The title for this article is taken from Second Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Back in verse 14 Paul establishes the fact that we all were dead spiritually. He also brings out the fact that Jesus died for all. Jesus came to make the sacrifice that was necessary to redeem mankind back to God. Verse 15 says we should live for Him who died for us. Verse 16 brings out an interesting fact: Through His death and resurrection experience, He came forth a different man from what He was when He was put into the grave. The latter part of verse 16 says, “Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.”
In verse 17 we see the point that Paul was trying to impress upon the Corinthians. If a person, whoever and wherever they may be, is truly in Christ, following Christ’s teaching, then that person is a new person, a changed person. Such a person has passed from spiritual death to spiritual life.
We understand that the church at Corinth had some members who were living in sin. Some were guilty of what we would call very gross sins. They were not giving evidence of the resurrection power that brought Christ out of the grave. They either had never experienced the New birth, or they lost out along the way. So Paul had to teach them what it means to be new creatures in Christ.
What does it mean to be in Christ?
1. It means we have experienced the New Birth.
Jesus told Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” To be “in Christ” there must be spiritual birth.
2. It means a radical change has taken place in our lives.
Ephesians 2:1-3 gives us a vivid picture of our former life outside of Christ. We were dead in sins; we lived according to the dictates of the devil; we fulfilled the desires of the flesh and of the mind.
Verse 4 says, “But God.” Now we see a radical change. We are quickened (made alive) by the power of the Holy Spirit. We no longer desire the things of the flesh.
In Luke 8 we have the story of the man that was possessed of many devils and dwelt among the tombs. When he met Jesus and experienced the power of God to free him from the power of the devil, he experienced very radical change! It is still that way for us today. When we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord—and He will only be our Savior as we accept Him as our Lord—a radical change will take place in our lives.
3. It means our flesh has been crucified.
Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Our sinful nature is not eradicated at conversion, so crucifying the flesh is an ongoing process. every time Satan brings a temptation to us, the flesh must be crucified. The apostle Paul said, “I die daily” (1Co 15:31).
4. It means we have the mind and spirit of Christ.
Romans 8:6-13, “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
The challenge for us today is this: Do those around us truly see that we have the mind and spirit of Christ? Our walk of life, our dealings with others, our conduct, our attitudes, our love for everyone, etc., must be a copy of the life of Christ.
5. It means we abide in Him and bring forth fruit.
John 15:4-6, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
God wants to see the fruit of His Holy Spirit in our lives. For those who are truly new creatures in Christ, this fruit will be evident in their lives. Jesus said, “Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit.” The only way to bear good fruit is to abide in Christ. brothers and sisters, it is totally impossible to be in Christ and of the world at the same time! James 4:4 says, “Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” I am convinced the devil is trying his best to deceive us into thinking that we do not have to be so careful in being separate from the world. We see this very thing happening all around us.
May God help us to rise to the challenge of truly being “new creatures in Christ.” My prayer is that God will help each one to be a living testimony of His almighty power to change a sinner into a saint, a new creature in Christ.
~ Amelia, VA