(Text: 2 Corinthians 5:17)
A few years ago, a story in a national American magazine described a couple who “adopted” two wolves. They discovered the wolves, still young and small, while making a movie about the caribou in Alaska. They took them to their home, raised them, gave them the kindest treatment, and for awhile the wolves behaved just like friendly dogs. Finally, however, the wolves turned on their masters, who barely escaped with their lives, and then fled to join a wild wolf pack. No matter how kind their treatment, the nature of the wolves was such that eventually they were bound to behave like other wolves. The wolf nature could not be educated out of them.
Our sinful nature is the same. It always stays the same. No amount of education, refinement, culture, counseling, psychiatric treatment, self-help courses, New Year’s resolutions or anything else can take away its selfishness and proneness toward sin. All of us have fallen, and our fall is not something in the past. It is something very much present right now. It is personal for each one of us. All of us come to a point when we want that which will be harmful to us. We stop listening to God and let the world tell us what to do! We change our loyalty from the Creator to the world.
Thankfully, there is a solution for us. A renewed Christian acts upon new principles with new ends and in new company. He received God’s version of a heart transplant. He loves God above all things. Redemption of a people who now live for Christ by living for others, affected by the Holy Spirit and the death of Jesus Christ, is the beginning of the new creation that God had planned to come during this evil age.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come”. To be “in Christ” means to be incorporated in him, so that God sees us “in Christ” rather than on our own without Christ. This concept fits very comfortably with being united with and identified with Christ as the second Adam.
Our identity changed completely when we became a follower of Jesus, It changed from sinner to saint. If we stumble from time to time, our identity still does not change. God will still look at us in the same way. He will look at us in heaven-in Christ. God has made us into something new. He has taken off our old life. In Christ we are changed into someone who didn’t exist before. What we receive isn’t the point. What we do as a Christian doesn’t determine who we are-it’s who we are that determines what we do. Understanding our identity in Christ is essential to successfully living the Christian life. No one can constantly behave in a way that’s inconsistent with the way he perceives himself. Becoming a Christian changes a person completely. We are to look at others through caring eyes. We must make it a habit to put the best possible construction on any situation.
We have to retrain our brains to believe and accept that we are a new creation. Christ has given us a new life. The old one is gone, along with any horrible things we have done, said or even thought.
If we don’t surrender to God, we surrender to something else-moods, circumstances, fear, or our own self-concerns. If we do, we will be disillusioned. Surrendering to God will lead to the birth of everything-new soul, new relationships, new perspectives on life, new power to face life’s challenges and a new sense of certainty. Christians are to be judged as servants and ministers of Jesus Christ. The old Law cannot be applied to them. They are to be judged by the new environment into which God has brought them.
The simplest definition of taking up the cross or dying to self is “the submission to the will of God”. It requires submitting our will to God’s purposes and plans. That is the only way to kill our old, sinful nature. We can’t subscribe to a defeated mindset and expect a life of victory. Victorious living demands victorious thinking. In the words of legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi, “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up”.
We, as children of God, are born again from death into life, just like Jesus was raised from death to life. When Jesus comes into our hearts, we accept the gift of righteousness through him. Our spirit was made alive. We were made worthy to partake of every promise and privilege that the Word of God has to offer. This is the treasure of the gospel-the promise from God that the world deserves to hear. It is the saving message of God’s good work in Jesus Christ –the forgiveness by which God overcomes all human divisions and brings in the new creation in Christ.
We are called to be ambassadors for Jesus Christ. When a person is new in Christ, he becomes controlled by Christ’s love. In fact, the person becomes the goodness of God in human form. We are called to reconcile with each other, reconcile ourselves with God and do what we can to reconcile others with God. Picture a mother embracing a grown child who has come back after rejecting her for many years. That’s reconciliation. But their embrace probably depends on removing roadblocks in their relationship.
That’s what Christ does in our relationship with God. Pushing aside the roadblocks of our sin, God reconciles us to himself through faith in his Son. God also gives us the ministry of reconciliation. We are to treat others as God has treated us. This is difficult, and the devil works against us. Reconciliation ministry means working personally and together to bridge interpersonal, family, and social separations.
The new life in Christ begins with the recognition of who we are, and continues with the admission that we are helpless to save ourselves. The final step involves becoming ambassadors of reconciliation. Before a person is reconciled to God through Christ, he lives by the simple law of self-interest. When Jesus captures our hearts, he changes our vision. When we walk in Christ, we seek to walk as he would walk.
Daily we need to repent and admit that we are too willing to resurrect our old ways. Daily we need to be forgiven. Daily we need to return to our baptism and be renewed and reconciled. Daily through the power of the Holy Spirit we renew our commitment to let Christ rule our hearts and lives.
Jesus did not die for our sins so that we would live under condemnation from them. Nor did he die so we would forever be labeled and falsely identified by our sins. He died so we would be set free from our sins and their shame, labels and condemnation.
Some of you might have seen or heard of a TV show called “Extreme Home Makeover”. On this show, a deserving family is taken off to a fancy resort for a week-long vacation; a team of designers and construction workers descends on their small and deteriorating home and transforms it into a mansion like nothing they could ever imagine. The looks on the faces of the family members when they see their new home are priceless. When we accept Christ as our Saviour and walk with him in faith, we also get an extreme makeover. God allows us to become new again. Beyond forgiveness, beyond cleansing, he makes us holy through Jesus Christ.
The new birth experience is exactly what God says it is-a fresh beginning. When we are born again, we not only have our sins forgiven and our guilt removed, but we also receive the Holy Spirit-who comes to dwell in us and live Christ’s life through us. We can never be what we were before, because we have been born into His life-with a new spirit and nature. And because of that, our desires and goals should be conformed to those that God has for us.
- Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, NASV
- Matthew Henry Concise Commentary. Part of Wordsearch Bible software program.
- Commentary on Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians and Romans. Part of Wordsearch Bible software program.
- ESV Study Bible. Part of Wordsearch Bible software program.
- Selwyn Hughes, “Talking to God All Night”. Retrieved from www.crosswalkmail.com
- Robert A. Schuller, “Sinner to Saint”. Retrieved from www.hourofpower.cc
- Robert H. Schuller, “A New Creation”. Retrieved from www.hourofpower.cc
- Neil Anderson, “A Matter of Being Someone”. Retrieved from www.crosswalkmail.com
- Bill Bright, “The Story of Two Wolves”. Retrieved from www.crosswalkmail.com
- Greg Laurie, “Altogether Different”. Retrieved from www.crosswalkmail.com
- Luann Prater, “Afraid”. Retrieved from www.crosswalkmail.com
- Randy Robinson, “The Necessity of the Cross”. Retrieved from www.loi.org.
- Raymond Causey, “Think Like a Champ”. Retrieved from www.christianitytoday.com
- Melissa Taylor, “Once…Always…”. Retrieved from www.crosswalkmail.com
- Mike Benson, “Eyes”. Retrieved from www.forthright.net/kneemail
- Rev. John Rozeboom, “Love Reconciles”. Retrieved from www.thisistoday.net
- Neil Anderson, “A New Creature”. Retrieved from www.crosswalkmail.com
- Everett Vander Horst, “Eternal Gift’. Retrieved from www.backtogod.net
- Phil ware, “Heartlight Daily Verse”. Retrieved from Retrieved from www.crosswalkmail.com
- Dr. Creflo A. Dollar, “The First Begotten Son”. Retrieved from www.streamingfaith.org
- Bishop Mark Hanson, “Days of Timidity are over”. Retrieved from www.day1.org
- Bishop Mark Hanson, “Our Gospel Must Be Jesus…” Retrieved from www.day1.org
- Rev. Edward F. Markquart, “Ambassadors for Jesus Christ”. Retrieved from www.sermonsfromseattle.com’
- Rev. Linda Richard, “Changing Lives through Jesus Christ”. Retrieved from www.esermons.com.
- King Duncan, “How DO You Know?” Retrieved from www.esermons.com.
- Maxie Dunnam, “I am Christ’s”. Retrieved from www.esermons.com.
- King Duncan, “The Seven Year Switch”. Retrieved from www.esermons.com.
- Dr. Bill Bouknight, “Moving Fences”. Retrieved from www.esermons.com.
- Vince Gerhardy, “No One is Too Young”. Retrieved from www.esermons.com.
- Dr. Mickey Anders, “Put Humpty Together Again”. Retrieved from www.sermonwriter.com
- Jim Penner, “Retrain Your Brain”. Retrieved from www.hourofpower.cc
- Material on 2 Corinthians 5:17 retrieved from Lessonmaker 8 Bible teaching software package