Summary: Who am I? answering the question from the Bible and not from our emotions, nor from the world
Who am I?
2 Corinthians 5 verse 17
Some of you are old enough to remember the group The Who and their song ‘Who are you?’ It got an airing at Live 8 recently. If you were asked “Who are you?” how would you answer? You could give your name but you are more than your name. You could say what you do but you are more than your occupation. You could describe yourself but you are more than just your physical appearance. You could say where you are from but geography and citizenship do not say who you are. So how would you answer that question? What determines who you are? Let me ask you another question: “Have you ever cried yourself to sleep because you felt inadequate and wished you were someone else?” Of course you have, everyone at some stage in their life has done just that. You may not have cried but you have thought what it would be like to be someone else and on some occasions it wasn’t just a nice daydream of wealth etc but a deep longing of your heart. So this morning I want from God’s Word to help you answer that question: Who am I?
Turn with me to 2 Corinthians 5. I set the context for this letter last Sunday morning – Paul’s change in itinerary, defence of his apostleship and personal integrity. I want to concentrate this morning on verse 17, read. What is Paul speaking of here? What does he mean when he says ‘in Christ?’ What does he mean by ‘new creation?’ What is the ‘old’ that is gone and the ‘new’ that has come about in the life of those who are ‘in Christ?’ Well let us take each of those in turn and see how they add up to answer ‘Who am I?’
You will notice that verse 17 begins with the word ‘therefore’ which connects what Paul is about to say with what he has just taught from verses 11-16. Namely that the gospel, which he has commended to their consciences, has brought about a change in how they view themselves, one another and even Christ Jesus. If you look at verse 16 you will see that there was a time in the life of Paul when he viewed Christ from a ‘worldly’ perspective. What was that perspective? Well if you turn for a moment to Acts 26 verses 9-11. Paul once opposed Christ as a false messiah and persecuted his followers but all that changed when he met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. What was that change? Turn back to 2 Corinthians 5 verses 14-15, read. Paul says that Christ became sin for him and died in his place – so that verse 18 he might be reconciled to God. Therefore there was a moment in time when Paul had a broken relationship with God. There was in fact a time in the life of Paul when He was God’s enemy. That changed when he encountered the risen Christ on the road to Damascus and he was born again. The origins of this broken relationship with God is recorded for us in Genesis 3. When Adam and Eve disobeyed acceptance by God was replaced by rejection and alienation from God and one another. The innocence of Adam and Eve was replaced with guilt and shame at their sin. Dominion over the created order was replaced by weakness and helplessness. The result of that in their lives, and the lives of all mankind ever since, has been a longing to belong – to God and to one another in community. Secondly, man’s knowledge and sense of worth, value and significance has been replaced by a sense of worthlessness and insignificance which has led man on a pursuit of power and control over self, over others and over creation. Basically the result has been man trying to be God. In order for this broken relationship to be restored Paul tells us in verse 21 that Christ became sin for mankind and took upon Himself the wrath of God. Paul says that reconciliation with God was through the self-sacrifice and substitutionary atonement of Christ (verses 14-15). Anselm’s Conundrum in Cur Deus Homo?
Paul says the ‘old’ has gone and the ‘new creation’ has come into the life of those who have come to faith in Christ Jesus. If you want a picture of the old turn to Romans 1 verses 28-32, read. Is that not a picture of the world in which we live. Is it a picture of your life? If it is then you are living according to the ‘old man’ who is eternally lost and under God’s condemnation. The ‘old’ man has self as god. The ‘old’ man is alienated from God. The ‘old’ man is full of sin, guilt, and shame. The ‘old man’ judges on the outward appearance of things because he has no inward reality of the Spirit with which to make life’s decisions. He sees things from a carnal point of view. His heart, his thoughts and his desires are temporal. But Paul says for those in Christ such an attitude, such an outlook and understanding of life is gone – it has been replaced by a new creation. So what is this new creation? And how does it inform Who am I?