Sunday Sermon: ‘A New Creation in Christ’ – Growing in Christ Series

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Luke 19:1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. 4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. 8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. 9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

 I. Zacchaeus –

Every Sunday School child knows the little song about Zacchaeus –

Zacchaeus was a wee little man
And a wee little man was he
He climbed up in a sycamore tree
For the Lord he wanted to see
And as the Savior passed that way
He looked up in that tree
And He said, “Zacchaeus, you come down!
For I’m going to your house today
For I’m going to your house to stay”

A. A Sinful Man

Zacchaeus was tax collector who worked for the Roman government. Scripture often calls them ‘publicans.’ Publicans were not popular people during Jesus’ day. They were hated by their fellow Jews for several reasons. First of all, they collected taxes. No one likes to pay taxes. They were hated also because they often overtaxed the people and pocketed the extra. The passage we just read says that Zacchaeus was the ‘chief among the publicans’ and ‘rich.’ Perhaps there was no man in all of Israel that was more dishonest or hated than Zacchaeus. Publicans were also hated because they were known to be partiers. Often we read in scripture – ‘publicans and sinners.’ Publicans preceded all other sinners in their sinfulness.

B. A Searching Man

The Bible describes him as a man ‘little of stature…’ The children’s song says that he was a ‘wee little man.’ How little Zacchaeus was we’re not told, but he was too small to see above the crowd. And so this sinful publican climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus.

Vernon McGee believed him to be the publican in Jesus’ story who said – ‘God have mercy upon me a sinner.’ We don’t always know who is searching for Christ. We don’t always know where the Holy Spirit is working. Who would have thought a man like Zacchaeus wanted to see Christ? Yet he did because God wanted to save him.

C. A Saved Man

Here is an amazing truth – Christ called him by name.

5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.

The religious people in the crowd couldn’t believe that Jesus would associate with a man like Zacchaeus. Lk 19:7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. Yet our Lord said – “… the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Jesus did not come to call the self-righteous, but sinners to repentance. Jesus said to Zacchaeus – “This day is salvation come to this house.”

Zacchaeus was just the kind of man our Lord loves the most – ‘a broken man who wanted to be made whole.’

Salvation changed Zacchaeus’ life. He became a changed man. We read from the book of 2 Corinthians –

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

II. Becoming a New Creation in Christ

A. WHO CAN BECOME A NEW CREATION?

Scripture says – if any man…  Any man, woman, boy or girl can become a new creation in Christ.   Some might say – “But I’m not a religious person.”  Good! The only people Jesus can’t save are those who don’t believe that they need to be saved. Jesus said – “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  The Bible says that Christ died for our sins.

Zacchaeus was a rich tax collector. He was rich because he was dishonest, greedy, and ruthless. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote –

1 Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: no sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, 10 thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom.

Sinful people can’t go to heaven. Scripture is emphatically clear on this issue. That’s why Jesus Christ came to this earth. He came to save that which was lost. Paul wrote –

11 Some of you were like this; but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. CSB

Some of you were sexually immoral. Some of you were greedy and drunkards. But Christ saved you. God washed you in the blood of Christ and declared you complete justified in His sight.

The Bibles tells us that we all have sinned. (Romans 3:23) There is none righteous, no not one. We’re all sinful and deserve God’s judgment; yet God loves us. Jesus said

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish , but have everlasting life.

The Bible says that God is – ‘not willing that any should perish , but that all should come to repentance.’ (2 Peter 3:9)

B. WHAT WILL WE BECOME?

When Jesus saves us, we become a new creation.

… he is a new creature (creation): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

The truth is – we’ve all mess up; we’ve all done things we wished we could change. We all wish we could start over. In Christ we can!  Anyone who is in Christ is a brand new creation. The words used here refer to something unprecedented and unimaginable. We become something that this world had never known.

All the old things pass away. Through salvation in Jesus Christ, God washes away all of our sins and He puts within us a new heart.

Eze 36:26  A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you:

That doesn’t mean that we’ll never sin again as a believer, but it does mean that we will never look at sin the same way again. Paul often used the analogy of clothing to illustrate this. We put off the old nature with its sinful deeds, and we put on the new nature which is designed to be like Jesus.

C. HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN? 

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

The newness comes from being in Christ. What does it mean to be in Christ? This verse says it best–

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

When Jesus hung on the cross, God placed upon Him the punishment we all deserve. During those six hours that Jesus hung on the cross, the guilt of our sin was placed upon Him. In the eyes of His holy Father, He became sinful. He became sinful not because He Himself had sinned, but because He bore the guilt of our sins.

In exchange, He offers to us complete forgiveness of all of our sins (Past, Present and Future). Once we are in Christ, we are seen by God as those who are completely innocent. In addition, Christ gives to us His strength to live the Christian life. The Holy Spirit of God comes to dwell within us in order to teach us and to guide us and help us live out this new life. The strength is already there. We just have to learn how to tap into it and put it into practice. The Apostle Paul wrote –

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Note – Paul did not say – I can do all things FOR Christ; but that I can do all things THROUGH Christ, who is my strength and who enables me to live the Christian life.

III. How Do We Become a New Creation in Christ?

A. ADMIT that we have a need                                            

Jesus said = “For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”  (Mt 9:13) That is not to say that there are any who are righteous and without need of salvation. The Bible says-

Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth , there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way , they are together become unprofitable ; there is none that doeth good, no, not one .

23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

The first step to salvation is admitting your need. “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.”

B. BELIEVE that Jesus died to meet that need

Jesus said, “I am the way , the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (Jn 14:6) There aren’t many ways to heaven. There is only one way. Jesus Christ came to be the Savior of the world and it is through His death that our sins may be forgiven and that we might become new creations in Him.

C. COME to Him (Faith) – receive His forgiveness / strength

The Bible says – “For by grace are ye saved through faith…” (Eph 2:8) What is faith? Faith is trust. Faith is what we believe to be true. Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins? Do you believe that He is able to forgive you and to make you a child of God? Have you in faith prayed to Him and asked for His forgiveness? If not, you can at this very moment –

“Dear God, I know that I have sinned. I know that I am unworthy to go to heaven. I believe that Jesus died for my sins. I believe that He is able to save. I put my faith and trust in Him as my Savior. Help me live the Christian life. Amen”

If you prayed that prayer, contact me at: pastorterry@twinoaksbapt.org. I would love to help you as your grow in Christ.

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