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 truly is one of the most glorious summations of the Christian life in all of scripture. Let’s start today by breaking it down:
Therefore – This little word connects Paul’s thoughts. He has been explaining why we work to persuade others about Christ, and why we no longer only see others in the flesh.
if anyone is in Christ – We are in Christ and Christ is in us. This is our new position. All that is Christ’s is ours.
he is a new creation – This looks forward to the age to come and the restoration of all things. In Christ, we are already living as part of this new order.
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 future is now!
Paul isn’t introducing a new concept here. The new creation is the culmination of faith in God: new heavens and new earth, new bodies, new hearts, new minds, new desires, new love, new life. The prophets wrote of these things hundreds of years before Paul did.
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,
Jewish thought saw a day coming when God would usher in a new age. It was called the Day of the Lord. The Messiah would come. The dead would be raised. The judgment would take place. And only then God would re-create everything.
But how can Paul say that this has already happened to us?
Because of the Christ event – his incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and glorification (look at the TLIC logo). When God took on flesh and became the Christ, he became the New Creation. He inaugurated the new age. He launched the Day of the Lord. Now, all who are in Christ are also God’s new creation. We have already been resurrected (spiritually). We have already been judged. We have already been made new. We have already been reconciled to God and the rest of creation.
But (this is important) not yet fully.
Yes, the new creation has come to us, but not in its fullness. Here’s my best attempt at an illustration:
On D-Day, in World War II, allied paratroopers landed in France behind enemy lines to fight the occupying German army. The moment the airborne landed the battle was raging, and at the same time the battle, even the war, was won. Liberation had come, but not yet in its fullness.
Christ in you is your paratrooper. Even though we know our great spiritual war is ultimately won, Christ in us has actually triggered the greatest battle of our lives. A battle that this very moment is raging in your heart and mind.
And so here is where we must pump the brakes 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 ongoing battle of the crucified life. “You are the new creation” is not a pep talk. It is not a new form of self-help. It is not a motivational speech for accomplishing your goals or being a better person.
Rather, 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. By the power of the cross we must fight to look deep inside. We must fight to repent. We must fight to put to death the sinful desires that would replace Christ in our hearts. And we must fight to embrace grace and hold tightly to the cross of our Savior.
“To live is Christ” unites us to Christ as the future new creation right now. All of our sin is removed and all of our hopes are realized by our union with Christ. The victory is won! And yet the battle of the new creation rages in each of us. The battle that can be won daily as we live by faith and trust in who and what we are in Christ.
What evidence is there of the new creation in you? The battle? The victory? Both?
You in Christ
How can your union with Christ bring the hope of the new creation victory to your life right now?
Christ in you
“The old is gone the new has come.” Is there something “old” that you are still holding on to today? What “new” way has Christ revealed to you?
Playlist: The new creation.