“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
People often make resolutions in January, hoping to transform into a “new creation.” They want to put their old ways behind them and make positive changes that will transform their lives.
For believers in Christ, however, becoming a new creation looks slightly different. It is not about making healthy choices but seeing life from a different, more godly perspective. The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17,
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
What does it mean to be a “new creation?”
First, God assures us we are new creations if we are “in Christ,” His Son. “In Christ” are only two words, but their meanings pack a big punch.
To be “in Christ” indicates being in union with Him and acknowledging the great significance of His grace. Our redemption through Him is eternal and steadfast. It has no limits or boundaries. It also includes several important elements.
Security and Acceptance
Some people question the doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” They wonder if they can lose their salvation and miss seeing heaven.
It is essential to know that every believer is secure when they are “in Christ,” despite any misgivings or doubts we might have. When we put our faith in Him, God assures us that our salvation and hope of heaven are absolutely safe and protected. No one can alter it or take it away.
Jesus bore our sins and the Father’s judgment in His body when He hung on the cross. He paid the price we owe. In doing so, His righteousness is ours (that is, it is imputed to us), and we are justified before the Father. Our soul is eternally secure in Him, and we have perfect assurance of our inheritance in heaven.
“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28)
Our redemption by grace also means the Father unconditionally accepts us. He sees us through the lens of His righteous Son in whom He is “well pleased (Matthew 3:17).” If He is pleased with His Son, He is also pleased with us.
Even when we sin, the Father looks upon us with unconditional love and compassion as He draws us toward daily repentance. He may not always approve of our choices, but He loves us regardless with a kind of love we cannot humanly comprehend.
We are unequivocally secure and accepted by the Father, warts and all (as the saying goes).
Out with the Old Creation
Because we are secure and accepted, God invites us to participate in His divine nature.
“His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1:3-4)
Through Jesus’ shed blood, God has given us the “great and precious” promise of abundant and eternal life. This promise allows us to participate in His divine nature through His Holy Spirit, who helps us put behind our sinful nature. It is a gradual, spiritual transformation that inspires us to turn away from sinful desires and seek the things of God.
The Bible describes this transformation as being born again (John 3:3) and hidden in Him (Colossians 3:3). We take off the old and put on the new as we seek godliness in every area of our lives.
But it does not stop there.
It’s a Journey
Being accepted by God, secure “in Christ,” and aided by the Holy Spirit means our lifestyle habits begin to pivot toward Him, compelling us to pursue a godly character. It is a continual journey, one that the Bible calls sanctification.
As the Lord sanctifies us, our behavior and spiritual perception of life change. Over time, we slowly see the world and others as He does. Eventually, the values, beliefs, and ideas we once had, even our goals, plans, and resolutions, take on a more eternal rather than temporal view.
God’s love for us, demonstrated through Jesus’ death and resurrection, should motivate us to live for Him. It should inspire us toward a lifestyle that pleases Him. It is not a lifestyle that follows culture or any set of laws, as some religions dictate. God does not desire for us to engage in legalistic religions where we check the boxes; rather, He desires us to develop a personal, intimate, loving relationship with Him.
By going “faith to faith” and making daily, transformative choices, the “old things” pass away, and “all things become new.” Our focus becomes set on God alone as we purposely endeavor to bring Him glory in everything we say and do.
“Do not remember the former things nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
Reconciled to the Father
Our walk with God does not stop with being “in Christ” and sanctified. We have a job to do. As a new creation, we have what the Bible calls a ministry of reconciliation.
“Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19, CSB)
The Greek term for reconcile is katallasso (kah-tahl-LAHSS-oh). Katallasso means to change or exchange. In the Bible, it sometimes refers to the transaction of money, but a more common usage is changing someone from an enemy to a friend. Two parties who were once at odds with each other come together; they are reconciled.
Katallasso is found six times in the New Testament and only in Paul’s writings. In one instance, Paul uses it to describe a spousal relationship, but in all the other five occurrences, it refers to unbelievers and God. Unbelievers are God’s enemies because of the sin that separates them. But they can be reconciled (katallasso) to the Father by putting their faith in Christ, who does not count our sins against us but takes them on Himself, according to 2 Corinthians 5:19.
Our Ministry of Reconciliation
Because of our reconciliation to the Father, He has given us a special ministry: to spread the good news of the gospel, also known as the Great Commission found in Matthew 28.
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19)
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ since God is making His appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)
It is our responsibility and duty as followers of Christ to spread the “message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19)”. Some Bible translations alternately substitute “message” with “word.” The Greek translation for “word” (logos) indicates a “true and trustworthy message” or “divine declaration.” Its usage contrasts with the world’s overabundance of false messages. But because of Jesus, we have a genuine, trustworthy message of the truth of the gospel, one that God commands us to share with others.
New Creation Prophecy
Being a new creation in Christ is not a new concept. Hundreds of years before Jesus appeared on the earth, the prophet Ezekiel also spoke of it.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
Here, in verse 26, the word “heart” means “whole nature,” and “spirit” indicates a mind set on God. When we are “in Christ,” we are regenerated and born again, body and soul.
The prophet Jeremiah also spoke of regeneration. Though he spoke primarily of Israel in his writings, his words in chapter 31 easily apply to people who put their trust in Christ today.
“I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34)
According to this passage of Scripture, anyone who genuinely puts their faith in Christ automatically understands what it means to follow Him. His law is supernaturally written internally in their hearts. They long to be reconciled to Him (katallasso), partake of His divine nature, and become ambassadors of the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:20). They long to be a new creation in Him and be forever transformed and shaped by His Spirit.
Making resolutions is not bad, but putting our trust in Christ is far better. We can take hold of God’s promises when we choose to be a new creation in Him, embrace the ministry He has given us, and strive to bring Him glory in everything we do. It is then we can experience a life full of overflowing joy that blesses us and others.
“You will show me the path of life. In Your presence is fullness of joy. At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)