Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Cor. 5:17 NKJV).
This is the biography of every Christian. In this verse, Paul sets forth five important truths: First, the redeemed individual is in Christ, in other words, he or she is joined to Him in His death and resurrection. Paul stressed in Ephesians chapter one that the redeemed individual is accepted by God because he or she is in Christ when he says Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him… to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One (Eph. 1:3, 4, 6). This truth was affirmed by the Lord Jesus Christ when he said, …you will know that I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am in you (John 14:20).
Second, the redeemed are a new creation. This is true of both the believer’s position and practice. Regarding the believer’s position, Paul writes: For both circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing; what matters instead is a new creation (Gal. 6:15). This position is gained through the baptism in the Holy Spirit: For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all given one Spirit to drink (1 Cor. 12:13). Regarding the believer’s practice, he explains that we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do (Eph. 2:10). Every true believer is a member of the new man, the body of Christ composed of both saved Jews and Gentiles: he made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations, so that he might create in himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace (Eph. 2:15).
Paul is not saying that as Christians we have been reformed or rehabilitated. What he is saying is that the Holy Spirit has given every true believer new life, that he or she has been created anew and is now living in vital union with Jesus Christ: So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude (Col. 2:6-7). When we were saved, we did not merely turn over a new leaf, we began a new life under a new Master.
Third, our past spiritual position has passed away. The old things do not refer to our past sinful habits; rather, they point to the reasons why we stood condemned before a holy God. Not all old sinful practices or habits die or vanish at conversion. Many Christians bring into their new life some of their old sinful habits and attitudes. The New Testament contains corrections of such vices.
Fourth, a better way of looking at things has come: all things have become new. The word new denotes that which is qualitatively better as compared with what existed prior to conversion. God has now delivered us from the bondage of sin and led us back from the exile of our estrangement from God to a new reconciled relationship, a relationship that enables us to become the righteousness of God: He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21), and brings us salvation: For he says: At an acceptable time I listened to you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. See, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2). This new thing not only creates new values, but it also creates new behavior: Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or males who have sex with males, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:9–11).
Fifth, our new position before God is permanent and complete. The phrase all things refers to the believer’s unalterable standing before God, not to his behavior of life.
As Warren Wiersbe so eloquently wrote, “Christ died that we might live through Him and for Him, and that we might live with Him.”1
1 Warren W. Wiersbe, Bible Exposition Commentary – Be Encouraged (2 Corinthians).
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NKJV) are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2006–2021 by Miguel J. Gonzalez Th.D.
Dr. Miguel J. Gonzalez is the Founder and President of Reasons for Faith International Ministries. He served as a pastor for ten years in Charlotte, NC and has taught in churches and conferences throughout the United States. He currently hosts the Time in the Word and Truth To Live By podcasts and writes at KnowingChristianity.blogspot.com.