Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.2 Corinthians 5:17-21
You are a saint. I think I made that clear in my last post. In addition to being a saint, our text today gives us two additional points of identity in Christ.
The world is trying to tell us we can choose how we identify ourselves without any reference to scientific evidence like genetics or biological realities. If I want to be a woman, even though genetically and biologically I am a man, I still get to change my gender and have the right, and presumably the ability, to create my own gender reality. That is nonsense and is definitely not in agreement with science. These folks making these claims are science deniers.
There is, however, a way to change your identity, not in conflict with science like denying your biological sex/gender. But changing your identity from that of a sinner to saint, from the old creation to new creation, from an enemy of God to ambassador of Christ.
This new creation business belongs to everyone who is in Christ. It is not reserved for some super-spiritual set of Christians who have attained an outstanding degree of sanctification or holiness. It matters not what you have done in your past or what was done to you. Are you a victim of abuse, addiction, war, or human trafficking? Do you suffer from PTSD because of earlier life trauma? Have you participated in fraudulent business practices or been coerced by your employer to do things that were either immoral or illegal? Have you cheated on your spouse or been addicted to pornography? Again I say, it doesn’t matter what you have done or what has been done to you; in Christ, you are a new creation.
But, someone might say, I am a Christian, and I have experienced some of what you listed above after coming to Christ. What do I do? Am I really a new creation? My experience doesn’t feel like it.
First, I will assume that it is true that you are in Christ. Your instructions are to confess your sin, submit to God by repenting your sin, renounce your sin, and resist the devil.
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.1 John 1:5-10
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.James 4:7-10
When we walk in darkness (sin), we are out of fellowship with Jesus. That doesn’t mean you are not saved or that you have lost your relationship with him, but you are out of fellowship with him. But the key to our current question is to confess your sin, and he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. You must restore your fellowship to live out the reality of the new creation you are.
Because of the reality of being made a new creation, we need not live the rest of our lives under the pain of our previous experience. The soul-scars that exist from the wounds we have received can be healed as we walk with Jesus and grow in the reality that we are saints and have been made new creations. Some of the residue of past sin, either our own or those done to us, takes time to go away. All the benefits of God’s grace and forgiveness don’t necessarily appear instantly (although sometimes they do). We grow in grace.
The big issue I want to emphasize today is recognizing and accepting our identity in Christ as a new creation. As I wrote last week, much of our behavior is shaped by our self-image or how we see ourselves. As believers in Jesus, we see ourselves as saints and as new creations; the old has passed away.
Ambassadors for Christ
Being a new creation is a setup for being an ambassador of Christ. When you become a new creation, you receive the ministry of reconciliation as a part of the package deal. Now that we have experienced being made new, we have the mandate from Jesus to share the message of reconciliation with others who have not yet been made new in Christ. It is through us, God’s new creations, that he has chosen to send out his appeal to other people to be reconciled to God. We are ambassadors of the good news.
Being an ambassador of Christ is a privilege not just anyone can have. That office of ambassador of the King of the Kingdom of God is only available to those who have been made new. If you’re not made new, you can’t be Jesus’ ambassador. The flip side of this is that if you have been made new in Christ, you are an ambassador whether you want to be or not. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation.
So, let’s check our identity in Christ. When we are in Christ we are:
- New creations
- Ambassadors of Christ with the ministry of reconciliation
We are not sinners saved by grace; we were sinners who have been saved by grace. When you are in Christ, you are no longer a sinner, even though you will sin occasionally. You are a saint, a new creation in Christ, and are an ambassador of Christ with the ministry of reconciliation.
Live your identity!