2 Corinthians 5:17. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Who doesn’t love this verse? It is truly one of the most glorious summations of “to live is Christ” that we have in scripture. Let’s start by breaking it down:
Therefore – connects Paul’s thinking. Why do we persuade others? Why do we fear God and love others? Why do we minister?
anyone – this applies to all who are in Christ.
in Christ – our new position. All that is Christ’s is ours.
new creation – the age to come. The restoration of all things. Our ultimate hope.
the old has passed away, behold the new has come – in Paul’s thinking Christ’s death and resurrection ended the old age and inaugurated the new.
The New Creation is the culmination of our faith: New Covenant, new earth, new bodies, new hearts, new minds, new desires, new love, new life. It is an idea that runs throughout Jewish prophecy.
Isaiah 42:9. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare;
Isaiah 48:6. From this time forth I announce to you new things, hidden things that you have not known.
Ezekiel 11:19. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,
Revelation 21:5. And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Jewish thought saw a day coming at the end of the age when God would usher in a new age. The Messiah would come. The dead would be raised. The judgment would take place. Only then God would re-create. The shocking thing about Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 5:17 is that he is calling us the New Creation TODAY.
How can he get away with such a radical re-interpretation of prophecy and scripture? Because of the Christ event. Christ is the New Creation. He already has inaugurated the new age. Now, because we are in Christ, we too are the New Creation. We are already judged. We are already raised. We are already transformed. We are already reconciled.
But not yet fully.
The New Creation has come, but not in its fullness. Here’s my best attempt at an illustration:
On D-Day the paratroopers landed in France behind enemy lines to fight the occupying German army. Liberation had come, but not in its fullness. Hours before the landings on the Normandy beaches, the paratroopers fought to neutralize German strongholds. The soldiers landing on the beaches had to fight by faith and not by sight. They could not see the airborne troopers, but they believed they were there. The moment the airborne dropped, the battle was raging, and at the same time the battle, even the war, was won.
The indwelling Christ is your paratrooper. Even though we know the war is won, the landing of Christ into your life has actually triggered the greatest battle of your life. And it is raging in your very own soul.
And so here is where we must pump the breaks on 2 Corinthians 5:17. Yes, we are the New Creation, but we are not to see this as a chance to grasp for glory apart from the cross.
It is easy for us within our Christian culture to let the idea that “I am a new creation” be simply another form of self-help. A way to “be a better person.” To accomplish my goals. “Because I’m a new creation and I can do all things through Christ, I can now do anything.”
This is not what it means to be the New Creation. To embrace the reality of the New Creation within us, we must embrace the reality of our transformation by way of the battle of the cross. We must embrace that our changing is from the inside out. We must look deep inside. We must fight to repent. Repent of what is revealed inside of us. And then embrace grace and hold tightly to the cross of our Savior.
“To live is Christ” unites us to Christ and to the future New Creation right now. All of our hopes are already achieved in our spirit by our union with Christ. Love has become the great motivator of our hearts. And yet the New Creation unleashes the war in our souls that the cross has won and that only the cross can win daily.
What evidence is there of the New Creation in you? Remember your answer does not need to be triumphant…is there evidence of a battle? But of course it can be triumphant too! How does our union with Christ bring the hope of the New Creation to your life right now?
And here’s some New Creation music…enjoy!