The inscription on the small oak log read: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” As a young boy, I often read these hand-painted words on a decoration in my parents’ bathroom. The meaning eluded me for many long years, but the Lord had etched the words on my mind. Anyone in Christ is a new creation. How are these words from 2 Corinthians 5:17 to be encouraging to a Christian--a new creature? What is this new creation? And what does this have to do with Jesus Christ?
Scripture is clear from Romans 8:18-23 that this present creation groans under the corruption of the curse due to sin. We see pockets of political deception worldwide, broken and marred relationships on all levels, corruption and greed lurking in malevolent hearts of both the rich and the poor and all in between. Paul speaks of both his time and ours as being “this present evil age” in Galatians 1:4. Evil permeates and infects everything. Jesus clarified this concept in Matthew 15:19 and how people’s hearts are even infected with this evil, saying “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” These sobering words from Jesus drive home the need of every heart to be renewed, or shall we say newly created?
In contrast to this present evil age, Jesus speaks about the age to come as one of life everlasting, a place where righteousness dwells. His followers are called “the righteous” and “will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matthew 13:43). In 2 Peter 3, the Apostle Peter describes this present evil world being judged by fire. And in verse 13 says, “But according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” All of these ideas revolve around the gospel of Jesus Christ and His bodily resurrection from the dead. His resurrection is called the “first fruits” of the harvest, the new creation. All those seeing their guilt before God and seeking their refuge in the Lord Jesus Christ alone by faith alone are united to Jesus. Scripture calls this being “in Christ.” All those in Christ, those believing in Christ, will enjoy this “harvest” by being resurrected from the dead to life everlasting.
The marvelous joy for the Christian being a new creation now in this present evil age electrifies our living today! The new creational realities of the age to come, that of righteousness and eternal life, the Christian possesses now. The Holy Spirit of God dwells within each believer as a downpayment of our inheritance for the age to come. By virtue of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, the eternal life of the age to come has broken into this present time, giving light to this dark world ensnared in sin and corruption. Christians presently “shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15) as new creations. We do not look transformed on the outside (other than more smiles and joy beaming from our faces), but are being renewed day by day inwardly. As Christians, we light up the world by speaking about the good news of Jesus and how sinners are to repent and confess their sin before God and seek their only refuge in Jesus Christ. Christians today further bear witness of the righteous age to come by producing the fruit of the Spirit. When believers show love, mercy, patience, joy, peace, kindness, goodness and faithfulness and self-control to others, it is the beacon of light and present hope we have in Jesus Christ as a new creation. The future promises of a new creation and everlasting life have begun. We partake of the new creation now, albeit, not fully. For the age to come has not yet been consummated. The powers of the age to come have broken into this present darkness by Christ’s coming. Through his life, death and resurrection, the everlasting age to come has been inaugurated. It has begun. What painted words can be found at your house bringing this Christ-centered hope?
Robby Clay has been serving Christ in Southwest Nebraska for the past six years as pastor of Imperial Bible Church. When there’s free time, his five kiddos keep him enthralled with local exploration, hiking and biking and an occasional chess game.