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.
I. THE NEW RELATION INDICATED. The believer is "in Christ."
1. As the ground of his acceptance (Philippians 3:9). Christ by His atoning sacrifice has supplied the grounds whereby sinful men may become objects of complacent regard to God. We are lost in ourselves, but are to find ourselves in Him, surrounded by His merits as with a wall of defence, sheltered by them as by an all-embracing canopy. This alone is the position "wherein we are accepted in the beloved."
2. As deriving from Him his spiritual life (John 15:4, 5; cf. Galatians 2:20). The link of union being faith. Christ is "the living soul" of the spiritual life of the believer. The order is, first the believer enters into Christ by faith, then Christ enters into the believer by power. The branch is in the tree by union with it, and the tree is in the branch by the life it imparts to it in the nourishing sap.
3. As the sphere of his activities. Suppose, e.g., a person hears a glowing account of Australia. tie believes every word of the account. By this act of faith Australia enters his heart, and he becomes possessed by an intense desire to get there. Physically, Australia and he are thousands of miles apart, but morally Australia dwells in his heart, and has become a motive power within him, and will not give him rest until it brings him bodily there. He ventures across the ocean, until he finds himself actually in the country which was already in his heart. Here, now, he lives and acts. Thus it is with the believer; the whole fabric of his life becomes permeated by its spirit and purposes. Such expressions as "in sin," "in faith," "in wisdom," "in love," "in the spirit," mean that the particular things in which the person is said to be, form the sphere of his activity, the circle in which he moves, the atmosphere in which he breathes. And this devotedness of life to Christ is not limited to the religious activities, but includes all secular employments.
II. THE NEW EXPERIENCES INVOLVED IN THIS RELATION.
1. He who is in Christ is a new creation. In what sense? Clearly not in any physical or constitutional sense, for in that case he would not be the same person after the change. The latter portion of the text explains the nature of this important process. It is not the person that passes away, but his things, his former principles, motives, aims, and habits: and new ones have been substituted.
2. This change involves an entire reversal of the whole tenor of the life. Take, e.g., the steam locomotive. Its course is in a certain direction, but connected with it is the reversing gear. By the action of this gear the engine which may be seen proceeding with such speed in one direction may in a few minutes be seen moving with equal velocity in the contrary direction. The change does not involve any change in its construction, but only in its course; every wheel, rod, and crank that worked before works now, only in the reverse direction. This represents the change effected upon the believer through his relation to Christ. There has been no change effected in his constitution, only the whole course of his activities has been changed as to direction. And the change in these respects has been so entire as to justify the statement that he who has undergone it is a new creature. The new life is so different from the old, so changed as to its employment and aims, as to be like the life of another person. Paul himself is a striking exemplification of this truth.
(A. J. Parry.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.