Being Christ’s Body in the World

KEY VERSE: “Put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” —Ephesians 4:24

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 4:17-32; 5:1, 2

IN HIS letter to the Corinthian brethren, the Apostle Paul wrote: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.”(II Cor. 5:17) His reference to the footstep followers of Jesus—those who are in Christ Jesus as new creatures—and his statement that to these old things have passed away and all things have become new, is found in an interesting and revealing context. The three preceding verses read: “The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if Christ died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him that died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him [so] no more.”

Thus we have brought to our attention that those to whom Paul refers as new creatures have been so moved by divine love as revealed through the sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the church and the world, that they have concluded their lives belong to the Lord, that henceforth they should not live unto themselves, but unto him who loved them and died for them.

These entirely give up the idea of living for self, or for any other purpose than to do the will of their Lord. They accept the headship of Christ over their lives, and are baptized into his body. This is described by Paul as being in Christ, and it is these, Paul declares, who are new creatures. Those of this class who remain faithful to their vows of consecration will become part of a new creation on the divine plane. Paul speaks of these as being created in Christ Jesus “unto good works.” (Eph. 2:10) And even now, while still this side of the veil, they are new or different from all the world around them.

To begin with, they are new in the sense that they have renounced self and self-will, and have dedicated themselves completely to the doing of the Lord’s will. This they have done of their own volition. Having been brought into contact with the great fact of divine love as expressed through the sacrificial work of Christ, this love has constrained them to give up everything and to follow the example of Jesus, who laid down his life in the doing of his Father’s will.

It is to this point of full surrender that God is drawing those whom he would make new creatures in Christ Jesus. When they do give themselves wholly over to him and to the doing of his will, then he takes hold of them, and through the begetting power of his Holy Spirit they become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is concerning these that Paul says old things have passed away, and all things have become new.

“All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”—II Cor. 5:18-20

Here, through Paul, is God’s response to our consecration to do his will rather than our own. We have given up our vocation of serving self, and now the Lord gives us a new vocation, which is to serve as ministers of reconciliation, using the word of reconciliation. Since reconciliation to God is possible only through Christ, we act as ambassadors of Christ in this important ministry or service. Instead of working for self, we are now working for and with God; for God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, and now we represent Christ. We are “workers together with him.”—II Cor. 6:1

This new responsibility has effected great and new changes in us, reshaping our thoughts and conduct of life to reflect the righteousness and holiness of God and of Christ. Truly, these new things which are of God, and which are so precious to us as new creatures in Christ Jesus, are a wonderful evidence of God’s love. In Romans 5:5, Paul speaks of the love of God being shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which he has given unto us. May we, by the Lord’s help, go forth in our new vocation, confident of his approval.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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