Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17
With faithful certainty, January rolls around each year offering the promise of a new start. If you’re like me, you’ve probably had your share of New Year’s Resolutions. Looking forward to a new beginning, we make promises to ourselves that we’re fiercely determined to keep. And we actually believe we have the power to make each year different by the exertion of sheer will.
Sadly, instead of glowing triumphs, we soon slip into the comfort of those old, familiar patterns and realize with disappointment that the life we’re living this year bears a remarkable resemblance to the one we thought we were leaving behind. What if this year became the year that everything really did change? Imagine the joy of living out the promise of 2 Corinthians 5:17 and discovering you have indeed become a new creation, “The old has gone, the new has come!”
For once, what is being held out to you is an attainable goal. In fact, if you have approached the throne of grace and received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, it’s a guarantee. That’s the very reason He came to the earth and bore our sins on a cross. He died so that all who turn toward Him in repentance could leave behind who they’ve been and become a new and holy creation through the power of His Spirit.
It sounds good on paper, but you may have discovered it’s a much more difficult thing to live out. I can relate. I spent 20 years under the banner of Christianity striving to be what God desired me to be. I knew I was supposed to take on the righteousness of Christ, but I didn’t know how to make it happen so I did my best to change myself. If you’ve tried it, I’m certain you also discovered our carnal nature will not allow us the victory for very long.
Perhaps Jesus’ words in John 5:39-40 will lend some insight into the cause of our defeat: “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” I hadn’t realized it, but through all those years of attending church and praising Jesus with my mouth, I had never really given Him my heart.
I thought I had. I had convinced myself that saying all the right things and going through the right motions meant that I loved the Lord. I had substituted knowing a lot about Him for truly knowing and loving Him, and then I wondered why I wasn’t experiencing any of the wonderful promises found in the Word. I was guilty of Matthew 15:8, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
Many of us have unwittingly slipped our feet into the sandals of the Pharisees, searching the Word merely to discover what we must do to please God and find ourselves in His favor. Yet in our quest to please Him, we have missed the only thing that will. He makes one priority petition of us in Matthew 22:37, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” What if, instead of offering up our lists of things we will improve upon as this new year unfolds, we set our hearts and wills on one simple resolution? What if we resolve to fall in love with Jesus, the Savior of our souls?
You may be wondering what difference it would make. It makes all the difference! John 14:21 tells us, “…He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” As we set our hearts on loving Jesus, He promises to demonstrate His love and show Himself to us in return. It’s in the place of intimacy, where we truly know and love Him, that we give Him opportunity to show us who He truly is. Absent of loving Him, we’ll miss seeing Him!
The apostle Paul said of his dramatic conversion into a new creation, “The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:14). Jesus wasn’t only willing to pour His grace, faith and love out on the apostle Paul. His heart’s desire is to pour them into you. If your Christian walk is simply about duty instead of authentic devotion, it’s as if you’ve turned your back to Him and not your face (Jeremiah 32:33). Picture with me that as our giving and gracious God pours His abundance over you, instead of absorbing His blessings, they’re simply rolling right off your back. But if you have turned your face toward Him with a heart set on loving Him, you will begin to see Him as He truly is. As He pours out His grace, faith and love, you are now in a posture to drink them in. “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8)
Do not settle for allowing Jesus to remain a distant God who deserves worship but is not KNOWN. We come to the cross of Christ for its resurrection power; the lie we have believed of the enemy is that resurrection power is only meant for our eternity. Beloved, that power is meant for today, and it’s within you. You need only believe and push past the outer courts of the sanctuary. Press your way into the Holy of Holies, come into the presence of the King of Kings, and fall in love. He’ll knock your socks off! Don’t take my word for it, take His…
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
We will never live in His promises without learning to live in His love. Make it the cry of your heart to love Him completely, with everything that you have. He will be faithful to “circumcise your heart to love Him” (Deut 30:6). And as He releases the enemy’s grip on your heart, you will find that it begins to beat in tandem with the heart of Christ as the life-giving blood of His sacrifice courses through its chambers. You will become new, and there, with the loving gaze of the Father resting on you and the strength of Christ lifting you, you will soar!