christ. In Christ you are a new creation. You’re not the same as you were before. The contrast is that outside of Christ you are the same as you ever were, at least spiritually. The change of a calendar year or the making of resolutions cannot change you inwardly.
The picture Paul is painting in 2 Cor. 5:17 is that of a caterpillar who emerges from his chrysalis as a butterfly. He went in as a frail worm, he comes out as a beautiful butterfly, with a different nature and appearance than when he spun his cocoon around himself. He is no longer the same as he was before. He’s now something totally different. He’s a new creature.
The old is gone, the new has come.
With this in mind, I want to mention five things that will be new about us if we are in Christ.
1. New heart (Ezekiel 11:19-20). What do we do with our (spiritual) hearts? We love. God performs a heart transplant on the Christian. Before, the heart was lifeless, useless, and made of stone. It was cold and indifferent to God. But, when we are in Christ, our hearts begin to beat, to pump life-giving blood to the body, and we begin to truly live. Before Christ, you did not love God, you were his enemy (Romans 5:10). But with a new heart, we can do what we created for: to love God and love others. And by love I mean, true sacrificial, passionate desire based on truth, not the touchy-feely emotion we mistake for love (We call that lust and that’s a whole ‘nother talk).
2. New mind (Philippians 2:5; Romans 12:2). None of us ever think that we receive a new mind when we come to Christ. Before, our minds were set on evil, sin, and how we could get by with each without being put on restriction. But now, even the very thoughts in our heads have been changed and set on Christ. Paul argues that this is not natural for us and that Christians must constantly seek to renew our minds and have the mind of Christ in us. The Holy Spirit gives us a new mind at conversion. After that, he aids us in renewing our minds by helping us receive God’s Word (the Bible) and focus our thought life on Jesus.
3. New desires (Romans 6:6). Outside of Christ, we have no desire for God. We only desire to please ourselves. We constantly seek to fulfill the urge to sin. We cannot please God, nor do we desire to do so. His glory isn’t even on our radar. But, in Christ, God’s glory is our number one priority. We desire to know him, his will, and please him. Though it’s still a battle, our desires are now focused on Christ.
4. New purpose (Romans 12:1). People tend to worship themselves. People tend to serve themselves. “It’s all about me!” is our motto outside of Christ. Even when we’re doing “good” things, the purpose is not to glorify God, but to glorify ourselves, or the thing we’re doing.
The Bible tells us that in Christ, we have a new purpose. Our new purpose is to worship God! I find it interesting that the word Paul uses in this verse is translated either worship or service, because the two are interchangeable. Worship is service, service is worship.
And that is our greatest purpose. Not going to church. Not being a good boy or girl. Not giving money. But worship. If we are not worshiping God, we are only worshiping ourselves. We are saying in effect that our greatest purpose in life is ourselves. God begs to differ! He alone is worthy of our worship. That is the purpose for which he created us!
5. New perspective (1 Corinthians 10:31). If we are not in Christ, our perspective is skewed. Perspective means how we see things, in this case how we assess the things around us, particularly God. In Christ, our perspective changes. Beforehand, we looked inwardly which is filled with sin, and outwardly we saw a warped version of the world because of it. In our perspective before Christ, it did not matter whether he was glorified in what we did or thought. Conversely, in Christ, everything we do is now about God’s glory. That doesn’t mean we get it right every time. But, our heart’s desire is that in word and deed, Christ is glorified.
Out with the old, in with the new!