“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has
come” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
At the moment a person receives Christ (by a specific act of will), the Holy Spirit of God enters that being. Jesus comes into the life. His life in a person gives the power to live a new kind of life. Change begins from the inside out. That is how one becomes a new creation in Christ.
In Acts 8:3, we read the account of Saul of Tarsus going from house to house, dragging early believers, men and women, off to prison. But then in Acts 9:1-7, this same Saul, while en route to Damascus to round up more believers, had this sudden encounter with the living Lord Jesus Christ, which led to his amazing conversion to Christ.
Who then is better qualified to pen the words of 2 Corinthians 5:17 than this one who became Paul, the great apostle? When I think about his conversion to Christ, it makes me wonder whether anyone is beyond the reach of Jesus Christ.
In Ephesians 2:1-5, who better than this same Apostle Paul to describe the change that can come over any person who becomes a new creation in Christ?
In verses 1-3, he describes the old life as one being dead in one’s sins, following the world’s ways while under Satan’s dominion, living out the desires of the flesh. But then in verses 4 and 5, Paul speaks of being a new creation, alive in Christ and saved by his grace.
I recall the day my wife and I were having an early supper in a local restaurant. We were alone, except for a young man who was doing some cleanup work nearby. Somehow we struck up a conversation with him. Without any hesitation, he told us about his recent conversion to Christ. He was so excited about what had taken place and mentioned that the church he was attending was sending him out on two short-term mission outreach events. He was so excited to be included.
He had become another one of us “anyones” Paul refers to in 2 Corinthians 5:17.
A few days later, I mentioned this young man’s name to a girl we knew who had attended the same high school. I explained to her about his recent conversion to Christ. Her reaction was like, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”
To put it mildly, she was surprised, even amazed that this person she had known and observed in high school had humbled himself and had become a new creation in Christ. She was thrilled to get the news.
So again, what is the promise Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians 5:17? It’s a changed life. Francis Schaeffer, the late evangelical theologian, philosopher and pastor, left us with this challenge: “The most effecting way to advance historic Christianity into the 21st century, the most compelling evidence that demands a verdict, the most irresistible evangelical tool, is a changed life.”