“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Everyone sees the beginning of the year to be a “fresh start”, either to reinvent themselves, or improve in some way. You hear everyone talking about New Year’s resolutions, some goal they set for themselves for the following months. The number one New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight. I’ll be honest- I’ve been known to set that goal more than once on January first. And yet, the majority of people who make these resolutions, start with good intentions, but fail to make any progress past Spring! So, what’s the problem? Are we all that bad at following through? Do we all have that little self-control and will power that we just can’t seem to make it more than a few weeks before going back to the old way of doing things? Is there something missing from the equation?
My answer to these questions is a resounding YES!
The scripture above says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a NEW CREATION- the old has passed away, the new has come!” Isn’t that what so many us have been striving for? A “new, improved you”? So, how do we get it? “Anyone who is in Christ [that is, anyone who professes to be a Christian], he is a new creation”. What does that mean?
Matthew Henry defines this “New, Improved You” as “A thorough change of the heart”. He goes on to say, “For if any man be in Christ, if any man be a Christian indeed, and will approve himself such, he is, or he must be, a new creature. This ought to be the care of all who profess the Christian faith… that they have a new heart and new nature. And so great is the change the grace of God makes in the soul, that, as it follows, old things are passed away—old thoughts, old principles, and old practices, are passed away; and all these things must become new… all things are new. The renewed man acts from new principles, by new rules, with new ends, and in new company.”
“The grace of God makes in the soul”. That is, GOD is making the changes in you- not you.
Colossians 3:9-10 “You have left your old sinful life and the things you did before. You have begun to live the new life, in which you are being made new and are becoming like the One who made you.” God is making us new. Getting rid of the old us, the sinful us, and clothing us with righteousness, and giving us a clean heart- the new us. When I was a little girl in Sunday school, we sang a song that went, “Kids under construction, maybe the paint is still wet. Kids under construction, the Lord may not be finished yet.” We are all under construction. We are never finished “being made new”. That won’t happen until Christ returns and we are made complete in him. (Phillipians 1:6)
“We know our old lives died with Christ on the cross”(Romans 6:6). That means it’s gone. Dead. “If we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him” (verse 8). “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). When we are willing to give up the old things, the things that cause us to sin and be separated from God, He gives us a new life. That new life is what the Bible calls “regeneration”. And our obedience to the Word of God, and our lifestyle of love, self-control, and selflessness, is what the Bible calls “sanctification”. God gives us the “new you”. It is our responsibility to use that “New Life” for God- to live like Jesus. (James 1:22-25; Galatians 5:24-25; Matthew 16:24-25)
“Since you were raised from the dead with Christ, aim at what is in heaven, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Think only about the things in heaven, not the things on earth. Your old sinful self has died, and your new life is kept with Christ in God. Christ is our life, and when he comes again, you will share in his glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4) So, this is where our change comes from. The “New You” that so many of us long for will never exist if we don’t first give up everything that keeps us from being new in Christ. And once we give up those things, we need to let God (through the Bible) teach us how to live. That’s how you become “new”. That is how you find real change.
“You were taught to leave your old self—to stop living the evil way you lived before. That old self becomes worse, because people are fooled by the evil things they want to do. But you were taught to be made new in your hearts, to become a new person. That new person is made to be like God—made to be truly good and holy.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)
I pray that if you have not chosen follow Christ you would do so in this New Year. I too, am seeking change. And I am trusting God to work in me to change the things that keep me from growing closer to Him. Through Christ, we have “New Life”, no longer being controlled by the sin in our lives. Continue to grow and learn about what God wants, and you will find real, lasting change.
“Because of this, since the day we heard about you, we have continued praying for you, asking God that you will know fully what he wants. We pray that you will also have great wisdom and understanding in spiritual things so that you will live the kind of life that honors and pleases the Lord in every way. You will produce fruit in every good work and grow in the knowledge of God. God will strengthen you with his own great power so that you will not give up when troubles come, but you will be patient. And you will joyfully give thanks to the Father who has made you able to have a share in all that he has prepared for his people in the kingdom of light. God has freed us from the power of darkness, and he brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son. The Son paid for our sins, and in him we have forgiveness.” (Colossians 1:9-14)