As we enter this New Year together, we have a great reason for rejoicing in the mercies of our God, which are new every morning. I’m truly grateful that our God is the great God of second chances, actually endless chances. In fact, God is always willing to stand with us in our new beginnings. No one understood this better than Paul the apostle. Paul was used mightily by God to impact his first-century world through the Lord Jesus Christ. He traveled on three missionary journeys and planted churches all over the Asia-Minor world. Yet let’s not forget that Paul the apostle was once Saul the persecutor. We read of his actions in the 9th chapter of the book of Acts, “Now, Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus so that if any belonging to the way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (v.1-2 NASB). Saul was willing to go all the way to Damascus in Syria in order to arrest Christians. What hatred must have filled his heart, yet it was on the road to Damascus that this same Jesus broke through and so profoundly changed the course of Saul’s life and in some ways the course of human history. Remember, it was Paul who brought the gospel to the gentile world.
This little bit of background helps us understand Paul’s words in his second letter to the Corinthians when he writes, “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17 NASB). This new creation is an instantaneous experience the moment we place our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t grow into a new creation. We are born instantly into a new creation. The process of Christian growth and maturity is a lifelong process, but the salvation experience is a point in time transformation. This word “new” in this verse speaks of new in quality, something new and different, a superior innovation or advancement. Even though my physical body turned another year older last week, I am still a new creation in Christ.
Think of the transformation that occurred in Saul’s heart and life that changed him from Saul the persecutor into Paul the apostle. Think of what happened in Zaccheus’ life when he met Jesus in a saving way in Luke 19. Jesus delights in making new creations and so radically changing hearts and lives for the Father’s glory and honor. In this passage “old things” refer to the old selfish carnal view of ourselves and others. Before I knew Christ I was totally enslaved in the lust of the flesh. My whole life was consumed with fulfilling my fleshly desires and lusts. Now I want to live and walk to honor Jesus Christ. He is the one who has made me a “new creation.”
How about you – are you in Christ today? Notice again Paul’s words, “Therefore, if any man is in Christ.” To be in Christ is to find a spiritual union with Christ, to have placed our trust and faith in Jesus, trusting Him entirely for our salvation. No person can save or transform themselves. Jesus is the one who changes us from the inside out. He is the basis of our acceptance and love by the Holy Father. There is no greater new beginning that you can have then a living relationship with the God of the universe through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. How about you? If you’ve never trusted Christ as your Savior, there would be no greater way to begin 2018 then finding the key that opens heaven’s door through the Lord Jesus Christ! May God’s peace bless your path in 2018.
Pastor Rich Sivo