The Christian is a New Creation
OT. Is.65 :15-
People will sometimes ask what being a Christian means, or what a Christian is – are you able to give an answer? Do you have a lot of ammunition to fire back with? Are you so excited by being a Christian that you have lots of things to say?
Many people however think they already know when in fact they don’t know anything properly. If you have a wide understanding yourself of what a Christian is you’ll be better placed to help them by slipping some unexpected truth into your conversation.
The emphasis upon multiculturalism in our society puts a subtle pressure upon the Christian to downplay just what a Christian. Society wants to put all religions into a little religious box and treat them as simply variants of each other. A Christian is simply an adherent of Christianity, just another follower of just another religion. But the Bible doesn’t agree and society needs to hear what a Christian really is.
So we need to be clear in our minds as to just who/what a Christian is. The Bible contains many varied descriptions of the Christian and this evening I want to draw your attention to just one of them with the Lord’s help.
If you are a Christian I want you to be glad that you are a Christian and to encourage you to be rightly proud of the status God has given you. You have no need to be ashamed or apologetic but you do have every reason to confidently and gladly rejoice in your God given status
If you’re not a Christian – I want to make you so envious of the privileges of the real Christian that you won’t be able to rest until you too become a real Christian for yourself.
There are plenty of descriptions to choose from and we’re going to begin with one that appears twice in Paul’s writings in the NT.
2Co 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Ga 6:15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
Let’s take the reference in Galatians first beginning with v.14
"But far be it from me to boast except in the 1. cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which 2. the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."
Notice that Paul begins with something objective in history that took place completely outside our personal experience. We need to be sure that we’re talking not about our religious feelings etc but about something that really took place in the real world!
Yet this historical reality has had and continues to have a real impact on the life of the Christian. By the cross of Christ our relationship to the world – that anti-
Now we come to v.15
"For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation."
Firstly, Paul speaks of whatever has ultimately no significance in the spiritual realm – neither circumcision nor uncircumcision count he says. Racial belonging is irrelevant as is religious practice and observances. This means that you don’t become a Christian by joining a club or by adopting a set of beliefs and a new pattern of behaviour.
What then is important? Paul tells us that too in the second part of the verse. He says quite simply that what matters is being a "new creation".
Now the Bible is very clear when it comes to the whole question of creation – this is God’s business! Gen.1+2 tell us how God created everything there is in 6 days.
The world as originally created was perfect in every way but it didn’t stay that way. Sin entered in and disfigured what God had made. God is not indifferent to this and has no intention of abandoning the situation – He has a plan and has promised one day to create "new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" 2Pe.3:13. We have already read of this in Is.65 and Isaiah says more in ch.66:22-
"For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your offspring and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the LORD."
And of course John writing in the Book of Revelation said the same thing ch.21:1
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more."
What Paul is saying then in this verse is that the only remedy for man’s problem is to become a "new creation" and this is dependant upon God’s intervention in his life. All that man can do falls short – he can do many things, stop smoking, clean up his language, turn over countless new leaves and make endless New Year’s resolutions but this he cannot. He cannot make himself a "new creation" and the Christian message is tragically deformed when it is made to suggest otherwise. The Christian message does not say "do your best", "try a bit harder"etc.
Now let’s look at 2Cor.5:17-
"Therefore, 1. if anyone is in Christ, 2. he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;"
1. By repentance and faith a sinner enters into union with Christ – a Christian is "in Christ". Notice that the Christian’s life is totally bound up with Christ – he has no life independent of Him!
2. Listen carefully to God’s declaration of just who/what the Christian is. The Christian is not told to try to become a new creation but that he is that already!
This same truth is put in various ways in the Scriptures – regeneration, new birth etc.
"But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."
Peter links regeneration to both the resurrection of Christ and the Word of God.
Are you a Christian this evening? Then God declares that you are a new creation!
Paul goes on to explain how this is no mere tinkering or a simple question of adding a few new beliefs and practices to our old way of living. No! This involves a radical new beginning!
"the old has passed away; behold, the new has come."
In God’s plan and purpose He does not wait for the complete passing away of the old order before beginning the new. No, in Christ the new order of things has already broken in upon the old and continues to do so as God adds sinners to His family. This means that the Christian belongs very profoundly to the new order of things – he is a new creation and his links to the old order of things have been severed though we continue to live in the first creation.
This explains so much of our Christian experience and also why the Christian remains something of an enigma to the non-
Why do we do this? Because we belong to the new creation that God has yet to fully implement.
Paul concludes that this is no ground for personal boasting because "all is due to God".
This newness of life that we have as part of the new creation is far reaching and works itself in several areas of our lives including how we relate to Satan, to others, to ourselves, to creation as a whole and to time itself.
But with God’s help we’ll consider another relationship that is totally transformed through being a new creation: our relationship with God himself.
Our relation to God
This is by far the most important area for us to consider.
Being made a new creation involves a severance from the past and from all our old sin-
"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus"
Notice the progression from the past – what we were to the present stretching on into the future!
Reconciliation Rom.5:1; 9-
"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life."
This new life has a totally new orientation from now on – the mind of the Christian is no longer set on the things of the flesh because he has been made spiritual. Life and peace are the norm for him!
Rom.8:9 "You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him."
Rom.8:6b "but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace."
"For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,"
In the following verses Paul goes on to speak about the future glory that awaits the Christian. v.30 speaks of the Christian being glorified – past tense! How can this be? The glory is yet to come but because it depends upon God and not upon us it is a certainty. We are already however a new creation and living with the tension already/not yet.
The same truth Paul declared to the Ephesians.
Eph.1:5 "he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,"
Freed from those things that hampered and hindered us we can become what we were intended to be.
Freedom is an important subject in the Scriptures. Jesus said he had come to set man free from the bondage of sin:
Jn.8:36 "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
Paul spoke much of this freedom that Christ achieved for us:
2Cor.3:17 "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."
Gal.5:1 "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."
Specifically we are free to approach God!
Eph.3:12 "in (Christ) we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him."
This freedom is open to abuse and is never meant to be a license for sin – Paul again writes:
Gal.5:13 "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another." In fact to live in such a way would be to deny the fact that we are a "new creation"!
May God help us understand, cherish and enjoy the privileges he has granted us in making us, in Christ, a new creation.