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A New Creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)
The apostle Paul declares, “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, NKJV). This verse encapsulates the essence of Christian transformation.
Before delving into the meaning of being a new creation, it is essential to comprehend the state from which believers are rescued. In the preceding verses, Paul discusses the reconciliation made possible through Christ’s sacrifice (2 Corinthians 5:14-16). The old creation is characterized by separation from God due to sin, a state of spiritual death inherited from Adam (Romans 5:12). In this context, the term “old things” refers to the sinful nature, guilt, and the broken relationship with God that plagued humanity.
The pivotal phrase, “if anyone is in Christ,” highlights the transformative agent – a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. This implies more than mere belief; it denotes a profound union where the believer is immersed in Christ’s redemptive work. The Greek term for “in Christ” (en Christo) implies a close, intimate connection, suggesting a radical reorientation of identity.
The idea of becoming a new creation is akin to spiritual rebirth. Jesus, in His conversation with Nicodemus (John 3:3-6), emphasizes the necessity of being born again, not of the flesh, but of the Spirit. This spiritual birth involves a radical transformation, a regeneration, where the believer receives a new creation a new nature, marked by righteousness and holiness.
Paul often expounds on the believer’s identification with Christ’s death and resurrection. Galatians 2:20 declares, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” This crucifixion represents the death of the old self, while resurrection symbolizes the emergence of the new creation. Colossians 3:1-3 further exhorts believers to set their minds on things above, emphasizing their hidden life with Christ.
Old Things Have Passed Away
The phrase “old things have passed away” signifies a decisive break from the dominion of sin and the consequences of the fallen nature. This passage echoes the prophet Isaiah’s words: “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?” (Isaiah 43:19 NKJV). The old order of sin and separation is replaced by the newness of life in Christ.
The passing away of old things includes the forgiveness of sins and justification before God (Ephesians 1:7). Romans 3:23-24 (NKJV) declares, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Through Christ’s atonement, believers are justified, declared righteous, and reconciled to God.
The old creation was marred by condemnation and the law’s inability to bring righteousness. However, in Christ, there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1-2). The believer is set free from the power of sin and the weight of guilt, experiencing the liberty of a conscience cleansed by the blood of Jesus.
All Things Become New
The transformative work of Christ extends beyond forgiveness; it encompasses the renewal of the entire person, progressively aligning believers with God’s path of obedience. Paul urges believers to be transformed by the renewing of their minds through sanctification (Romans 12:2). The old thought patterns, shaped by the fallen world, are replaced with a Christ-centered perspective. This renewal is an ongoing process, marked by spiritual growth, victory over sin, and conformity to the image of Christ.
The Holy Spirit plays a pivotal role in the new creation of the believer (Ezekiel 36:26-27; Acts 1:8). Ezekiel prophesied about God giving a new heart and putting a new spirit within His people. The Spirit empowers believers to live victoriously over sin, and bearing the fruits of righteousness by His power (Philippians 4:13).
Being a new creation in Christ is a reality that encompasses spiritual rebirth, identification with Christ’s death and resurrection, forgiveness, justification, freedom from condemnation, and ongoing transformation by the renewing of the mind. 2 Corinthians 5:17 serves as a rallying cry for believers to embrace the profound change wrought by Christ, moving from the old order of sin and separation to the newness of life in Him. As Christians, the journey of transformation is not a solitary endeavor; it is a collaborative work of God’s grace and the believer’s willing surrender to the transformative power of the Holy Spirit.
In His service,