Key Verse: 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
I call it “The New Year’s syndrome”. Every new year, people make resolutions. “I’m going to eat less”, or “I’m going to watch less television”, or “This year I’m joining that fitness club”, or “This is the year I read through the Bible”. The message is, “I don’t like what I’ve been doing. I’m going to change.” But we always seem to fall back into the same old bad habits. We rush ahead, then we backslide. One step forward, two steps back.
Generally, we tend to look at Christian growth this way, as well. We have the best intentions, but our performance leaves a lot to be desired. The resultant guilt, combined with a sermon from our pastor, can provide a momentary resolutions — but Monday through Saturday is a long time!
So how do we exit this seemingly endless cycle of sin-confession-sin? I’ve already stressed, in past comments, the absolute necessity of repentance — a change of mind accompanied by a change of direction. The will is vitally involved here. But there’s something else: fatigue. We get tired, day after day, turning away willfully from what our natural appetites demand. Our felt needs wear us down. The only answer seems to be a transformation of nature — where our “felt needs” become new.
That’s what Paul is getting at in the key verse. When we’re “in Christ”, we are in the process of being transformed. Yes, the vestiges of the old nature will raise their heads as often as we let them, but ultimately our tendency to. self-absorption is giving way to seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness. We now have a need — a felt need — to please God, even while pleasing ourselves. And if pleasing ourselves is at odds with pleasing God on any point, we deny ourselves and please Him. We’ve become a “new creation”.