June 14, 2020 The New Creation

The New Creation

Our scripture reading this morning is 2 Corinthians 5:11– 21.

 

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. [1]

 

Paul had just written about the Judgment Seat of Christ in the previous verse. As we saw, this judgment is for his own people. Therefore, the “fear of the Lord” is the fear of the Lord at this judgment. The judgment will be a fearful time. As we also saw, every deed and every word will be brought up at our judgment. This is why it will be a fearful time. Hence, we must prepare ourselves for that Day. We ought to have that Day at the forefront of our minds. The way we prepare ourselves is by confessing our sins to the Lord and turning away from them – repenting. If we do this then those sins will not be brought up at the judgment. And, we prepare ourselves by transforming our lives. We do this by renewing our minds. In order for our minds to be renewed we must fill them with the word of God. I tell you, Christians who neglect Scripture and who neglect their private devotions, do greatly limit their own transformation and will experience greater fear on that Day.

 

Let us take the call to sanctification to heart!

 

Since Paul and Timothy know the fear of the Lord they persuade others. The “others” are fellow followers of the Lord Jesus, for only they will be at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The unbelievers will be judged at the Great White Throne later. What do they persuade others about? They persuade them to live in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord (vs. 9)! Do you know fellow believers who are living in a way that is not pleasing to the Lord? Then be like Paul! Persuade them to get ready for the judgment.

 

We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. [2]

 

When Paul mentions “those who boast about outward appearance,” he refers to the Judaizers. These were men who promoted Jesus but also insisted that the entirety of the Old Testament laws be followed. This shows that it is not enough to simply promote Jesus. We can have the wrong Jesus. The Judaizers did not accept that Jesus was God manifested in the flesh. There are cults today that promote a different Jesus. Jehovah Witnesses have a Jesus that is a created being. They teach that he is actually Michael the archangel in disguise. How demeaning! The Mormons have a Jesus who is the brother of Lucifer. The Muslims have a Jesus who was only human– just a prophet.

 

Then there are others who may be Christians but who boast in outward appearance. The health and wealth gospel is a perversion of Christ’s message. You see, there are competing claims to the message of Christ now just as there were in Paul’s day.

 

Paul knew his heart was right before the Lord and, even though his outward appearance was unimpressive, he taught them the truth of God’s revelation.

 

For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.[3]

 

Paul and Timothy were so sold out for Jesus that people thought they were insane. Do you know what? When you are sold out for Jesus people will think you are crazy, too! They may think that, but you are the way you are for God! When people thought the apostles were in their right mind it was of benefit for the church in Corinth, because people will listen to you when you seem reasonable. But, no matter what people thought, whether it was positive or negative, the apostles were living for the ministry! This is how our lives should be! Whatever we do should be for the furtherance of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus!

 

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. [4]

 

The “all” here means all the followers of the Lord. It is not all people in general. We know this by the use of the second “all.” “Therefore all have died.” Not all people have died. Most people live for themselves. The death that Paul speaks of here is not physical death, of course. He means dying to self. Only true followers of the Lord Jesus have died to self. When Paul writes, “therefore all have died,” he means Christ’s own people have died to themselves and live for him. Here is the difference between a false gospel, what has come to be known as the forgiveness-only gospel or fact-only gospel, and the true gospel. The true gospel calls people to be actual followers of the Lord Jesus, not simply having Jesus as a ticket to heaven. I tell you, there are multitudes of people that have said some kind of a prayer and even baptized, but they do not truly live for Jesus. They will be alarmingly disappointed on the Day of Judgment. Make sure that you just don’t believe a set of facts, but that you have given your life over to the Lord Jesus. You can do that today!

 

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. [5]

 

When Paul writes, “we regard no one according to the flesh,” he again refers to the Judaizers. He even says that we do not regard Christ according to the flesh any longer. There were some among them who had known Christ in the flesh. Paul says that we don’t regard him in “the flesh.” There are some Christian groups that still regard Christ according to his outward appearance, the way they think he looked when he was walking the earth. They make statues of him and his mother. But Paul says we no longer should regard him this way. Jesus is now the life-giving Spirit (I Cor. 15:45)! That is how we regard him.

 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.[6]

 

This is a marvelous verse! Let us consider the little phrase, “in Christ.” There are three positions a person may find themselves. One is either outside of Christ, in Christ, or with Christ. Only those who are in Christ on earth will be with Christ in glory. On earth, all people are either in Christ or outside of Christ. They are either in Christ or in Adam. There are no other possibilities. Everyone is born into this world with Adam as their representative (I Cor. 15:22). Some, by God’s grace, will be transferred to Christ and will have Him as their perfect representative. Are you in Christ or in Adam? Do not assume who you are in! You must know! Eternity depends upon who you are in!

 

For those who are in Christ, they are a new creation. This is the apostle’s way of communicating the very radical change that takes place in a person when they are transferred from Adam to Christ. It is not simply that you are joining a church. It is not simply that a person resolves to be a better person. It is not giving up bad habits. All those things are good, but they do not make you a new creation. When the Spirit of the Living God touches a person’s heart and changes it, everything becomes new! We are changed at the core of our being.

 

Man is tri-partite. He has a spirit, a soul, and a body. The Holy Spirit comes into our human spirit and brings life into it. This new life brings an immediate change into our soul. Our soul is our mind, emotion, and will. It is the seat of who we are.

 

Prior to this God-originating change, our minds were darkened. Hear how Paul describes unbelievers:

 

Now, this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.[7]

 

Before God changes us, our understanding is darkened. Our thinking is futile. Oh, you don’t have to believe in order to do math, even advanced math. (Some are thinking, “I can barely do simple math.” That is ok. We all have different talents and aptitudes.) You don’t have to believe to play chess, to cook a grand meal, or to fix a lawnmower. But, unless you are radically changed by God you will not see the wickedness of sin or the great danger of it. You will not clearly see how far you are from God because of your sins. The natural mind seeks to justify sin. It is darkened in its understanding.

 

 

 

But when a person is changed by the living God, they begin to see sin for the awful thing that it is: rebellion against a good and loving Creator.

 

Prior to this change our minds are preoccupied with our own affairs. They are self-centered. When we are touched by the Spirit of God then our minds seek His will. It desires to know God’s will. And, how do we learn God’s will? Through the Scriptures where He has revealed it. Thus, the strongest evidence of being a new creation is a hunger for God’s word. A person who has been changed by God reads and studies their Bible. If you do not read and study your Bible then you have likely not been born again. Now, there are some who either cannot read or who read poorly. Those will still desire to know the Lord’s will. They can listen to the audio recordings of Scripture and they will desire to hear the preaching of the word.

 

That would be another evidence of being a new creation. A person who is a new creation assembles with God’s people regularly to hear the word and to give praise to the Lord. The apostle John affirms this strongly in his first letter:

 

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. [8]

 

Here, John says that those who used to meet with them and ceased doing so demonstrated that they were never truly part of God’s covenant community. If you are a new creation you meet with God’s people regularly and you love them. If you are not a new creation then you do not meet with God’s people. It really is that simple.

 

Thus, our minds are radically changed.

 

Our emotions are radically changed. Before, our hearts ran after many things and we were thrilled by worldly entertainment. When a person becomes a new creation, their greatest love becomes the Lord Jesus. They love Him more than their spouse, more than their children, more than their parents, even more than themselves!

 

Do you love the Lord Jesus? “Pastor, I do love the Lord. But, I don’t know if I love him more than anything.” Love, contrary to what the world believes, is under the control of your will. The Bible teaches that we can choose who to love and how much to love. Indeed, all emotions (love is an emotion, but it is more than just an emotion) are under our control. We are to control our emotions – and we can. Our emotions are not to control us. Therefore, if you truly love the Lord then you can cultivate that love to greater measure![9]

 

 

Our will is radically changed. Before, we decided to do things according to our own preferences and desires. When a person becomes a new creation they direct their will to please the Lord.

 

Our bodies will be changed. Whereas our spirits and souls are radically changed, our bodies will not be changed until the Lord returns to the earth and we receive our glorified and immortal bodies.

 

Have you become a new creation? I do not ask if you said a prayer one time. I do not ask if you have been baptized. Have you become a new creation? If you have not then you may have that experience this very day.

 

He has saved us and called us

with a holy calling,

not according to our works,

but according to His own purpose and grace,

which was given to us in Christ Jesus

before time began.

10 This has now been made evident

through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus,

who has abolished death

and has brought life and immortality to light

through the gospel. [10]

 

Look at the last part of verse 10. Life and immortality come through the gospel. If you wish to become a new creation then you must believe the gospel. This is the gospel: Christ died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and was resurrected on the third day. God calls you to repent of your sins, trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and follow Jesus – this means to live your whole life for him. When a person believes the true gospel and not merely the facts alone, then a new creation has been wrought. This is because no one can trust in Christ except it be from the Spirit of God.

 

Will you trust in Christ today? If you will then the way this trust was made known in the New Testament was by a public profession followed by baptism. I would like to give someone the opportunity to simply place their trust in Christ right now.

 

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 5:11). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 5:12). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 5:13). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 5:14–15). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 5:16). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 5:17). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Eph 4:17–18). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Jn 2:19). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[10] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (2 Ti 1:9–10). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.

​​​​​​​