I felt different. I felt brand new. I felt full of hope, strength, and light that I had never felt before. I had given my life to Jesus one night in college and the feeling of being made new was astounding.
After the service was over, several individuals welcomed me to God’s family, but one comment struck a chord, “Congratulations Heather. You are a new creation in Christ.”
What does it mean, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation?” It means we will no longer be held accountable for our past sins. It means our old lives are dead and gone. It means the Holy Spirit dwells within us.
Becoming a New Creation
2 Corinthians 5:17 is one of the most well-known passages in Paul’s letters to the church of Corinth. It says,
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: That one has died for all, therefore all have died; 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.
In Christ, Paul no longer evaluates others according to the world’s standards or expectations. But let’s put this passage in context:
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 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. 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. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:14-17).
Our Old Selves Are Gone
Once we accept Christ as our Savior, our newness is reflected in the fact we now have a godly perspective. Our eyes have been opened to the things of Christ. This means we no longer have to worry or regret our past or pay for it.
For example, I no longer had to continually answer to God for my selfish ways. But, at the time of giving my life to Christ, I had been arrested for a DUI. I still had to pay for my selfish, stupid decisions of partying, drinking, and then driving.
I was sentenced to a year of probation, I had a fine to pay, and it would forever be on my record. But in Christ, these sins were no longer held against me.
We’ve all made mistakes, we’ve all sinned. But through accepting Jesus as our Savoir, He washes away the stain of our sins until we are shining bright, white as snow.
Galatians 2:20 explains this concept of being a new lifeform in better detail. It says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Wow, right?
This means the old things have died, nailed to the cross with our sin nature. The things we once loved, like selfishness, pride, or lying, we now despise. The sin we once held onto; we now desire to put away forever.
I no longer had a desire to party, instead, I want all my actions to please God. It also means we still look the same, but our hearts have been made new. We are no longer known for our pasts, but now our mistakes serve as a sign of God’s great love for us.
To understand why being a new creation is so important, we need to understand John 1:13, which tells us, we aren’t born out of our own will, or reborn physically. We are reborn through the will of God. Secondly, all the old things about us have passed away. This means our old, selfish nature is gone.
It means our propensity to sin, our natural pride, habits, thoughts, and opinions no longer have power over us. Our new creature looks to Christ for all of these things.
In fact, Romans 8:1 tells us we the things we did as our “old self” and old ways will never be counted against. But does this mean that we won’t ever sin again? No, we will still make mistakes and sin, but we now have the ability to control our sinful impulses compared to before.
We will still struggle to do the right thing, even when we really want to, but the lure of sin can be so strong sometimes that it is hard to run from it (James 1:14). But through Christ, we can fight sin and defeat it (James 4:7).
The Consequences of Being a New Creation
Being a part of Christ’s family is a gift. We now have a heavenly father and mighty God who loves us and wants the best for us. But what about the Christian who continues to sin?
There is a difference between living in sin and sinning. Living in sin means we have turned away from God’s best and we willfully continue to turn away from God. Hebrews 10:26-31 says,
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”
The Christian life isn’t about instant sanctification. Instead, it’s a long process of gradual change and growth to grow in Christ! The moment we are born again we begin to grow like the seed in Jesus’ parable (Mark 4:26-29). Even as a new creation, we will still make mistakes.
We will find ourselves saying things we shouldn’t or doing things that don’t align with God’s expectations. But as we continue to keep our hearts and minds on Christ through reading and knowing His Word, the Holy Spirit gently convicts and lovingly corrects us.
He shows us our sin and in turn, because we love the Lord so much, we repent. Meaning, we turn away from the sin, ask for forgiveness, and do the best we can to live a life that reflects God.
If you are a new creation in Christ, congratulations and welcome to the family. Like being a homeowner, the work is never done.
This side of heaven will be filled with mistakes, skinned knees, and flaws. But that’s okay, God will continue to change us and shape us until our last breath!
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Heather Riggleman is an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor for Crosswalk. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 22 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal, Mama Needs a Time Out, and a contributor to several books. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.