The second century theologian, Augustine, is generally regarded as the greatest of the early “church fathers.” His writings are classics. And he is often quoted.
However, Augustine, the future bishop, was not baptized until he was 32 years old. Prior to his conversion he engaged in a ten year illicit relationship. The story is told that one day following his conversion, he was approached by his former mistress. When Augustine saw her, he turned and quickly walked away.
The woman followed after him calling out, “Augustine! It’s me! It’s me!”
Quickening his pace, the new believer called back over his shoulder, “Yes, I know. But it’s no longer me.”
Augustine’s changed life speaks to one of the great verses of the Bible, 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.”
There are at least three key points we learn from this simple verse.
(1) The importance of being “in Christ.”
The expression “in Christ” is found 87 times in the New Testament. We are baptized into Christ. Salvation is in Christ. We are one in Christ. We are established in Christ. We are partakers in Christ. And we rejoice in Christ.
Being in Christ marks the beginning a something wonderful, new and transformational. It is impossible to be right with God without being in Christ.
(2) When we are in Christ, the old life becomes past tense.
We change. We’re no longer under Satan’s enslavement. Sin’s domination. And the world’s entanglement. We put off the sinful life of the “old person.” We are crucified with Christ and it is now He who lives in us.
(3) When we are in Christ, we enjoy a new life.
◆We enter a new relationship. It is a divine relationship with God as our Father, Jesus Christ as our mediator, and the Holy Spirit as our intercessor.
◆We are motivated by a new purpose. Our focus is now spiritual. And our aim is heavenward. And our goals are God-driven.
◆We develop a new attitude. It is the attitude of Christ. Submissive. Selfless. Servile. Sacrificial. And spiritual. (Phil. 2:5-8)
◆We acquire a new character. The character of Christ compels us. By growing in the fruit of spirit and adding Christian virtues, we become a new person.
◆We engage in new actions. Our relationship, purpose, attitude, and character prompts us to live differently. To live soberly, righteously and godly. (Titus 2:11-14).
◆We receive new blessings. We are abundantly showered with spiritual blessings that are in Christ (Eph. 1:3; 3:20-21)
◆We are born into a new family. God’s family. A church Family. A spiritual Family. A family that will bear our burdens, share our joys, and encourage us to greater faithfulness.
◆We experience new pleasures. God’s pleasure becomes our pleasure. We find pleasure in worship, ministry, fellowship, discipleship and evangelistic outreach.
◆We anticipate a new home. Heaven is the object of the Believer’s life. It is the goal. The ultimate attainment. The final reward. The eternal home of the soul.
What about you, dear reader? Are you in Christ? Have you put off the old person of sin? Are you a new you? And experiencing the new life?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman