The skeptic Descarte had something else in mind than spiritual matters when he made the statement, “I think, therefore, I am.” What he should have been thinking was, “I think, therefore, I sin.” Every living soul should cry out as Paul, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rm 7:24).
We sin ourselves into death. We cannot help ourselves. It is simply being human, the way we were created as free-moral individuals. We were not created sinners, nor with the taint of sin. Our freedom to make choices simply allows us the opportunity to be the best we can be, but it also allows us to make the worst decisions possible to bring sin and suffering, not only into our own lives, but also into the lives of others. We are truly wretched. Paul’s words were not an exaggeration of what we can become.
We do not conclude that the Son of God failed to know what sinners we would become in a world that offered all sorts of opportunities to think and do evil. He knew the risk before the first grain of dust was transformed into flesh. He knew that with the creation of a truly free individual there would come a tremendous risk. That risk was the loss of a beautiful infant growing into adulthood, and then going into sin, and subsequently lost forever. It is as a parent who invests everything possible in a child, but then the child wanders away. Jesus knew that there were no guarantees that all His created creatures would choose to remain in fellowship with their Creator.
So with the risk, and to guard against a truly free person making bad choices, Jesus embedded within our psyche the option of not choosing evil. It is called conscience. In order to stand just in condemning the wicked, but rewarding the righteous with eternal glory, our Creator laid the responsibility for eternity upon the shoulders of each individual who should at least follow his own conscience. With conscience, therefore, came the responsibility that one must take ownership of his eternal destiny. Conscience must send one on a journey to discover his Creator. This was the road of adventure Paul sought to set us on in Romans 1:20:
For the invisible things of Him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and divinity, so that they are without excuse.
Our Creator knew that in our arrogance and rebellion, we would go wrong. It is not that we inherently seek evil, but the options to satisfy our own lusts often overcome our desire to do that which is right. We ignore our conscience and go wrong. We trash all the evidence of His existence that is irrefutably embedded in the created world (Se Ps 8; Rm 1:20). We are thus in trouble, for it is not possible for sinful creatures to dwell in the presence of God.
We would not think that we were created hopeless beings who are always stained with sin. God would be fiendish if creation occurred without an opportunity for reconciliation. Therefore, in order to remain a truly free-moral individual, we must take ownership of the opportunity of His offer for reconciliation, just as we took the opportunity to sin.
Taking ownership of our eternal destiny was made possible through our Creator’s love offering that should draw unto Him those who seek to stand right before their Creator. Reconciliation was a matter of revealing an open demonstration of love, and then allowing our conscience to take it from there. And no matter how wretched we could become in sin, He, through His demonstration of love and grace, could create us anew. It would be creation all over again, not of the physical, but of the spiritual. We could once again be a new creation. Here is how the Holy Spirit worded it:
Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new (2 Co 5:17).
In another statement He gives an expanded explanation.
Therefore, we are buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised up from the dead through the glory of the Father, even so we also might walk in newness of life (Rm 6:4).
The new creature (creation) that walks in newness of life is not something that is created by the legalities of our performance of His law. Neither is it bargained for or bought by the offering of our good deeds. And just in case we might claim our newness in Christ as our gift to ourselves, the Spirit again said, “For neither circumcision accomplishes anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Gl 6:15). Since we cannot “circumcise ourselves into Christ,” then it is our challenge to discover how to become a new creature according to the road map of God.
In order to be created anew, Jesus again must remain our Creator. We cannot declare to be new creations by the power of our works, or the work of our declaration to “receive Jesus.” Creation is the business of God. And unless we want to steal away from the Son of God the work of creation, then we need to throw ourselves into His word and discover how He creates us anew in Him. We are new creatures only when He declares that we are such. “Sinner’s prayers” reveal repentance. But new creatures are created by the Son of God, not by the meritorious words of a declared “sinner’s prayer.”
Jesus is the origin of all creation. He was the origin of the material world (Cl 1:16). And now, He is the origin of the new creation. Those who have washed themselves in His blood come forth from the waters of burial with all their sins washed away (At 22:16). It is He who cleans us up with His blood. It is He who keeps us clean by His blood (1 Jn 1:7). We can take no credit for the washing, though we have relinquished ourselves to the burial. The burial is our part, but the washing is all His. For this reason, He must be given all glory for the newness of life in which we walk because His cleansing of our sins does not stop when we have dripped dry after baptism.
Our gratitude inspires our discipleship. We continually walk in the light of His word in order to be continually cleansed by His blood (1 Jn 1:7). This is the rewarding life of being a disciple of Jesus. Our confidence is not in ourselves, but in the power of His blood to keep us continually as new creatures in His presence.
As we journey through His description of the new creatures we have become, we are taken on an inspirational journey that always ends in joy. The more we understand the nature of this new creation that walks in newness of life—this is us—the more we are encouraged to continue our journey into eternity in His loving arms.
[The lectures on NEW CREATION begin on July 1st.]