As I type this devotional, it’s a rainy, cold New Years’ Eve. I don’t know many who want 2020 to continue. This has been a terrible year for several reasons. Looking to 2021, we are hoping that things will be new and different! Many of us desperately want a new start! However, if you are a Christian and follow Jesus, the Bible teaches us that we’ve already become a new creation before God. That’s a big deal and it doesn’t depend on any calendar “giving us a new start”.
How is being new before God very important?
Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-21.
In Christ we are made new!
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17–21 about Christians being a new creation. Verse 17 reads, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Notice how we become new. It is completely dependent on being in Christ. One of the simplest passages to describe how we get in Christ is Romans 6:1–5. Once we are a part of the body of Christ, there are so many great blessings!
1. We have a new Master (Galatians 2:20).
2. We have a new future (Titus 3:7).
3. We have a new peace (Colossians 1:20).
4. We have a new family and foundation (Ephesians 4:19–22).
When we allow the “old to pass away” and we allow God to bring newness to our lives, we are set free from our past, our sins, and our failures. This newness shouldn’t wear off like the new car smell. We continue in newness as Christians because it is refreshed by the continual forgiveness we receive through Christ.
Being in Christ comes with Responsibility!
What comes next though tells us that this newness in Christ comes with responsibility. God has enacted a saving plan that is perfect. He sent Jesus to live as a human and die as a sinless sacrifice on the cross, then God raised Jesus giving Him new life as a sign as to what is in store for believers. God’s part of the salvation process is finished– now all that’s left is for humans to respond.
If you’re a Christian, you’ve responded by saying, “I am a sinner and my only hope for salvation is through Jesus who died for my sins.” After confessing Jesus as Savior, you were baptized for forgiveness and you received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). But you and I becoming Christians isn’t the end of the salvation road. There’s a world of lost people needing a Savior who need peace and hope and forgiveness–just like we did.
We are Christ ambassadors!
1 Corinthians 5:18–20 urge us to view ourselves as ambassadors for Christ. An ambassador is a person designated to represent their country to another. But in the first century as Paul writes this, ambassadors nearly always were people who came offering peace from their country to a country they were on the brink of war with. Scripture calls us to be ambassadors for Christ–people going to those we know and pleading they make peace with God! What a great privilege to be called (not asked) by God to represent Him before our friends, peers, neighbors, and others we know! In a sense, we are being charged to fulfill the Great Commission from Jesus (Mark 16:15–16).
God wants us to be Holy more than He wants us to be holy!
This passage is finished out in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus carried the weight, the burden of our sins to the cross although He was completely sinless. Notice why though– “so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus died in our place so that in Him (another reference to being in Christ) we could be righteous in God’s sight.
There are too many who believe that God wants us to be happy. I’m certainly not saying God hopes for or desires our unhappiness, but His main concern is not that we be happy– it’s that we be holy. Jesus didn’t go to the cross for our smiles but for our souls! Jesus died so that our souls could be cleansed and saved. Even as joy is concerned, our joy should be found in all that is good and godly. Within Christ, our hope for righteousness is filled. Only in Christ are our broken souls mended. There is no forgiveness or salvation unless we find it in Christ (Acts 4:12).
Be saved and then go and share the Gospel!
As we consider the charge of this passage, there are two main things that should be asked. First, are you “in Christ” so that you personally are saved and forgiven? The Bible explicitly teaches us that without responding to the saving message of Jesus– to believe in Him, to change our ways to His ways, to confess Christ as Lord, and to be baptized (immersed) for the forgiveness of our sins– we cannot be saved. Are you saved? Second, this passage reminds us of this great saving message we’ve been charged to spread. How well are we serving as a representative of the Lord? Who do we know that needs Jesus? You and I have a responsibility as saved people to tell the saving good news (or Gospel) of Christ!
1. What does reconciliation mean?
2. Read Romans 5:10–11. What role does the death and resurrection of Jesus play in our lives?
3. How does being a “new creation” before God set us free?