“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-17).
We are creatures of habit, seemingly unable to break out of old modes of thought or like sheep unthinkingly following after others who have left a certain trail of thought. For a long time the apostle Paul was like that. He was a Pharisee, of the strictest sect of the Jews. He was zealous in his religious convictions, even to the point of violence against believers in Christ. Until the Lord appeared to him on that road to Damascus he believed that Jesus was an impostor and His followers a danger to the “one true religion” in which he believed. It took a miraculous appearance of the risen Lord for Saul of Tarsus, (as Paul was formerly known), to get it through his head that Jesus was the Savior of mankind.
Whereas Paul had formerly been controlled by his perception of the law of God, after his conversion he was under a different restraining/motivating influence. “For the love of Christ controls us,” he said. How was that? The one thing that made all the difference with the apostle was the fact of the gracious sacrifice of Jesus in behalf of sinful mankind. When he began to preach, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus was the central theme of his preaching and writing.
In Jesus’ dying for all, all have died. Those who believe in Him realize that they now must live for Him who died and was raised up for us. Paul did. It made a tremendous difference in him. What difference should Christ’s death and resurrection make to us?
We Should Value People Differently
Paul looked at life differently than before his conversion, particularly in how he viewed people. Prior to his conversion he had “breathed threats and murder” against Christians (Acts 9:1). After he was converted he did not turn against the Jews. He now knew the value of each soul. Of his unbelieving kinsmen he said…
“I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” (Romans 9:3).
What a dramatic difference Christ made to this former persecutor who had judged Christ according to the flesh! Faith in Jesus had changed all that for Paul. If we believe in Him it will make a tremendous difference in the way we think about others. Paul could look on others using a different value system than when he was persecuting the Lord’s people.
“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.”
Christ died for all. I must look on people the way Jesus did when He was dying for me on the cross!
We Must Live the New Creation
Paul says that if we are in Christ we are a new creation. That means that whatever we were, we are no longer. The Christian has begun life anew. There is to be nothing left of the old – it has “passed away.” We use that expression of someone who has died. I went to the funeral home today to pay my respects to an old classmate who passed away. He is dead. His funeral will be tomorrow at 2:00pm. Interment to follow. Period.
When old things pass away for the one who is a new creation there is something else that takes place – everything becomes new. We have new relationships. A heavenly Father. A new Lord. And a new family – brothers and sisters in the Lord.
And we also have new responsibilities like living out the new creation. We must learn to think in terms of a new realm and a new mode of existence. It really is a new kind of life – the kind of life that befits citizens of the Kingdom of God. The things we cared for as sinners do not attract us any longer. Now we have new interests, new aims, new work and a new way of thinking about ourselves. We are no longer to be controlled by fear as by law, but by the love of Christ.
We Have a New Purpose
Worldly people live for themselves – live for the moment – live for fun – or for any one of numerous other reasons. But having become a new creation, Christians have a different purpose in life.
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 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. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
Those who have become the new creation are reconciled to God in Christ. Having been reconciled, they become ministers of reconciliation. The reconciled become reconcilers. Those who have heard the message preached become preachers of the message. And ambassadors, sent from the heavenly realm to represent the one to whom we have been reconciled.
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Those who have become disciples become disciplers.
“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,” (1 Peter 1:22).
Those who have received the love of he Lord are to love others like the Lord loved them.
“For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” (Galatians 6:15).
And on and on we could go. Everything good we have received we are in turn to minister that to others. That is part of what it means to be a new creation. As far as the influence of righteousness extends, the evils and selfishness of the old man is destroyed. And it is all playing out to the ultimate end of the complete restoration of man to his intended condition of being made in the image of God.