- Sermon Notes
New in Christ
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
In Chapter 4, Paul wrote, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels; that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves.”
In other words, we’re just clay pots; we’re just earthen vessels. That puts it all in perspective. What’s more important, the clay pot, the earthen vessel, or the great treasure of glory it contains?
This is a great encouragement, though our outer man is decaying, our inner man is being renewed day by day.
Life here on this earth is just temporary; there is a greater glory waiting for us. We walk through this life in these broken down tents, longing for that greater glory. But we don’t just long for that greater glory, God is preparing us for it. In fact, the troubles and difficulties of this life are producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, Paul said. Our inner man is being renewed day by day.
While we are here, living in this broken down world, how shall we live? “Walk by faith and not by sight,” Paul said. In other words, live by faith, knowing that we are leaving behind these old broken down earthen vessels and look forward to being in the presence of the Lord.
Walk by faith knowing that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. In other words, how we live in this life matters and has a bearing on our future glory.
When you walk by faith, you’re walking in a relationship to God Himself. He gave us the Holy Spirit as a deposit, as a pledge, as a guarantee of the overflowing life God has in store for us in the future. In other words, we are experiencing the love of God right now. So much so that Paul said in verse 14,“The love of Christ controls us, having concluded this… That they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”
Now, when we come to these verses, beginning in verse 17, Paul tells us the results of walking by faith. These truths are very personal and when we take hold of them we understand the power of true spiritual transformation.
I. Be Made New – in Christ
- These verses are famous and often quoted but are often misunderstood. Many Christians read verse 17 and become discouraged, saying to themselves, “There are still old things in my life that haven’t passed away, am I actually and truly saved?”
- But the key to understanding verse 17 is actually in verse 18, “Now all these things are from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ.”
- This is what God does in us – in Christ. If any man is -in Christ- he is a new creature because God has made him new and is making him new.
Illus - There are many so-called self-help books available “at a bookstore near you.” The problem with self-help books, however, is that they are self-help books.
John 15:5, I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
A. Every man in Christ is made new
- Notice that this applies to every single person that is in Christ. If you are in Christ, then you are made new. It’s finished. It’s completed.
- You might say, “What part of me is new? This is the same old body I had before. In fact, it’s still in the process of falling apart. How am I made new?”
- Yes, it’s true that you still have the same old body as before, but that body is just an old clay pot, an earthen vessel. It’s made from dust and to dust it will return.
- But here’s what’s new for every person who is in Christ… God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. This treasure we have in earthen vessels; that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:6.
- Notice that he’s using a phrase out of Genesis when God created the heavens and the earth. In our case he’s making life where there once was death…
Ephesians 2:4-7 God made us alive with Christ…
John 3:5, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
B. Every man in Christ is being made new
- Not only are you made new in Christ, you are being made new in Christ. They are distinctly separate things.
- God has made you a new creation. He has given you eternal life where there once was death, he has adopted you as a son or daughter. He has placed the treasure of His glory in your soul.
- But God is also in the process of making you new. This is critical because, while it’s absolutely amazing to have the gift of eternal life, to be born again in Christ, we’re still living in this earthen vessel, our flesh, and it still gives us fits.
Illus - You could wake up in the morning with worship music playing on your alarm, have a beautiful time in prayer just saying good morning to the Lord, get in your car and turn up the worship, but then as soon as you turn onto the freeway and someone cuts you off, it’s over.
- We know there’s still a lot of work of transformation that needs to be done in all of us.
Ephesians 4:23-24, Be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
Revelation 21:5, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write this down, for these words are faithful and true.”
Illus – When we adopted our boys, they were made new in the sense that they had new names, they had a new family, a new future and a new hope, and a new father that love them, but there was still a lot of baggage they brought with them to be transformed.
C. Old things pass away
- The process of being made new means that old things must pass away. The problem with the flesh, however, is that it doesn’t want to die.
- What does it take for the flesh to die? Your soul needs to be satisfied with something far greater. In other words, it takes life to defeat death.
App - Have you ever felt that you would always be a victim of your circumstances? That your course is fixed? That there is no way to break out of the cycle of failure? That the flesh would always have the last word? And that word would always be defeat?
- You can be transformed, you can be made new, you can be victorious, but this is what God does when the glory of His presence ignites your soul.
Illus - My father was an alcoholic and it would have been easy to fall in his footsteps. I was thankful I was one of the youngest kids because it gave me a good view; I could see destruction all around me. At the same time my mom made sure we went to church. My soul cried out for something better. God had to bring revival.
Isaiah 43:18-19 “Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it?”
- We have this treasure in earthen vessels. God makes new by placing His fire within.
II. Be Reconciled to God
- Verse 18 - Now all these things are from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ…
- This is the key to unlocking these truths. These things are from God… who reconciled us.
- We were estranged from God. There was great distance between us because we had walked away. And our sin caused a great chasm between us and God.
Isaiah 59:1-2, The Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God…
A. Our sins are not counted against us
- If He doesn’t count our sins against us, where do they go? The justice of God must be satisfied.
Psalm 103:12, As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
- God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself… He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf. That is one of the most powerful truths known to man.
- If a person is estranged from God there’s a deep emptiness in the soul.
Ephesians 2:12-13, Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were formally far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
B. God is pursuing you
- These verses give us a wonderful understanding of God’s heart after us. Think about what God has done for us. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
- It’s one thing to be reconciled to God positionally, but it’s another thing to be reconciled to God relationally. God is pursuing a love relationship.
Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with me.”
- This is the key to transformation. When you open the door of your heart, you’re asking Him to come in to transform your heart and your life.
Illus - Some people want to invite Jesus to come only onto that little square of linoleum next to the door. Maybe they’ll let Him stay in the guest room. But He wants to come in and transform every room – even the smelly places.
- What does it take to open your heart like that? It takes trust. You must trust God’s heart for you; that when He comes in and sees all the things that are ugly or smelly or shameful that He’s going to take hold of those things and transform them. That’s the loving nature of who He is.
- We need to trust God’s love that when He sees all that’s ugly or smelly or shameful that He’s going to transform it. He doesn’t say, “Now that I see what’s really going on in your life I’m out of here.”
- No, He comes in and says with the most loving, gracious, forgiving heart, “I see what’s ugly, I see what stinks, I see that you’ve been carrying all that shame. Let me touch that; I make all things new.”
- Verse 20 reveals something that’s actually very shocking when you stop to consider it.
- We are ambassadors for Christ. God has asked us to carry the message of reconciliation to those around us. But what is the nature of the message we’re supposed to carry? What is God wanting to say?
Illus - Some years ago one of the guys was witnessing to a friend and asked me to help. His friend was convinced that God had put his name on the wrong list and it was impossible for him to be saved. These verses in this chapter opened his understanding.
- God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. We are entrusted with the message of grace, with the good news of the gospel. He sends us as His ambassadors.
- Therefore, we must also carry His heart for the world. God is not asking us to tell the world that He is angry. God is entreating through us. Therefore, we beg them on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God.
Luke 14:23, And that master said to the servant, “Go out into the highways and along the hedges and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NASB
17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God,
who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to
Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ,
as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our
behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.