2002-05-22 - New Creatures
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away, behold, new things have come.
When Augustine was young he, like many, indulged in sinful practices. After his conversion to Christ, he met with a woman who had been a fellow participant in sin with him. She was glad to see him and approached him, "Augustine." He ran away from her as fast as he could. She called out to him, "Augustine, it is I," stating her name. To this he turned around and replied, "but it is not I. The old Augustine is dead, and I am a new creature in Christ Jesus."
We might wonder what this new creature looks like? Truthfully, one of the wonders of sentient beings is that none of them look the same. We all have unique personalities, gifts, abilities, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes. This is one reason why every Christian is special and a unique, vital part of the body of Jesus Christ here on earth. "And the eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you'; or again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.' On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary...And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it." 1 Corinthians 12:21, 22, 26. In many ways, we are not alike as Christians, but we have this in common: In Christ, we are new creatures.
Augustine knew that he was a new person in Christ. He knew that his old self had been crucified with Christ and it was no longer he who lived but Christ lived in him. He still lived in the flesh, but he lived in the flesh by faith in Christ who had delivered Himself up for him, Galatians 2:20. That is to be what we strive for. We still live in the flesh, but that is not to become a license or an excuse for sinful practices. We do not simply live in the flesh. We live in the flesh by faith in Christ. This is a total transformation. Prior to faith in Christ, we lived in the flesh for ourselves, but now we live in the flesh with transformed lives through faith in Christ's Atonement for our sin. "And He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf," 2 Corinthians 5:15.
So what does this new creature look like? Hopefully like you and me, and all the other members of the invisible church. One useful passage to help us get a handle on what a new creature in Christ looks like is to look at Galatians 5:22-24, which is commonly called the "fruits of the Spirit" passage. How's your kindness, your faithfulness, or self-control? Those are only three of the nine listed there, but we could spend a lifetime on just those three.
The Christian life is one that is in constant transformation. In Regeneration, we have become new creatures, and yet as we become more and more sanctified, we are still being transformed, 2 Corinthians 10:15, Ephesians 4:15. The process of growth in our faith is both complete and continuing, and while that might make our heads explode, it is how the Bible puts it. We are new creatures, right now, because grace has transformed us. And yet we are still striving after holiness and growing in grace. In fact, it has been the cause of great errors in the Christian church throughout history, when one of these is emphasized to the exclusion of the other. The Bible tells us that we have both been transformed in Christ, and yet are still being transformed in Christ.
2 Peter 3:18 Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria,