Are Christians Really New People?

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

New HeartOn the Eve of a New Year, as we look back on 2018, most of us realize how fast the year has gone. For some of us 2018 was a great year of blessings, while for others it had many challenges. For most of us 2018 was most likely a year of blessings and challenges. But as we head into a New Year, the most important thing for everyone to see and understand is how the Lord is working in our lives. No matter what happens in the New Year, the ability to see God at work in our lives is the one thing that will give us perspective about the ups and downs of life. If we know what God says about us as Christians we will better be able to weather the challenges we may face in the New Year.

Many Christians today lack Biblical perspective about their identity in Christ as Christians. They often fail to see what the Lord says about them, so they end up being left with unbiblical feelings, regret over their sins and circumstances they cannot understand. This lack of Biblical discernment about our lives in Christ can rob us of living out an amazing identity and life with the Lord. It can also leave us empty and discouraged at times and down in the dumps with the fallen world. If this has ever happened to you, you are not alone. Be encouraged friend because it happens to just about every Christian at one time or another in our lives and the Bible is full of examples from others that went through the exact same thing.
 
One of the best examples of how a Christian can struggle with life and their emotional battles with their old lives, amidst a new identity in Christ, is seen in the life of the Apostle Paul. The Lord used Paul's personal experiences and writings to help all of us with our issues as well, since they are very common to the Christian life. In Romans 7:21-24 we hear about this battle going on inside of us at times with these words,
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
In this passage the Bible is telling us that Christians are going to struggle with their old habits and thinking amidst the new spiritual life that is at work within them. This battle can lead a person to varieties of spiritual pain and anguish that makes them feel at times as though they are "wretched" people. Paul's antidote to this spiritual crisis is to look to the Lord Jesus Christ and His victory over our old life that he writes about in Romans 7:25 where he says,
Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
But exactly how does the Lord Jesus Christ deliver us from our Romans 7 battles? The answer lies in the fact that we are a new creation by virtue of a new nature that is planted into our hearts by the Holy Spirit during God's work of regeneration or new birth in our lives. Our Lord Jesus talked about this new nature and birth in John 3:5-8 where he told Nicodemus,
Jesus answered, "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
This new nature, heart or spirit that is given to us by God is the same one that was talked about in the Old Testament in passages like Ezekiel 36:26, where we hear the same story being told of a new spiritual identity with the Lord,
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
The central point here is that our standing with God is given by God, not ourselves. No Christian gives birth or creates a new heart in their lives. That new work of rebirth or regeneration of our lives is God's work. As a result, our spiritual standing doesn't depend on us or our feelings, old life, sins we have or are committing or anything else about us. The Romans 7 battles are over once we discern how the Lord has ended them in Christ with our new spiritual standing. God's work in us as His new creation is designed to give us a new identity that allows us to move beyond our spiritual battles with our old life and live in victory with Christ each moment by the work and power of the Holy Spirit.

This issue of our spiritual standing before God is so important for every Christian to understand and experience in this New Year. When we see ourselves as being in Christ as a new creation, circumstances tend to be seen in perspective. When we come to see ourselves as living in Christ now, where we once battled living in Adam as part of our old life, everything changes immediately. We realize that our understanding of newness is not a fantasy or a happy feeling, but a spiritual reality in our hearts that was created by the Lord for our blessing and His glory. Our newness of life is already part of the New Creation that God has created for the world to come and we are already there, seated with Christ in Heavenly places according to Ephesians 1:18-21. The Apostle Paul longed for every Christian to understand their new identity in Christ with these words.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
So as we head to a New Year, let's live our lives in Christ as His new creation with a new identity that He has placed in our lives, no matter what else is going on. The very concept of the New Year is tied to this exact thought and principle. This is the ONLY reason why there are New Years in the first place. The purpose of the New Year is not to watch a silly ball drop to the ground in Time Square in New York City.  The purpose of the New Year is to teach people they can have a new beginning in Christ.  New Years are God's message to the world, using the solar system and seasons as a witness, that newness of life is not only possible, but the birthright and experience of every Christian. Once a Christian accepts their new position with God they can never be the same or ever continue to live out a shattered, old life again with the world and its problems.

May our Lord give each of us the ability to discern and understand the great salvation that He has given to us in Christ. May we truly leave our old lives behind us as we embrace and celebrate the new life the Lord has given us. May we also share that wonderful gift and hope with everyone we can in this coming year.
 
Happy New Year from the staff and friends of the Carlson Report!