A NEW YEAR MEDITATION

As we begin a new year let us focus on a liberating and empowering truth affirmed in 2Corinthians 5.

In 2Corinthians 5:14 we learn that ‘one died for all, and therefore all died’. This is a very brief, but very powerful, summary of the impact of the substitutionary, sin-bearing, sacrificial death of Jesus Christ: Christ, our substitute, died in our place, under the wrath and judgement of God, bearing that death penalty that was justly ours. His death is counted ours: Romans 6:8 tells us that ‘we died with Christ’. Colossians 2:23 teaches us ‘you died with Christ’. In Galatians 2:20 Paul affirms ‘I have been crucified with Christ.’

Because of this grand fact that the death of Christ is our death, a massive and fundamental change has taken place, and a new amazing reality has been established.

We no longer live with the wrath of God hanging over us.
We no longer live with the just judgement of God condemning us.
We no longer live with death, the wages of sin, threatening to consume us.
We no longer live in a state of enmity with God.
We no longer live with our guilt ravaging our souls, making us fear God.
We no longer live with our sin separating us from God.

That was the old set-up. That was the old reality. All of that is how it was before we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, before his death was applied to us the moment we believed. That is how we used to relate to God: kata sarkaaccording to flesh – according to what and who we are in ourselves. [See the Greek text in 2Corinthians 5:16.]

But now there is a new set-up, a new reality, a whole new world: a whole new creation in which we relate to God, not according to flesh, not on the basis of who and what we ourselves are, but always, ever and only ‘in Christ. For this reason 2Corinthians 5:16-17 teaches:

‘So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view [Greek = kata sarka]. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.’

This ‘new creation’ is usually applied to the individual: that each believer is a ‘new creature’ or a ‘new creation’ in Christ. And this does indeed occur. But the truth that this verse is communicating is something far, far bigger than this individualistic interpretation. God is teaching us here that, if anyone is ‘in Christ’ it’s a whole new set up, a whole new ball game, a whole new world, a whole new paradigm. [Note that the Greek literally states: if anyone in Christ, new creation. There is no ‘he is’ in the text.]

In this new creation, this new set up:

We are reconciled with God [2Corinthians 5:18-19].
God no longer counts our sins against us [2Corinthians 5:19].
We are, in Christ, the righteousness of God [2Corinthians 5:21].
We have peace with God [Romans 5:1].
There is no more condemnation [Romans 8:1].
In Christ we have permanent, present access into the presence of God [Ephesians 2:18]

This is the new reality. This is the new creation. This is the new world. The old – with its guilt, its judgement, its wrath, its condemnation, its fear – has gone. The new has come.

Because of our self-centred, legalistic minds and hearts, Paul knows our tendency to keep on living and thinking as though the old reality was still in place. So he strongly exhorts us to live with the truth of this new reality, to embrace this new paradigm, this new mindset, to stop mucking about with thoughts and fears that reflect the old world, the old reality. To the Corinthian believers, and to us, he commands:

‘We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.’ [2Corinthians 5:20]
‘… we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.’ [2Corinthians 6:1]

In Christ we are reconciled to God: so let us be reconciled to God. Let our thoughts and our lives reflect the grand assurance and confidence and joy of the new creation in which all the wrath, all the judgement, all the penalty has already been paid out, so fully that there is no more judgement left for those who are in Christ.

In receiving Christ we have received the grace of God. But if we still live with the mindset of the old world, if we still relate to God kata sarka,  then we have received that grace ‘in vain’ [that is, in an empty, pointless way] – and, because of that, we are failing to enjoy the peace and reconciliation with God that is actually ours in Christ and in this ‘new creation’, this new reality, into which he has placed us.

Armed with this amazing truth, this secure, perfect, grace-based, permanent and irreducible relationship with God, let us step confidently and joyfully into 2017!

© Rosemary Bardsley 2012, 2016