When the Old Has Passed
Reading 2 Corinthians 5:14-21
Every verse has a context. No verse can be understood without its context.
Today’s verse comes in a chapter that starts with a paragraph on the benefits of the resurrection. Its conclusion is that we are all better off because of the resurrection.
The paragraph just before today’s is about the Judgement Seat of Christ. Because it is a real thing, we seek to “be well pleasing to Him.”
This paragraph is about the implications of being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.
18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
Right in the middle of this paragraph we find a verse that is a real gem! Knowing we are reconciled has implications. So, the Apostle Paul starts the verse with a “Therefore”.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
We are talking about something anyone.
We have a conditional conjunction - If. So, this is not a universal condition like depravity is.
This is followed by the enclitic indefinite pronoun “anyone”.
“Particularly and generally of some person whom one cannot or does not wish to name or specify particularly.” Zodhiates, S. (2000). In The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). AMG Publishers.
We are talking about believers.
Our next 2 words make a conditional exclusive. The words “in Christ” set the parameters so we know just who the rest of the verse is talking about.
It is easy to be any “anyone”, it takes faith to be in Christ!
The importance of “New Creation”
The importance of “New Creation”
In the past God created. Gen 2.3 reads:
3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”;
What God created at that time was sinless. It was in perfect fellowship with Him.
When God rested, He stopped creating. His creative activity ended and He set about sustaining what He created.
17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
In the future we will see God create once again.
13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.
In the future God will have totally recreate the earth and heaven. The only things that move from this world to the next are God and His righteous ones.
This future creation will be void of sin, rebellion, and all the things that derive from them. This is why we look forward to a place described in
15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. 16 They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Between the brackets we find what God has done for us!
Those who have placed their faith in Christ for salvation are different. This is not a whole of creation, but a new creation within the existence of the first creation.
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
Without the new creation we are none of this and receive non of these benefits!
“New” means something never seen before. We sometimes quote Solomon, who said:
9 That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.
However, this is NEW! God did something unseen in history.
“Creation” = brought into existence by God. Creation is something that God alone does. We can make thing, but only God creates out of nothing.
What was in the past does not matter.
15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
Those “in Christ” are a new species of being that God created to be in perfect fellowship with Him - just as He did for the first creation and will again in the future New Creation.
As we face this new year, let’s consider where we are and where we go from here. With the old year passed, let’s find ways to think about the great news that we are a new creation. Let’s not view things in past ways that divide us in appropriately (by so called race, preferences, or other things that have absolutely no impact on our relationship with God.)
1. How confident are you that you are “in Christ”?
2. Can we let past habits and thoughts that take us away from God be passed?
3. Since God made us something totally new, how can we face 2023 differently?
4. Will you join me in committing to think about how we are a new creation each time we write “2023”?