All Things that Are “Become New”

“If any man be in Christ, he is a New Creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” —II Corinthians 5:17

PAUL’S 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.”

Here we have brought to our attention that those to whom Paul refers as New Creatures are those who 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 that their lives belong to the Lord, and that henceforth they should not live unto themselves but unto him who loved them and died for them. Here, then, is one of the ‘new’ things peculiar to New Creatures in Christ Jesus.

Look where we will throughout the world, and we find that the vast majority of the human race has as their goal in life the attainment of material advantages which will contribute to their own happiness, and the happiness of their families. Their outlook and desires are not necessarily sinful. It is just that their own interests and the interests of those who are near and dear to them, come first.

Many, of course, are dedicated to noble causes, such as the aid of the sick, the poor, and helpless. These are to be commended for their sacrificial service to humanity. Some in this category think of their service as being done unto the Lord and this also is good. But whether we think of those who live almost entirely unto themselves, or those who devote their lives to the service of others, they do not fall into the category described by Paul as those who have concluded that because they have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ they do not actually belong to themselves at all, but unto the Lord, and who, motivated by this viewpoint, devote themselves wholly to the doing of his will.

These give up the idea entirely of living for self, or for any other purpose than to do the will of the 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 until death 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 thus give themselves wholly over to him and to the doing of God’s 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. And what are these all things which have become new?

The next three verses read, “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.”

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

Much Is Involved

This, then, basically, is one of God’s all things which he has given to us as New Creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a new vocation, a vocation in which we are fellow-workers with the Lord Jesus himself. This is possible only through divine grace—that grace which reached us through Christ Jesus our Lord, and through the merit of his shed blood. As members of a fallen and dying race, God could not use us in his service except by providing redemption through the blood of Christ, and the covering of the robe of Christ’s righteousness. (Isa. 61:10) But he has made this provision, and we have the assurance that in this new vocation assigned to us by our Heavenly Father our imperfect works will be acceptable to him. Truly this opportunity to be co-workers with the Lord is a glorious new treasure!

But in the third verse of the next chapter Paul speaks of “giving no offense in anything, that the ministry be not blamed.” This suggests the necessity of great carefulness on our part that our share in the ministry be conducted in a way that will be pleasing to the Lord, and a glory to his name, that so far as possible we should in all things approve ourselves as the ministers of God. We should do this, Paul says, “in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings.”—vss. 4,5

Perhaps in our former vocation we gave little thought to patience. When things failed to go as we would like we may have displayed a great deal of impatience, but this should not be so in our new vocation. In our old vocation of making a way for ourselves in the world there were difficulties of various sorts. We may have found it necessary to discipline ourselves along various lines, and for most of us much labor was involved. But we were quite willing to go through all these experiences in order to obtain what Paul elsewhere describes as a “corruptible crown.”—I Cor. 9:25

But here again a great change has taken place as a result of being in Christ and having become New Creatures. We still have trials and difficulties. Paul and others in the Early Church were actually beaten, imprisoned, and even executed. This has been true also of many throughout the age, and of some at this end of the age. More than ever we need now to be on the alert, not to make sure of success in our own business, but that we might know the Lord’s will for us, and be faithful in doing it. And, more than ever, also, we need to discipline ourselves in order to bring every thought, word, and deed into subjection to the will of God through Christ. (II Cor. 10:5) But we do these things now, not to promote self, but that we might the better serve in our new vocation as ambassadors of Christ.

New Methods

Paul continues listing ways in which we have become ‘new’: “By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by love unfeigned, by the Word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” (vss. 6,7) When self-advantage and promotion were our chief concern we may not have been too seriously concerned with absolute purity, honesty, or justice. We may not have deliberately violated accepted human ethics, yet perhaps were not too rigidly careful along these lines. But here again a great change has taken place. In the pursuit of our new vocation nothing but the highest standards of purity are acceptable to the Lord. Besides, the Lord’s standards are higher than those of the world. Take, for example, our habits of thought. Paul wrote, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest [Margin: ‘venerable’], whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”—Phil. 4:8

Paul says that in knowledge we have become ‘new’. In our old vocation a certain amount of knowledge was necessary. It may have been knowledge of farming, of cooking, of machinery, or accounting, or of some other sort. In our new vocation knowledge is also necessary; knowledge of the work we have been called to do. And the Lord has given us this new knowledge. It is the knowledge of his Word, and his wonderful plan of the ages revealed therein. It is this knowledge that we use as ambassadors of Christ, ministers of reconciliation.

We also need to be “longsuffering,” Paul reminds us. We needed to be longsuffering in our old vocation, because there were trying circumstances we had to endure. But we need this quality of character even more now because we have to endure the tests of faithfulness which the Lord permits to come upon us. If we are to be faithful ambassadors of Christ we must continue to be faithful in this service, even to the end of the way, for it is only those who are faithful unto death who will receive the crown of life.—Rev. 2:10

Kindness is another virtue very much needed by the ambassadors of Christ. Some are more kindly disposed by nature than others. When we were pursuing our old vocation we probably did not give as much thought as we might have to the matter of being kind. If in the attainment of our ends we became a little unkind, we perhaps were not too much concerned about it. But now, with our new vocation, the exercise of kindness is a necessity. Even in our avocation of making a living, we should be kind to all those with whom we come in contact, even to the unthankful and the unholy. But much more so in our service as ambassadors of Christ. In this, as in all things, we have Jesus as an example, and Jesus was kind even to those who persecuted him and put him to death—even calling Judas, “Friend!”

“By the Holy Spirit,” Paul added. In our old vocation we did not have the Holy Spirit of God to guide and motivate us. We had, instead, the spirit of self, the spirit of the world, and to some extent, the spirit of the Adversary influencing us. But now the Lord has given us a new spirit, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a very precious part of our present heritage as New Creatures in Christ Jesus. By it we are begotten to a new life, and anointed to preach the glad tidings. It bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God. (Rom. 8:16) We are sealed by “the Holy Spirit of promise.”—Eph. 1:13

To the extent that we are emptied of self, we can be filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit; which in its various manifestations is the spirit of love, of patience, of goodness, of sympathy, and all the other good qualities of our Heavenly Father’s character. How blessed indeed we will be in the ministry of reconciliation if we are filled, guided, and controlled by the Holy Spirit of God, and exemplify these characteristics. In this we will be approved as ministers of God.

“By love unfeigned,” Paul added. Love is unselfishness, and this is one of the qualifications which must be possessed by New Creatures in Christ Jesus to whom has been given the ministry of reconciliation. In every aspect of this ministry in which we have the privilege of participating we must be motivated by love—love for God, for the brethren, for the world, and even for our enemies. So far as our flesh is concerned this will, at times, place us at a disadvantage. But as New Creatures this will not matter, for after all we have covenanted to sacrifice the flesh and all its interests in our efforts to know and to do God’s will.

In our conduct of the ministry of reconciliation we are to use the “word of truth,” Paul explains. In our old vocations we sought to attain our ends by the aid of human philosophy, the wisdom of this world. But now, together with our new vocation, the Lord has given us the “word of truth” to use. It is God’s plan and purpose which we present in our ministry—not our own plan or purpose. And as the very center of that plan is Christ Jesus as the Redeemer and Savior. So, as Paul testified concerning himself, we should be determined not to know anything among those with whom we come in contact and serve save Jesus Christ and him crucified. (I Cor. 2:2) This is the very basis upon which we have been made ministers.

The Power of God

Before we became New Creatures in Christ Jesus, when our vocation was to get along well in life, we utilized whatever power suited our purpose best. Sometimes it may have been the power of money, sometimes of influence, or perhaps of prestige. But now we have been given something new. We conduct the ministry of reconciliation in the ‘power of God’. It is a rich blessing to know this, for it should do away with the temptation to use worldly methods in the conduct of the Lord’s work.

Knowing that the power of God is enlisted on behalf of his work, we will know that there can be no failure. Knowing this, we will realize that when we present the Word of reconciliation and there are no apparent results, it is the Lord’s will that it should be thus. Knowing this, we will continue to be faithful in the proclamation of the truth regardless of what the apparent results may be. In the morning we will sow the seeds of truth, and in the evening we will withhold not our hands, knowing not which will prosper, or whether the power of the Lord will produce results from both our morning and evening sowings.—Eccles. 11:6

God’s power is infinite and unlimited! There is nothing that can interfere with the accomplishment of all his good purposes. The Word which has gone forth from him, the Word of reconciliation which he has given to us, will not return unto him void, but will accomplish that which he pleases, and will prosper in the things whereto he has sent it. (Isa. 55:10,11) How wonderful it is to know that we have been made co-workers, partners with the Almighty God! What peace of mind and of heart this should give us! We realize our own limitations, but when we consider that our Heavenly Father is our partner in our new vocation, we have nothing to fear, for everything will be accomplished exactly as he has planned.

The Armor of Righteousness

In our former vocation we surrounded ourselves with all the protection we could muster. In the world generally, even carnal weapons are not considered out of place as a means of offense and defense against enemies. But in this also the Lord has given us something new. He has provided us with what Paul refers to as “the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” In Ephesians 6:10-18 Paul presents in considerable detail the various items of this armor. In a general way it would appear that each part of this spiritual armor represents a particular application of the truth. We quote:

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places [Margin, ‘wicked spirits in heavenly places’]. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all [Margin, ‘overcome all’] to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”

What a marvelous armor! It protects our heads, our hearts, and our feet. It is fastened to us by the girdle of truth, which is a symbol of servitude, for are we not in our new vocation dedicated to the service of the Word of reconciliation? It has a sword also—“the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” This sword is used, not to destroy our enemies, but to reconcile them to God. It is also designed to refute the machinations, the cunning, crafty sophistries of the Adversary, and to put down the selfish ambitions of our own flesh which rise up against the New Creature and seek to hinder faithfulness in the new vocation given to us by the Lord.

While prayer is not, strictly speaking, a part of the Christian’s armor, it is nevertheless most important to us in maintaining contact with our loving Heavenly Father. “Prayer keeps the Christian’s armor bright,” wrote the poet, and even “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.” Thus, symbolically, we are reminded that through prayer all the sources of divine power are made available to us as New Creatures in Christ Jesus.

His Provision

Truly the ‘all things’ which are of God, and which are so new and 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, daily endeavor to be emptied of self, that we might be filled and controlled by his Spirit, and being filled by his Spirit, produce the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, brotherly-kindness. And as we abound in the Spirit and its fruits we can go forth in our new vocation as New Creatures, confident of the Lord’s approval and blessing.

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |