The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A New Year – A New Creation – A Real New Beginning

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

Each celebration of New Year’s Eve brings new resolutions. Some ring in the New Year with a drunken stupor designed to help one forget the past year’s life events and resolve to start anew. Others get drunk to celebrate the previous year’s life events and resolve to make the New Year even better. Many are fed up with who or what they are and use New Year’s Eve as a kind of line in the sand landmark to begin change. We proclaim many hopeful ambitions. This is the year I find a spouse. This is the year my marriage will get better. This is the year I get a job. This is the year I get a better job. This is the year I pay off my debts. This is the year I go to school. This is the year I apply myself in school. This is the year I get my weight down. Some even go so far as to assert, “This will be the year I find the meaning of life.” Or, “This is the year I start going to church.” Or “This is the year I’m going to settle things with God.” There’s a lot to resolve in our lives and New Year’s seems to bring those issues to the surface.

Unfortunately, most studies show that resolutions don’t last too long and usually don’t work. That’s bad news for anyone seeking to change in some positive way. The good news is that there is a way to experience real change; a real new beginning. The Gospel of Jesus Christ offers a time tested and people proven way to really change.

In the New Testament it states, “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). That is an incredible verse with a tremendously comforting promise. And notice it is available to “anyone” who wants it. Anyone who is willing to be, “in Christ,” can experience a new beginning. Sound good? Read on.

There is a way to cancel your debt of sin. There is a way to erase All our sin, all our old sinful ways, all the junk in life that destined for hell and eternal separation from God can be forgiven and cast away. The Bible states that God casts our sins in the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19). He removes our sins as far as east is from west (Psalm 103:12). Your sins can be removed like a burden off a laborers back.  

This blessed and gracious offer of God is true “if anyone is in Christ.” Notice the condition or expression of possibility made in these inspired words. “If” this is true, that a person is “in Christ,” then it will necessarily follow that “he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” A person who genuinely accepts Jesus as Savior and Lord (i.e. “in Christ”) will be a “new creation.” They will have a new way of looking at life as well as a new way to live life.

Jesus said you can’t put new wine into old wineskins (Matthew 9:17). That is true because the fermentation of the new wine produces gases that cause the wineskin to stretch and bloat. An old wineskin has already been stretched to its limit and will crack and break when new wine is put into it. In terms of salvation the message is, you can’t live in the old ways of sin if you are genuinely a new creation in Christ. And if you are genuinely saved from your sin through faith in Jesus Christ, you won’t want to live in sin. You’ll want to please the Lord. You can’t stay the same when you come to salvation through faith in Christ. Those people who make professions of faith in some way and then never change or show any tangible visible change for the better, are likely not saved at all. Jesus said those who are actually saved would be fruitful (Matthew 13:23). The gospel is powerful and able to make literal change in a person (Romans 1:16). Those who say they believe in Jesus and yet remain unchanged have been deceived into trusting in a demonic faith. James in describing faith said the demons believe there is a God, and they shudder (James 2:19). Salvation by God’s grace does not give us a freedom to sin but it gives us freedom not to sin (John 8:31-36). Saving faith involves repentance or a change of heart that leads to a change of life (2 Corinthians 7:9; 2 Peter 3:9). We turn from our sinful life of rebellion against God and turn humbly to Him for forgiveness of our sins through faith in Jesus (Acts 2:38-39; Romans 6:1-4; Colossians 2:13-14).

A genuine Christian has admitted their sin, turned from it in repentance and sought forgiveness from God for their sins through faith alone in Christ alone (1 John 1:9; Eph. 2:8-9). A genuine Christian has turned from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God and received God’s forgiveness for their sins (Acts 26:18; John 1:12). A genuine scripturally defined Christian is forgiven and renewed by God’s grace appropriated through their faith in Christ (Titus 3:4-7). They are indwelled by the Holy Spirit who has given them spiritual life, eternal life (John 3). They have come to realize the new life they now have is not their own, it is a gift from God to be lived in praise and obedience to Him (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The genuine Christian realizes that “in Christ” they are a “new creation” and they have been given another chance to live life the way it was meant to be lived.

So don’t settle or succumb to the idea of resolutions for a new year. They won’t last. Look to God and His renewal; His fresh start and enabling indwelling Holy Spirit. The only way to secure staying power that really works change is through the new life found as a gift of God’s grace received through faith in Christ His Son Jesus. Jesus awaits and offers this new life to you. “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. . . . I, Jesus have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. . . .And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” Revelation 22:12-13, 16a, 17). What are you waiting for? Come to Jesus! There’s a new life waiting for you.


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