“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
It was a hot summer day. It must have been a western-themed Vacation Bible School that year because Pastor Burns was dressed as a cowboy and rode into the parking lot on a horse. That was the day I asked Jesus to be my Savior.
That experience is one of the few memories I have from childhood. It’s so vivid it almost feels like I could relive it today!
The majority of my childhood through my teenage years were wholly devoted to Christ. I loved and adored Jesus and lived my life for Him. Something happened when I went away to college. Years of hurt and rejection from the world seemed to overpower my desire to live for Christ.
And so, I slowly began to distance myself from Him by doing what I wanted to do, following the crowd and making choices that I thought would help me fit in. It was a gradual shift that I almost overlooked. Until one day, I realized I was living a life of sin. Christ wasn’t the Lord of my life; He wasn’t the driving force for my choices–I was.
When I realized how far I had strayed from Christ, I knew I had a choice to make. It was time to either put away my selfish desires and fully follow Him or call it like it was and walk away from Him for good. I couldn’t continue to live the way I was and call myself a follower of Jesus.
Not all stories look the same as mine, but at some point, we all have a choice to make: Christ or ourselves. It’s an important decision with only one correct answer.
2 Corinthians 5:15 puts it like this, “and he [Christ] died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (ESV).
When we step into a salvation relationship with Christ, we forfeit living life the way we want to live it. We no longer live for ourselves; we live for Christ! As we begin living for Him, our lives will look different because we become different!
2 Corinthians 5:17 is very clear that if we are faithful followers of Christ, we will become new creatures. It describes the first part of this process, saying, “the old has passed away.”
“Old” in this verse refers to our previous moral condition. In church-talk, we often call it our sin nature. The easiest way I can describe sin nature is the selfish desires we have that cause us to make decisions based on what feels good to us, even if they don’t honor God. Our sin nature focuses on ourselves above anything or anyone else.
This verse explains that the old, sinful nature will pass away when we follow Christ. “Passed away” here means that something perishes or dies. In other words, who we were before accepting Christ must die. Our selfish, sin nature must die.
2 Corinthians 5:17 goes on to explain that when our old self dies, something new will replace it. We will begin to look different. We will start to look like Christ.
We must allow Him to replace our old, sinful selves with Himself. For that to happen, He must become the LORD, or master, of our lives. Our every thought and every action must begin to reflect Christ Jesus, who He is, and what He taught. We must live differently than before.
That doesn’t mean we’ll never stumble and sin. The Holy Spirit works in our hearts and minds to make us more like Christ throughout our lifetimes, so the change takes time. However, we must allow Him to transform us and begin to live our lives not for ourselves but for Him.
When we do, Christ becomes the driving force in our decisions and how we live. Our focus shifts from self to Christ. As that happens, we yield our desires to Him and truly make Him Lord of our lives.
That shift in focus happens when we pursue a relationship with Christ and look to Him for guidance. Two of the best ways I know to do that is to study His Word and pray, asking Him for help. Sometimes we think there is a magic formula to studying the Bible and praying. There are many great Bible studies and prayer methods to help us pursue Christ, but more than anything, we just need to get to Him! Pursue Him. Invite Him into our daily lives. When we do, He will transform us and ignite His light within us. That is when we truly become new creations! Transformation happens when we are IN Christ!
Friend, I don’t know where you are in your relationship with Him. But if you’re not spending time with Him, your relationship with Him won’t flourish, and your life won’t reflect Him the way it can.