By Noel Santiago, Leadership Minister for Missional Transformation
2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
The word ‘therefore’ points to what comes before. When I look at this, I’m drawn to look before and I find another ‘therefore’ in verse 16. So, I go to the previous section up to verse 12; the heading that translators have given it in some Bibles is “Being Reconciled to God.” In verse 12 this phrase jumps out at me: “those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.”
What does that mean? Is there a connection between the old and appearance, and the new and the heart? A slew of phrases begin to pop out. Phrases such as:
- “if we are beside ourselves, it is for God,” (2 Corinthians 5:13);
- “if we are of sound mind, it is for you,” (2 Corinthians 5:13);
- “the love of Christ compels us,” (2 Corinthians 5:14);
- “we judge thus,” (2 Corinthians 5:14);
- “if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all,” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15);
- “those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again,” (2 Corinthians 5:15);
- “Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh,” (2 Corinthians 5:16); Is this what the appearance mentioned above is about?
- “Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer,” (2 Corinthians 5:16);
- “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)
Does this mean that we are now known in heaven differently than on earth? If so, how am I known in heaven? Is there a connection here with the 1 Peter 1:3-4 passage, especially as it relates to partaking in the divine nature? As 1 Peter 1:3-4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you…”
Is it possible that the old has to do with external appearances of a life lived for self and the new has to do with the internal condition of the heart and a life lived for Christ? If so, then why do I struggle with the realities of the external when supposedly I am new on the inside?
Might one clue be found in 2 Peter 1:9 where the writer states that when I forget my past sins have been cleansed, I become nearsighted and blind? So, might remembering this reality help me see more clearly the new that has come – which is Jesus Christ in me the hope of glory now?
Holy Spirit, would you help me to remember that the old has gone and the new has come? Would you help me remember that my past sins – that which is old – have been cleansed and the new, your life in me now, has come? Allow this reality to be the ground from which I live and move and have my being. Let this truth be how I see others as well as myself, as redeemed, renewed, cleansed, restored, made whole and beloved in Christ. Let this mindset be the mindset from where I engaged my life circumstances and those whom you have placed around me. Would you open the eyes of others so they too can see themselves as you see them and together may we be drawn closer to you as we lift up your name for all people to be drawn to you? In Jesus I pray, amen!
I’m indebted to the Sunday morning bible study and prayer group at Blooming Glen for some of these insights and observations