Monday, October 05, 2009

Denying The New Creation (Transcript)


In 2 Corinthians 5:17 it says a wonderful thing about what God has done in the life of the believer.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Let me ask you this: Are you one of the Christians who are afraid of the New Creation? I believe a lot of Christians are. And so they deny it.


They don’t mean to deny it. When you quote them 2 Corinthians 5:17, they don’t say, “I know the Word of God says we are a New Creation, but the Bible is wrong.”

They don’t say, “Ol’ Paul the Apostle slipped up on that one. He didn’t know what he was talking about. He got a little puffed up with himself and went too far.” They don’t say that.

But they still deny the New Creation. They still deny 2 Cor. 5:17. And it’s sad, because I believe it affects their relationship to God. Why that is we’ll talk about in a little bit. But first...

Why would anyone deny the New Creation? I believe it’s for two main reasons, and in both of those reasons these people mean well. I give them all the benefit of the doubt. If they knew what they were doing, I don’t believe they would do it. They love the Lord, they love His Word, and it would sadden them to think they were actually going against the Word of God.

So what are the two reasons Christians deny the New Creation?

1. It just isn’t taught much by the church in general.

The church is filled with bad anthropology. Anthropology is the study of man, and good anthropology is biblical anthropology. And good anthropology rightly divides the word of God by distinguishing the difference between what man is like BEFORE the New Birth and AFTER the New Birth. BEFORE regeneration and AFTER regeneration.

Now pretty much all Bible-believers will teach that the Holy Spirit comes into a Christian when they’re born again. That’s not the issue. We all agree on that. The bible says, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” (Rom. 8:9)

But what about the believer themselves. Are they changed or not? Are they a New Creation or not? Your answer to these questions tell whether you have right anthropology or wrong anthropology.

What the Scripture teaches is that we ARE a New Creation. And this is just part of the New Covenant promised by God through the Prophets, and fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Listen to the prophet Ezekiel in fortelling the coming of the New Covenant:

Ezekiel 11:19 "Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh."

Ezekiel 36:26 "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."

Now those who teach against the New Creation will say things like, “We’re just Sinners. We’re no different than that pagan guy across the street there.”

But is that true? Not according to the bible.

You see, the bible makes a distinction between what we ARE and what we DO. Of course we sin at times, even as Christians. The flesh wars against our new spirit, our new heart, and sometimes we are deceived by the world, the flesh and the devil, and we make wrong decisions, and we sin against God, our Savior. And that’s an awful thing.

But when we do that, we actually are not behaving as ourselves in our new nature, we are going AGAINST ourselves. We are acting against what we really ARE after God has given us a new heart and made us a New Creation.

That’s why you will never see in the New Covenant Scriptures Christians referred to as Sinners, but over and over you will see us referred to as Saints.

Again, not because we don’t sin, but because that’s not who we are, that’s not our identity, that’s not our nature anymore. And so our goal is to walk by the Spirit, not just the Holy Spirit, but our own new spirit as well.

See, we are now one spirit with the Spirit of God. He has joined His spirit with ours. And He wouldn’t do that with our old sinful spirit. He gave us a new spirit, made us a new creation, and then joined His precious Spirit with ours. That’s exactly what it says in 1 Cor 6:17, "But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him."

But this isn’t taught much in the church, even though it’s as clear as can be right there in Scripture.

And that brings up the second reason why I believe well-meaning Christians deny the New Creation.

2. They think it takes away the glory due to God alone.

And that's why I give them the benefit of the doubt. We want to glorify God. Every believer ultimately wants to glorify God. We should give glory to God alone.

Since He did it all by grace, we can take no credit for it.

But suppose an architect built a magnificent building, and no one would admit it was a magnificent building because they didn’t want the building to get any credit? Silly, isn't it?

That’s how it is with God and the New Creation. It doesn’t take away from God’s glory to acknowledge the miraculous wonderful thing He has done in our hearts...it actually GIVES Him glory!

To deny the New Creation, to look at believers as just Sinners, is to deny what God has done AND WHAT HE IS DOING.

The True Story of an Ex-Con

Let's take a look at a passage here. I want to tell you a little story. I love to tell this story. If you've heard it before, bear with me.

There's a Pastor at Palo Alto Bible Church. He's passed away now, but his name is Ray Stedman. And he tells the true story of a time when a man came into his congregation who had just gotten out of prison.

And when he was in prison he had bcome a Christian. But he had not had much time to grow, and he came to Ray Stedman's church, and sat himself in the middle of this wealthy and educated congregation. And Ray Stedman tells the story of what the man told him afterwards.

As Ray Stedman was preaching from this passage in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 6, verses 9 through 11...let me go ahead and read the passage, and then I'll tell you what Pastor Stedman said.

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the Kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God."

Now as Ray Stedman was going to read this passage, he asked the congregation, "Would you do me a favor? As you hear yourself in these roles, in these identities, would you just stand up, so that we might just see what the work of God has been in the life of this congregation? As I read these, would you just stand up?"

And he began to read.

Now meanwhile, this ex-con is in the audience, and he's thinking, Man, I'm in the wrong place. Look at all these people. Smart. Educated. Money. These are not my kind of people. I don't know what in the world I'm doing here.

But as Ray Stedman read these things, the congregation began to stand up one by one. "Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves..."

And one by one the congregation began standing up, because these are things that they once were. "...nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the Kingdom of God."

And by the time he got finished, virtually the entire congregation was standing up. And the ex-con looked around and said, "These are my kind of people!"

Well, why did he say that? Because he realized that these people, in their hearts, in their identities, had once been no different than him. But look at what verse 11 says, "such WERE some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."

You see, these are the kinds of things that we were before we were made a new creation.

A Few More Scriptures

But now I’d like us to look at a few more scriptures which demonstrate that you are a New Creation.

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."

Now let's look at Romans Chapter 6, verses 1 and 2, "What shall we say, then? Shall we sin so that grace may abound?"

You see, Paul had just gotten through explaining that we're saved by grace, that it's a free gift, that even though we have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, that even though the wages of sin is death, that as a free gift God has forgiven our sins, and declared us righteous in Christ (that's in Romans Chapter 5).

Now he says, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound?" See, that was the logical question asked by his audience. Well, gee, if the more we sin the more grace abounds, should we continue in sin?

He says in verse 2, "Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" You see the logic there? Our old man, our old spirit, our old nature, was put to death on the cross and we became a new creation.

And Paul is saying, "Certainly not. We shouldn't continue in sin. We're a new creation now." Verse 3 says, "Or do you not know, that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus, were baptized into His death? Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism [that's talking about the baptism that the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the Body of Christ] into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."

That's that new creation. That's why he says in Romans 6:6, "Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin."

See, we were crucified with Christ, our old man, and became a new man, a new creation through Christ.

Now he says in verse 11, "Likewise, you also, reckon yourselves [that means 'choose to believe', 'consider', reckon yourselves] to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

As we reckon ourselves dead to sin, as we realize that we have been crucified and are dead to sin, we take on a whole new view of what God has done. And we realize that we are a new creation. Only then can we "not let sin reign", verse 12.

"Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body." See it says, "Therefore...[because we're dead to sin and alive to God in Christ...therefore] do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in it's lusts."

It's only when we understand that new creation that we really understand how to not let sin reign in our mortal body.

Verse 6:14 then says, "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you're not under law, but under grace." See, it's all of grace. We were made a new creation by grace, we have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit by grace, we were made one spirit with Christ by grace, We are a New Creation!

Why Do We Need This Truth?

Why do we need this truth? Because how else will we not let sin reign? By sheer will power? By the Law?

Paul explains in Romans 7, verses 13 through 25 how impossible that is. The very thing he wants to do, he can't do. The very thing he doesn't want to do, he finds himself doing. Why? Because that's what we do when we walk by the flesh, when we don't understand our new creation.

And as he point out, sin is in us, in our members, but it's not us!

But I don’t want to wander too far off our subject. Let me just mention one other scripture that indicates clearly that we are a New Creation:

Gal. 2, starting at verse 19, "For I through the law, died to the law, that I might live to God."

How'd that happen, Paul?

"I have been crucified with Christ. It's no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me."

You see, we've been crucified with Christ. We're new creations now.

So what’s the harm of just flippantly saying “We are still sinners just like that unsaved guy over there”, and attempting to be humble by saying that? What’s the harm, if it makes me humble?

1. It’s never humble to deny the work of God in the new creation, in the New Covenant.

It’s never humble to deny what God has said and done.

The mantra you will hear goes like this, “A high view of God, and a low view of man.” Well, that's not scriptural, that's not rightly dividing the Word of God. Of course we should have a high view of God, but to have a low view of man is to deny what God has done. We give a high view of God partly because of the wonderful thing He has done in the new creation.

2. It makes sin seem natural to the believer.

We don’t see it as a foreign entity and we don’t see our sins as going against our nature, and so we neglect the path of walking by the spirit.

If we don’t see ourselves as dead to sin and alive to God, how can we reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God? (Rom 6:11)

3. It robs us of the joy we receive when we realize the amazing thing that God has done for us and in us.

When we realize that we’re not just forgiven, as wonderful as that is, and that we are also made new, we will marvel even more at this marvelous Christ who redeemed us.

And we have a taste of the joy that is to come when even the sin which dwells in our members is done away with, and we can be not only a New Creation in our spirits, but in our bodies as well.

So, don't deny the new creation. Embrace it and praise the Lord for what He has done.

11 comments:

Phil said...

Terry, what are your thoughts on this? Namely, the biblical basis for a 3-part anthropology where the "spirit" or "nature" is seemingly discussed as a metaphysical entity in its own right? You seem to be of that mind.

Being honest, I've felt uncomfortable with some discussion on the new nature because it talks of it like an infused righteousness, and is if the believer's humanity is different from the non-believer's. I.e, that they have a new "bit" that gives them inherently better "equipment" - that "new" means "replaced" rather than "transformed".

I've heard Bertie Brits talking about the "heart of man" as his belief system, and I wonder that really, without any distinct anthropological discussion in the bible, other than seeming to point to some sort of distinction between spirit and soul, insofar as both terms are used (at least in English), it's not better to think of the "spirit" or "heart of hearts" as just that - the most basic functioning of the soul according to the fundamental beliefs held, either due to the fall, or redemption.

One can still do that and believe one "nature". Just it's moved away from giving the impression that people live by some "bit" separate from the mind, rather than their conscious human faculties renewed. (As well talk of union with God in a sense that almost sounds like absorption).

I still feel the "it's not me it's sin in me" thing is wrong, regarding Romans 7...and that the discussion of "the flesh" tends to make out that the problem is an inherently "infected" body/mind, which means folks look to live as if they can't wait to be unclothed from their humanity. Rather than it be "clothed upon","swallowed up in life", glorified. Surely that leaves people viewing the Christian life and "walking in the Spirit" as a "law of gravity vs law of aerodynamics" thing, where moment by moment they have to strive to "let go" of "flesh" to "get go" with "spirit", and that leaves things totally subjective in my book. One's still left with a divided view of the new man, just as if it's said we're two natures. And it makes out that the Spirit is life because of "dying to self/flesh", rather than imputed righteousness, so we're stuck with works-righteousness - "I must do____ to be blessed.

What say you?

Mark D. Vilen said...

Terry,

An excellent devotional on the believer's identity in Christ. I agree 100% . . .

Mark

Terry Rayburn said...

Phil,

I appreciate your thoughtful post. You've obviously spent some time thinking on this.

1. I think we have to admit that there is some mystery to these things. But that shouldn't keep us from plunging in to determine what we think the Bible teaches, as best we can.

Having said that, yes I believe the Scriptures teach quite clearly a 3-part make-up of man, body-soul-spirit (versus the common 2-part view of body-soul).

2. On that basis, I would like to say that the Scriptures don't spell it out in direct verses, but it can be REASONED from many Scriptures, as I will attempt to do as follows.

3. First, we take the subject of the New Birth, or regeneration.

We have to ask the question, "Are we literally born again?" (I don't mean physically, but literally, nonetheless).

The biblical answer is "yes". It makes no sense to say otherwise, or our Lord's comments to Nicodemus are gibberish, as are many other portions of Scripture.

4. If we are literally born again, or regenerated (2 Cor. 5:17 "new creation") we should ask, "What PART of me is born again?"

A 2-part advocate really can't answer that question, if "born again" is to really mean something in the way of a new creation (they won't admit this, of course).

But just for sake of argument, if we say man is made up of body, soul and spirit, again "what PART of me is born again?"

It's certainly not the body (no one will disagree here).

If we define "soul" roughly as mind, emotion and will -- our souls certainly were not born again. Our minds still need renewing, our emotions may jump all over the place, and our wills are subject to all kinds of winds of truth and deceit.

So we have to conclude that it's our SPIRIT which is born again. I would further say that it's in this re-born spirit that we really do love Jesus and hate sin. "Old things have passed away, behold all things have become new".

(Continued on next comment)

Terry Rayburn said...

5. Although I believe very firmly in Justification by Faith, the ancient truth that we (as a whole) are "declared righteous" by God as a gift of grace, and in no way could ever merit such righteousness...

...I'm not the least bit afraid of recognizing some sort of "infused" goodness to our new spirit, IF THAT'S WHAT THE SCRIPTURE TEACHES.

And I believe that's what the Scripture does teach. Just one example is Hebrews 10:14, "For by one offering He has PERFECTED for all time those who are sanctified." I find other interpretations of that and similar verses twisted and illogical. But that's because, like many other verses, it truly can't be understood without a 3-part view of man.

But here's where it gets a little dicey (remember I agree there is some mystery to these things). We must distinguish between the WHOLE of our being and the PARTS (for lack of better terms).

In other words, our WHOLE being must be Justified, declared righteous, in right standing with God -- not just our spirit. And that's what God's gift of His Righteousness (Justification by Faith) does.

So this is not to be confused with the awful Roman Catholic view that somehow our WHOLE is infused with righteousness, whereupon with this "righteousness" we MERIT salvation, until it leaks away by venial sins, or is blasted away by a mortal sin, and we must re-instate it with the Priest's sacraments. That is, of course, blasphemy.

6. A blog comment can't cover all the details, but let me close by touching on a couple of your other points or questions:

a. because of what I've written above, the believer's humanity really IS "different from the non-believer's...they have a new 'bit' that gives them inherently better 'equipment'...", to quote you.

b. it's not that we live by some "bit" SEPARATE from the mind, it's that when we walk in TRUTH (a mind thing), we will tend to walk by the Spirit (His and ours). When we walk in DECEPTION, we will tend to walk by the flesh (our old "program" ingrained in our brain, and members, wherein dwells sin). That's why we want our mind renewed by truth, which will set us free, John 8:32.

c. I simply wouldn't agree that this still leaves a divided person AS IF they had two natures.

A big part of the true point is that when a Christian sins, it is truly AGAINST his nature. This, along with a strong understanding that ALL of our sins are already forgiven, is crucial to our avoiding sin.

I am utterly (and biblically) convinced that if we think that sinning is NATURAL for the believer, he will be more inclined to do it.

In conclusion, I can't overemphasize that we need to "strive" (nothing wrong with striving while we "rest") to commune with Jesus Himself! Not just theology ABOUT Him. And not just ANY truth will have the same effect on our lives as the New Covenant truths of radical Grace, Forgiveness, Love of Christ, "no condemnation", New Creation, "dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ", etc., etc. (Here a book could be written, of course).

Thanks again for your comments.

Blessings,
Terry

Terry Rayburn said...

Hey Mark,

Appreciate you stopping by! Thanks.

Phil said...

Thanks for replying, Terry. I don't want to say much more, especially not right now. But what I was suggesting was really that there's an organic link between what one believes and it's consequences for the person's state. I've think that to be born again does carry a literal sort of meaning, in that the believer is made alive to God and dead to sin, but that perhaps it's linked to a living faith which transforms his/her humanity by freeing it, rather than an "essence". I think Christ's death on the cross was the death "in him" of the law man - fallen Adam and those in him - and the "rebirth" "in him" of humanity "in Christ". I'm not suggesting people are saved until they see it, but the issue which "rebirths" persons is that which "re-birthed" mankind in Christ. It's "faith" in the "faith of Christ" dying and rising again, with what that means. The possession/exercise of that type of "faith" - being "great" (a qualitative descriptor) - or the non-exercise of it - is what defines man as a new or old creation in his/her person here and now.

I would say that if the "spirit" is this fundamental operation of the soul, that changes everything, then we don't have to think of 3 essential "parts" per se. It only seems necessary if we have to ascribe imparted "essence" and "substance" to reborn humanity. Of course I agree with what you said about this being fair if the scripture says so, but I'm not sure it does. Rom6 can be read that way, but it can also be read as Paul making an organic link between our death to the imputation of sin (dying to sin as Christ did) and our deliverance from it's power. We love God when we know his love for us, and the Spirit helps us accordingly.

Heb10v14 I've kind of taken as a comment on forgiveness/imputation of righteousness, for those made new by the message of grace. The context being guilt.

So I feel like the question "which part is born again?" is perhaps not really on the radar. The whole human is, because of becoming a partaker of redemption. I'm not saying that means all is as it will be in mind and body. I’m not saying we’ve got the consummation of all that, yet (I think I take that consummation to be what is meant by the future “redemption of our bodies” - all source of liabilities forever removed - and not so much a distinct event, as the glory upon glory beginning to overflow, the last enemy death being defeated)...

Phil said...

...On the "as if two natures" bit, I was referring to the view of Romans7 that says Paul's talking about a believer with "indwelling sin". I take that phrase to refer to "sin living in a home it doesn't belong, as if it did". Which for me, in context, means it hold sway, because the person's still under law and in unbelief...Paul starting the chapter cementing the principle that we humans need to be delivered from law, to be delivered from sin, to bring forth fruit to God...again, the death of the law man. I don't think he wants - after Rom6 - to lay down a scenario which leaves us once more seeing ourselves torn between "the essence of a new spirit" and the "essence of an old mind/body". Rather, a new faithful heart under grace, with the Spirit giving life to our mortal bodies etc, as whole beings.

I certainly don't think the bible tells us sinning is natural for the believer. In fact, I would say that what Paul's saying in Rom6v1 is "shall we continue as if in a position of sin so that grace may abound?" i.e "under law" in our minds, so that sin may increase and "grace" cover it? I now think it’s a direct assault on living as if under law, with its consequences, rather than a “consistency check” for folks living under grace, and an apologetic for grace… And he later goes on to say that if we are under grace, God's power forbids sin's natural course...it's impossible. Obedience to the doctrine of grace gives access to the power, obedience to the form of knowledge in the law increases sin. Again, it seems to be organic - a dead cert.

I guess it comes down to whether we think the bible says essential substance is imparted to us, or not. I tend to think that the essence of living faith is the defining "substance" for humanity’s operation as intended, and that we don’t get replacement “hardware”, but freedom for what’s already there, with a down-payment of the indwelling Spirit to help us in it.

Anyway, I've written too much. Sorry. Hesitate on posting for a number of reasons probably, but here goes anyway.

Ralph said...

Well done, Terry. I enjoyed your article.

Terry Rayburn said...

Phil,

After struggling hard with your last two comments, I have to reluctantly admit that I have no idea what you're talking about. I mean no disrespect by that.

It's just that when you use terms like "organic" and "'faith' in the 'faith of Christ' dying and rising again", you lose me. They don't really MEAN anything to me.

It may be that you're thinking on some higher plane that I in my simplicity can't comprehend, or it may be that you're blowing smoke because you don't understand what you're saying either.

And your "take" on Heb. 10:14 (where we are described as "perfect" in some way) makes no sense to me. Forgiveness and imputed righteousness are "states" of being, not any kind of perfection.

It's hard to say what I need to say without sounding derogatory. I don't mean to do at all. You're obviously thinking hard and I'm sure with good intentions. But I fear you're leaving the "simplicity which is in Christ" for some esoteric philosophical strange land.

Terry Rayburn said...

Thanks much, Ralph.

Phil said...

Uh-huh. I'm not thinking on any "higher plane", but actually trying to get simple,to the point, and non-mystical on stuff.

I thought that most people related the "perfection" in Heb10v14 to the "their sins and iniquities I will remember no more". The context being the reason why Christ's sacrifice brings "no more consciousness of sins". Sins "removed" (new covenant) rather than just passed over (old).

As to the "faith of Christ" etc, I was referring to Christ's faithful work of redemption of the world - an objective thing done for all, which folks partake of when they believe. I picked up that phrase reading Bertie Brits regarding Rom3v22, Gal2v16, who I've liked reading very much. (Along with others like Joseph Prince and the Rufus's).

By "organic", I was trying to suggest that coming under grace in the heart through this faith sets the heart and mind free directly, because we believe the truth about God and our relationship with him. And that then our doing is a direct consequence of our believing. And that that believing defines and is basic to our "newness" and "holiness" rather than an imparted essence. Again, no new "hardware", but a freeing up of what we've already got.

I can't help feeling that the "new essence" talk as "the rest of the gospel" is actually obscuring the message of righteousness of the cross, in a Keswick-type "quietist" fashion, rather than directly relating the message of righteousness to the new creation and living abundant life in the new covenant.