Summary: Our Sovereign LORD uses His Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to get us to stop and consider that the walk we claim to have with Him sometimes needs an honest diagnosis and correction.
The Scriptures are harmonious. That is, they are all woven together without discrepancy or contradiction in God’s communication with His creation. He does not send “mixed messages,” nor does He have to add or delete anything that has been presented in the Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21). Every prophecy mentioned in the Scriptures has been or will be fulfilled according to the directions and plans of the Sovereign LORD of all creation, who is also the Author and Provider of our salvation. Every warning He has given both humanity and nations about the consequences of their sins and wicked deeds has resulted in either repentance or ruin for themselves (Isaiah 1:18).
No one has been spared from the judgment of the LORD when needed, and no one has been rejected by the LORD when their hearts were broken with sin and sought redemption; otherwise, the Prodigal Son would have stayed in the dung and mud of the pigsty and would have later been found dead as well as damned.
The Scriptures show us that when we walk with the LORD, the narrow road on which we share the journey can get trying at times but also rewarding. He does not leave us alone, nor is His attention diverted by something trivial that He goes off chasing like we often tend to do. When we are the LORD’S, He promises that He will not let us go, and that we do not have the power or ability to counteract or nullify that promise (John 10:28-30). He holds no grudge against us once we come before Him to ask His forgiveness, and does not bring it up against us when we fail (Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 43:25, 44:22, 55:7; 1 John 1:9). He promised that He will never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), and it is to Him that we can come and find the true rest our empty and burdened lives need so desperately (Matthew 11:28-30).
This causes me to wonder why anyone in their right mind would choose to walk away from the best thing ever offered or promised to us by the one and true Lord God Almighty. Yet, because of our sins, blasphemies, pride, hatred, and unbelief, far too many people reject the ONLY way by which the LORD would have us to come to Him and the ONLY means by which we may have real peace; that is through the Lord Jesus Christ, like it or not (John 14:6; Acts 4:12, 20, 16:31; Romans 1:18-32, 3:10-18; 5:6-11; 1 Timothy 1:15, 2:5-7; 2 Timothy 3:1-8, 4:1-5; Hebrews 2:1-4, 6:4-6; 1 John 2:22, 4:1-3; Revelation 1:8,17-18).
What I want to do is to concentrate on one verse by which we can examine ourselves to see whether we are really following Jesus or not; and if we are, why we do not fully commit to His commands for our lives. Be honest. We tend to fall short in our walk with Him, and what the apostle Paul tells the church at Corinth was meant to help them, as well as us, in this area.
The verse I want to examine is found in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (NKJV).
Let us look at the first portion of this verse: “If anyone is in Christ.” Here Paul addresses the main area of concern, not just for this church that had a multitude of problems, but is something we need to ask ourselves, especially as these days are getting more depraved and eternity looms for all of us: If you were to die today and are summoned to appear in front of the throne of God Almighty, and He asks you why you should be allowed to enter His heaven, how would you answer?
I hope that your answer will not be, “Well, I was a good person,” or “I did the best I could,” or any kind of word that implies that you had it within yourself to atone for your sins, or that God is some “good old boy” who will overlook what you said and did and figure that you were not as bad as Osama Bin Laden, or Saddam Hussein, or everyone’s favorite bad guy, Adolf Hitler.
The Scriptures say that our attempts to be righteous before God in our own power are as effective as a bloody menstrual rag (Isaiah 64:6). We cannot in any way make ourselves right before God, as we are all sinners stained with evil, depravity, perversion, and reprobation (Psalm 14:1, 53:3, 130:3; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23; 1John 1:8, 5:19). We have no other place to go after we die other than hell for eternity as the punishment for our sins if God Himself had not decided to intervene on our behalf and provide us with the redemption we do not deserve.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God Incarnate, without sin or fault, came to this wicked world to live among us; teach us about the character and grace of God, as well as His wrath that far too many of us would just as soon not mention or consider; and to demonstrate through word and deed that He was and is the Promised Messiah, Deliverer from our sins and the coming King who will rid this world of all wickedness and the rotten harvest it has produced throughout human history (Isaiah 9:1-7; 11:1-10, 52:12-53:12; John 3:16, 10:11, 12:23-24; Acts 4:12, 20, 16:31; Romans 5:6, 14:9; 1 Corinthians 15:3; Revelation 5:9).
The Holy Spirit of God draws us to Him (John 16:5-15). We come to Him in repentance, asking for forgiveness for our sins and to surrender our lives to His Lordship and saving grace for all time. He gives this salvation to everyone who will come to Him. Even the final book of the Bible gives this invitation (Revelation 22:17), and it is my prayer that you have responded to His call. If not, do so today (2 Corinthians 6:2; James 4:13-15).
If you are, as Paul refers to as “new creations in Christ,” then the second portion of that verse should apply to you as well: “old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
When we read this, it is easy to assume that Paul is referring to the old sinful life that has been forgiven, and we are now saved and secure in Him. That’s true, but I believe we need to dig a little deeper and see that these words are also telling us that since we are new creatures because of the mercy of Christ, we are not to go off to do our own things, hoping that God will bless us in our endeavors.
Scripture says that we have been bought with a price, and we are not our own (1 Corinthians 6:20). By surrendering our lives to Jesus Christ, we have also surrendered to His authority to do with us as He pleases. HE OWNS US! We are His “bondservants” for eternity. The apostles testified as such at the beginning of their letters and teachings in the New Testament. We are under an obligation, as they were, to obey Him through the Word and the direction of the Holy Spirit.
He created us and knows how we work and think, and after a lifetime of experience with submission and struggle, I can testify that I trust Him to run my life a whole lot better than I could ever do in my own capacity. I have bowed my head in shame many times over the things I have done and said that could have been avoided if only I had allowed Him to guide me earlier in my life instead of my own stubbornness that I thought was His direction. We can all make that confession as believers at times, can we not?
When old things do pass away, such as our deadness in sin, and we embrace Christ’s direction, He plants the seeds of maturity and faith within us that He expects to germinate and produce fruit if we are serious about following Him (John 15:1-8). Faith in Christ does not stop at the moment of conversion, and we are not to merely sit back, sing hymns, and wait for Him to return (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). All throughout the Scriptures, the LORD commands us to tell everyone the Good News of the Gospel, to learn the Scriptures and the doctrines of our faith (2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Peter 3:15), and to endure hardship as His good soldier (2 Timothy 2:3).
The persecution that our Lord Jesus spoke of is now here and will intensify as the time comes for Him to return and pronounce judgment on this wicked world. Here is where you need to be absolutely certain of where you stand in Christ. The time for games and pretense is over. You are on the devil’s hit list if you are in Christ, and he will, only by the permission of God, put you through the wringer if you are not real in your faith or have been less than devout and serious about Jesus and the times in which we live now.
Either you are right with God at this time, or you are not. It is time for you to make your stand, and the Scriptures make that clear. Let what has been presented here convict you to get right with Him, to encourage you to stay faithful and loyal to Him, and to be assured that His promises are true, solid, and will never fail or be deterred. Please be that new creature in Christ of which the Scriptures describe, and hold on to Him more than ever, because He will indeed make all things new here on Earth and in the hearts of all who will come to Him in these last days.
Glory, honor, and praise be to Him.