A New Creation
2 Corinthians 5:17
In SECOND CORINTHIANS 5:17 PAUL proclaims the man in
Christ a new creation. The wording of this joyful proclamation takes our
thoughts back to the Garden of Eden, scene of man's original creation. Our
imaginings of what that first paradise was like may or may not be accurate, but
the truth of one image is certain, it was a wonderful place, and provided man
with a wonderful experience. It can be concluded from the wording of our text
that in some way, this new creation of man in Christ is comparable to the
experience of man in the lost paradise of Eden. Let's take a look a few of the
comparisons that can be made.
Unbound From Sin
How long Adam and Eve enjoyed their Edenic home before committing the sins described in Genesis 3:1-17 we have no way of knowing, but until that time they lived free of sin's manipulations, free of sin's curse, and free of its bondage. In Christ, we can live in such a blessed state today. Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 confirm this. He says that "one died, therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves." Also, "the old has gone, the new has come." Furthermore, "that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them."
At this point it might be useful to ask, "what is meant by 'the old is gone, the new has come.' " Does a life unbound by sin mean that sin no longer exists, and does not have to be dealt with now that Christ has come? No doubt, many have arisen from the watery grave of baptism thinking that the hardest part of obedience was behind them, only to be surprised shortly thereafter by a fatal broadside form Satan. They are bewildered because they thought that their obedience to Christ had made them completely immune to sin's temptations.
In Christ we have a relationship with the Father that makes us free from the bondage to sin which characterized us while alienated from Him. But this relationship does not remove us from the influence of sin. One commentator states, "For Paul, "the old" which has gone, is the condition of alienation from God and its bondage to sin. "The new" which has come is our relationship with God in Christ, a relationship which empowers us for a kind of living in which the continuing reality of sin can be overcome again and again. To be a "new creation" is not to be perfect or faultless, or immune from anger and pain, or insulated from the tough experiences of life. Rather, to be a "new creation" is to live a life turned toward the God whose grace has reclaimed us in Christ." (Brauch, Manfred T. Hard Sayings Of Paul. 1989. Downers Grove, IL InterVarsity Press. p. 186).
It can be concluded, therefore, that just as Adam and Eve lived unbound from sin at least for a time in the Garden of Eden we can thus live unbound from sin in Christ Jesus today.
United With God
Adam and Eve had an intimate fellowship with their Creator as they walked and talked with Him in the Garden (Genesis 3:8-11). As a new creation in Christ, a Christian has a relationship with God, the closeness of which has not been possible since that time in the Garden of Eden before sin entered the picture, when Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the cool of the day. Christ, through his sacrificial death on the cross, brought man back to God. We have been reconciled (changed from enmity to friendship), as our text (2 Corinthians 5:19, and also Romans 5:10) clearly points out. Even under the Law of Moses, during which time God communicated with man, there was not the spiritual peace or fellowship between God and man (Ephesians 2:17,18) that is now possible through Christ's ministry of propitiation (1 John 2:2; 4:10).
Sins No Longer Counted
What a burden it must have been living under the Old Law, where sin was never completely disposed of. Even though endless sacrifices were offered in behalf of man's desire and ability to admit his error, offer an expensive sacrifice in an effort to please God, his sins, all of them, lingered unforgiven (Hebrews 10:1-4). Originally in the Garden of Eden , man was not living under such a curse. The reason was simply because he had no sin, at least for a while. Up until the well known rebellion there were no sins to be counted against the first couple. Likewise, there are no sins to be counted against the person now who is a new creation in Christ Jesus. Our sins, once forgiven, are gone forever, no longer counted against us (2 Corinthians 5:19).
Be Reconciled to God
Paul concludes his discourse on reconciliation with the following plea: "We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:20b-21). God through Christ has performed the yeoman's task of securing salvation for all men. All that's left in order for man to become this new creation is to follow through with obedience to God's work of salvation. The way back to the Garden, scene of man's first creation, has been secured. Will you not allow God to perform His work of re-creation in you?
By Ed Barnes
From Expository Files 9.11; November 2002