Made New in Christ

Made New in Christ

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 12/31/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

                                                                  2 Corinthians 5:14–17 (NASB95)

Well, here we are, ready to “turn the page” on the calendar once again. In fact, by the time many of you read this message, it will already be 2023. Hope seems to spring eternal with the prospect of a new year. Every year, people around the globe look to the New Year with hope for a better year, whether it be in finances, health, love, or work environment, we look to the New Year as if the changing of a number can make a difference in what happens to us during the coming twelve months.

For many of those who look to the New Year with such hope, they are sadly disappointed when the New Year fails to produce the hoped for and anticipated “betterment” of their situation. The truth is, nothing will change if we simply “turn the page” or change the number of the year in which we live. No, it is not that simple. Real change needs to come from the person, not the calendar page or the number of the year. For those who are Christ followers this is especially true, for those who follow Christ have hope for change because they have been Made New in Christ.

Paul reminds the church at Corinth that the love of Christ controls those who follow Christ. Because He has died for all, all have died and must now live for Him. They recognize no one in the flesh but now see a new creature; the old has gone and new things have come because they have been Made New in Christ.

As Christ followers, we must remember the death of Christ was for us. We are identified in His death; He rose that we may now live for Him. We no longer see the old self but the new self of all those who are Christ followers, for those who follow Christ have been Made New in Christ.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “What is the importance of being Made New in Christ for the Christ follower?”

Made New in Christ means the Christ follower is clearly a new person in Christ with new attitudes, new actions, and speaking in the way of love.

1). Made New in Christ means that the Christ follower has died to the old ways of life.

Gone are the ways of the world and our selfish and self-centered ways of thinking.

There is one great reason for the hope the Christ follower has and that is the love that Christ has for those who follow Him and now lives in them, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to control them. The Greek word used for “control” means “to hold together” or “to hold fast.” If we really want things to get better, if we want to see a change in the New Year, the simple truth is, WE need to be better, WE need to change and then things around us will get better. For those who follow Christ, our hope is found in Christ alone. He is the “glue” that holds our lives together, He enables us to hold fast during the storms of life. The love of Christ is what holds us together as we seek to leave behind the old ways of life we once knew. It is the love of Christ that helps us hold fast as we put new things into practice.

As Christ followers the death of Christ was for our benefit. It is through His death that we gain victory over death, the grave, and sin. Through this death we are able to die to our old self, the self that thought only about what was best for “me” or “what’s in it” for me. We are able to put aside our old attitudes of selfishness and self-centered thinking. We put off the anger, bitterness, and rage we held for and against others. We put away the old way of thinking as the world does and then acting upon those thoughts without regard for our consequences, either to ourselves or those around us. We take off the willingness to cater to the sinful desires and cravings of the flesh – the old self as to die in order for real change to happen in us, for us, and around us.

The Hebrew word for year is Shannah. This Hebrew word offers us an interesting insight into the change we have such hope in for the New Year. This word is also the root word for “second,” as in “the second time” or a “repeat.” Very often, those who look to the New Year with hope for change, continue to make the same mistakes they made the year before, and the year before that, and the year before that and… You get the point. We can live the New Year as if it is the second time around for the same thing, or we can find a way to make some meaningful change. It is far easier to continue in the ways that are known and comfortable to us and continue to see the same results, results we know and have grown comfortable with, even though they may be tiresome. But then again, we always have the next New Year to look towards for real change…right?

As a Christ follower, the implications here are real and they are difficult. We have been identified with Christ in His death. This means the old self has died, it must cease to exist. We must put on the new self and remove the old, worldly, self-centered, and selfish ways of living life. If you have not changed after coming to Christ, you need to take a long hard look at what is happening, or not happening, in your life. If you are the same angry, bitter person filled with rage, ask yourself why? If you are still looking upon others in lust or envy, ask yourself why? If you still seek what is best for your first and care little about the consequences to others, ask yourself why!

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How is the love of Christ holding you together during this season of life?

What aspect of the “old self” do you still need to die to or put off? If none, what steps are you taking to continue to “die to self?”

Having been made new in Christ, have you made changes that are noticeable to others? If yes, list a few for your own benefit and encouragement. If not, why?

Made New in Christ means the Christ follower is clearly a new person in Christ with new attitudes, new actions, and speaking in the way of love.

2). Made New in Christ means that the Christ follower has put on the new self and a new way of life.

We put on the new things of the new self and see others through the eyes of Christ.

Having been identified with Christ in His death also means we are to be identified in His resurrection, the rising up of the new self. If putting off the old self is difficult, then putting on the new self is near impossible! Why? We all know old habits die hard. Establishing new actions that become new habits is just as hard, but we have the added stress of the world around reinforcing those old habits we wish to break. Our sinful cravings and desires of the flesh will not go away easily. The good news is that we are not alone in our battle. We must never forget that we are fighting a battle in which the war has already been won! Christ stands in victory for those who follow Him, we simply need to learn to stand in HIS victory!

We no longer need to see others, including ourselves, according to the flesh, according to worldly standards, or perceptions. Now we can see others through the eyes of Christ because we have been made new in Christ. Gone are the old attitudes, the old behaviors, the old way of speaking! We must now put on the new self, complete with new attitudes, behaviors and speaking. As Christ followers it is our goal to become more like Him, to become Christlike in every area of our lives. Our attitudes must be like His attitude. He was obedient to the Father, so obedient He went to the cross to die for all people. Our behaviors must become like His. He was loving, gentle, and showed compassion to all, but He was never afraid to be fully honest and to rebuke others in love. We must also learn to speak in the way of love as He did. Love does not sugar coat the truth, but explains it fully, honestly, and in gentleness.

The new self is being molded as you grow in Christlikeness. It has no preconceptions of what must be; it holds no personal agenda of what must happen or how you must get to where you are going; it has no previous pattern to hold it in check or define its boundaries. The new self finds its identity fully in Christ. Any preconceived ideas must be based in and on Him; any agenda must be in obedience to the Father and the Son and all they have taught us; any boundaries are set by Christ and where He leads and what He desires for us. The new self is, essentially, a blank canvas ready for new ways of thinking, doing, and speaking.

Which brings us to the next interesting aspect of the Hebrew word for year, it also means “new” or “second chance.” The New Year is just that, it is NEW. The New Year is meant to be a blank canvas, an opportunity for you to make the changes that need to be made to have a “second chance” at the hope for change you saw in the New Year. You must now choose to change the way you make your choices and choose to do things differently, or you can choose to continue in the same old way, doing the same old things, and then look to yet another New Year with empty and false hopes.

For the Christ follower, we have been identified with Christ in His death, that is the difficult part for us, dying to self. But we have also been identified with Christ in His resurrection. This is the new self, the rebirth of us as Christ followers. Gone are the old attitudes of anger, bitterness, and rage, to be replaced with happiness, joy, and peace. We love others because He has loved us to the point of dying for us. So, we must die to our own agenda and think of others first. We must think differently than the world and we do so by see others through the eyes of Christ. We see the lost looking for and needing a Shepherd. We see the hurting and the sick searching for a Healer. We see the hungry and thirsty looking for the Bread of Life and Living Water. We have been changed from the inside out because we have been Made New in Christ!

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Where are you struggling the most to “put on” the new self? Why? If not, what steps did you take to make change easier?

What steps are you taking to continue to grow in the new self? If none, why?

Do the people who know you best see the changes that have come with the new self? If so, how? If not, why?

Made New in Christ means the Christ follower is clearly a new person in Christ with new attitudes, new actions, and speaking in the way of love.

Change is never easy and that is especially true in the church. There is a reason we are compared to sheep so often in Scripture. Sheep are hardheaded and stiff-necked animals. They prefer to go their own way, regardless of the circumstances or consequences. They will drink from dirty, parasite infested waters and eat from the worst possible food sources, just to fill their own desires and cravings. Sound familiar? Do we not become hardheaded when we disagree with something that will change how things will be around us? Are we not stiff-necked when we are opposed to a change that upsets our comfort zone? Do we not seek our own way first! We eat and drink for our pleasure and seldom consider the consequences of what we are putting into our bodies.

The point is this, you are a NEW creature in Christ. You have been made NEW through His death and resurrection. You are a blank canvas, ready for new attitudes, new behaviors, and a new way of speaking. The war has been won, only you can make this battle as easy, or difficult, as you choose. The old self must die if you truly want a better you…or a better year. The new self must come to the front and show those who know you best the changes that have come through your life in Christ. If the old you is the only you that they see, something has gone terribly wrong. If the love of Christ is not seen in you, if it does not hold you together, then you need to ask yourself some very difficult questions. We are at the doorstep of a new year, just as you are at the doorstep of a new you. Only you can decide how good – or how bad – this year and this new you, will be. In Christ you have been made new; in Christ you have been given a second chance, a blank canvas to create, to change, to overcome. You must choose. Will this be a second chance, or just a repeat of the same mistakes and choices that have always been?

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: 7:20-29

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