Saturday, October 25, 2014

A New Creature in Christ - Courier-Times article for Saturday, October 25, 2014

A New Creature in Christ

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 ESV)

When I began to look into God’s word as a very new believer, one of the most shocking things I read was this: “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28 ESV)

I remember being floored by that reality. I’d very rarely checked my actions and Jesus was revealing to me that inaction did not equate purity; my heart was the issue. I could hold back my hands, but even I knew my heart was wild, untamed and, well, sinful.

We often hear people say, “Follow your heart.” The problem with that is following an unregenerate heart only leads to wrong action. My unregenerate heart had led me to much unregenerate actions. The Prophet Jeremiah would never say to a single person, “Follow your heart.” Jeremiah would say, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

The hope of any individual is not modified or mollified actions; what each of us needs is a new heart! We need a deep, inner change in who we are if we expect there to serious change in what we do. Too often do we explain things away by saying “It’s only natural” when our problem is that we do what’s only natural!

Our sinful nature must be replaced with a spiritual nature! This can only happen by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, and that’s what we mean when we say “regeneration.”

Regeneration is more than getting one’s actions in order. Oftentimes, people stop doing bad thing and start doing this good thing while inside their hearts are the exact same. Without regeneration, many people wind up in churches that won’t wind up in heaven.

To become a new creature in Christ is a work only God can do, and it is a work that must be done. Jesus said, “you must be born from above” and that believers become sons of God “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 3:7 and 1:13). Jesus told Nicodemus “that which is born of flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6).

Without a doubt, regeneration – becoming a new creature – is a work of God!

That being said, it’s hard to understand or explain this divine change that must occur. Truth be told, however, we don’t have to fully understand it or be able to fully explain it to receive it.

I realize that we think we know a lot, but we don’t. I realize that we often so fear what we’ve seen people claim the Spirit is about that we are a little nervous about Him showing up, but He is mysterious. Jesus told Nicodemus, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8 ESV)

As mysterious as His work is, we can receive the work of the Spirit. The Apostle John said, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12 ESV) In the original Greek, the word “right” is exousia and it means “power, authority, or weight”. As mysterious as the Spirit’s work in making new creations is, the power comes when we believe on the name of Jesus and receive Him.

The only way real change comes to our lives is through getting a new heart; we must be born from above; we must be regenerated by the power of God. And, real change does not mean fixing certain actions while hiding a still dead heart. God’s offer is only to change everything!

God would describe the change He desires to see in us as putting to death the works of the flesh. The Apostle Paul said, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (Colossians 3:5-10 ESV)

Finally, trust God to work till the work is done: “…he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ…to be conformed to the image of his Son…” (Philippians 1:6b & Romans 8:29b ESV)

God will do a work, and He must do the work. It is mysterious. It would encompass ALL of who we are, and He will finish it.

Are you a new creation in Christ, or just a religious person with a corrupt heart? Is the Spirit leading your spirit, or are you a white-washed tomb; are you a different person, growing in the image of Christ, or do you just look good?

God is willing and able to make anyone a new creation in Christ if we are willing to believe and receive the Lord Jesus.  

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