Walk as a New Creation (Our Spiritual Walk #7)
2 Corinthians 5:17
Happy New Year! 2014 is on its way out – and 2015 is fast approaching. How many of you have already chosen your New Year’s Resolutions? I found a list of the top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2014: (According to a study at the University of Scranton)
10 Spend More Time with Family
9 Fall in Love
8 Help Others in Their Dreams
7 Quit Smoking
6 Learn Something Exciting
5 Stay Fit and Healthy
4 Enjoy Life to the Fullest
3 Spend Less, Save More
2 Get Organized
1 Lose Weight
That same study said that … while about 50% of the population makes New Year’s resolutions … after 6 months, less than less than 10% have kept them!
Today we’re going to talk about an on-going resolution that every Christian needs to make every day … Walk as a New Creation! God’s Word tell us that so many things become new when we begin to follow Christ … but no list is enough to contain the magnitude of the change.
It’s not just things ABOUT us that change --- WE ourselves have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 is a good verse to sum it up: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
Some folks think of their faith in Christ as something new that gets added into their life. “Everything I used to be remains, but add in Sunday-morning church attendance and some Bible-reading and so on.” But the scripture says that we, ourselves, are made entirely new (a new creation) and that the old has gone.
1. The OLD has gone
So, what, exactly, IS the OLD that is gone? Here’s a short list of some specific things that are part of the OLD self.
• sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, idolatry; anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language (Colossians 3)
• foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures (Titus 3)
• gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. (Ephesians 2)
These 3 sections of scripture are addressing Christians about “the way you used to live,” or “the way you used to be.” These lists describe the OLD that has been put to death. These are habits of behavior, but they go deeper than just actions. These are actions that come from the attitudes of the deepest self … from underlying selfishness and greed that makes people a slave to their own passions. For Christians, these OLD attitudes and actions have been put to death.
A beautiful explanation of this is found in Romans chapter 6. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4
Christian Baptism represents our complete identification with Christ in His death and in His resurrection. For the first century Jews, this was a new meaning to a familiar ceremony. For many years, Jews practiced a form of baptism for proselytes to the Jewish faith. If a non-Jewish person wanted to declare their allegiance to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they submitted to baptism. When they came up out of the water, they were looked upon as “new men” in the eyes of the Jewish assembly. They had left behind the false gods of their former life and took on a new, Jewish, identity.
For the Christians of the first century, baptism represented a change that was more than merely changing religion or national identity. Romans 6 explains that the physical act of baptism symbolizes a very real spiritual transformation. We are baptized into his death … in other words, we die with (or IN) Him. His death is applied to us. This means our old mortal SELF has been consigned to the grave. The old is gone and the new has come.
2. The NEW has come
As we come up out of the water, we join Christ in his resurrection. “…like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Jesus came out of the grave as a NEW CREATION. He had shed his mortality. We join with Him in this resurrection to a NEW life.
This is more than a change in outward behaviors. It’s a change in our spiritual identity. Something that was dead in us has been brought to life. To understand this, let’s go all the way back to the beginning … in other words, to Genesis.
Genesis 2 gives a poetic retelling of the creation of man. Verse 7 says, Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. The words for “breath” and “spirit” are often interchangeable in scripture. We see from the beginning that the human SPIRIT gets its LIFE from God’s Spirit. We were created to live in connection with God’s Holy Spirit. Without that connection, we are spiritually dead.
When the first humans chose to disobey God, their connection with God was fatally broken. You can tell Adam and Eve were immediately aware of the change because of the way they tried to hide from God. Instead of enjoying their communion with God as they always had before, they now feared Him and wanted to avoid Him. Even though they remained physically alive for many more years, that breath of life was gone, leaving them spiritually dead.
Jesus came so that the living communion between your spirit and God’s Holy Spirit could be restored. After Jesus rose from the dead, we see the way Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to his disciples in John 20:22: And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
It’s significant that Jesus breathed on them … reminding us of how God had originally breathed into Adam the breath of life. Adam … by choosing sin … brought Spiritual DEATH to the human race. Jesus, by imparting the Holy Spirit, restored Spiritual Life to all who will receive Him as Savior.
This is the NEW life we have in Christ. Something unseen, but very real, changes within a believer. We accept this on faith, but we also experience the changes in all kinds of ways. We begin to see things we couldn’t see before. We understand things that made no sense before. Our desires change. Sin begins to lose its appeal. Worship actually starts feeling like fun.
We find ourselves wanting to hang around with other believers. We love talking about God. We are drawn to studying God’s word. We experience a new sense of freedom and joy that is hard to explain. We experience the truth of Colossians 2:13, which says, When you were dead in your sins … God made you alive with Christ.
When you put your faith in Jesus, you receive NEW LIFE. Your spirit (which was dead in sin) is instantly and miraculously and permanently resurrected. That’s what makes you a NEW CREATION! Our job is to then WALK in New LIFE.
3. So … WALK!
But … the problem is … we don’t always walk as a New Creation. We believe we are raised to New Life, but … as you may have noticed … we’re still living in the same world, with the same bodies, and the same circumstances. In fact, if we’re honest, we don’t always feel like we are living NEW life. Sometimes we fall back on our familiar old habits. The Old Self seems to come back to life far too often!
I recently saw a headline that read, “America’s fascination with zombies is alive and well.” Along with a popular TV show called “The Walking Dead,” there’s a new movie coming out about zombies. The article said that the number one Halloween costume for the last couple of years has been some sort of Zombie outfit. It said, Across the country … people dress up in tattered clothes and bloody makeup to stagger their way through zombie pub crawls, zombie 5K races and zombie walks. (Tampa Tribune June 20, 2013)
Unfortunately, the zombie walk might describe what we sometimes do in our Spiritual Walk. Too many times we end up doing the “zombie walk.” We prop up the OLD, DEAD self and stagger through our day, lurching around like the walking dead.
It’s far too common for Christians to keep on dragging the corpse of the old self around. We don’t really enjoy it. In fact, it stinks! But we too easily forget to live by faith. We forget the promises and the power of our God. What we need is to remind ourselves daily of our new identity in Christ.
It’s that simple. But it’s not always easy. In your sermon notes, you’ll find a list of scriptures that are good reminders of who we are in Christ.
• I am the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
• I am accepted in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:6)
• I have been raised up and seated with Christ in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 2:6)
• I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)
• If Christ is for me, who can be against me. (Romans 8:31)
• Because I am in Christ the old has gone and the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
• There is now, therefore, no condemnation because I am in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
Statements like these are God’s honest truth. When we walk as a New Creation, we are walking by faith … believing and applying this truth to our daily lives.
• Any day that you believe these truths, you will find it impossible to have an attitude of defeat or despair.
• While you are walking in these truths, you won’t fall into sin.
• You’ll never have to do the zombie walk again!
I want to conclude by playing a song that illustrates what it means to walk in faith. I’m sure a lot of you have heard it on K-Love. My wife, Susan, has it on her iPod and plays it on the way to work in the mornings.
It’s a great reminder of how we can walk, every day, as a New Creation. Besides that, it’s a fun “wake up” kind of song (so if you’ve been snoozing through the sermon, it’s time to wake up!)
(Play video of Matthew West’s * “Hello, My Name is Child of the One True king")
Here is the link: *http://youtu.be/ZuJWQzjfU3o?list=RDZuJWQzjfU3o