Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. | 2 Corinthians 5:17
Despite what this verse says, I don’t always feel like a “new creation.” At this point in my walk with Christ, I do feel that the “old me” has passed away. But sometimes I don’t quite feel that the “new has come.”
Maybe that doesn’t make sense. What I mean is this: No, I am not living the same foolish, sinful way I was before committing my life to Christ. By God’s grace and with His help, I have put the pursuit of the carnal pleasures of this world behind me. Looking at my life (or anyone else’s) from the outside, you may think I’m a strong Christian who rarely struggles against sin or temptation.
Wrong. The struggle is far more difficult, far more intense, far more exhausting than ever before. Putting an end to my outwardly visible sinful lifestyle was a piece of cake compared to this whole “transformation of mind and heart” part of REAL, INTENTIONAL Christian living. Yes, the old me is dead – the carnal me that everyone could see from the outside. But when I know the desires of my heart and the thoughts of mind are not pleasing to the Lord, I often feel defeated – I often wonder how long it will take for the “new” to actually get here.
Maybe you feel the same way. Or maybe you don’t. Either way, it’s important for us to explore this and get to the root of the problem – because there certainly is one. Certain things may be normal and natural for us as humans. But it’s important for us to understand that we shouldn’t be satisfied or content with “normal and natural.” For example, it’s normal and natural for us to doubt, it’s normal and natural for us to sin. The fact that it’s normal and natural means we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over our failures. We must learn to show ourselves grace, just as Christ has. But the fact that it’s normal and natural doesn’t mean we write off our shortcomings with the excuse that we’re imperfectly human. We must not take grace for granted; we must strive after what is good, what is most pleasing to the Lord.
This, however, is much easier said than done. The striving is hard. It’s exhausting. It’s frustrating. It’s even embittering sometimes. But the striving is where growth and beauty are found; it’s the gateway to abounding love, increased understanding, knowledge, discernment, and wisdom (Philippians 1:9-11).
If you are where I am, be encouraged.
The old really has passed away. The new really has come. Even if we don’t always feel like it has. Even if our current struggles seem far more difficult, far more discouraging. The new is really here. And it’s here to stay.
Know with FULL assurance:
The outwardly visible “old you” is dead.
And the inwardly, invisible “old you” is dead too.
How do I know this? Because the fact that you are struggling with getting your mind and your heart in sync with Christ’s is a sign that “the new has come.” The fact that your heart hurts when you fail Him is a marker of growth, a sign that “the new has come.” The fact that you get frustrated with yourself for doing the same stupid, sinful things over and over again is a sign that “the new has come.” The fact that your soul is utterly grieved as you realize more and more, the bottomless depths of your sin, is a growing pain of the severest kind and a sign that “the new has come.”
The old you wouldn’t be struggling with this. The old you wouldn’t be hurt. The old you wouldn’t be frustrated. The old you wouldn’t be grieved. Because the old you didn’t care about any of this in the first place.
If we say that we believe in Christ and in the power of His blood, then we have to believe that the “old has passed away” and that “the new has come.” Not fully believing this would mean that we don’t believe in the power of His blood and that we don’t believe the Cross was a work of completion. It would mean that we don’t believe the blood of Christ was enough. And this would be utterly reprehensible.
So rejoice with me, friends! Because we who were once dead are now ALIVE in Him! The old is gone. The new has INDEED come!
I was dead in the grave
I was covered in sin and shame
I heard mercy call my name
He rolled the stone away
I’m alive, I’m alive
Because He lives
Let my song join the one that never ends
— Because He Lives | Matt Maher