Sunday Sermon: ‘I Am a New Creation’ (A New Me Series)

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The other day I saw a TV commercial for a new reality show that will air later this month. The title of the series is – HUNTED. Apparently the plot is for various teams to try to run and hide from some of the world’s greatest private investigators.

Though I am not into reality shows, I wonder if any of us have ever thought about trying to run and hide. Have you ever dreamed about packing up and moving to another city, purchasing a new house, and starting a new career? Maybe even get a brand new name.  Here’s the problem with that: most of us would take at least some of our baggage with us. Though we might take a new name and develop a new identity, we would still be the same person inside.

Many years ago a man came to me who wanted to ditch all of his problems and start over. As we discussed some of the problems in his life I asked him a question.

“Suppose you owned a car lot and sold a new car to someone. They drove off in their new car as happy as they could be, but a week later they came back complaining about the transmission. So you made things right and gave them another new car. But then a week later, they came back again, complaining about the same problem. And then it happened again, and again, and again. How long would it take before you said to them, ‘The problem is not with the cars, but with the driver?’”

You see, moving to a brand new city, and taking a brand new name, and finding a brand new job will not help us until we first change who we are on the inside. Jesus said that it’s not the external that causes the most of our problems; but the internal.  (See Matthew 15:11) “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, stealing, lying, and slandering other people. These are the things that defile you.” (see Matthew 15:19-20) Though we would like to blame all of our problems on someone else; sometimes the problem is what lies in our own heart. On another occasion Jesus said to the religious leaders, “You are so careful to clean up the outside of the cup… but inside you are still dirty… First you have to wash the inside of the cup and then the outside will become clean.” (see Matthew 23:25-26)

This month I want us to focus on becoming a new person in 2017. I’ve entitled this series – ‘A New Me!’ How do we become ‘A New Me?’

It’s estimated that nearly half of us will make some type of a New Year’s Resolution. Such resolutions involve areas of our lives such as: self-improvement, weight reduction, our health, finances and relationships. Statistics show that nearly half of us will make some New Year’s Resolutions, but less than 10% of us will actually accomplish them. As a matter of fact, statistics show that most our New Year’s Resolutions will be abandoned before the end of this month. Why is that? Why can’t we just say, “I’m going to change!” and then change? It’s because we have to change what’s inside before we can change what’s on the outside.

Our memory verse for the entire month comes from the book of 2 Corinthians. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) I’ve even put it in your bulletin so that you can take it with you and work on it.

I. A New Creation in Christ

A. The First Creation

1. In the Beginning God Created the Universe

The Bible begins with – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) Before there was anything else, there was God. The psalmist said, “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (see Psalm 90:2)

How did God create the universe? What did He use? The Bible says that God created the universe out of nothing. (see Hebrews 11:1) Though that seems preposterous to some, it gives us the only answer we have for how it all began.

2. In the Beginning God Created Us

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)

No one has ever fully understood what it means to have been created in the image of God.

a. Does it mean that we look like God?

The Bible describes God as being ‘invisible’ (see Colossians 1:15); therefore,d being created in His image can’t mean that we look like God. Jesus said that God is a spirit. (see John 4:24) The truth is, there are a lot of similarities between our bodies and the bodies of animals. Does that mean that we evolved from animals? No, it means that we were both created by the same Creator. Our bodies and the bodies of animals were made from dust. So what does it mean that we are created in the image of God?

b. It Means That We Have Been Created to Act Like God

Being created in the image of God does not mean that we look like God, but that we act like God. The Apostle Paul wrote – “Therefore, be imitators of God as dearly loved children.” (see Ephesians 5:1) We read also that before God created us, He predestined us to be conformed into the likeness of His Son, Jesus. (see Romans 8:29)

i. Created With a Moral Nature

At least four times we read in the Bible where God said – “Be ye holy for I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:44, 19:2, 20:7; 1 Peter 1:16) God is holy and He created us to be holy.

ii. Created With the Ability to Make Decisions That Will Please God

Immediately after God said, “Let us make man in our image”, He said, “and let them have dominion or rule over the rest of creation.” God created us with the ability to make decisions that will please Him.

iii. Created With the Ability to Know God and to Have Fellowship with Him

When God created man He said – “Let us make man in our image…” (see Genesis 1:26)

The Westminster Catechism begins with the question – ‘What is the ultimate purpose for man?’ The answer given – ‘Man’s ultimate purpose is to know God and to enjoy Him forever.’ God created us to know Him and to find satisfaction and pleasure in our relationship with Him.

c. Failure to Act Like God

That’s how God created us, but that’s not how we live. In the first two chapters of the book of Genesis, man is serving God in the garden and having fellowship. But in the third chapter of Genesis all of that changes. Rather than enjoying his work, work becomes drudgery. Rather than running to God in order to have fellowship with Him, man is running away from God and trying to hide. What happened? The Bible says that sin entered the picture. What is sin? Sin is anything that is outside of God’s perfect will. Literally the word sin means to miss the mark.

Sin changed everything. Consider what Paul tells us about the effects of sin:

“For the sinful nature is always hostile towards God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.” (see Romans 8:7-8)

i. The Sinful Nature Is Hostile Towards God

Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God…‘There is’ is italicized indicating that it was added for clarity of translation, but not a part of the original. Therefore this verse could read, “The fool hath said in his heart – no God”, meaning that there is no God, or that even if there is a God, I still say ‘no!’ to Him.

ii. The Sinful Nature Is Resistant to Obey God’s Laws

The sinful nature doesn’t want to be told what to do. It doesn’t like the word ‘no.’ It finds God’s laws intrusive and it does everything it can to resist them.

iii. The Sinful Nature Cannot Please God

Regardless of how many New Year’s Resolutions you and I might make, we’re eventually going to break them. Is that because our resolutions aren’t good? It’s because we lack the ability to keep them.

B. New Creation in Christ

But I have good news for you. You can change.

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.

1. A New Creation

The word Paul used for ‘creation’ is the same word used other places in the Bible to describe God’s creation of the world. Just like God created the world in the beginning, so He recreates those who are in Christ Jesus.

Some of you believe that you can’t change. You believe that you can’t become something new. But if God had the power and ability to create us in the beginning, doesn’t He also have the power and ability to recreate us if He so desires?

 2. A New Creation ‘in Christ’

This newness is not produced through New Year’s Resolutions. It is not something that we can accomplish through our own will-power. Jesus said that we can clean up the outside of the cup, but the inside is still going to be dirty. This newness has to occur on the inside of us through the power of Jesus Christ.

II. A New Me

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.

A. The New Me is a Person

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ…

What does it mean to be in Christ?

1. Who is Jesus and What Did He Do For Us?

Who is Jesus? He is God’s Son who was sent to this earth to save us from our sins.

 2. How Does Jesus Save Us From Our Sins?

How can Jesus save us from our sins? Just a few verses later Paul wrote –

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. NIV

The big word for this is ‘imputation.’ What does imputation mean? It’s an accounting term which refers to taking something from one account and placing it in another. Suppose you co-signed for me on a debt. What does that mean? It means that you are making yourself responsible for my debt and that if I cannot pay my debt, sufficient funds will be taken from your account and transferred into mine. In a sense, my debt is transferred into your account, and your assets are transferred into mine.

What did God do for us ‘in Jesus?’

a. God Transferred Our Sin Debt to Christ’s Account

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us…

During His hours on the cross Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) Why did Jesus say that? It was because at that moment, the sin of the world was being transferred to Christ’s account. See 1 John 2:2.

b. God Transferred Christ’s Righteousness to Our Account

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. NIV

Suppose that before us were two ledger sheets: one that belonged to Jesus and one that belonged to us. Recorded on Christ’s ledger sheet are the words ‘Holy and Righteous.’ Recorded on our ledger sheet are the words ‘Sinful and Condemned.’ Below those words are also a record of every sin you and I have ever committed.

When Jesus died on the cross, God took the list of sins that you and I have committed and He transferred them over to Christ’s account. God made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us. God held Jesus accountable for our sins.

That is the gift God offers to us; complete forgiveness of all of our sins. But we have to receive God’s gift. We have to come to the point of realizing that we are sinful and need His forgiveness and by faith we trust in Jesus as our Savior. When we do, not only are all the sins removed from our account, but God writes across the top of our ledger sheet – ‘Righteous in Christ.’ God not only takes the sins away from our ledger sheet, He writes Christ’s name across the top and from that point on, any sin that might be written on our ledger sheet is immediately placed on Christ’s and we are forever declared to be holy and righteous ‘in Christ.’

B. The New Me is a Power

Centuries before Jesus came to this earth, God made a promise to the nation of Israel. The biblical term for this promise is ‘covenant.’ God made a new covenant with the nation of Israel.

Ezekiel 36:27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

God said that He would put His Holy Spirit inside of us in order to give us the ability to do His will. The new creation comes by the new birth. Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (see John 3:3) Nicodemus couldn’t understand what Jesus meant and so he asked, “Does a man have to reenter his mother’s womb and be reborn?” Jesus wasn’t talking about a physical new birth, but a spiritual new birth. Jesus said that we have to be ‘born again’ by the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that brings the life of Jesus Christ into the dead soul of a believer. I am a new creation because I have been born again by God’s Spirit which now abides in me.

C. The New Me is a Purpose

Jeremiah 31:33 … “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.”

When the Lord said that He would write His law upon our hearts, He did not mean that He would write the books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy on our hearts; but that He would write the principles these laws teach upon our heart and that He would also give us a new heart that would desire to obey them.

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.

What is the old? It’s the old attitude about God and His will for our lives. Rather than rebelling against God, we now have a desire to please Him. The old sinful person that wanted to live only for ourselves is gone, and the new person who wants to live for God and please Him has come.

Conclusion

Paul wrote – ‘If’ any man be in Christ, he is a new creation. ‘If’ implies that some are and some aren’t.

There are people who do not have a desire to live for God because they have never been made a new creation in Christ. Maybe they’ve said some words and been baptized, but nothing new has taken place in their heart. They’re like the cup that Jesus spoke of where men tried to wash the outside without first washing the inside. They do not have a new heart and therefore they do not have a new desire. The Holy Spirit does not live inside of them; therefore, they lack the ability to please God. Their Christianity is like the New Year’s Resolution we all make on January 1 and forget by January 31.

I want to give you the opportunity to become a ‘New Me’ in 2017. I want to give you the opportunity to experience this year like you’ve never experienced any before.

Step #1 is to become a new creation in Christ. How do we do that?

A – Acknowledge that you are a sinner in need of salvation

B – Believe that Jesus, God’s Son, died on the cross for your sins

C- Come to Him in faith and receive His forgiveness

For more information go to How to Become a Christian. If I may be of help to you, please contact me at: pastorterry@twinoaksbapt.org.

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