2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature. The old has gone the new has come!
I say this verse to myself everyday, but I don’t think I have really listened to it until today. What is the new creation we become, anyway? Someone who goes to church faithfully instead of sleeping in on Sunday mornings (or for some people Saturday)? Is it someone who now feels completely clean on the inside and can clearly see the faults in others? Or is it someone who recognizes how prideful, judgmental, sinful, hypocritical, and selfish he or she really is and heartfully repents to God. Someone who recognizes Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the only way to receive salvation and life with God, our Father?
For a while, I was like the person who went to church faithfully. For a while after that phase, I was someone who felt completely clean on the inside and saw everyone else’s faults. After 30 years of being someone that was not me, only who I thought everyone else needed to see, I understand deep in my heart that who I am is not what anyone can really see. I am human and I am going to make mistakes. Those mistakes are what most people will see and remember, but that isn’t going to stop me from trying to please God.
There is a person very special in my life who is going through some very difficult times right now. This person has a very deep need for peace, love and respect. This person needs uplifting and encouragement to be able to pull out of the deep throes of despair and depression. Right now, this person thinks that medicinal uplifting techniques are the way for that peace.
I mention this person because, knowing this situation, I have come to realize that we need to recognize the old person before we can truly allow Jesus to make us into a new person in Him. My friend doesn’t see who he is right now because of the blinders that have been put on through drugs. To truly repent, we have to see our sinfulness, our rebellion against God through the lies we tell, even the little ones, the pride we display in our attitudes, thoughts, even how we dress.
We also must see how much we really complain each day because our complaints are a rejection of what God has provided for us. My friend is one who finds a reason to complain every single day. When I recognized that, I had to stop and look hard at myself. That’s when I saw the truth that my complaining was actually increasing, rather than decreasing as I was hoping. If we complain, we are basically telling God that we don’t trust Him and He’s not good enough.
That may be true for some people, but those people don’t truly believe. We are told several times over that we are going to go through tough times as Christians, even as people. It’s all there in the Bible and it’s backed up with examples like David, Solomon, Job, Paul, Peter, and above all Jesus Christ Himself.
These people all had something in common, a genuine love for God, but there were different degrees of love and different degrees of revelation. Paul had the advantage, in my opinion, because he met Jesus in Spirit and knew what he believed was absolutely true and no one could convince him it was anything else. Peter, of course, actually walked with Jesus, so he runs a close second if not tied with Paul. They both knew what it was like to be born again and live by that faith. But more than any of that, these guys recognized their sin. They recognized it so much that they fell to their knees, repented wholeheartedly to God and then placed their lives into His hands.
That is what being a new creature is. We can say with our mouths that we believe in Jesus. We can copy and paste those Facebook statuses claiming Jesus as our Lord. We can stand up in front of a crowd and cry out for Jesus. We can do all of these things but if we aren’t truly sincere in our hearts, if we haven’t seen with our eyes the destruction of our own lives through our disobedience to God Himself, then our words and actions are completely empty.
God knows our hearts. He knows every lie we ever told. He knows every secret we ever kept. He knows every time we thought about others in any kind of judgment, malice and hate. He knows when we “forget” to do what’s right. He knows when we fail to stand up for the weak. He knows when we pass by the homeless ragged looking fellow at the side of the road. He knows when we don’t stop to pick up the trash that’s blowing around in the parking lot. He knows it all and every bit of slack performance on any level in our lives is a demonstration of our lack of complete reverence to God and His creation.
Being a new creature isn’t being perfect, it’s being accountable. Knowing that every time we fail God, we must take responsibility to Him right away and ask for forgiveness. He is faithful and just to do it, but we are required to take the first step. We are the ones who need to stop letting our emotions fluctuate and turn our lives topsy turvy and study our Bibles, develop a close relationship with Him and rely on Him completely. We WILL mess up, but He WILL forgive us, if our heart is all for pleasing Him. That’s what makes us new creatures. We live for Him, not for pleasing our flesh anymore.