~2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

God’s words are put together in such a way that they stimulate our thinking.  Spending time meditating on God’s Word rewards us with fresh and encouraging insight each day.

I took my lunch break to enjoy the scenery at the Japanese garden-style area outside our office building recently.  The monarch butterflies were out in great numbers and decorated the tops of the bushes.  This brilliant butterfly wasn’t always this beautiful.  It started off as a caterpillar – a totally different looking creature altogether!  Then it forms a chrysalis (cocoon) around itself.  It takes ten days before that beautiful butterfly appears and after only live two to six weeks.

As I watched these marvelous creatures, I was reminded of today’s Scripture verse. Now that I have repented of my sin and believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I have become a “new creature”!  This means I no longer act, look, and speak like the person I once was.  I have come out of that caterpillar stage of crawling in the world of sin but am now a beautiful creature because of Christ!  My new “spiritual body” is altogether different than my previous lost body.

Thank You, Lord, for Your creation and the lessons given to us through them!

DannSeagull

~Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Christ did not want us to be like the rest of the world. His ministry was consistently pointing people to their sin and encouraging them to forsake their worldliness. He did not just make a suggestion but also gave us directions as to how to accomplish this task. Renewing of our minds comes as a result of having a new nature.

~2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Our old worldly nature can only become new if we are born into a new nature – if we are born again.

~John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

~Joh 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

~1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

God’s Word lives and abides forever and is what pierces the heart to lead us to salvation. Once we are born again, the Holy Spirit guides us to live righteously and not like the world!

~Psalm 23:3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

This isn’t to say that we will be “sinless” but after salvation we will desire to grow and “sin less.” Herein lies the difference between those who are born again and those who are not. The new nature we receive at the time of salvation nudges us, through the Holy Spirit’s leading, toward righteous living. That is why we are different from the world … we do not desire the same things we did prior to our salvation. We are now children of the King, and as any parent guides and teaches his child, so does our Heavenly Father!

~2 Corinthians 6:18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

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~Romans 12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

It is not a natural thing for us to obey this verse. Our first reaction is to “get even”! But to the born-again believer with a new nature, it should be our first reaction.

~2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Our old nature that desires to sin, to bicker, etc. is the same nature that thinks we are right and everyone else is wrong. This same old nature is not willing to be taught that it is better to be at peace.  (Psalm 119:165) However, the new nature given to us at salvation does not need to yield itself to the reactions of the “old man.”

Granted, Paul’s letter to the Romans is talking about being persecuted for the faith. Remember Nero and how he persecuted the early Christians and many were martyred for their faith? We are not at that point in these United States … yet. But that time is coming! [Side note: I read in the news that a street preacher was being cursed by a Muslim for preaching about Christ and against the sin of sodomy.] The persecutions of faith that we see from day-to-day is that of family and friends who disagree with our relationship with Christ. They are religious but they do not have that relationship and, thus, do not understand why we are excited about our faith. (Luke 12:53)

It is in these persecutions that we must remember with what we are dealing. They need Christ – they need salvation (John 3:16) – they need to hear the blessed Gospel of mercy! (Ephesians 2:4)  How can they hear it if we are at odds with them? Can our boldness lead them in the opposite direction?  Must we point out their sin with hatred in our voices? Instead of approaching our family with a defensive attitude, how about showing them the Scriptures and letting the Holy Spirit of God do the convicting? Sometimes in our boldness we are passing judgment – we know we have reached that point when we get angry, rather than desiring to share the blessed Gospel with love for their lost souls. (Matthew 7:3) It is not for us to judge but for God and God alone.

~Psalm 50:6 And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.

Therefore, it is up to us to show Christ to our family and friends. Yes, Christ was not hesitant in pointing sin. But no where in Scriptures have I read where Christ put His finger in sinners’ faces and yelled at them. The only time I read about Him displaying anger was when he cleansed the temple. (Matthew 21:12-13) We need to remember that once we were as our lost family members and friends. In fact, we still sin. With this merciful approach, we can keep the doors of communication open. It is God’s holy word that will do the convicting, just as it did for us, amen?

When we rely on the Holy Spirit to lead us, He will place someone in our path that He wishes for us to speak to. When that opportunity presents itself, the Holy Spirit will prepare the heart of that person to hear what He would have you to say. When a heart is ready to hear the blessed Gospel, our words filled with mercy and grace will point them to the Cross and the Holy Spirit will be able to do His job!

Act 24:24-25 And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

When someone hears about righteousness, temperance and judgment, the first reaction is to sit up straight and do one of two things:

  1. Be thankful for God’s chastisement, repent and take heed to the warning; or
  2. Get offended at the message

In today’s text, Paul was witnessing to Felix and his wife.  Paul spoke of righteousness, temperance and the judgment to come without salvation.  The message must have cut to the core because verse 25 says that Felix trembled.  The Holy Spirit was working in Felix’s heart, obviously, but Felix chickened out for some reason.  The verse goes on to say that Felix told Paul that when it was a more convenient time he would call for him.  I wonder if Felix was embarrassed to get saved because his wife was there.  Or possibly he had other friends at the gathering and was “put on the spot.”  No matter what the reason, when the Holy Spirit of God convicts you to the point of trembling, you should not ignore it.

The topics Paul preached on were enough to cause Felix to tremble.  We all know what righteousness means – anything that revolves around God, His Holy Word and Godly things is considered righteous.  The judgment to come would cause Felix to tremble as well.  After all, when you hear that you are heading to Hell and eternal burning from one of the greatest preachers that ever lived, how can you not tremble?  Could it possibly be the other topic, temperance, which caused Felix to change his mind?

Just what is temperance?  Temperance is moderation.  Moderation covers a multitude of areas, doesn’t it? Our society today has no discipline over moderation. Americans over indulge in every area of life possible – every sin imaginable!  I think of someone with a hot temper – he should practice moderation or temperance.  I think of someone who loves his job so much that he neglects his family.  How about someone who loves to drink alcohol?  Or even drugs? Pornography is a booming industry!  Hollywood’s movies today would have been rated X even just 40 years ago!  One is hard pressed to find a teenager who has not had sex!  Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines temperance as:

1. Moderation; particularly, habitual moderation in regard to the indulgence of the natural appetites and passions; restrained or moderate indulgence; as temperance in eating and drinking; temperance in the indulgence of joy or mirth. Temperance in eating and drinking is opposed to gluttony and drunkenness, and in other indulgences, to excess.

I believe that Felix could have been offended in this area of Paul’s message.  He could have been a glutton or given to too much wine.  Who knows!  But when someone confronts you with one of your faults, you don’t readily give him the time of day, especially if you are a man of wealth and power.  In fact, you avoid that person.  You want to hear the Gospel in your “own” time, if at all – when it’s convenient for you, just like Felix.

Where are you today, reader?  Has someone talked to you about true Christianity?  Not the watered down Christianity being pirated today but a true born-again experience with Jesus Christ?  Jesus Christ changes lives.  He does not “save” someone only to have them continue to live their lives like they use to live.  This is what gives “Christians” a bad name today!  People claim they are Christians but yet they live like the devil and make a mockery of Christianity altogether.  The world sees these “professors” and they lump them all in with the true born-again believers.  A truly born-again person is a new creature – totally!  His life shows it – his heart shows it – his actions show it!

~2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Are you a homosexual who is fighting the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  You cannot be living in a same sex relationship and claim to be a Christian!  God destroyed an entire city for this sin – why would He allow it now?  To think that God allows this horrible sin and condones it is to deceive yourself!

Are you saying you are a Christian yet you are living with someone without being married?  Are you saying you are a Christian yet you consistently indulge in pornography?  An apple tree cannot grow oranges. You either produce Christ-like fruit in your life or the fruit of the devil. You cannot do both, at least not without conviction from the Holy Spirit and chastisement from God.

~Luke 6:43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

The true born-again believer loves God’s Word, loves other believers, loves assembling with other believers, and loves the things of God. When he sins, he falls under great conviction and repents. The person who is not truly born again continues in his sinful lifestyle not wishing to stop, has no conviction to change and really doesn’t care. That is not the Christianity and holy living depicted in the Bible says.

~2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Christians are held to a higher standard than the religious person. The Ten Commandments say we should not commit adultery. The Christian is told by Jesus that anytime a man looks upon a woman and lusts after her, this man has committed adultery already in his heart. Therefore, if you see a “so called” born again Christian who has not changed his sinful lifestyle, chances are they professed salvation but never possessed it in their hearts.

I just want to make you think!  Where do you stand today?  Will you be like Felix and tremble?  Will you ignore the warning and wait?

~2 Corinthians 6:2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

~2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Are you relying on your church membership as your security for a spot in Heaven? The Bible is our lighthouse which points us to safe ground. It’s beam also shines on our sin and exposes it. The Scriptures also let us know if we are Christ’s or not. Let’s study out today’s text and see for ourselves whether or not we headed to Heaven.

What does it mean to be “in Christ” according to our verse? The word “in” denotes a relationship according to the Hebrew word used. See below for the

G1722
ἐν
en
en
A primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state), and (by implication) instrumentality (medially or constructively), that is, a relation of rest (intermediate between G1519 and G1537);

So the one who is “in Christ” is someone who has been given a position with Christ and a relation of rest. How can one have a relation of rest if one never knows for sure that he/she is actually going to Heaven? No organization can come to me and tell me that I am not the parent of my child – and vice versa. They cannot tell me that any child IS mine if the child is not. Only I alone can attest to the fact that this is my child. It is the same with our relationship with Christ. No church has the authority to place any particular person in a position as a child of the King! They can assist a person in finding their way to Christ but the responsibility ultimately rests on that person accepting Christ’s gift of salvation. Christ provided the gift and the individual accepts it.

The second part of the definition is the relation of rest. My child can rest in the fact that I will always be his parent and he will always be my child, no matter what. Granted, children stray, but that does not remove the fact that he is my blood. It is not a relationship that can come and go.

The latter half of today’s text speaks of the born-again Christian being a new creature. The Hebrew word means:

G2937
κτίσις
ktisis
ktis’-is
From G2936; original formation (properly the act; by implication the thing, literally or figuratively): – building, creation, creature, ordinance.

We are a new creation, thus the words “born-again” used in John 3:3. The many churches baptize its babies stating that they are born again at that point. However, how can a baby repent and be baptized?

~Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The Greek word and definition for Repent is:

G3340
μετανοέω
metanoeō
met-an-o-eh’-o
From G3326 and G3539; to think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider (morally to feel compunction): – repent.

How can a baby think differently or feel compunction? A baby does not realize it is a sinner until he has matured and can reason. He must know that he is sinning before he can realize he is in need of a Saviour. This baby cannot be a new creation until he (1) realizes he is a sinner, (2) accepts Jesus’ sacrifice as payment for his sins, and (3) repents from his sin. After this, he is baptized to symbolize the death of the old man and the resurrection of the new man.

So, my friend, are you a new creature in Christ? Look at your “fruits”! Which “father” are you resembling as you grow? Do you act more like your Heavenly Father by displaying the fruits of the Holy Spirit? Or do you look like your father the devil displaying his fruit? Today’s text is quite clear that there is a change in the born-again believer. Do your moral inventory and check it out for yourself! After all, no establishment, church or otherwise, will hold your hand on judgment day. You will be alone when you stand before God and will have to account for your own actions.  Let the light of God’s Word shine on your heart and expose its true intentions.