"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" ~ 2nd Corinthians 5:17
A new year brings new resolutions, new goals, and new determinations: that last 5, 10, 50 pounds. Quit __(insert habit here__). A new year brings a new level of consciousness to our actions, so we can try to be a better person than we were just weeks or months ago.
When I surrendered my life to Christ, I cast off actions, thoughts, and lifestyle choices that hindered my life with Him as well as my witness. It's only when we make the choice to live the life He so richly promises us (and I'm not talking about the nonbiblical prosperity gospel here) that we can truly follow Him. As the 2nd Corinthians text states, when we are in Christ, we are a new creation. We may not have Resurrection bodies, but we most definitely have Resurrection souls. Just as Christ did not remain on the cross, or in the grave, we are not to remain in the dead-to-sin life that we were in before.
We stop doing things that are not representative of the Lord Who gave His life for us. We stop cussing. We stop putting idols like money and sex before God. We stop putting idols like sports, children, spouses, keeping-up-with-the-whoevers, the latest phone before God. Ouch. We focus on the relationship with Jesus instead of religion. We put Jesus first.
Ephesians 4:20-24 dives deeper into this "new creation" concept.
"That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."
Many times we blame our very DNA on our choices. "I can't help it; I'm a ___(insert last name here)____." We blame others for our choices. My son Sam is famous for blaming others for his actions -- especially his brother, Jacob. "Jacob was listening to music with his headphones last night, that's why I fell asleep in class." We are teaching Sam to give reasons for his behavior that do not start with someone else's name (and we're working with Jacob regarding turning off the music -- or at least turning it down).
When we accept Christ as our Savior, we are told to "put off our old self." A woman, having lost 80 pounds, should never want to go back to her old clothes, instead live life to the fullest in her smaller clothes. Indeed, when we accept Christ as our Savior, we are called to be new, to think new, to act new, to be new. Our old selves will doom us to hell. But in Christ, we are called to be "like God in true righteousness and holiness" by ending our relationships with deceitful desires and being new in the attitude of our minds... our very thoughts are called to be different.
Now, the hardest thing in the world is to be a new creation in Christ and still associate with friends from the old way of life. Unless they turn to Christ too, it's almost impossible to be friends with people who knew you in the past and do not accept -- or even ridicule -- the new-n-improved you.
The life of Christ and the hope of heaven is much more valuable and rewarding than the life of doom and sin of the past. So, what do we do? For a new Christian, you cannot associate with them -- but give them time, and witness to them about how Christ has changed your life for the good. Do not falter in your walk with Christ, and do not backslide into a life of sin and evil choices ... for that kills the witness you have for the people who knew you as a dead person.
We are called to be set apart, to be new, to have the mind of Christ. We are called to be new creations through and for Christ, to have a life that is fulfilling, purposeful, peaceful, and doesn't die, but lives on in eternal heaven with Jesus Himself. That is better than any new year's resolution.
~ Terrie Bentley McKee
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