The New Nature
by Ed Daly
2 Corinthians 5:17
Imagine how the Corinthians, a troubled and sometimes raucous church, must have marveled to read the words penned to them by the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Corinthians 5:17).
If they were “in Christ,” they were new creatures! Paul’s words surely reminded them that their former lives—“the old things”—had passed away, and that “in Christ… new things [had] come.” These two words, “in Christ,” expressed the total and complete transformation that God had effected in their lives: having believed by faith that Jesus Christ had died for their sins, they now had a new nature that was free from the penalty and the power of sin. Sin was no longer their master. They served a new Master who had set them free, and they could abide in Him and be sure of His protection from the destructive effects of their previous sin lives, the world, and of Satan. They were no longer guilty for their sins, for Jesus Christ had taken the full wrath of God on their behalf as the spotless Lamb of God. It was new life, and they could rejoice in the fact that they had a new nature. In the freedom of their new nature, God was transforming them into the very image of Jesus Christ Himself, as Paul had earlier pointed out to them in 2 Corinthians 3:17-18:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
Given all of the problems that the Apostle Paul had to address with the Corinthian church, it’s hard to conceive of their new nature shining forth in the middle of the dark, pagan culture that surrounded them. Yet, this was the work of God in their lives. Their standing “in Christ” was sure. But, it’s not as if God waved a wand and caused all of their challenges to disappear, or as if they were no longer responsible for their own actions, or even as if they could just start over again with a clean slate and continue to live in their old ways. Paul challenged them to live according to their new nature. They now had the power of God to set aside their old self and live righteous lives. They could and were called to live new lives that reflected the image and glory of their Savior.
As living demonstrations that “new things [had] come,” they were illustrations to all around them of the power of God to change someone’s life. Paul directly instructed the Ephesians,
that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (4:22-24).
Note that Paul is commanding them to “lay aside the old self… be renewed in the spirit… and put on the new self.” Being “in Christ” and having this new nature means that you are empowered by God to live a righteous life that manifests the glorious image of the Savior to the world. As believers lay aside their old selves (former sinful ways that killed them spiritually), are renewed in the spirit of their mind by taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), and put on the new self by embracing and pursuing holy living, God is molding and shaping them “in righteousness and holiness of the truth” into the image of Jesus Christ (see also Colossians 3:10).
How about you? Are you “in Christ?” Have you recognized that sin brought death and that you were separated from God, bound for judgment and eternal Hell as the just penalty for your sins? Have you turned to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith so that you might be saved by Him and be born again as a new creature with a new nature and a glorious eternal destiny? If you haven’t, recognize that God is calling you to Himself to do a wonderful work of grace in your life. He offers you new life, a life of righteous living that is free from sin and eternal life abiding in Him.
If you have experienced this grace of God in your life, it means that you possess the power to set aside your former self and take up a new self which reflects the image of Jesus Christ. Is that your zeal in life? Is that what others see in your life? If not, repent of falling short of the sin that plagues you, and ask God to give you the power of His Spirit (the Spirit who already indwells you) to put on display your new nature to the praise of His glorious grace!