Summary: When we live in ways consistent with our old sinful nature we’re like an old car that no longer exhibits the beauty and functions of its original design. That all changes when we receive a new life, a new nature, a new heart and a new spirit.
Lord, please renew your church. Let her beauty be seen as she reflects your radiance. Empower her to serve the purposes for which you made her.
Lord, please renew each of us that our lives will reflect your image, glory and beauty. Renew us to accomplish the work for which you designed us.
We love to get new things, whether we buy them for ourselves or receive them as gifts. Some of these things we get to replace possessions that have grown old and don’t serve our needs anymore or we’re simply tired of them. That lumpy old mattress needs to be replaced or the kids have grown and it’s time for a smaller house.
We buy or receive other new things to enjoy what we haven’t before. I recall the day my dad came home with our first television. The kids can’t believe it didn’t have color pictures or a remote control.
But new things don’t stay new. What happens to a new car? Eventually imperfections show up in its appearance, in the comfort and safety features, or mechanically. We owned our mini-van for six days before someone opened a car door into the side of it and left quite a dent. Sooner or later you notice chips in the paint, a stain in the carpet or a tear in a seat.
One day you open the door and the interior light doesn’t come on, or someone says, “Hey, did you know your headlight is out?” You turn on the A/C or heat and the fan starts to rattle. You take it in for service and they tell you the brake pads need to be replaced and the rotors turned, or your tires only have 1/32” tread over the legal minimum.
You start down the road and it’s a rough ride. But the problem isn’t the road surface, it’s your shocks or alignment. Your fuel pump goes out, or your water pump, or alternator, or transmission. In my 35 years of car ownership I’ve experienced all of those.
On the bright side, cars can be repaired and those in real bad condition can be renovated. In fact, some people make a business or a hobby of it, like my in-law’s pastor. For many years he enjoyed finding old Ford Mustangs and putting them back into like new condition.
We don’t usually think of the word “renovate” in a theological or biblical sense. We use other words like “renewal” and “regeneration.” But renovation presents a useful image. The word comes from the Latin. The root is novare which means “to make new”, with the prefix re which means “again.”
Many people enjoy renovating things that no longer look like new or work like they did when they were new - cars, trucks, tractors, houses. We fix broken parts or replace them. We clean it up, refinish or repaint.
The Bible says you and I we need renovating. We need to be made new. And it’s Jesus who does that. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17, NIV)
I like the way that reads in the New Living Translation; “…those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!”
The NT has a lot to say about becoming new: we need to – and can – gain a new life, a new nature, a new heart and a new spirit.
It may help to think of yourself this morning as a car in need of renovation. Perhaps your features don’t look like the Designer intended. I’m not talking about your physical features here but rather about your spirit, character, attitudes. Perhaps you don’t function like your Maker designed. These are the effects of sin.
Unlike a car, tractor or house we didn’t start out new. Yes, we do physically. But not spiritually. You and I started with what the Bible calls an old sinful nature. It’s old because it was introduced to all when Adam & Eve first rebelled against God.
But we don’t have to live with that. We can experience spiritual renovation when we receive…
1. A New Life.
Remember, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation…the old life is gone. A new life has begun!”
There are two dimensions to this new life. In simple terms you might think of them as the eternal and the earthly. Eternal life is assured when you trust Christ and receive him as your Savior. At that moment you are born again – of the Spirit – to live forever.
But the Bible also says, “Work out your salvation…” Until we enter heaven for eternity we are expected to live this earthly life in a way consistent with the eternal life. And that takes an ongoing renovation by God’s Spirit. It requires active cooperation.