“Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
I never ceased to be amazed at dramatic testimonies of changed lives. It strengthens my faith whenever I hear of someone who is radically changed by the grace of God. It reaffirms that there is no depth of degradation and sin, no carnal lifestyle or reprobate character that cannot be redeemed when one turns their faith to Jesus Christ.
While I rejoice in significant conversions of others, it sometimes makes me feel that something is lacking in my own experience. I was saved at a young age and had been nurtured in a church-going family. Though I was definitely a sinner separated from God, I was a good kid, and my salvation experience didn’t represent a radical life change. There was abundant evidence in my selfish demeanor and adolescent rebelliousness that my sin nature was not entirely obliterated by confessing faith in Christ, but I had an awareness of His presence and confidence in a salvation that was eternally secure.
Regardless of our pre-conversion background, we do, indeed, become a new creature in Christ. Our fleshly nature becomes indwelt by the Holy Spirit who is constantly replacing old things with the new spiritual nature that is one with Christ. Yes, it is a one-time forever change but also a continual process.
That is something worth remembering in the midst of New Year’s resolutions. There is something about a new calendar that signals an opportunity for a fresh start. We all realize that there are some things in our life that need to be changed. Perhaps we want to lose weight or become more consistent in prayer and Bible study. Maybe we want to be a more sensitive and serving spouse and parent, or recognize we need to reach out to neighbors and co-workers who may be hurting or lost. Certainly there are unhealthy habits that need to be broken and new disciplines that would make us a better person.
Resolving to make needed changes in 2013 will only bring futile results when based on our own efforts. There is a residue of the old nature that makes us inclined to selfishness, laziness or indifference. We need to realize that becoming a new creature in Christ is a continuing process. Not only were we changed when we were saved, we are continually being changed by the renewing of the Holy Spirit.
Titus 3:5-6 says, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” We can’t save ourselves from sin. The former way of life is a thing of the past and we are new creatures only when we are regenerated and born again. But not only are we born again by the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit is poured out on us to be the continued renewing power to make us new creatures in Christ.
Let that renewing power be a reality in your life as you enter a new year. In fact, allow the Holy Spirit to renew you as a new creature in Christ each day. It’s the only way old things will pass away. Put 2012 and all its failures, disappointments and unfulfilled intentions behind you and be a new creature in Christ.