Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Christ did not come to change my life. He came to transform my life. He exchanged His life for mine. I am now dead to the old man, the sinful man, the fleshly man, and the carnal man. I am not an improved person with Christ, but I am a new creature! When people see me they should see Christ. Galatians 2:20 reminds us, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Not only should people see me differently, but Paul also says that I should see others differently. When I have a proper view of who I am in Christ, then I will act accordingly. This must happen in three specific areas according to 2 Corinthians 16-17 if I am going to discover God’s and plan for my life.
I must see others differently (v. 16). Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. According to the first part of verse 16, as a Christian I will no longer look upon man after the flesh. When we look at people after the flesh we look at them as competitors, enemies, and with envy and jealousy. When we look at people after the flesh we only hang out with those who look like us, dress like us, or smell like us.
Fleshly living breeds enemies and fleshly living breeds isolation from those who are different from us. Take a look at your church or your Sunday school class. Does everyone look like you or have the same economic background or interests? If so, why? They shouldn’t. If they do, it’s because we are drawn to the comfort of our flesh that is absolutely no good. Stop looking at appearances. Second Corinthians 5:12 says, “For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.” Start walking by faith and not by sight (v. 7). If you’re a new creature, you must view others differently and extend a hand to them in the love of Christ.
I must see Christ differently (v. 16). Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. The second part of verse 16 reveals that as a new creature I will view Jesus differently. Prior to his conversion, Paul hated Jesus. Jesus was just some leader of a dangerous religious cult. During Jesus’ time on earth in the flesh, the disciples were poor followers of Him. Why? They were trying to follow Him in their flesh—that is impossible!
Many of us are trying to follow Jesus today, yet our lives are no different. Jesus reminded His disciples in John 16:7, “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” It was vitally important that Jesus depart this earth in the flesh so that the Holy Spirit (the Comforter) could come and fill them with his power. Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you…” The power man seeks in the flesh is one of political influence and position. Once the power of the Holy Spirit rained down on the Jesus’ disciples in Acts 2, things started to change! These men and women went to people and did things they never could have imagined. They found supernatural power that extended far beyond influence, politics and position. That’s what happens when we start living like we’re dying.
Until we get our relationships right with both God and man, there will be little transforming power in our lives. Stop looking for Jesus to change your position, your circumstances or your title. He wants to do something far greater that brings the most glory to God—but only if you let Him. Simply stop trying and start dying.
I must see me differently (v. 17). Verse 17 is a tremendous truth! If I am in Christ, then I am a new creature. Think about that. Old things are past away and all things are become new. Here’s our challenge. We don’t really believe it. We don’t really believe we are a new creation. How do I know that? Because if we truly believed it, we would stop engaging in our bad habits, our wrong thinking, and our bad attitudes and hanging out in our comfort zones. We would stop making excuses for missing church, time in God’s Word and time in prayer. New creatures in Christ are indwelt by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is interceding for us in our prayer life. The Word of God is now alive to us and our instruction Book for all of life. We have a God who wants to do exceeding abundantly above all that we are able (Ephesians 3:20). God tells us that all the old things are past away—gone! So why do we still struggle with direction, purpose, significance, etc.? Because we are still attempting to control our lives and God won’t compete with us!
Our job is surrender, not control. When you and I truly believe verse 17, then our lives will change. I must decide to see myself as a new creature that God saved by the shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ. Until that happens, I cannot move forward with God’s purpose for my life. I’ll be stuck. We learned earlier about Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” What a great truth that reinforces 2 Corinthians 5:17. However, Galatians 2:21 continues the thought a step further. “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness came by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” The word “frustrate” means to be stuck or just spinning your wheels while getting no where fast.
If we decide to live our lives according to how we think (the old man) and not how God sees us (the new man), then plan on remaining stuck in the mud for a very long time as though Jesus death meant nothing at all. If Jesus died for you so that you can continue in the old man (trying harder to be better doesn’t work) then what’s the point?
The making of new creatures from old creatures is only of God. No one else can do this. It is supernatural and miraculous. That’s who you are!
So, how do you view yourself as a Christian? If you are not a Christian (born again believer in Jesus), then you are still an old creature with no ability for the greatest abundant life ever and your eternal destination is a placed called Hell. But, if you are a true believer and follower of Jesus, then your life should be marked by an unexplainable joy in all things, being salt and light to a hurting world, having the mind of Christ, loving your neighbors, witnessing courageously for God, giving and forgiving, prayer without ceasing and a love for and consistent attendance to a local church.
The butterfly does not continue to act like a caterpillar for he is a new creature—he no longer craws and squirms but he flies with wonderful majesty and transformation. I fear that many of us are not discovering God’s true calling on our lives because we are still crawling and squirming and afraid to fly into the life that God has for us. Our true faith is still in what we think and not what God says.
We are new creatures in Christ—let’s live like it!