We Are Not Who We Were

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  2 Cor 5:17

This past weekend, I received an interesting question I have heard many times before, and have tried to answer, but out of a sense of humility, the answer is not readily accepted.  “How important is it, for a Christian, to tell God when we pray how terrible and unworthy we are?”. This seems like a reasonable thing to do.  We want to be humble before God, and what a better way to show humility than to recognize ourselves as a totally worthless individual that could not do anything ourselves to make us worthy, and understanding our reliance upon God to do what we are incapable of doing on our own?  This is a noble sentiment, however, it is partially wrong.  Not the fact that we cannot do anything toward our salvation, but the idea we are worthless.

2 Cor 5:17 gives us a clue as to why this is wrong.  Note the words “he is a new creature.”  We are not the same person we once were.  If our house leaks every time it rains, if the walls are crumbling at the foundation, if all the windows are busted and the floor is sagging throughout the house.  If the chimney has collapsed and the garage is falling in on itself  this is not a house I would want to live in.  We would need to fix it, but sometimes it is better just to demolish the house, dig up the foundation, and build a brand new house.  So, you decide to tear it down and build a new one.  You call a reputable builder, give him total control of the project after discussing the situation with him, and let him take it from there.  After a couple of months, the new house is complete.  And it is a beauty.  Four bedrooms, three bathrooms.  A lovely deck in the back, and solid as a rock.  The builder did a great job.  Would it not be strange if you decided to tell the builder that the house was great, and it is more open to put buckets out if it rains, and now that there are less windows, it will not cost as much to replace the broken windows, and with the basement, it will be a lot easier to put posts under the floors to keep them from sagging.  Yes, he built a great home, and you are absolutely thrilled, but what you see in it is all the problems from the old house, when in actuality, those problems do not exist in the new house.

Now, take this example and apply it to our lives.  Before we are saved, we are terrible people.  Many times we do not see the issues, but that does not mean they are not there.  We are separated from God by our sin, the defiance and rebellion against The True and Holy God who created all that there is, and nothing was created that was not created by Him.  This sin separated us from this Holy God, and caused us, just like that former house, to be broken, falling apart, undesirable, and lacking anything good in it at all.  Pre-saved man is totally depraved.  As Paul said to the Roman Church, “as it is written, ‘None is righteous, no not one.’ no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside ; together, they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”  Rom 3:10-12.  Before we are saved, we all are worthless and do not seek God.  Now, some may say that this passage refers to us, whereby we are all indicted.  However, those who are truly saved do seek after God, we who have the Spirit of God in us.  Now, we know that perfect righteousness is required for salvation.

So, how can any of us be saved, for none of us are perfect?  This is where the work of Christ comes in.  Our righteousness is not sufficient, however Christ’s righteousness is.  “For what does the scriptures say?  Abraham believed, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”  Rom 4:3.  So, what does that have to do with me?  I am not Abraham.  Well, Paul addresses that too.  “But the words ‘counted to him as righteousness’ were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also, it will be counted to us who believe in Him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for justification.” Rom 4:23-25.  Now, how are we saved?  Belief!  “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in you heart that  God  raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” Rom 10:9-10.

Paul uses the phrase “in Christ” to denote those who have the Spirit of God in them.  In other words, those who are saved.  Paul said the following, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”  Rom 8:1-2  The only way to be free from the law of sin and death is to be saved.  Therefore, the phrase “in Christ” refers to those who are saved.  Going back to our original verse, and adding what we have discussed, we can deduce the following:  If anyone confesses that Jesus is Lord and believes that God raised Jesus from the dead, then they are saved and are a new creation. They are justified; wiping out their past, present and future sins.  And the righteousness of Christ is imputed to them, or in other words, counted to them as righteousness.

Now, back to our house scenario.  When we are saved, God created us anew, a process referred to as being born again.  We are born after the Spirit and not after the flesh.  We are completely a new creation.  The old has passed away, the new has come.  The old does not exist, our sin, rebellion and worthlessness are gone.  The new is righteous, not our righteousness but Christ’s righteousness, perfect in every way, because it is accredited to us because we believe and confessed Christ as Lord.  So, if this is true, we are not horrible, worthless, disgusting or anything of the sort.  We are Children of God.  We are saints and co-heirs with Christ.  This is who we are as Christians.  And we need to identify with who we really are.  Not disgusting sinners, but saints of the living God.

So, if you believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, and confess this same Jesus as Lord of your life, then you are not like the old, dilapidated house that had no value and was good for nothing, but you are like the new house that is built anew and is strong and solid, because it is re-built by Him who created all things, and declared it very good.  You are now declared very good.  See yourself this way and you will find peace, joy and contentment, knowing you are accepted by the Father.  Your sins are gone and you are not that old house anymore, in fact, that old house does not exist.  Remember that, because we are not that old man anymore but we are a new creation. Thank Him for your salvation and the removal of your sins.  This is what brings glory to God, not declaring yourself as the old man, and acting as though His work was insufficient.

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