The apostle Paul writing to the Corinthians stated, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17). The concept of becoming something or someone that is new is not unique to this passage. There are a number of passages that present this same renewal of the person that is converted to Christ. Jesus used the imagery of the new birth. He told Nicodemus that, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). When Nicodemus questioned how a man could be born again, Jesus clarified the issue by explaining that He was talking about a spiritual “new birth”, not a physical one (John 3:6). Later, Peter made reference to that new birth when he wrote, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (I Pet. 1:23). Paul wrote of this concept of becoming something new when he told the Colossians that they had “put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Col. 3:10). To the Romans Paul wrote, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). There is no doubt that one is to become a new creature.
One point that is often overlooked however is that the statement by Paul to the Corinthians includes the location of where one must be in order to be a new creature. Note that he use the word “if” in that verse. The little word “if” is a conjunction that means a condition must be met in order for what follows to be true. Paul’s “if” was, “if any man be in Christ” (II Cor. 5:17). Therefore, if any man is not “in Christ”, then that man is not a new creature and all the old things have not passed away and all things have not become new. Thus, Paul has provided the location of being a new creature. It is in Christ Jesus! This being the case, one must consider the question, how does one get “into Christ”? On two occasions Paul has answered that question for us. First, we go back to Romans six and see that what Paul had said about being raised to walk in newness of life was preceded by the words, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” (Rom. 6:3). Was Paul trying to say that the way to get “into Christ” is to be baptized into Christ? It must be so for he also told the Galatians, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27).
A very good study that one might indulge in is to go through the New Testament and notice all the things that are promised to those that are “in Christ”. For instance, Paul told the Ephesians that God had blessed them “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). That one verse tells us that “all” spiritual blessings belong to those who are in Christ. Just a few verses later he tells them, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7). He told Timothy that he endured all things for the elect’s sakes, “that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (II Tim. 2:10). It immediately becomes clear to us that being “in Christ” is one of the most important places that one can ever find themselves to be.
So, what is it that is new about this individual that is now “in Christ”? A number of things can be mentioned. First, as noted in the passages from Colossians and Romans, one’s manner of life is new. The old sinful habits and works of the flesh must be cast aside and the fruit of the Spirit must be embraced and practiced (Gal. 5:19-23). But, there are other things that are new as well. There is a new doctrine that must be adhered to, the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, the very name Christian means that one is a follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus asked, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? (Luke 6:46). Old traditions and beliefs must be cast aside for that which is actually found in the pages of the New Testament. One has a new family upon becoming a new creature. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7). “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ” (I Cor. 12:12). “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another” (I Cor. 12:25).
There are many more new things for those who are new creatures in Christ. The important thing is that one understand the importance of getting into Christ so that they can become a new creature and have access to all these wonderful blessings that are offered. Outside of Christ, there is simply, no hope (Eph. 2:12). Send any questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Robert Oliver is a long time columnist for The Sampson Independent.